“I'm sure many top players will discover never-before-seen tech with dash cancelling. it's only a matter of time before it gets optimized and some crazy broken strategies with it are discovered.” However, others were more critical of the selected techs. Salem stated, “It kinda just makes Smash more random in my opinion. Because the use of movement options is to make many linear options more possible through increments and pixels of spacing. Smash 4 had done it right with movement options. Making it not entirely a universal mechanic and more focused on the characters individuality”
Though Ultimate posts the largest roster in Smash history - even utilizing the tagline “Everyone is Back” - there were few concerns about the ability of the design team to make a balanced game. Hungrybox opined, “I think Nintendo proved they're able to balance large rosters in Smash 4. With the exception of Bayonetta and a few of the bottom tiers, it felt like every character had some sort of upset potential — a way for a rising player who mains an obscure character to topple a top-ranked player. This version of the game is attempting the largest roster yet, so I am almost certain they will take the groundwork of balance philosophy from Smash 4, apply it to the newly returning and echo fighters, and patch the game a dozen or so times before getting it really good.”
Armada took a more measured view, stating “Personally, if it’s pros and cons with such a huge roster, one of the pros of it is that every character is someone’s favorite character. With everyone included, that means that everyone gets their favorite character. [...] From a competitive standpoint, a more balanced game overall will mean that people won’t have optimized as many matchups like in Melee. That also depends on what you want, though. Less matchups, but people are better at them on average — or more viable matchups but people are worse at them.”
Despite some positive reactions, it’s impossible to overlook that with a roster of this size, every player will have to learn an exceedingly large number of matchups. If one third of the cast is competitively viable, that means that players will have to learn 20 matchups — to put that in perspective, that number is nearly the same amount of characters Melee has in its entire roster. The overwhelming amount of technical information could prove to be a serious barrier to new players in the competitive scene.
Ultimately, it seems as though Smash Ultimate finds itself in the same place as Smash 4. While the speedier gameplay will drawer a higher number of fans and players, the lightning in a bottle that was Melee is nearly impossible to match. We can expect the majority of Melee players to prioritize that game until the ends of the Earth. However, there is still hope for a more unified Smash scene. With more and more players expressing interest in Ultimate, and the promise of Nintendo involvement, many pros from all games are eyeing Ultimate as an eventual target.
The biggest question around Smash Ultimate is one which cannot be answered until after release day. After almost two decades of waiting, it seems that the Smash community has finally been embraced by Nintendo. Players at the Invitational and subsequent demos have reported that Nintendo developers were receptive to feedback and in fact requested opinions from professional players. In stark contrast to Melee’s lack of change and the long-lamented Bayonetta dominance seen in Smash 4, it appears that Ultimate MAY receive constant attention and aftercare from the men upstairs. However, even now, there are questions about the methods with which Nintendo will tend to the title. “I do think that Nintendo will patch the game. They didn’t have the ability to do that in Melee or Brawl, but with Smash 4 they have.” said famed Melee Sheik player, Android. “But they need to be very careful. I hope that they will choose to buff characters, rather than nerf characters that people complain about being OP. The game gets more fun, the more characters that are strong and viable. They seem to be listening now and I hope they keep listening.”
No matter the eventual state of balance, all Smash players can currently do is hope. With only a few months left until the launch of the game, there are still more questions than answers in regards to balance, character design, available tech, and developer involvement. What we do know is that Smash Ultimate is an exciting game, already well-liked by players from varied Smash backgrounds. The future is bright for the newest entry to the franchise, and it seems sure to be a hit in the dorm and on the stage.