Platforms: Xbox One, Windows 10
Reviewed On: Xbox One
Developer: Iron Galaxy Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: 29 March 2016
Price: Free | R449 with character packs
Related: Quantum Break Review
It is important to note that although this review is a comprehensive as possible, Killer Instinct Season 3 still has quite the amount of content planned for it in the pipeline. New characters are coming, and new game modes too. It also goes without saying that if you owned any Killer Instinct titles from Season 3 and Season 2, then they will be playable in Season 3. So Season 3 is basically a new game to play your old characters in with a few new game modes and new characters added into the mix of things.
Talking about new characters, Season 3 sees quite the roster as the Arbiter from the Halo series enters the fight, as well as Rash, from the Microsoft game, Battletoads. Two fighters also return from Season 2. The best thing about Season 3, is that if you grabbed the Killer Instinct Season 1: Ultimate Edition last month as part of the Games with Gold, then you will already have tons of fighters unlocked.
Season 3 also has Windows 10 support, so your progress and purchases will be carried across automatically when you download the game on your PC. This was tried and tested and it worked flawlessly. Save data and all my characters were available without the need to worry about transferring anything across. This is a good sign as Microsoft have plenty more releasing in the future that will make use of this Cross-Device Play feature.
It is also important to note that if you download Season 3 without any purchase history from Season 1 or 2, then the game might feel a little empty. There are only two characters that have returned from previous seasons, and one character will be on rotation weekly for you to try. If you really wanted to get the most out of the game, then you will need to fork out some cash in this free-to-play version to give it some value.
Now for the fighting, which has received some rather notable polish since the last time I played the game back when the Xbox One released. It is not easy to master, that is for sure, but the game has a great Dojo mode which basically teaches you to be better at the game. If anything, the Dojo mode kind of helped me understand combat in fighting games in general. If you are expecting a traditional fighting game where all you do is tap a few simple buttons to pull off a move, then think again. Killer Instinct’s combo system is deep and at times complicated. Chaining together attacks to build up a combo is easy after you have connected with a character, but moving to another character with slower attack speed can be daunting.
The fight style kind of reminds me of classic Marvel Vs Capcom where it is all about how fast and accurately you can press a chain of buttons to keep your opponent from countering your attack. Once you get him into a corner, you can keep him there for a couple of punches if you know what you are doing. There are ample combos to use and chains of attacks to take your opponent down as fast as possible. When it comes to super moves, it kind lacks that flash you see in Tekken and Street Fighter V, but it is enough to give you that self-fulfillment of beating your opponent into oblivion.
There is a deep upgrade system in the game which tracks everything you do in a fight and in other modes. Use a certain attack on a certain character a number of times, and you will then unlock a challenge which gives you massive XP gains. Each fighter has a level system which unlocks new shaders and skins as you reach different levels, you also have a character level system to track your personal XP. Every match you complete will also reward you with KI Gold, which you can then use to purchase concept art and cards.
When then have the Shadow Lab which is an interesting new take on multiplayer fighting. Although the game has an online fighting mode, the Shadow Lab lets you create and train ghost data so that while you are not playing the game, your data will then face off against other players and fight for you. Setting it up is easy as you face off against Jago in three matches and the game will record your play style and form a fighter based off your data.
While there is lots more releasing in the future for Season 3, what is has to offer right now is quite the load of content. The fighters are all diverse and fight differently, and it definitely has that addictive quality to it. It has a fairly decent levelling system which will also keep you coming back for more and to work on a character’s growth, something many fighting games lack these days. The game is free to play, so try it out and see how you like it.