Killer Instinct evoked a strong nostalgic resonance with me. I have fond memories of the game, and was compelled not only to buy it, but to buy an Xbox One to get it. I have to report that while I do not regret getting the system itself, the community attached to it, is a disaster. I'm honestly not beyond saying that Killer Instinct would be a better game without online. The learning curve is absurd, requiring the purchase of both a $200 fight stick, and your absolute dedication to this game and only this game to excel. If you have a vibrant group of friends locally and online who are at your skill level it is a great time to be had.
But in reality, most of us do not. You depend on the online modes matchmaking system in ranked and exhibition to find an opponent for you, as the offline single player features of this game are incomplete. But it isn't up to the task. I was regularly matched up in ranked match with people up to seven ranks above my current standing, and the rankings in exhibition are misleading and poorly determined. 90% of all my matches I was beaten so completely I may as well have not been holding the controller, 9% of them I won but the opponent disconnected before the win registered, the other 1% I was paired against people so hideously bad that they may as well have also not been holding a controller. (and they screeched and shouted and blasted music into their Kinect mic the whole time)
Whatever metric is used to determine skill and match up players that they have used, it is ludicrously broken. In most matches I was berated, cursed at, called racial slurs, sexual slurs, and generally verbally abused, and usually by people who were far better than me, not sore losers… just generally awful human beings with no social skills. This represented the vast super majority of players.
If you have friends on XBL who play games together on a regular and active basis who have at least a passing interest in fighters, then add three points to my review and stick to just playing with them (and only them) and have an utterly fantastic time. If you're an SRK jockey who plays fighters religiously if not exclusively, do the same. The core gameplay is really fun. (and for the SRK guys, the fight stick seems solid and responsive)
I haven't played online games regularly in over three years, and this experience has been terrible all around, and speaking purely as a casual gamer just looking for a fun game to play in bursts, this game is a major let down. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go back to not playing online again, and this time their will be no return.