Character Archetypes

Foreword: We have mentioned some of the archetypes characters have along with some interesting ones that we may want for the potential future. However, there is no actual guideline referencing and describing each of the archetypes known to us. I thought it would be helpful to old and new players alike to have something to reference and consider when playing and learning their character. It would also be helpful for any of you to add additional archetypes that I may have not included along with the characters archetype you think suits them. I will edit those characters in their respected archetype.

As a side note, this will be a decent read, so feel free to bookmark it or break it down in specific areas. However, please try to avoid going off-topic for the sake of people trying to clue in on important notes. Additional, because I did not actually create these notes (as much as I edited some parts to settle as a universal guide for fighting games) there may be some errors that may not apply directly to Killer Instinct.

Character Archetype is the defining term for a character’s general strategy and gameplay style. In fighting games it is common to see certain recurring archetypes that compose and evolve the metagame. Archetypes are universal: they can be applied to nearly every kind of game, be traditional board games, sports games, among others. The purpose is to inform the player what type of opponent they might encounter, and how to apply a plan of attack against said archetype.

There three categories of archetypes: offensive, defensive and dynamic. Those, in turn, have different variations to specific kinds of strategy, and because of that, characters can fit into more than one archetype due their mindgames and gameplay style.

Offensive Archetypes

Offensive characters are the ones with better tools for approaching and chasing down opponents. They usually attack relentlessly without giving any breathing room.

Also known as Balanced, they are usually easy to learn, with very balanced stats overall, being good at everything. Usually have both short range and long range attacks, as well as reliable anti-air moves, as well not having any major weaknesses. Because of that, however, they are usually the “jack of all trades, master of none” archetype, in that they don’t really excel in anything, but are prepared for everything. With that in mind they can do very well in both offensive and defensive play.

Rushdown/Projectile Rushdown
Fast characters that specialize in close range combat and combos/juggling. Purely offensive, sometimes with no projectiles, but even if they use some long range attacks, they’re always on the offense. Many of them are fast-fallers with good aerial speed.

Characters that focus on close combat or close combat, usually to exploit openings and weaknesses on their enemies quickly and punish them with high damage combos, leaving no room for reactions.

Hit & Run
Fast characters that excel on getting in and out of their opponent range. While might not having many powerful attacks, with the few they have requiring good precision, they are quick enough to keep their distance and approach as fast as they retreat, punishing the mistake of their opponents.

Perform best at close range, with versatile movesets based on tactics and mind games to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses. They sometimes have with mid-long range projectiles that allow them to zone well, and are generally better balanced than Pressure characters, however, not the extent that All-Rounder characters are, since they can’t play defensively, and have much more obvious/exploitable weaknesses.

These characters are formidable combatants as they have a bit of everything, combining Rushdown, Pressurer, Hit & Run and Mix-Up tactics. They can quickly disrupt opponents with their high speed and combos, completely dominating the battlefield while maintaining a safe approach.

These characters are similar to Rushdown and Pressure characters, but with very high power. They have very formidable speed, but also a damage output that rivals even powerhouses. They tend to have very high exploitable weaknesses, though, but are different from Glass Cannons as they do not suffer from low defenses.

These characters excel at close range ground combat, having superior priority and/or speed on their attacks while on ground. They tend to be less combo oriented that Rushdown, but boasting from superior power.

Glass Cannon
These characters have some of the most powerful attacks in the game, but at the expense of having very low defensive capabilities. They can dish out damage very fast and often have superior range. However, aside lower defenses, they also some kind of heavily exploitable weakness, such slow attack speed and/or low priority, being easily outmatched by characters that can outperform them.

Defensive Archetypes

The opposite of offensive characters, defensive characters usually avoid their opponents and bait them into setups to exploit their weaknesses from a distance before delivering a punishing blow.

They focus on controlling the stage, mostly with tools and projectiles, or melee attacks that outrange opponents. They sometimes lack speed and power to fight, focusing on wearing down opponents from distance.

Bait & Punish
Usually projectile users that pressure their opponents manipulate their behavior, also having the tools for close range combat in order to take down opponent (though they do best from afar). They are usually equipped with projectiles/mid-long range killers. However, they normally face their opponent when attacking, unlike Trappers, who are more mind-game oriented. On the other hand, they can be purely read based characters that use their superior speed and/or power to create openings and exploit opponents.

Alternatively, they can also be close or mid-range characters that can pick off opponents slowly from a safe distance, exploiting their superior range to wear down (and annoy) their opponents. Mix-Up characters can also fall under here, as they also rely heavily on mind-games, however, they tend to favor an offensive fighting style over a defensive one.

Usually also Zoners with some Bait & Punish tactics, those characters are utterly defensive, tending to avoid opponents (though not always) and lure them with traps that put a lot of pressure. They tend to have a lot of indirect options to constantly keep their opponents on their toes. They differ from Zoners in that they can attack while facing away and evading their opponents, and that they excel in multi-tasking, usually stringing combos with their traps and their close range moves. They’re also much more difficult to use than Zoners as they rely heavily on keeping a lot of pressure and mind-games.

