Killer Instinct Season 3's Focus Returning to the Neutral Game

So after this event, the presentation and everything, I’m incredibly excited about what’s coming for Season 3.

Combo Breakers giving the advantage a little bit to the person who broke, but ultimately resets everything back to neutral which is a great addition and completely fair.

Fierce attacks supersede armor moves gives them purpose in neutral, thus enhancing the mind game and footsies which is also a great addition.

Flip outs add a new layer of mix-ups to the game as well which will be so much fun to explore.

Overall, I’m fully satisfied with these changes. Instead of the focus turning to combo breakers and the momentums shifting to if you break, it returns to neutral and then both characters are looking to gain the upper hand. It puts the focus back into the player’s hands to come out on top more so than the breaking. Combo Breakers are still very important, but I think is finally in a good sweet spot for the game.


There’s something about these sorts of proclamations of “KI is about the neutral and footsies again!” that bugs me. Whilst those dimensions have always been present in plenty of matchups, it’s always felt like trying to sell KI to the FGC (or specific parts of it) as “don’t worry, the things like breakers that aren’t in Street Fighter don’t matter, KI is totally about the stuff your narrow SF-driven tastes condition you to want!”

That’s not to say I don’t think the system changes are pushing KI in a good direction. Really, it seems promising. But the things which make KI different matter perhaps even more than before.

I think combo breaker flip-out and the various damage nerfs come together to make for a bit of a wash in terms of average combo damage, really: nobody was really setting up any really nutty oki on soft knockdown (aside from certain characters whose breakers put you a screen away – so that could be a win depending on where the breakers put characters now), so the expected lifeswing on a break is just going from something like -3% to 0%. Pretty irrelevant change next to the numbers for other combo outcomes.

I mean, I hope it wins more hearts and minds over to the combo system, i.e. I hope people stop chickening out with one-chance breaks into hard knockdowns and start actually optimizing for longer combos. But also, where there was already very little reason to do shorter combos before, I think there’s going to be virtually none now – that is, unless you’re still extremely timid about losing “momentum” to a breaker. Prepare to lose a lot of games if you’re that person.

Oh, and I guess this makes counter breakers worse: it’s better to fail to predict a break than to mispredict one. I do have an obscure wishlist item for just this occasion: it’d be nice if the counter breaker input was disabled during lockout. I’m guessing that’s not on the cards, though.

I don’t know about that; the advantage that Kan-Ra and Jago got off of combo breakers was immense. Most of the time, Kan-Ra gets free plus frames to get away and set up his BS, while very often Jago would get an unbreakable juggle that created a lifeswing of about 40%. At the same time, Aganos would have all of his walls damaged every time he has his combo broken. The new flipout and prevention of Instinct after the breaker prevents all of these from happening.

Some characters might still end up getting advantage. For example, Keits said that a Glacius combo breaker pushes them outside of Ice Lance range; that might make it tough for some characters to get back in with his new improved zoning, but that remains to be seen. In any case, being -1 after a combo breaker sounds wayyy better than being -60, considering that you didn’t really even make a “mistake” to begin with.

Overall, I think the game is going to feel a lot faster. Even from spectating matches on the stream, I felt that I wasn’t getting my expected 0.5 seconds of a mental rest after a combo breaker. Also juggles would seem to be much more of a 2-way interaction because you’re no longer just thinking “ok… should I guess break something here or should I wait for my soft knockdown to get a wakeup?” Now you also need to have your mind on a reset when you’re getting juggled because you could very quickly be eating a quick mixup after a flipout.

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I’ll give you Kan-Ra; but breaker xx instinct lifegain isn’t the norm at all: it’s possible a maximum of twice per match, and requires meter and that you haven’t popped instinct for something else (which you usually have). As I’ve said before, as a Jago main I barely batted an eyelid at losing this. I’m even glad that people will stop complaining about it, honestly – but if it’s not this, then they’ll find something else to take up the torches and pitchforks over, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t celebrate the occasion. :neutral_face:

Meatying someone on wakeup only to get DP’d isn’t making a “mistake” either, but it still eats a sixth of your lifebar and puts you into knockdown. What’s disappointing is that unlike in that situation, people refuse to accept that actual mistakes in decision making in-combo are only really detectable in aggregate, where your bad habits and tendencies towards overt zeal or caution get you repeatedly broken by someone who has your ticket.

