Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Everything we know about everything

 cnet.com  6/14/2018 7:13:21 PM  2  Morgan Little
SmashBros

Brace yourselves.

Nintendo

Every single Smash Bros. character is headed to the Nintendo Switch with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, coming to stores December 7, 2018. During its E3 2018 live stream, Nintendo not only revealed that Ultimate will bring together the series' entire roster to date, but that a multitude of new stages and old ones, along with character tweaks and updates, would be coming to the latest Smash Bros. entry.

We got our first surprise look at the new Super Smash Bros. during what seemed to be a normal Nintendo Direct video March 8, before a giant Super Smash logo appeared in the sky and set fans ablaze.

With that, Nintendo revealed what could be the single most-anticipated title for the Switch, and after getting the a comprehensive breakdown from Nintendo at E3 2018, we now know a lot more about what looks like the biggest entry in the Smash Bros. franchise to date.

Now Playing: Watch this: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate debuts on the Switch

What is Smash Bros. and why is everyone freaking out?

Since the Nintendo 64, every Nintendo console has featured a game in which beloved (or obscure) Nintendo characters beat each other senseless. In what ended up being one of the smartest moves in its game development history, Nintendo's decision to make a less-technical fighting game resulted in tens of millions of sales. Seriously, the Wii Smash Bros. alone sold more than 13 million copies.

Whether fostering a competitive community or highlighting characters beyond Nintendo's familiar stable (Solid Snake, we're looking at you), Smash Bros. has been a series that both casual gamers and the Nintendo faithful can both enjoy. Particularly since the Gamecube's Super Smash Bros. Melee, the series has taken a number of left turns and included tons of unexpected characters, creating even more excitement.

Even when fans disagree with some of the decisions made by the series' director Masahiro Sakurai, they're always back for more the moment he announces a new Smash Bros. And given the success of the Switch among both crowds, it's easy to see why the latest entry has already sparked so much excitement.

When is Smash Bros. Ultimate coming out?

The initial trailer couldn't have been any more clear about when Nintendo will launch the latest title in the series to emerge. And at E3 2018, Nintendo delivered: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be in stores December 7, 2018.

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Nintendo

What playable characters will be in Smash Bros. Ultimate?

The best answer to that question is simple: all of them. At E3 2018, Sakurai revealed that every single fighter who's been in a Super Smash Bros. game will be featured in Smash Bros. Ultimate. That includes DLC fighters like Bayonetta, Cloud and Ryu, along with returning favorites like Solid Snake.

But those characters aren't coming to Smash Bros. Ultimate unchanged. Basically every character is getting major or minor tweaks to their movesets, attributes or playstyles. Here are some, but not all of the changes Sakurai outlined during the E3 2018 event:

  • Mario doesn't have new moves based on Super Mario Odyssey, but he will be wearing Cappy, who can be seen in select special moves.
  • Link is based on his Breath of the Wild iteration, with his special moves and weaponry updated to reflect the Switch entry.
  • Captain Falcon's Falcon Punch and other strong attacks will trigger a slow-motion effect in 1 vs. 1 fights.
  • Zelda's new look is based on the 3DS title A Link Between Worlds, with a new Final Smash to boot.
  • Final Smashes on the whole have been tweaked to be speedier and more cinematic.
  • Cloud's Limit Break, Robin's limited-use attacks and other character-specific abilities will have distinct displays at the bottom of the screen for easier insights about their status.
  • Pokemon Trainer can switch between Pokemon at will, even midair, with an alternate costume for a female trainer.
  • And clone characters, often a point of contention among Smash Bros. fans, have been turned into Echo Fighters. Characters like Lucina and newcomer Daisy are in the game, but treated as variants of preexisting characters.

That's cool, but are any new characters joining the fight?

What, you're not happy with dozens of fighters? 

As they teased in the announcement trailer, Splatoon's Inklings are making their Smash Bros. debut in Ultimate. As you might expect, the Inklings rely on their ink weaponry to boost the amount of damage opponents take from attacks. The Splat Roller, Spalt Bomb and Splattershot will all be either special or smash attacks, with the added quirk of ink depletion. Said attacks use up the Inkling's ink reserves, which must be refilled while they're shielded. And yes, the Inklings have a ton of outfits.

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CNET screenshot

Then, at the end of its E3 2018 event, Nintendo revealed a character Smash Bros. fans have been asking for since the very first entry: Ridley. Samus Aran's giant nemesis has often been said to be too big to be featured as a playable character in the past, but why should size matter when you're dealing with the biggest Smash Bros. ever? Ridley is as powerful as you'd expect, with one special move in particular having a sweet spot that looks like it deals as much damage as the vaunted Falcon Punch.