Most of the time these are also Zoners, being super defensive characters that focus on wearing their opponents down completely by hitting them from afar/with indirect moves. They can also be Hit & Run characters in the fashion that they poke opponents with projectiles and keeping safe distance. Some of these usually don’t perform well at close range, but
tend to have fast melee attacks.

Keep Away
Those can be considered the Hit & Run of the defensive category, but with some traits from Zoners. They excel in getting in and out of the opponent’s space, not excelling in damage, but being very “annoying” as in keeping opponents at bay without letting them act or react.

Stage Control
These can be considered a combination of Turtle, Zoner and Trapper, they excel keeping opponents at bay by having a variety of long range attacks to adapt every single situation and cover all their weak points, slowly building a barrage of projectiles that prevent opponents from approaching.

Tag Team
Also known as Puppeteer, those characters are basically two entities in one form or another. They have less range than most other Zoners, and mastering them is usually a very daunting, yet rewarding task. Generally suffer from low defenses, but not always.

Grappling is usually a large part of their game, with many being also Bait & Punish specialists. These characters are usually forced into defensive play because of their slow speed, large size and/or inferior jump (though not always), but make up for it with very powerful moves, and very little hit-stun. They essentially wait for their opponents to get in close to punish them for it.

Alternatively, Half-Grapplers can also be fast characters that not only have many setups and combos from grabs, but also good variety of moves to mix up their play; they’re actually more offensive than defensive. While being quite agile, they lack the speed to be Rushdown characters, and the long-range to be All-Rounders or Mix-Up.


These characters are known for having a unique quirk or ability that affects their play strategy directly, Characters that rely on their traits, such as needing to charge up a meter in order to use their stronger attacks or special stances that increases their parameters.

These characters are defined by their inherit style to play with a complete disregard for your opponent’s options.


Interesting so what would my three mains be? They are Saberwulf,Sadira and omen.

What would you classify them as? Sabrewulf a rushdown, etc.

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Well Sadira will be a jump character or trap character Wulf is a rushdown and Omen I’m not to sure.

Omen would be a projectile rushdown.

Okay thanks needed to know that.

All those characters sound like variations on Rushdown.
Wulf is a standard Rushdown with great footsies
Sadira is a great Air Rushdown with airborne mix ups and pressure, though I’m some matchups she can use her skills to zone
Omen is a projectile Rushdown as our previous friend noted who can use his fireballs to cover his crazier options

I choice the right mains I love rushdown characters.

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You think Eagle is a mixup or a zone breaker? And would Shago also be considered a bait and punish since his fireball game and dash mixups can really start to annoy and frustrate the player and make them tend to do mistakes, making it easier to use his unsafe mixups? I know he’s more of a mixup char. but maybe he could be a bait and punish as well.

Really good topic


Orchid, Riptor, and Cinder as well as Rash are rushdown-type characters too, am I correct?

I would consider Cinder more of a Dynamic character because he heavily relies on his fired up state to get a follow up or setup. He also needs to work against the opponents PD to get sufficient damage, otherwise it’s rather low.

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Orchid would probably be footies

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I gotta ask.

Is Tusk a shoto? Seriously.

He has DP

He has his “tatsu” function with spirit step followups

His air skull splitter works as a projectile, and damn good one I might add.

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Glacius and Kan-Ra as well as (if I recalled correctly) Fulgore are overall zoners/zoning-type characters?

Thunder and Aganos as well as General Raam are overall grapplers/grappler-type characters?

So I would assume Kilgore is a bait & punish kind of zoner however, I usually use him as a keep away zoner.

I’m not too sure about Eagle, but I can argue that Shago is a Zone-Breaker. Because he can seamlessly do a lot of things ranging from pressure, mix-ups and even hit and runs.

I don’t think he would be one. Just because he has some of the options doesn’t mean people actually play him as a shoto. He mainly relies on counters, throw setups, or simply trying to dominate and bully the opponent. You place Tusk far away and unlike a shoto (Jago/Fulgore), Tusk would lose without trying to force himself back in.

Same argument goes for Glacius who has a DP, “Tatsu” and projectile. Just because they have the tools, doesn’t mean that they are as their intended playstyles and noticeable weaknesses keep them from being so.

With his recent changes, I don’t think Fulgore can rely on zoning as much as he did. At some point or another he would have to get in to get his reactor speed going. I’m not really sure if he is an All-Rounder like Jago either anymore…

I agree, these characters are intended to get up close and bully the opponent. Though, I would say Thunder is more of a Half-Grappler because he has more mobility than either of those characters and gets unique setups.

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I think fulgore would fit in hit in run. You go in to get pips and damage then run and zone then go back in to get more pips.

Beavis and Butt-Head as the new possible and potential dual-assist character archetype for Killer Instinct.

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Omen is actually closer to an all rounder as he can pretty much do everything. He can zone or rush down play footsies etc.

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