Just before PAX Prime, Iron Galaxy released a list of changes to the general Killer Instinct gameplay system, as well as every character in the Season One roster. Over the next two weeks we’ll take an in-depth look at each character and how the changes impact their play style. For now, let’s get started with a quick overview of the changes and how they’ll impact the general flow of the game.
The biggest change to the system mechanics is the fact that Shadow Meter gain has been decreased by 20 percent overall. If there’s one thing that just about everyone agrees on, it’s that you almost always seem to have meter in KI. All that changes with this update, as you now have to think about what you want to use your meter on, or else it won’t be available when you really need it.
For example, a typical match against Sabrewulf means that you have to worry about a wake-up Shadow Eclipse almost every time you knock him down. With the new adjustment, the average Sabrewulf player won’t have enough meter for a Shadow Eclipse more often than not. In fact, if they use more than one wake-up Shadow Eclipse in a round, it’s unlikely they used their meter on much else.
The other big change is that Combo Breakers are no longer a hard knockdown. That basically means that every setup off of a Combo Breaker is now gone. For novice players, that probably won’t seem significant. However, for high-level players, it means a good number of tricks will have to be reworked or completely removed from your play style.
Fulgore has seen the biggest change of the S1 characters. His Reactor Meter and the attacks and abilities it governs work in a completely different manner. No longer will Fulgore players have to sacrifice momentum to stop and charge the Reactor Meter. Instead, Fulgore is always charging his Reactor Meter. The difference is how fast it charges.
What this means is that the more momentum Fulgore gets, the faster his Reactor Meter charges and the deadlier he becomes. In fact, once you let Fulgore get started, it’s imperative that you score a knockdown to reset his Reactor Meter speed or else you’ve basically lost the match. You also have to stay on top of Fulgore as much as possible because something as simple as his projectiles will increase the speed of his reactor charge. How you fight as Fulgore and how you play against him is now completely changed.
Glacius didn’t see a significant amount of change. He no longer gets virtually unpunishable Counter Breaker attempts from across the screen. That’s basically his only nerf, and it’s something that shouldn’t have been in the game in the first place. However, he gained a new evasive ability that allows him to duck under a good number of attacks, and his Hail projectile is a bit more effective with the added bounce when it hits the ground.
There were two major changes to Jago. The first is that his Wind Kick has been nerfed. The Shadow version only travels 60 percent of the distance it once did, and his Heavy Wind Kick has far less push back, making it much easier to punish. What this means is that the Wind Kick is no longer a brain dead attack. You actually have to think about when and how to use the Wind Kick or else you’ll each quite a bit of damage.
The second big change was to Jago’s Instinct Mode. Instead of automatically regaining life if you move forward, you now have to connect with Jago’s Endokuken projectile attacks to replenish your health. This means you can’t pop Instinct at the end of a round and replenish health between rounds. You also can’t simply walk forward. You have to bait your opponent into getting hit by projectiles. To compensate, Jago now throws two projectiles while in Instinct. You won’t want to pop Instinct at close range unless you’re mid-combo, but you can use it on the far side of the stage and follow with a barrage of projectiles.
Orchid received buffs all around. She can combo off of her air throw, has a new projectile attack that will help her maintain pressure (which she was already good at), has better low evasion on the Flick Flack and her Shadow Ichi Ni San is now basically a projectile attack. She received all of the upgrades she needed and then some, making her an offensive powerhouse. You’ll have a difficult time escaping Orchid’s pressure with all of these new tools at her disposal.
Sabrewulf has been hit the hardest out of all the season one characters. The distance his back dash travels has been significantly reduced, which means he can’t get away from people as easily as before. Sabrewulf players will have to stand their ground and fight, even when it would be best to retreat. His forward dash distance is a little shorter, and his cross-up dash is easier to punish, which means you’ll have to be more careful with it. In addition, his crouching Light Punch pushes back more. This means you can’t use this attack over and over to bait a counter-hit and start your offense.
While those are both big nerfs, Sabrewulf did get buffed as well. He now has Feral Cancels while his Instinct is active. These basically allow you to cancel any attack and return to neutral. While more testing is needed, you can apply ridiculous amounts of pressure with this. Once Sabrewulf activates Instinct, you do not want to be anywhere near him.
Sadira’s biggest nerf is more of a fix than anything else. Originally she could jump cancel her attacks while Instinct was active. She could also use Counter Breakers while Instinct was active to essentially stop an opponent from attempting Combo Breakers. All of that is gone, but she has better wake-up options and a new target combo that allows her to get an opponent into the air with ease so long as she can land a hit.
Many of Spinal’s changes were cosmetic. It’s easier to determine if he’s stealing meter or gaining skulls now. However, his single biggest change is the fact that he has more ways to obtain skulls. This gives him far more versatility as needs skulls to compete with many of the other characters. In addition, a change to a few of his Normals gives him a bit more options when it comes to starting combos and his increased throw range makes it easier to run up and quickly grab an opponent.
There are two significant changes for Thunder. The first is that he gains a new projectile attack, Call of Sky. While it shouldn’t be used at close range, it’s very effective as an anti-air attack and works well if an opponent is across the screen trying to keep their distance. If you’re good, an opponent won’t be able to jump toward Thunder at all. In addition, Ankle Slicer avoids low attacks a bit better and is slightly safer when blocked. This adds a bit more use to the attack and gives Thunder more evasive options at close range that will allow him to keep his offensive momentum.