Killer Instinct is quickly becoming one of the most popular fighting games in the fighting game community. Unfortunately, as the popularity of the game grows the fanbase grows, and as the fan base grows the amount of people complaining about every little thing grows as well. The complaint of the day is combo breakers, specifically that they are too hard to do. While Killer Instinct certainly has flaws (I would know, I reviewed it) I’m here to say that definitively, this is not one of them.
Yes, I’m taking kind of a personal stand here against this complaint, which I feel is really nothing more than baseless whining. Why? Because it speaks to a fundamental misunderstanding of how fighting games operate and essentially asks for the game itself to infinitely forgive mistakes. That sounded way more complicated than I wanted it to… so let me explain.
There are three types of “games” that are played when you participate in a fighting game match. The first is “neutral game.” This is when both players have roughly equal options. When two Ryu’s are standing at either side of the screen considering whether to throw a fireball or jump in at their opponent, that is a neutral game.
The next is pressure. This is when one player has executed some sort of game plan, effectively limiting the options of the other. When one character is stuck in a corner blocking a barrage of quick attacks or when another character is pinned up against a wall of fire-balls, this is pressure.
The final game is the combo game. This happens when you successfully hit your opponent. At this point, your goal is to squeeze as much damage out of that hit without allowing your opponent to do anything. It’s basically just a rhythm/muscle memory game for one player.
So there you have it, three games that make up the complex dance that is fighting games. The thing is, Killer Instinct doesn’t have many of these games. In fact, most of the game is neutral!
Let me explain. When an opponent has you in pressure, characters can perform maneuvers called “shadow counters” which attack out of block stun. This is an easy way to say the opponent can start a combo after blocking you by spending meter. So you have to be careful when applying pressure or else you are just going to get combed anyway. Then again, you can do the same thing back to your opponent when you are under pressure, meaning either character can start combos from either a blocking or an aggressive state. Both players have similar options see? While pressure still exists, it’s far easier to get out of it.
Then there is the combo game, where the combo breaker complaint comes in. You see, normally when you are being combed you can’t do anything about it. However, Killer Instinct allows you to watch the moves your opponent is doing and break the combo, i.e. knock the opponent away, by pressing two attacks of the same strength. Is the opponent hitting you with a medium attack? Press both mediums and you’ll knock him away. Heck, you can even break supers by entering the combo breaker input on multiple hits.
Combo breakers are completely free and can be done on reaction, meaning you can pretty much wait to see what the opponent is doing and combo break accordingly. If you fail to combo break, then you are prevented from trying again for several seconds and this is when the opponent can put the hurt on you. But once again, you have options while being combed. In fact, you have several options with combo breakers and instinct mode, and your opponent can even try to bait you out with counter breakers. In a way, this too is its own neutral game.
There is practically no state in which you can’t attack your opponent back. It’s about the neutralist game that exists on the market right now, and people are still complaining that combo breakers are too hard to perform?
No… just no. This is not a problem with the game being unbalanced or poorly designed. This is a problem with people slamming their face on the buttons without thinking before they do. You can literally get out of a combo at hit two. How is that not good enough for you? Do you just want us to remove combos from fighting games all together? Do you never want to be punished for your mistakes?
To you I say, “shut up.” Shut up and learn to play. Killer Instinct is easily the most forgiving fighter out there right now. Yes, more forgiving than Smash Bros. You just have to actually think about what you are doing and if you do, you can get out of nearly every combo. There fighter title in the universe which will allow you to get out of combos for free without even trying. You are getting comboed because you didn’t block well enough to get hit, and those combos hurt because you aren’t taking the time to learn the combo breaker mechanic. Shut up, hit the lab, play the tutorial, and try again. You have to come to the realization that you are losing because you are playing poorly, not because there is a flaw in the game.