That may just be in the balance for a zoner, though, especially in a game where the rushdown is as potent as KI: if the combo runs its course then you have stacked odds of landing another one against a (relatively) poor helpless zoner, so giving the zoner a wide berth if they find the break helps to balance things out.

It’ll be interesting. KI has always been a fast-paced game in that regard, the half a second’s mental rest was already paltry in comparison to the sandwich break you get in other fighting games when someone lands a confirm on you. Mind, I’m all for turning it up to 11. :slightly_smiling:

I’m all about diversifying the game, frankly IG and MS have done completely enough with that already with the characters we’ve seen.

Ever since early last year, I’ve just found a great luxury in watching neutral between characters. I like watching footsies because that internal mind game makes it fun. I just find that these changes will make it a more fun game to watch overall. I don’t think KI ever went away from neutral and footsies to be honest, but that’s just me. My proclamation was more on the fact that they wanted to have the game in more control of the player while still having a good focus on the combo breakers which this title is known for.

Not sure if the one chance breaks will calm down, it could definitely, but with the damage a little more normalized across the cast in relation to enders, things should be interesting indeed. I’m looking forward to playing with all of these characters when it drops in just under two months

The combo breaker change is amazing. It’s going to be so fast paced and cool looking.

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I think the comparison between combo breakers and DPs is interesting (and I’ve made it in the past myself), but keep in mind that not all DPs are equal. Something like Kan-Ra sandsplosion on hit will leave Kan-Ra somewhere between 0 and +5 with the opponent, maybe even with Kan-Ra point blank, whereas Wulf shadow Eclipse even lets a juggle happen, which means Wulf gets the offensive situation of his choice.

I think the “universalizing” of combo breakers is a good idea, because being combo broken is something that should be less character specific than risk/reward for a DP, IMO. I also think that being around even frames with your opponent after a breaker is good, because even -40 and allowing meaty pressure (or, worse, Kan-Ra gets to set up a meaty swarm and jump over your head out of the corner, then create sand on top of all that) feels like maybe too much reward for breaking.

I definitely think smart people will do fewer one-chance breaks in general, because the penalty for being broken is not an offense/defense momentum switch, but rather just a return to neutral. This is huge for characters like Glacius/Aganos, who could get mauled after being broken (I imagine someone like Glacius won’t care as much about having ranged doubles broken now, for instance, because he will just be full screen at even frames like he was beforehand). On the other hand, some characters might still end up doing one-chance into a breakable mixup between sweep and flipout, which could give them a safe jump or an air reset mixup. I think it’s a good balance here, actually… better than in S2, because you actually do want short combos to have some reward, such that waiting to try breaking near the end of the combo can be a bad idea. I think S3 will probably have a really good balance between short combos and long combos, which I like.

And yes, the speed increase from breakers is probably the change that will surprise people the most. It is a massive speed increase to the entire game, and it leads to a bunch of really interesting situations. Like, after a breaker Jago could land at medium wind kick range. You could just decide to try and wrestle control of the neutral back by flying in with wind kick, or you could block and see if your opponent does that, or you could do any number of other things. This could easily happen before you even realize you’ve been combo broken, because the pace has been cranked up so much. I have no doubt that S3 of KI will be one of the fastest, most mentally draining fighting games in a long time, just because the only time you will ever get a break is when you’ve locked out or if you’re watching a long ender animation. Even other fast games, like Melee, will give you a few seconds of break every now and again as players recover from being launched off the stage.


I wasn’t insinuating otherwise. But I think the call for mental fortitude to shake off variance in the moment is a commonality among all these situations, and it pains me that players can reserve such fortitude for the instances which the FGC at large has accepted, but not the those which KI brings to the table and that they have had two years to come to grips with.

Sure, but the incentive here is much more along the lines of reset damage, moreso than the (paranoid, defeatist) reasoning used by players in season 2 who want to avoid being broken at just about any cost.

