My Experience Thus Far
My main character is currently Shulk, the Monado wielding swordsman from the game “Xenoblade” (Xenoblade Chronicles in its western adaption). Playing this character in multiple matches against multiple opponents has given me a good grasp of a lot of the characters and how this game is going to be in the upcoming days. To be honest, I feel like Smash 4 is better than Super Smash Bros. Brawl in some ways, but I also feel like it is worse than it in others. I feel like this game is not going to be good enough to satisfy the competitive community and that Super Smash Bros. Melee and Project M will be stealing the spotlight of the tournament goers once more as the initial hype of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Wii U dies out.
One problem with this game is that there is entirely too much landing lag and not enough hit stun once you hit the shield. The options that you have when attacking out-of-shield are entirely better than your options are when you are trying to break through someone’s defenses. The horrendous landing lag and poor stun on shielded opponents means that it is very easy to punish a blocked move with a grab, “boost grab“, or jab punish (why in the world did they keep the “Hold A to rapid jab” setup from Brawl anyway?!). To be honest, the shield stun is so little and the landing lag is so bad that I have landed a forward-air from maximum distance with Shulk against an opponent’s shield and was immediately boost grabbed as a punish. This has also lead to many characters who can easily connect from their throws being preferred (with Diddy Kong probably being on top of the list of people doing this). Also however, those who can easily boost grab seem to also be highly favored (Sheik, Captain Falcon, Sonic the Hedgehog, etc.) as well as those who have very good air control on short-hopped aerials (such as Marth, Wario, and Ness). We can also argue the strength and ability of some characters to K.O. an opponent by throws at relatively high percentages, especially since Smash 4 is making use of the “Rage” mechanic (a character’s ability to launch increases proportionally to the amount of damage they have been inflicted with). Rolling is an evasive maneuver that is being abused because of the speed the characters moves and just how little time you have to actually be able to punish them for a random roll.
Another main problem with this game, the same one that plagued Super Smash Bros. Brawl and one of the motivations behind the creation of “Project M” is the severe lack of movement options for characters. The dashing in this game feels very weird, I also hate the fact you cannot crouch cancel to halt your momentum in order to perform smash attacks while running (though, you can still perform up-smashes with no problem during a run). The advanced technique in Smash 4 known as “Fox Trotting” is a poor excuse to attempt to answer the call for crouch-cancelled runs; while this AT is actually present in all four games in the series, it is not beneficial for all situations. Also, “Perfect Pivot” is a poor excuse to the absence of “Dash Dashing“. Do not get me wrong, Pivoting was available in other Smash games as well, but it was utilized in very niche situations where Wave Dashing would be too extreme of a movement in order to punish or bait certain things, it is honestly a move that is not nearly as practical as others. Sure, you do have some advanced technique like Sheik’s B-Reverse Slide Cancel, but that only furthers the tiers from one-another because someone has a massive advantage in how they can approach.
The last thing I really want to talk about that annoys me is the lack of true “Directional Influence” and we are instead given a mechanic that has come to be known as “Vectoring“. Vectoring is not really too bad as it is different and needs to be tested out better, but without the typical D.I. that most of us are use to we cannot survive easily at high percentages any longer (though, another problem is that characters regularly live to 150% and beyond too often) and that attacks that could easily be Smash D.I.’d out of can no longer be escaped. Escaping things like characters rapid jabs can prove a problem and you could easily Vector in the wrong direction and kill yourself prematurely.
To be perfectly honest, I feel like they need to add back in movement options, reduce the aerial lag on everyone’s moves, and make rolls less safe than they already are. We have already had two balance patches for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, but there is no real word on what the latter of the two has done to the game (though it has not fixed any of the issues I have talked about as of yet). This game is entirely too defensive and it feels like, more often than not, the person who plays by reaction rather than initiative is the victor. Less lag on aerial attacks would also improve the “block and punish” mindset of those whom play characters that are rich in projectiles (such as “Villager”) whom have no real reason to approach and place themselves in jeopardy. Do not get me wrong, I feel like there NEEDS to be defensive zoners and a play style which does cater to them, but having a game where the main strength lies in the ability to punish then who would want to attack and purposely put themselves at a disadvantage?
This game has not been too fun for me because I feel like I am not playing smart if I am approaching someone and launching an attack, and with me being an aggressive player it just angers me that my play style has absolutely no options. Greninja, Sheik, Captain Falcon, Sonico, and other characters who are speedier seem to have the best ability to offensively attack, but (besides Bowser), it seems a lot of the “slower” characters do not have benefits to offset their lack of speed coupled with their poor aerial landing lag.
Thanks for reading my personal view on how the current competitive smash meta for the 4th game in the Super Smash Bros. series is going.