When I first played Killer Instinct 2013, I knew there was so much more to come. It was a great game, but it was pretty bare bones when it came to content. There wasn’t even a true single player, just a series of arcade battles, and the roster—while strong—needed more variety. Iron Galaxy answered the call for Season 2, and managed to add in a number of new and classic additions that strengthened the cast tremendously, tweaking a few things along the way. That goes double for Season 3, which is the best version yet.
The most obvious content injections are probably Arbiter, Kim Wu, Tusk, and Rash. Yes, you heard that right— the Arbiter from Halo and Rash from Battletoads. Much like the wacky Soul Calibur cameos before them, they somehow work within the ruleset of Killer instinct, and honestly, the Arbiter has become one of my favorite choices, as the team has incorporated his Covenant weaponry (a plasma grenade and a carbine) into his abilities.
Rash is a sight for sore eyes. Although he had a brief cameo in Shovel Knight, Battletoads as a whole has been relatively quiet, so it’s great to see Microsoft do something with it and let Iron Galaxy go all out on his animations. That includes bullhorns, a giant boot, and so on. He’s really true to the source material, and that even includes audio references. While I always enjoyed Killer Instinct, it has never had this much attention to detail as part of its allure. Tusk and Kim Wu are definitely less exciting, but they’re classic characters that certainly deserve a spot and are fun to play in their own right.
So those tweaks I was talking about? Nearly every existing character has gotten some sort of change that makes them a little more enjoyable. That includes staggering foes with a HK from Sabrewulf, or allowing the jump canceling of special moves during Instinct when blocking for Sadira. It’s all a little inside baseball, but new players will arrive to a less clunky game overall that consists of researched and well implemented balance changes.
Other Season 3 additions include a new graphical upgrade, which also smoothes over every level in the game. Also, full incorporation into the PC platform by way of Windows 10, which includes a Cross-Buy and Cross-Play initiative that has worked out well for me so far. The only annoying thing is that in order to import a save file onto PC, players need to first log on via Xbox One to upload it or risk erasing all their hard work. It’s clunky, but doable. Gamepads also worked well on PC during my test sessions, though arcade sticks are not yet officially supported.
Killer Instinct has really come a long way. With each season they have iterated on the already strong foundation, creating more content and characters, all of which gel together in spite of the fact that it went through a developer change. They’re not done yet either, as a brand new campaign and more fighters are coming down the pipeline. If you haven’t bought in yet, now is the time. Honestly, I hope there’s a Season 4 in the works.