True, there needs to be an appropriate mindset to handle breakers, but I think you will still need that in S3 (that is to say, it’s not going away because of flipout breakers). But on the plus side, I think flipout breakers more intelligently tunes risk/reward while keeping the spirit of KI that we all like, so I think it’s a positive change overall.

This game is about to get insane. Certainly explains why they gave characters tools to both get in (Sabrewulf, Thunder) and keep out (Glacius, Kan-Ra, Fulgore) since now there’s a lot less time to get back into position and think things through now that it’s right back into the fray.

Also, I’ve come to realize the true power of resets in a recent bout online. People who have trouble breaking stuff fall easy prey to MASSIVE damage (I’ve had the most success with Riptor, oddly enough, even though I always looked at her as the easiest to break in the cast) so flip out is suddenly really high on my radar. Thunder, Wulf, and Riptor are gonna get spooky scary stuff, even if I hate the damage nerfs because I want to have my cake and eat it too :stuck_out_tongue:

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Not if I take it and go home.

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If you dare touch my cake…
I will carve your heart out
#With a SPOON!

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I’m perfectly fine with this. They manage to do this reasonbly without going the bull-crap MVC route where NO breakers happen and it’s just lame infinites or the bad MKX route and make breaking to far and few between. Keeps the fights going and keeps things from getting one sided if you get opened up. Keeps te fights interesting.

Hah. I know this reference. :smirk:

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I’m all for S3 changes.

Season 3 is going to be like a Bullet Train at full speed, and the brakes are broken.

Don’t you mean BREAKERS are broken…

Ok that was dumb…


Again, I wasn’t insinuating otherwise. If anything, I’m just a little miffed at the persistence of this attitude that says that “I didn’t make a mistake, therefore I don’t deserve to get broken,” and I have to groan at the round of FGC politicking that might ensue around convincing people that think that way that “it’s not so bad anymore.”

Since I tend to look mainly at expected lifeswing when evaluating the risk/reward of a given situation, I don’t really have that kind of view on this.

I guess one interesting consequence of this change is that the neutral game will be seen more often. Often enough in KI the neutral is resolved quickly because of good specials and combat designs that are meant to go into pressure and pick up combos efficiently, and then the combo ends or gets broken and you’re back into a pressure situation. Revisiting neutral after a breaker might lead to it developing more in certain matchups or at certain levels of play than it typically has.

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I gotcha. It makes sense, too… we shouldn’t apologize for how KI works. Breakers are (IMO, and I believe in your opinion as well) done smartly in the KI system and they add lots of interesting mind games you don’t see in other fighters. I think we should embrace it and teach people why the system is awesome, and not constantly try to apologize for its existence.

But yeah, I’m quite interested to see how the S3 flipout breaker change influences the game’s flow. Because it will crank the speed way up, for that reason alone I’m pretty interested. As you say, we will probably also see neutral tools used more often, rather than neutral resolved to a combo into either a) a hard knockdown and pressure, or b) a combo breaker and pressure. Now it’ll be neutral into the same a), but a different b).


Since i always disliked getting guess broken - this change is aside from timed lockout on juggles the best in s3.

Being at -1 after breaker instead of a soft knockdown is huge.

I really really like this change. Though im curious how they handle fulgore teleport into dp (as example), Glacius Shoulder, Omen Slide, Shago crossup Slide and stuff in terms of balance after a breaker occured.

Other than that im happy about the change.

I feel like the sense I got is that you’ll generally flipout into just outside safe offensive range. They said that Glacius’ lance can’t hit after a break, for example, but I don’t think they’re flipping so far that a shatter wouldn’t be able to hit. Shatter is pretty unsafe at just outside lance range though in a pure neutral situation, so it works out.

Because of how far many specials travel (Jago heavy windkick, Kim Wu light dragon kick) it isn’t really feasible to push outside “this character can touch you” range, but the caveat is that if someone wants to instantly be back on top of you, they’re gonna have to commit to being punishable to do it.

I’d agree, it really is a good change. Absolutely speeds up the pace of the game as well, so that’s gonna take some getting used to…I’d gotten accustomed to my half second break after a combo breaker. :sweat_smile:

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