What's Smash Bros. Ultimate's stage situation?

Like its gigantic roster, Ultimate's bounty of stages encapsulates the entire franchise, with some new additions. The previous entry in the franchise split exclusive stages between the Wii U and 3DS versions, but as is the theme with Ultimate, they're all being brought into the fold. So far, a total of 75 stages have been discovered, either via Nintendo's official confirmations or behind character art. The team over at GameXplain has seriously done their homework in uncovering the crazy number of stages included.

Stages will also be getting Omega forms, which simplify the stages and eliminate hazards and interactive elements to be more friendly to players who want to minimize random elements. Omega forms were first included in Smash Bros. on the Wii U and 3Ds, and stages in Ultimate will get Omega forms that emulate both the flat Final Destination stage, and the platform-filled Battlefield stage.

How does the new Smash play?

We've only had a little bit of playtime with Smash Bros. Ultimate so far, but early impressions have the game feeling closer to the most recent edition for the Wii U and 3DS system.

CNET's Mike Sorrentino played two rounds at Nintendo's New York store Wednesday, playing as both Snake and an Inkling. Here are his thoughts:

The early version of Super Smash Brothers Ultimate shown in New York feels a lot like a "Deluxe" version of Super Smash Brothers for Wii U and 3DS. The game's physics have been tweaked to favor speed, with recovery taking place faster and Final Smash attacks launching almost immediately in the current version.

I played once on the stage inspired by Breath of the Wild, which is a challenge to keep control over since the stage's buildings continually build, fall apart and rebuild throughout the match. This led to me constantly wondering where my Inkling was as he slid all over the map trying to shoot ink on other opponents.

It was also nice to see the return of Saffron City, first seen in the original N64 Smash Brothers from way back in 1999. As nostalgic as having that stage back is, being able to fight as Solid Snake in this city from the Pokemon world creates the perfect kind of crazy mashup Smash is known for.

By the way, beware the new Fake Smash Ball! Its design is so similar to the real Smash Ball, that a player hoping to crack it open for the power to unleash a powerful Final Smash move may very well blow themselves up instead.

-Mike Sorrentino

What music will be available while I'm pummeling my friends?

One of the Smash Bros. series' most underrated elements is its soundtrack. Previous entires have contained a nearly endless supply of beloved themes songs, both original and re-recorded, from series represented in the game. A quick glance at the gigantic list of tracks included in Smash Bros. Wii U reveals the sheer breadth of the music included in the franchise.

And you can already dive into tracks included in Smash Bros. Ultimate, starting with the main theme, via the official Smash Bros. site. We don't have a full track list yet, but don't be surprised if it's been even more comprehensive than previous games.

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It's about time!

CNET screenshot

What Smash Bros. modes will be coming back?

Since they've been in every Smash Bros. entry, it's fair to assume some version of Target Smash will appear, but beyond that everything is up for grabs. At E3 2018, Nintendo didn't reveal any more details about specific modes, instead focusing more on characters and stages.

As for the weirdly satisfying 3DS-exclusive Smash Run and infuriating Wii U-exclusive Smash Tour, their continuation is up for grabs. Thankfully, given the Switch's dual functionality, there won't be features or maps split between console and handheld versions of the game. Given that it's a series mainstay, Classic Mode and its beloved (but still non-playable) final boss Master Hand will likely make a return. But there's another single-player mode that's more mysterious.

The series' Wii entry, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, featured a surprisingly lengthy story-driven adventure mode titled "The Subspace Emissary." That mode created a narrative justification, however forced and muddled, for characters across so many franchises to be joining together or fighting against each other. Subspace Emissary even featured cutscenes between its fights, providing the franchise's first, and so far only, real storyline. Could a similar mode be making a comeback on the Switch? Time will tell...

Yep, that happened.

Will Smash Bros. have decent online play?

There's no telling until the game is in the wild, but there's an expectation given that Nintendo is about to charge for online multiplayer for the first time that we'll see an improvement to Smash's online options. Nintendo didn't mention anything about online during its E3 2018 press conference, so we're still in the dark about specifics.

Both the Wii and Wii U versions were hampered by rocky netcode, and the most recent entries limited online gameplay between strict casual and competitive buckets. But recent multiplayer-focused titles like Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon 2 have proven to be perfectly fine on the Switch, so there's plenty of reason to hope for the same with Smash Bros.

E3 2018: Everything you need to know

E3 2018 coverage at CNET: All of our E3 2018 coverage in one place.

E3 2018 coverage at GameSpot: Wall-to-wall coverage of the show from our sister site, GameSpot.

E3 2018 coverage at Giant Bomb: Still more commentary and news from E3, from our colleagues at Giant Bomb.

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