Killer Instinct: Air Juggles, Breakers And Counter-breakers - Games Weekly

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Killer Instinct: Air Juggles, Breakers And Counter-breakers

The acquisition of Double Helix by Amazon in February was a c-c-ccombo breaker indeed for the newly reborn (and free-to-play) Killer Instinct franchise, but new developer Iron Galaxy is off to a great start. The studio rolled out the first of Season 2’s new fighters dagger tossing Maya and “rush-down” specialist TJ Combo in October, bumping the game’s resolution to 900p in the process. CEO David Lang says another fidelity hike is possible, should fans ask for it. “It’s like everything else,” he tells us. “If the community is dead set on 1080p if they think that’s what this game needs to be competitive, we'll definitely take that under consideration.”

The tweaks and additions don't stop at resolution. Iron Galaxy has added air juggles, breakers and counter breakers to the moveset, and de-coupled character progression from online rank, making the game more friendly for solo players. The developer has inherited a “pretty good roadmap” for new characters from Double Helix, so balancing the lineup isn't an issue. Adapting to a production cycle whereby a new character is released every month has been challenging, however.

“What we didn't see coming was the realities of running two teams side by side,” says Lang. “One to ship what you’ve just built, the other to start up on the next thing. That’s the hard part.”

More characters will be added every month, but the more tantalising prospect could be the thought of new modes and expanded league play options that borrow ideas from StarCraft. “This is kind of our first volley at a big feature or mode, so there’s definitely more to come and there definitely is story and single player content coming,” hints Lang. We can’t wait to take a swing at it, whatever it is.

Will Iron Galaxy push out a proper, Injustice style story mode at some point? “I love NetherRealm and all the story stuff it does,” comments Lang. “Of course we look at that, but right now all we’re thinking about is the plan for online.”

Community feedback remains crucial. “It doesn’t set our road-map, but it offers us guidance. If we think, ‘This thing kind of sucks should we fix that?’ and we see people on saying, ‘Yeah, it sucks,’ that pushes it into the to-do column.”

Jago’s hitherto functionally identical alter ego Shadow Jago may receive his own intro, win pose and costumes. “We’re not getting into details,” says Lang. “But your readers have correctly surmised that stuff like that has been planned.”

Lang thinks Killer Instinct’s small but varied line-up is a strength vs older, bulkier games. “If you look at Street Fighter, so many characters are uninteresting because they’re carbon copies with one or two different moves.

Tidying up the development process is a key concern for Lang. “I think that’s the stuff that has a lot of people here quite excited solving those problems makes the game better. It’s not sexy from a player’s viewpoint!

A further six characters are in the works: fiery-skinned Cinder, UltraTech boss Aria and robot dinosaur Riptor, plus “an ancient Babylonian sorcerer, an avenging ghost, [and] a battle hardened war golem”.

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