After first emerging years ago, Ubisoft has finally launched OddBallers for PlayStation, Xbox, Switch and PC – with full cross-platform multiplayer support. Here’s our review.
Developer Game Swing has an odd fascination with the game of dodgeball, as their previous game was Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure and afterwards they worked on OddBallers for a number of years. And as with the Vita version of Stikbold, OddBallers had a way of popping up on and disappearing from our radar a few times – but the difference is that OddBallers actually made it to release now, although Ubisoft launched it with relatively little fanfare.
In a way that’s a shame, because OddBallers is pretty fun to play, especially when you have others to play with. Part of its strength is that its core concept is so simple – hurl balls at one another and make sure you don’t get hit. And to make matters more interesting, it’s not just balls that you can pick up and throw – OddBallers probably wouldn’t be named that way if it was just dodgeball with a cartoonish aesthetic. You can deal damage with lawnmowers or even chickens, and things can get pretty hectic on screen as you make your own dodgeball version of a Saturday morning cartoon.
To avoid getting hit you can run around and take cover, but you can also dodge out of the way – which when timed well is very satisfying in itself but can also result in a parry. It’s easy to play and pick up even without expert timing on the dodges though, which makes OddBallers a great option if you have enough players joining in for a local multiplayer session.
Online’s a good option a well, but despite its cross-platform support we had trouble finding a full game to play. Could have been an issue with the time we played at and/or the matchmaking, but if you’re planning on doing the multiplayer part online it’s probably good to check the chatter on how busy the game is before diving in. This could have been a tech issue as well though, because despite its delays OddBallers still feels like it could use a little more polish, with a few micro-freezes during (offline) gameplay and awkward looking animations.
There’s definitely a party game feel to OddBallers, and if it had been part of a collection of minigames it would have probably been one of the best and richest minigames in any pack – the one you keep going back to because it has so many variations and lasting appeal to it. But this is a $20/€20 standalone game, so expectations are a little different. And while the game delivers in some regards, it falls short in others. There’s a nice variety of game modes to choose from, and with some good variety between rounds and some player input in what a round’s goals and conditions should be, this is a real blast with a group of players – especially locally. It’s delightfully chaotic, and one of the most fun multiplayer games we’ve played in recent history.
At the same time, you might wish for more solo action than just being able to play AI opponents – there’s no campaign and no challenge mode. Or you might wish the online player base was more alive at launch, although that might have picked up since we tried it post-launch. There are a ton of different ways to play OddBallers, but the fact remains that all of those ways are best enjoyed with others. And you can customize your character, so if that’s something you enjoy doing in games like Fall Guys then you can make good use of that here as well, with an extensive in-game shop to buy new stuff in (with in-game credits you get by playing).
OddBallers is the kind of game we want to see succeed, because it’s a blast to play when you have a group to play with. There is way more variety in how to play this particular brand of dodgeball than we were expecting, and with its fast-paced formula of short rounds it’s easy to just keep playing this for an entire gaming night. That’s a good sign, but there are question marks surrounding the game as well that are hard to ignore.