Knockout City feels like one of those games that was better than it had any right to be. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, the EA published multiplayer sports game with a Fortnite-inspired aesthetic didn’t generate too much excitement, but everything changed when we got our hands on the game ourselves.

Knockout City delivers the best dodgeball gameplay we’ve seen in a video game in quite a long time. The mechanics are easy to pick up, and difficult to master. Timing your catches for incoming balls is satisfying when done right, and there’s plenty of strategy when it comes to catches, passes, and the use of trick throws. Those sequences when you get into a rally with an enemy player, both of you quickly flinging the ball back and forth at each other, it’s exciting stuff.

Velan Studios delivers some great social features in Knockout City. Players can start Crews, earning XP and scoring some exclusive rewards alongside friends. The game’s ranked mode is also a great competitive option, with matches getting intense as you climb the ladder. The game also features full cross-play, which sort of feels like a must-have for a successful multiplayer game these days. The extended free trial also increased the game’s accessibility even further.

Knockout City also has one of the best pre-game lobbies in a video game this year. The rooftop hangout is the perfect place to try out all of the special balls, practice your reflexes and speed with the training dummy, and of course, goof off with your friends. Not a lot of games give you that anymore, so it was cool to have such an inclusion in Knockout City.

Knockout City was a breath of fresh air in a landscape where it feels like so many games are trying to be something else. Though the game obviously takes inspiration from other popular titles, it brings something unique and authentic to the table. Knockout City is Shacknews’ Best Sports game of 2021.

Watch the Shacknews Awards 2021 YouTube playlist or read our Year of the Games: 2021 article for all of the awards in one place. We will be announcing our Shacknews GOTY 2021 on December 31.