One of Microsoft Studios’ biggest announcements at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) earlier this month didn’t come during their media briefing, but in the hours that followed after. Sure, the rebirth of a franchise many core gamers have been passionate about is enough to grab headlines in itself – especially when the franchise was original created by a studio largely thought to have lost their way – however it’s the market proposition of Killer Instinct that is arguably the more interesting prospect.
Set to be available at launch – currently believed both at retail and via digital distribution – Killer Instinct will be presented as both a full package and an expandable demo. Much like the forthcoming Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate: Core Fighters, Killer Instinct will launch with a free version offering a limited amount of characters, stages and gameplay modes. Players can then expand upon this base by investing in prescribed additions. Exactly how new characters and other assets will be priced is not yet known – whether they’ll be sold individually or in groups – but Microsoft Studios has already stated that those who purchase the Xbox One Day One Edition console bundle will receive an exclusive character, Shadow Jago, as part of their package.
Of course, Jago is one of the two characters that have been previewed at E3, with Sabrewulf providing the competition. Both characters have featured in every instalment of the Killer Instinct franchise thus far, with Jago presenting a slick all-rounder while Saberwulf has been a quick-to-learn but difficult-to-master brawler. Both characters stay true to form in this new edition of Killer Instinct, with Jago able to command a full screen’s width in a single move and Saberwulf quick to take a counterattack opportunity and make it into a strong sequential combo.
Killer Instinct isn’t a videogame that should be considered designed to the tournament standard of King of Fighters or Blazblue – or even Dead or Alive 5 – as the series never has been. However, it is a videogame that encourages patience and skill over last minute practice or button mashing. Far closer to the Mortal Kombat stable than that of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, Killer Instinct is that middle rung of beat-‘em-ups deigned for all to play and even casual fans to master. This does sit very well with the intended delivery, of course, with players able to learn a single character before opting to invest in additional combatants. Many might suggest that this would be a costly way of becoming a beat-‘em-up aficionados – after all, once you’ve bought a few new fighters you’re unlikely to stop before the collection is complete – but those who cut their teeth in the ‘90s will surely realise that this is no different to the arcade mentality of losing costs. In fact, it’s most certainly cheaper than wasting your pocket money on a Saturday morning while enduring that painful wait for a home console version to arrive.
While Microsoft Studios only saw fit to offer a taster of Killer Instinct at E3, it was enough to whet our appetites and leave us wanting more; perhaps reinforcing the decision to adopt a modern free-to-play model after all. Killer Instinct is set to launch alongside the console later this year and as such Electronic Theatre predicts that we’ll see much more of what the videogame has to offer in the coming months. Of course, Electronic Theatre will keep you updated with all the latest details on Killer Instinct and other forthcoming Xbox One launch titles.