Early thoughts on Killer Instinct Season 3
Killer Instinct's third season has launched, and on two platforms with cross-buy to boot. Although the game has a lot of content currently, most of it is carried-over from previous seasons, and the new content that launched with Season 3 doesn't really give the game the "brand new" feel that the other seasons did right out of the gate. However, the new characters do feel different, and move away from the "add more meters" features that dominated the Season 2 characters.
Get To Know The Newbies
This character was actually playable last summer as the game was announced. Rash feels the most complete out of the new characters. He's easy to play and start a combo with, as simply tapping the light attacks will start a combo and even use meter to start a shadow attack if you get four successful attacks that way. Obviously, this is an easy attack to break, so there is a risk involved with going with the easy combo string that feels just like a combo in one of the Battletoads titles that Rash hails from.
His other attacks are pretty useful and simple also, with a wrecking ball attack that knocks anyone out of the air, and a forward kick that covers distance. His instinct mode summons a speeder bike that allows him to zip across the screen and even send it speeding towards the opponent as a projectile. While he's the most complete, Rash has no character-specific background, making him the only character in the roster without one.
One of the last non-boss characters to be added to the roster, Kim Wu requires some thinking on the player’s part to play. Her nunchuck special attacks have different properties based on the button pressed - light punch for stationary, medium punch for a version that moves backward, and heavy punch for a version that moves forward. Once I finally grasped this, I was able to play her better.
Another quirk about Kim Wu is her Dragon Spirits, which are gained through certain attacks. This allows her to perform a Dragon Cancel or fire a projectile. She also has a special grab that allows her to switch sides with the opponent, which is probably where the nunchuck moves that retreat come into play.
The other regular character from the older games to be added to the roster, Tusk moves slower than the other characters. All of his medium and heavy attacks cannot be interrupted, and will instantly counter-attack at the sacrifice of the ability to cancel them into other attacks. All of his moves behave in a similar way, with sword slashes that can avoid and destroy projectiles. Tusk takes a while to get adjusted to, although he isn't too technical, the thinking required to play him is different from the rest of the cast.
A guest from the Halo series, the Arbiter is easier to play than Kim Wu and Tusk, but not as easy as Rash. Simply pressing all three punch buttons or just the high kick will cause him to shoot his carbine or attach a grenade to the opponent, allowing for all kinds of tricks to extend combos. The use of grenades and an easy to use projectile may sound overpowered at first, but Arbiter can be harmed by his own grenades, and the Carbine's ammo is limited to 18 shots per match. Overall he makes for a fun addition, with extra attention paid to the lore of Halo in his mechanics and costumes.
So, What Else Is New?
While the characters may be fine, there are other things that Killer Instinct's 3rd season doesn't get right, namely the UI and an overall lack of a new "feeling" for the season. Season 1 was the launch of the game, and Season 2 saw the transfer of the game to a new developer and started with only two characters. Even with a median amount of characters to start with, the actual content added to Season 3 feels empty. One reason for this may be that the UI has simply changed colors and the character select has just been slightly altered. Having a new menu layout with the first two seasons made it really feel like the game was changing.
Also new is a camera angle change during level 4 combo enders, which is another hit-or-miss aspect which wil be tweaked after the next patch from Iron Galaxy. On the upside, the character load times at the select screens have been improved drastically. The lighting in all of the returning stages has also been improved, making them look refreshed.
Overall, Season 3 may be in danger of falling flat for Killer Instinct. With three of the four remaining characters having leaked or been revealed in some form, and only one new mode in addition to an assumed third season to the story, it feels that the content from Season 2 is carrying the brunt of the game's content.
Iron Galaxy has said that players would be able to crowdfund for certain features to be added, but I hope this doesn't become the main way that modes and features are added over the course of the season.