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Smash’s presumed final, although not confirmed, patch for Super Smash Brother Ultimate is here, and with it has come a lot of excitement. New character, new changes, a new stage, and lots of talk among the community as usually. With that being said, lets get into it.
The Final DLC
This is it, the last character, the one that so many people requested in Nintendo’s fan poll almost six years. Sora from Kingdom Hearts is finally in smash. I have a few friends who were hesitant to be happy about Sora, not because they disliked the character for any reason, but rather because the smash community has seen a number of people who are just ok with sending death threats to people, and while the existence does sour my enjoyment a bit, it still pales in comparison to the joy I feel now that he is finally here.
After my finishing the original Persona 5 was followed by the reveal of Joker only a few months later, I did not think anyone else could reach that level of hype. That is, except for one. When I tell you that I could barely contain myself while watching the final reveal during my nine in the morning political philosophy lecture, I am not kidding. Seeing Sora fly out of Kingdom Hearts into that dark and desolate void was truly a dream come true.
As far as how he actually plays, well…Sora is a real mixed bag. On the one hand, going from playing mostly Joker, a character with a significantly faster than average fall speed, great mobility both in the air and on the ground, and an insane punish game to now the floatiest character in the game has been a significant change. On the other, though, Sora himself seems like a better than average fighter with a lot of unique tools and mix-up potential. Not only does he have multiple two hit kill confirms off of his aerials, his neutral is significantly better than expected, with nair serving as a solid out of shield option and his first hit jab and up tilt being excellent anti-air tools.
The hardest part about the character thus far has been his disadvantage. Being so floaty, along with having a relatively slow double-jump makes getting out of disadvantage fairly difficult against competent players. similarly, while Sora arguably has the best edge-guarding of any character in the game, by contrast, his ability to get off ledge is severely limited, and requires really good mix-ups on the part of the person playing him. Despite all of that, however, I have decided to pursue maining him for the moment, as I want to see how much I can develop my skill with arguably now my favorite character in all of smash.
I’m only going to talk briefly about the balance changes in 13.0, so for anyone who wants to see the whole list of changes and their implications, please watch the video Beefy Smash Doods made, or just look at the original patch notes here.
TL;DR, the main aim of this patch, like many previous ones, was to buff characters who are generally considered to be fairly bad by the competitive community and even casual players. Among those who received major changes are Dr. Mario, Incineroar, Jigglypuff, King K. Rool, Isabelle, Zelda, Lucario, and Little Mac. Judging based on the criteria of most significant changes relative to their character, Jigglypuff and Mac walked away with the most influential buffs. Jigglypuff now has access to a handful of new confirms and high damage combos, and Little Mac became significantly better and what he does best: pressuring opponents on the ground.
While none of these changes are likely the make the characters that much more viable in the competitive scene, except maybe in the case of Jigglypuff, they did seem to accomplish the goal of giving them a higher quality of life and making certain interactions slightly better off for the respective fighters. Overall, outside of my general dislike of what I would consider to be a lot of “Wi-Fi characters,” I do think these buffs were warranted and not particularly egregious.
The Meta of Smash Ultimate
Based on previous patterns from Smash for Wii U, this is likely to be the last or second to last patch for the game. This means that Ultimate‘s competitive meta will likely solidify in the coming months. Whether or not the addition of such an iconic and fan-loved character will spark an unprecedented wave of new interest in the game has yet to be seen. However, even through a global pandemic in which offline tournaments, the heart of smash community, were shut down completely, the game has retained competitive interest. This has been even more true now that offline locals and majors have begun resurfacing.
The reality, however, is that COVID-19 is far from over, with resurgences of the disease and offspring of new variants helping to maintain its spread. This means that smash could be forced to move online once again at a moments notice. For Smash Ultimate, this means players would be forced to resort to using the game’s notoriously awful online system as their only means of play. Most are aware of this problem, which is why many top players, such as New England’s Light barely played during Quarantine, and others have moved on from the game entirely.
Still, even with a shrink in the community, there has been plenty of development among individual characters. Steve, who many notoriously though was going to be among the worst in the game, is now considered high tier at a minimum among many. This is due to significant developments in the character’s combo and camping game, with many realizing the vast potential Steve has with his ability to build blocks while in the air. Min Min, another terror of online play, seen a similar rise in respectability, with players like ESAM and Pink Fresh performing relatively well at recent offline events.
Sora’s meta is still being explored, but early signs show a lot of promise. As mentioned previously, he has a few easy to perform kill confirms, great edge-guarding capability, and even a recently discovered loop with both his fair and nair, which allows him to combo opponents for massive amounts of damage. Currently, many are of the opinion that the character only rises to mid-tier status, but opinions among top players who have experimented with Sora are quickly changing. This includes PGR rank one player MKLeo, who believes the character to be incredibly strong.
Overall, this has been an incredibly successful patch, both personally and competitively. While I honestly have no idea what the future of smash is at this point, with Masahiro Sakurai saying that he will be stepping down from working on the game, I am excited to see any future content, as well as continue to watch and participate in the growth of the competitive scene.
I hope you all enjoyed this analysis of Smash’s recent patch. I try to only talk about competitive gaming occasionally, since these posts tend to perform relatively poorly. However, for those that are interested in this kind of content, please let me know, since I do enjoy writing it. Otherwise, thanks for reading.
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