Hello Iron Galaxy and Killer Instinct community, I wanted to address the Lockout mechanic during combos. In its current state, I feel the Lockout mechanic should be altered or removed. I believe this potential change would balance the offensive and defensive playing field. I have three ideas I would like to suggest and I will explain why.

I understand the Lockout mechanic was designed so that players would be encouraged to read their opponents and discourage button mashing or guess breaks. However, I feel that it takes away from an already great and in-depth fighting system.

When almost every normal in the game can be hit-confirmed into combos, most damage is easy to inflict. Therefore, the imbalance lies within the offense. The offense has little to no real consequence during a combo. The combo patterns and attack animations can change in an instant, causing the defense to misread or react too late. The offense’s advantage to defense’s mistake causes a 3-second lockout for free damage, not to mention the chance to bait defense with a counter breaker allotting for a 3-second Lockout as well. Even if the offensive player is combo broken, there is no damage taken.

The defense, however, has everything to lose. The defense receives damage while under the pressure of determining which L, M, or H attack is being used. Determining where to combo break can be frustrating when trying to follow the misleading attack animations and speed. The frustration thickens with the risk of being locked out because of a button slip or misread attack animation.

The training teaches the defense to take speed into account when determining what to break, but this becomes frustrating when manuals are applied. Characters who have misleading attack animations such as Kan Ra’s LK and MK auto doubles and Hisako’s attack speed make these reads especially difficult in real-time. Aside from being an incredible fighting game with tons of content and interesting characters, here are a few of my suggestions for the Lockout mechanic to potentially enhance the experience of Killer Instinct.

Suggestion 1:
Reduce lockout timer – Reduce the Lockout timer to at least 1 second, or for the duration of 1 auto-double and linker before it resets. This puts more pressure on the offense to constantly keep its combos varied. This change also keeps defense more alert during a combo to fight back. The change would overall allow both offensive and defensive players to stay engaged by keeping their hands on the controller and avoid momentum loss.

Suggestion 2:
Shorten combos and increase damage scale – The combo length should be shortened in half, because it can be exhausting to watch a 10-15 second combo take place in one spot on-screen. Especially when about 3 of Jago’s H anti-air uppercuts can deal the same amount of damage as an over-extended combo. Also through observation, once the defense has been released from a lockout state and the combo continues, it is highly unlikely that the combo would be broken and may warrant another Lockout.

Suggestion 3:
Remove Lockouts altogether – Removing the Lockout mechanic altogether may seem like it is rewriting the entire fighting system of Killer Instinct. But I feel the game has so much more going for it, that it would be okay to dismiss Lockouts. I do not feel it is okay to punish the defense for trying to defend. If casual players want to button mash, I say let them, but that only brings more purpose to experienced players understanding counter breakers and causing 3-second lockouts for free damage.

What do you all think?

I don’t think this is really a good idea, but it’s certainly a thought. The original games didn’t have a lockout timer, but this was balanced by breakers being harder to do.

I think the reason that offense has such an advantage in combo is that this is your reward for hitting your opponent in neutral and starting a combo. In most games there is no opportunity for any defense at that point. KI has has a simple combo system and a simple breaking system to reduce the execution barrier and make the mental skill more accessible. In this case the defensive player is trying to limit combo damage.

I also suspect that without a lockout people would just mash buttons to break on every move. Why not then just have one button breaks? Put in a break button that always works? I think this would lead to the loss of the combo system since no one would ever be able to finish a combo.

I think a better answer is to simply expect people to learn the breaker system and practice it. If you are getting locked out its because you are guessing rather than reading. Start by only trying to break heavies. Once you have that down work on mediums. Lights will always be a guess so wait for these until you can reasonably predict your opponent.

I don’t think you have a firm grasp of the combo system…or the game in general.


It’s already pretty short.

That would make the game less appealing and give more fire towards the KI is just like SF argument.

Time to mash Combo Breaker!

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Welcome to KI - I’m glad that you seem to be enjoying yourself. As you play more and get better though, I think you’ll find that the combo system is pretty solid as-is. With respect to the advantage being in the offense’s favor, yeah, that’s kind of the point. The person who initiated the combo won in neutral, which means that your best reward as the defender is to stop getting damaged before he can maximize his punish. Getting locked out is your penalty for messing up in that second layer of the game. You’re in the combo because you messed up, and you getting locked out is a result of you messing up as well. You actually do always have the option of simply not trying to break as well - I think you’ll find that a lot of times people will end their combos early when no lockout has occurred.

