The latest update for Killer Instinct came out hot on the heels of the ARIA reveal from Combo Breaker 2015. The update not only included some patch fixes and ARIA, but also the new Shadows Mode which is creating quite the buzz among the fighting game community. While this update completed the roster for the entire cast of Killer Instinct Season 2, there’s more to come, including the full Season 2 story mode, Female Announcer, and the rest of the cast playable in Shadows Mode. To be sure that this isn’t going to be the last time we hear of Killer Instinct throughout the year, we can’t forget the update of Shadow Jago with the $100,000 raised in a staggeringly short time of 72 hours to be divided among future tournaments. While the future for both Killer Instinct and Iron Galaxy is looking extraordinarily bright, let’s take a look at what is currently available beginning with ARIA.
ARIA has three separate life bars which all equate to the regular two life bars of a single character. Each life bar represents a body part, or drone, for ARIA. Of the three, she has Flight, Sword, and Laser. Each drone gives ARIA a set of moves particular to her punch attacks, while the leg moves remain essentially the same with each form. You can use the two unequipped drones to summon an ‘assist’ to add more opportunities to close the gap with your opponent, or zone them out, even use them as a shield to take a hit for you to open your opponent to a massive punish. However, if you use an ‘assist’ and the opponent hits that drone, it keeps the damage when you switch to that part. ARIA has plenty of rewards, but her risks are even greater.
The catch with ARIA is that you need to master all three body parts. Her Laser will give you projectile zoning options, which you can play really lame with, and it’s her only battery ender opportunity. If this body is defeated, then it’s destroyed for the match and you don’t get it back. Even if you take a life bar away from your opponent, you are stuck with what’s left. So again, mastering other forms is crucial to her gameplay and the next form is Sword. It gives ARIA an anti-air dragon punch move, and a rekka that is great on block but super vulnerable at a distance. This form also gives her a couple different normals that utilize the sword, too. Her Flight form will give you a few dashing attacks that have varying direction, an attack that’s similar to Cinder’s Trailblazer. The form also gives you a levitation ability when you hold up while in the air. Her instinct will combine all available forms into one, however, if a drone is destroyed you won’t have that form available to you in instinct. Another neat trick is that when you switch forms you’ll remove negative effects from that form, so Cinder’s burnout can be removed by simply switching forms. This is just a bare bones look at what ARIA has to offer, but there is plenty of benefit for those looking to master a new character.
The update also introduced the new Shadows mode, which could warrant a whole conversation in and of itself. But the gist of it is that you can take the idea of Ghosts from Tekken or Driveatar from Forza, only a much more concise form of AI. When you play Shadows mode you’ll be pitting your actual taught character against the world. This character that you create will only perform tactics that you’ve done yourself in varying situations. The AI is so complex that it will take any situation it’s in, calculate the tactics that you’ve taught it, and then choose to use what will work best in its current situation. If you spend a match taunting your opponents, your AI will do just that! Never broke a combo before? Neither will your AI. The Shadow can be recorded within nearly every game mode once created, the more recordings you have of each matchup, the better an AI you will create. An abundance of matches across the entire cast will help you to create a phenomenal carbon copy of yourself. You’ll even be able to fight yourself to see if it has what it takes to beat a human player. Over time, it’s expected that these AI will be the closest to the real thing as you can get. We can literally call this the future of Fighting Game AI, and I’ve only just scratched the surface of how in-depth this gets!
The final addition to the latest update is the Combo Breaker training. For those that have been struggling to learn, or wanted a better answer at practicing, this training is perfect for you. It sets up very much like regular training mode, the difference is that you choose how aggressive you want the AI to be. How often it mixes autos, manuals, linkers, and shadow attack is setup either via difficulty or custom tailored to what you set. It’s a great tool for better understanding your poor matchups in what can be broken. Now it doesn’t get you absolutely every combo available to each character, but it will help you to recognize what to look for in each break attempt.
There’s plenty to take in for Killer Instinct this month alone, and we still have plenty more to come. For full in-depth info on the Shadows Mode you can check out this tutorial post from Ultra Combo Forums. Keep checking back for more on the latest Killer Instinct info. Until then, Fight on!