Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: How Unlocking Characters Works
Catch 'em all.
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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is now available for Nintendo Switch, and it boasts the biggest character roster to date. It not only includes every playable character from past entries, but also a number of newcomers like King K. Rool, Animal Crossing's Isabelle, and Castlevania's Simon and Richter Belmont. However, when you first boot up the game, you'll find only a very limited number of characters are available--specifically, the original cast from the first game. Here's how to unlock everyone else.
For better or worse, there's not a specific path to unlocking a particular character; it really comes down to just playing the game enough. That said, you do have a few paths to getting access to additional fighters.
Play World Of Light
World of Light is the intriguing new RPG-style mode in Ultimate, where the new Spirits system comes into play. You'll start out with Kirby and work your way through a huge number of fights, earning Spirits and various upgrades along the way. In the course of completing the story, you'll rescue other playable characters. Doing this unlocks them for use in all modes.
Just Complete Matches
Whether you don't care to play solo or are simply uninterested in World of Light, you can also unlock characters by simply playing regular multiplayer matches. In doing so, you'll be presented with the series' standard "New Challenger" opportunities, where you square off against a locked character.
Successfully defeating the character in question will unlock them for use. Fortunately, you can retry these fights easily, so there isn't necessarily a ton of pressure to pull out the win on your first try. After you've played for a bit, you'll unlock access to Challenger's Approach mode, where you can repeat these failed fights.
In our experience, a new one of these fights would present itself every 3-4 matches, or about every 10 minutes. You'll encounter them in between multiplayer matches, so if you're in a rush to unlock characters, you may want to periodically back out of World of Light mode to take advantage of your next opportunity.
Alternatively, you can create a ruleset with a one stock limit and, when the match starts, jump off the edge to kill yourself. Once the match is over a new challenger will approach for you to defeat and unlock. This method has a cooldown of around 10 minutes, but you can force this to reset by closing the game and re-opening it.
Complete Classic Mode Runs
In addition to World of Light, solo players also have the returning Classic mode to play. Completing a run is another way to trigger a New Challenger fight. This may be your fastest route, as going through Classic mode only takes around six minutes.
Future Releases: Piranha Plant And DLC Fighters
Alongside everyone in the base game, even more fighters are on the way. The first of these will be Piranha Plant, whom you can get by purchasing and registering the game by January 31, 2019. Beyond that, five more DLC characters will be released by February 2020. You can purchase a pack with each of these and some other content individually, or you can pick up the Fighters Pass that bundles it all together at a discount. The identities of the DLC characters have not yet been announced.
In our experience, it took around 10 hours to unlock the full roster of characters in the game at launch. That figure may vary greatly depending on how your experience plays out. There's no way to skip the unlocking process.
While that might prove to be frustrating to those who want to immediately get some time with a returning favorite or one of the new additions, it seems as if this is a game you'll want to spend some time with. In our Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review in progress, Edmond Tran writes, "Situational downers don't stop Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from shining as a flexible multiplayer game that can be as freewheeling or as firm as you want it to be. Its entertaining single-player content helps keep the game rich with interesting things to do, as well as bolstering its spirit of loving homage to the games that have graced Nintendo consoles. Ultimate's diverse content is compelling, its strong mechanics are refined, and the encompassing collection is simply superb."
Ultimate releases for Nintendo Switch on December 7.
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