We've known that a new Super Smash Bros. game has been in development, and during the E3 2018 Nintendo Direct, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was revealed. It's an original Smash game built specifically for the Nintendo Switch, and it features every single character that has ever been included in a Smash game.
We got hands on with the E3 2018 demo of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate shortly after viewing the Direct. It's a build that features a limited character and stage selection, but it gave us a good feel for how new game feels to play.
Edmond Tran, 1v1 only, no items, Final Destination: The first big surprise we got as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was being announced was the reveal that Snake was returning (along with everyone else), so I immediately picked him when we got to play. He certainly feels like the same old Snake--he feels weighty, his rocket launcher feels devastating to groups from afar, and his normals feel very hard hitting. That's what I'm primarily interested in with Ultimate: How do all these classic, formerly one-off characters feel to play? My overall impression was that, unsurprisingly, the game felt a little different to past Smash games during the 25 minutes we had to play it, but that could've been due a number of factors--playing a character I hadn't touched for a while, using a Pro Controller--or, it just might just actually feel like a different game.
Justin Haywald, cheap-move-spammer and item-opportunist: I really wanted to try out the Ridley and the Inkling, but I tempered my excitement and started the first few matches with my standard choices: Link and Kirby. I wanted to see how this felt from just a broad gameplay perspective, and, it sounds silly to say, but this feels like a great Smash game.
Smash on Wii U is still a terrific game, and I think it holds up surprisingly well, but the little gameplay additions to the Switch version really do make matches feel even faster and more intense. Obviously, we only saw a sliver of what the full game will include, so I'm sure there are even bigger changes in the works (if there's a single-player mode, how will that work?), but for a base experience, I'm overly excited to just play some more Smash.
As a player, I'm definitely much more casual--I like the chaos of lots of characters on screen, unpredictable stage effects, and crazy item powers. We only got to play on a TV, but I'm really curious to see how this plays on the smaller, handheld screen. Ed, as a more "serious" player, what're your feeling so far?
Edmond: I'm the exact opposite, I really enjoy fighting games the clash of skills that one-on-one competition brings, and I'm basically not going to care about any new stages or items, only characters and mechanics. I was very pleased to hear about a couple of changes, namely the fact that damage would be increased overall during one-on-one battles, and the new limitations in dodging.
I'm very accustomed to my Smash matches devolving into frantic shield/dodge matches, and the idea that you can only do this a handful of times before you start being seriously penalised is very intriguing. The Perfect Shield technique is also exciting--I'm probably not at the level where I can't wait to see what professional matches look like now. I also really like how they're trying to make some of the more advanced techniques at least somewhat more accessible, namely hop jump attacks.
But I'm very excited about the more mundane changes like the out-of-bounds minimap that appears when you're knocked outside of the visible screen, the hype-building slowdown effect that now happens during significant attacks, and the fact that you pick a stage before you pick characters. But that might be a bit technical for you, Justin; what are you most excited about?
Justin: I'm most excited about playing as new characters and exploring new stages. I tried out Ridley for a bit, and the beast feels a little overpowered for the demo, but I felt like a dominant force on the battlefield, even without really knowing the character's moveset and peculiarities. Ridley plays like a mix between Ganon and Bowser, powerful, heavy, but able to quickly get around the map and cause some damage.
I tried the Inkling, but that's a character that will definitely take a little more practice for me to get a handle on, but I think you had a little more success?
Edmond: I rotated between a different character each round. The Inkling felt like a very mobile character with the Splat Roller and Squid Jump, but needing to refill your ink in the middle of a match might make them a more technical character to play--there's never going to be a great time to do that.
Ridley felt really brutal to use, his moves look devastating and can really hit your opponent's morale--he's got a special where he flies across the stage, grinding an opponent into the ground and throwing them off the edge. I remember when I used Gannondorf for the first time, and Ridley has that same feeling of unhinged power.
My regulars, Ness, DK, and Samus felt relatively unchanged aside from their Final Smashes, through DK's spinning attack now ramps up in speed toward the end and you can now obviously charge DK and Samus' specials in mid-air, which is great.
Of course, these are just our very first impressions and I'm really, really looking forward to playing more matches over the course of E3. Nintendo hasn't said whether there will be an open multiplayer beta, but that would be very exciting, and I'm very glad that we won't have to wait until 2019 to get our hands on the full thing.