This morning, November 1, Nintendo hosted a Nintendo Direct live stream focused entirely on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The 40-minute video introduced new fighters, new modes and features, the plans for future DLC.
The Nintendo Direct represents the last big push of detailed information for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate before its launch on December 7.
The biggest surprise announcement was the inclusion of three new fighters (two at launch). The current roster is already at an astonishing 72 fighters, including the previously announced newcomers of Inkling, Ridley, Simon Belmont, Richter Belmont, King K. Rool, and Isabelle.
The newly announced launch fighters are Ken from Street Fighter II Turbo and Incineroar from Pokémon Sun and Moon. Ken is an Echo Fighter of Ryu, meaning he uses the same model, animations, and move sets. Echo Fighters are more than just cosmetic changes however. Ken is a faster fighter and has a differently shaped Hadoken move.
Incineroar is an all new fighter, representing the powerful, final form of starter Pokémon Litten. The Fire-Fighting Pokémon uses wrestling-style moves to pummel his opponents. His Final Smash super attack, Max Malicious Moonsault, is based on his Z-Move from Pokémon Sun and Moon.
A third fighter was announced as a pre-order or early purchase incentive. It’s the Piranha Plant from the Mario series. To gain access to Piranha Plant, you’ll need to either pre-order the digital version of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, or register your physical game by Jan. 31, 2019. If you miss out, Piranha Plant will be released as DLC (along with a new stage) at a later date.
Note that Piranha Plant won’t actually be available at launch, but a “couple of months after launch.”
You can bet that even more fighters will be available as paid DLC in the future. Nintendo’s Smash Bros. DLC plans are to release a new fighter, stage, and music track as a bundle for $5.99. A $24.99 Fighters Pass will include five such bundles, letting you save some money if you’re confident you’re going to want all the future content.
The total roster is officially set at 74 at launch. Note that even with all these fighters, you start your Smash Bros. career with only the original 8 fighters unlocked, who originally appeared in the first Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo 64: Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, Samus, Yoshi, Kirby, Star Fox, and Pikachu.
Spirits are a new RPG-like element added to Super Smash Bros., taking the place of the loot drops found in the adventure mode of the previous game. Spirits, like the fighters themselves, are drawn from a myriad of game series. Players can equip primary and support Spirits to bolster their stats. Players can equip a single Primary Spirit, and then that Primary Spirit can have several Support Spirits equipped to gain even more special skills.
Spirits come in four different strength values, ranging form Novice to Legendary. Spirits can be leveled up and combined with each other to create stronger Spirits, and are gained by winning Spirit Battles. Spirit Battles are special solo battle modes with unique conditions as you battle the Spirit enemies.
Assist Trophies also return as a way to include more characters from different game series. They’re special powerups who attack on the battlefield. A total of 59 trophies will be included, such as Guile from Street Fighter and Spring Man from ARMs.
Multiplayer matchmaking has been streamlined. Online matchmaking will use three factors: Preferred Rules (Time, Stock, etc), Global Smash Power (your matchmaking ranking that reflects your skill level), and Proximity (prioritizing players closer together for less latency). Spectator Mode returns, and you’ll be able to play certain modes while waiting for matchmaking to complete.
Smash Bros. will integrate with the Nintendo Switch Online app on smartphones. The app will let players use voice chat, as well as the upcoming Smash World mobile service. Smash World will work as social media specifically for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where players can share videos and posts.
The one detail we still haven’t learned much of is the new single player Adventure mode. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, it’s called the World of Light. The end of the Direct treated us to the opening cinematic movie, and a bit of gameplay, involving an overland map filled with battles against dark, evil versions of the fighters.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is out December 7 on Nintendo Switch. It’s rated E10+.