The biggest issue with your current mindset though is that I think you’ll find that it really won’t scale effectively with skill. At higher levels of play, huge chunks of the combo game are pretty reactable, which means that there really does need to be some advantage to the offense for mixing up his combo game well enough to avoid being broken. A lot of times you’re giving up damage (avoiding heavies, using mostly manuals) to remain harder to break - getting to go nuts with a few heavy AD’s is your reward for baiting the lockout.

As to your suggestions:

  1. A lockout of 1 second (or alternately, an AD and linker) is simply not a good enough reward for baiting a missed breaker input. The offense is being forced to keep his combos varied by the simple existence of combo breakers - all this change would do would be to simply encourage the defense to mash break recklessly, as the damage penalty for being wrong is negligible. In a system like this, the offense isn’t going to bother playing the combo game; they’ll just go for 1-chances into setup enders. There’s no incentive to extend the combo, because no matter what they do within it, they will at best be able to add a percent here or there to their overall damage output. It’s not worth it, and would degrade the combo game significantly.

  2. I suppose this one is a bit of a preference thing, but in general I like the length of combos. Not everyone does super long ones (and again, at higher level you’ll find almost no one does, because good players break well), and there’s actually a pretty wide variety in combo length. Jago and Orchid, for instance, do not generally do especially long combos. Raam and Arbiter don’t either, on account of their limted AD animations. Aganos is another short combo aficionado, relying more on wall setups to do his damage. Conversely, everything Cinder does is a production, and Sadira can do some fairly long-lasting combos also. My point is simply that there is a good amount of variety in how individual characters interact with the combo system, and as you get better at the game, long combos tend become more difficult to do in any case.

  3. You cannot remove lockouts from KI’s combo system without also reworking how combo breakers are done. No lockouts is fine if I have to mash DP inputs to get a breaker; not so fine when all I have to do is press two buttons or a direction on the right analog stick. I think you’d find no character would ever get a full combo out if the defense were allowed to simply mash on breakers without consequence. With regards to “I don’t think it is okay to punish the defense for trying to defend”, I’d challenge you to change your mindset. You aren’t being punished for trying to defend, you are being punished for failing in your defense. Your first punishment is that you got caught in the combo in the first place (because you lost in neutral). Because KI is a benevolent game however, you are then given the opportunity to escape from any further damage by breaking successfully. Getting locked out means that you have squandered that opportunity, and your penalty is that the offense now gets to wail on you with things that would otherwise be very easily breakable. You’ve been given a second chance, and are simply not granted a third - even benevolent KI has limits to its magnanimity.


chuckles I think some of you assume that me disliking a mechanic in a game, means that I am not good at using it. There are things I do not like about Tekken, Street Fighter, and Marvel but I assure you, I am no stranger in fighters.

Now, I can see most of you are pro Lockout but may I ask? If Lockout is needed and the game cannot survive without it…how did previous installments in the series gain so much popularity without it?

Different game different rules.

“Have you tried the dojo?”

I surely have. The dojo taught me everything I already knew from Street Fighter.

So…counter breaker lockouts are 3 seconds?

They last about the same as a Lockout yes.

So you didn’t do the dojo…

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lol predictable. Now ask me what color shirt I wore last Friday…

The point is being missed.

Then what’s the counter breaker lock out time? This is very common knowledge and something noone forgets when they want to get into the mechanics of KI.

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I am not aiming for counter breakers sir. I welcome the counter break reads. The Lockouts I…

You know what. I enjoy the game. I wished this removal of Lockouts would be considered. It would bring in a larger casual audience and increase the game’s popularity BUT. The community has spoken. I just wanted to know you all’s opinion is all. Maybe I will end up in a ranked match with some of you. That would be exciting.

Wonderful…couldn’t even bother to write up the consequences your “wished changes” would have.


Consequences? Killer Instinct has the popularity and reputation is has today because it began with my “wished changes”.

Like I said, different game…different rules.

Yeah and it depends on what the community wants from the game. No game developer is perfect. There would be no need for improvements if the community never speaks out in honesty. Agree?

Depends…as far as lockouts are concerned…the community seems to not mind they are in. Majority rules here.