It’s been a long time. A long, long time that has seen us Xbox gamers waiting patiently for Gang Beasts to finally make its way to Xbox One. It’s been so long in fact that the excitement for this one died down more than a year or so ago, after it had already released on PC and PS4. Now though it’s time to see if the wait was worth it. Gang Beasts is on Xbox everyone!
When it comes to local-multiplayer games I tend to consider myself quite lucky. Often, I’ve got several people around who are more than capable of holding a controller in the correct manner to pose something of a challenge, and often for that reason I tend to check out most local multiplayer titles that arrive on Xbox One. Never before though have I found myself so excited by a local multiplayer title… only to be so disappointed by the eventual result.
Now before you rush out to grab the pitchforks, let me explain. Gang Beasts has the potential to be a fantastic game. It’s easy enough to learn, you can jump into a game quickly, and it never takes itself seriously, ensuring plenty of laughs are had from the first moment to the last, whilst still ensuring a competitive feel is present within each match. From that you can probably figure for yourself that Gang Beasts is a game that deserves your time and attention, so why is there such an overwhelming feeling of disappointment?
For those who’ve not yet heard of Gang Beasts… are you even gamers? I’m kidding of course, but for those of you who don’t know Gang Beasts is a physics based multiplayer beat ’em up party game in which gelatinous characters fight it out within a variety of hazardous environments. This is all set in Beef City and the aim is to be the last one standing, in-turn earning the round winning point. It’s simple enough to ensure the basics for a quality party game are met.
The gameplay is fine; you must take your gelatinous blob of humanoid-ish jelly and knock out the other competitors before throwing them to their demise in any way possible. This may mean throwing them off the map, dropping them into a grinder, or pushing them into a pit of fire for example.
To do this you’ll need to first master the controls, with the bumpers controlling your hands – left bumper for the left hand, right bumper for the right hand. Tapping each one will result in a punch from the associated hand whilst holding the bumper will allow you to grip onto whatever you’re next to, be it a wall, a sign or another player’s head. There are no rules here.
In play the game looks and feels a lot like that of Human: Fall Flat, one of the other fantastic physics-based games on Xbox One in which you control a gelatinous character. Sadly though, unlike that game, Gang Beasts requires you to have multiple other players ready to play too, otherwise you’re not really going to get anywhere thanks to the complete lack of A.I.. Besides that, a single wave-based game mode in which players try to survive against increasing numbers of seriously determined and encroaching enemies is easily the dullest mode in the game.
Besides Waves, there are three other modes to get stuck in with – Melee, Gang and Football. Football is as you’d expect; two goals, one ball and the one with the most goals at the end of the timer wins. It’s no rival to FIFA but having no rules does take me back to the good old days of RedCard or This is Football and it can bring a good laugh as you drag each other away from the ball and faceplant others into the walls.
Melee is exactly that, a melee of who can survive to the end. A point for the winner, and aggressive feelings from the loser is how these games run, provided you’re playing with friends and not strangers. Gang on the other hand is essentially Melee but with teams of 3v3, and this sees the last team standing win. This is a blast to play especially when you begin to eliminate players and find a battle of 3v1 ensuing, all as your team or the opposition run dominant and find yourself running for your life or trying your best to overcome the odds in the physics-based playgrounds.
Gameplay wise Gang Beasts affords some truly memorable moments. The maps are unique and offer either a ton of ways to dispatch opposing players or come packed with enough hazards to see you fighting the environment as much as you are your opponents. It’s good that players are able to choose how to play, be it cowardly by hiding or making the most of the surroundings and controls to pull off fancy headbutts and dropkicks for some stylish and hilarious knockouts.
One huge positive is that Gang Beasts does allow for online play too and if you don’t have friends to hand to enjoy things locally you can jump into the online pool of players to find your opponents. Unfortunately, though, that online pool is exceptionally shallow, and this is where my disappointment comes in. With Gang Beasts having initially arrived several years ago, like many games the initial excitement has dwindled, and with a player base so small so close to launch, it appears those wanting to get involved in Gang Beasts will need to either gather some friends for local play or persuade others to buy a copy. Failing that, you should give up hope of playing altogether.
Unfortunately, though, this is not a game that you can play for hours on end without things beginning to feel exceptionally repetitive. Whilst maps come with a clever design, there are only a handful to choose from and whilst it is often amusing to jump back in with some freshly created characters made using the comical customisation options available, there are only so many times you can get taken out by a road sign whilst stood atop a moving lorry before it becomes a little tiresome.
If you appreciate multiplayer brawlers and are after something comical to enjoy with the family, Gang Beasts is without a doubt a game you need to play. If, however you rely on the presence of online players or solo adventures to get your thrills, then this is a game that won’t have much for you. Yes, you may find a few games from time to time, but it seems Gang Beasts on Xbox One has not maintained the excitement long enough to muster a healthy online community on Xbox One.