On the surface, Super Smash Bros Ultimate will go down in history as one of the most ambitious projects in gaming history – but its legacy is in jeopardy unless Nintendo can step up and deliver with one last batch of content.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate has been one of the boldest achievements in video game history, creating a massive fighting game roster while celebrating franchises of the past and present, both first and third party.
Under most circumstances, two fighter passes bringing eleven different DLC fighters to the mix would be enough to leave many fans satisfied, but considering the current state of the world, it’s easy to imagine what could have been.
2020 was set to be an amazing year for Smash esports with the creation of the Smash World Tour – a breakout league of sorts with a prize pool bigger than anything seen before it in the Smash community. Finally, a time came for Smash to shine, and players were loving it. What could go wrong?
Before it could even begin, however, the global pandemic shut down LANs, ushering forth an entirely different era of the online meta – hardly the spectacle that many were hoping for, especially as Ultimate continued to crank out new stages, fighters and balance patches.
As such, a highly-important part of Smash Ultimate’s lifespan was spent away from LAN events, a time when the game’s relevance certainly mattered.
The unfortunate reality is that, while Ultimate could have and should have generated as many – if not more – memorable FGC moments as Smash 4, it hasn’t been given the chance to do so.
Ultimate never had its defining battles, such as Nairo finally ending ZeRo’s tournament win streak, or MKLeo’s rise to global stardom.
Normally, we could just chalk this up to bad timing and hope the next Smash game doesn’t have these global issues. But here’s the problem: there won’t be another Smash game like Ultimate.
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Ultimate really has lived up to its name. With every fighter from past installments brought under one roof and so many new characters packed into the title, it’s unlikely whatever comes next will ever compare.
Yes, gameplay will probably improve, as will graphics and hopefully online play too, but the sheer scope of Ultimate will not be duplicated.
Plus, when a new game enters the mix, it’s unclear if the former will continue survive. Will Ultimate defy the odds like Melee or vanish in the blink of an eye, like Brawl and Smash 4? Unless the next game is a massive disappointment and “trips” over itself, I have severe doubts.
Fighters Pass Volume 2 will conclude by December 2021, when the final DLC is released. Series creator Masahiro Sakurai has repeatedly stated as much. While it’s likely we get a few balance updates after the final DLC is released, don’t expect anything too major after that.
It’s also doubtful that LAN events will be up and running fully by then. Even if they were, it would only exist as a few months of relevancy until game updates eventually fade away.
Nintendo, however, can keep the game alive – and really, the ball is in their court. After failing to support the esports community for so long, they now have an opportunity to, at the very least, keep Ultimate relevant at future E3s, Game Awards and other events.
A third Fighters Pass doesn’t have to be another six-DLC spectacle, but merely something to give the game some added longevity. It could be something as simple as four additional fighters with no new stages. Hell, Nintendo could spread it out over the next two years, if they so desire.
Smash Ultimate had one of its most critical years stolen from it. It’s a game deserving of relevancy and new content through more than one EVO. Nintendo can, and should, make it happen.
Its legacy simply depends on it.