Sunday, January 12, 2020

Eric Vs. 365 - Day 196 - Killer Instinct 2013

Bold, but confusing and conflicting, statement incoming - Killer Instinct 2013 is perhaps the best fighter of this generation, but it was at it's peak when it launched and has gotten worse as time went on. That I still consider it the best overall means it was crazy amazing when it launched and even in its current state that I don't like as much, it's still really damn good. Read on as I explain what I mean and to watch gameplay right here.

Killer Instinct was the first game I played on my Xbox One when it launched in 2013. I loved it. It was a modern re-imagining of one of my absolute favorite fighting games (though, I prefer the SNES Killer Instinct over the arcade version cause I'm a heathen) and it was great. It was awesome characters, auto combos, ultra finishers, and great graphics. It also only had six characters to start with, which is an absolutely tiny roster for a fighting game, but those six characters were incredibly balanced and all of them were fun to play as.

It also has some of the best music of the entire generation, too.

Original developer Double Helix added two more characters to close out Season 1 before Iron Galaxy took over for the rest of Killer Instinct's development. Here's where things got better. And worse. Mostly worse. 

Iron Galaxy polished up the graphics significantly over the next several updates and turned KI from a 720P game into a gorgeous 1080P fighter and even 4K on Xbox One X. The game is freaking beautiful with great character models and tons of effects onscreen and it runs at 60FPS. It's incredible to see what the game looked like at launch, and what it looks like now. They also added story modes and a fascinating Shadow Lords mode and tons of other stuff so solo players had lots to do. This is all great.

Iron Galaxy also added a couple dozen more characters and fiddled with the gameplay a bit too much. This is the bad stuff. The Killer Instinct roster in 2020 is incredibly diverse with tons of different characters and fighting styles and all sorts of different stuff represented. It's also wildly out of balance now and some character match ups are nigh impossible to win. A lot of the new characters just kinda suck, too, and aren't all that fun to play as. The roster is bloated and not fun. It desperately needs to be trimmed or extensively re-balanced for the sequel.

Worse still, the core gameplay is just freaking different now than it was in 2013. Iron Galaxy added a ton of pointless new mechanics and "stuff" and it isn't as fun to play as it used to be. It's so different, in fact, that the timing of pretty much everything is totally changed from how it originally launched. 

In 2013 I could improvise and come up with interesting new combos and do pretty much anything I wanted in the game. In 2020, even with those original six characters, I feel lost and nothing feels like it works right anymore. I spent a couple dozen hours with those first six characters in 2013, but only played Season 2 and Season 3 and it's loads of new stuff only a fraction of that time because it just wasn't as fun anymore. 

With that said, I do still consider Killer Instinct to be the best fighting game of the X1/PS4 generation. It has an interesting (though terrible balanced) cast of characters that puts pretty much ever other roster to shame. It has  fantastic (if overly bloated) gameplay mechanics that offer tons of depth if if you're willing to learn. And it looks freaking amazing. I'd take all of this over bland Street Fighter V or whatever over-complicated anime fighter is the flavor of the week. 

Even with it's many flaws, I'd still rather play Killer Instinct than just about any other fighter around. That just shows you how high its potential is and why we NEED a sequel that puts everything back in order.