‘Killer Instinct’ Hands-On Impressions; Free-To-Play Xbox One Launch Title

Published 1 year ago by

The first inkling that Rare might revive the Killer Instinct franchise came back in September of last year when Microsoft renewed their license for the fighting game franchise. Then came a post-Xbox One reveal quote from Microsoft, in which they hinted that Rare might be bringing back a “historic franchise.” Those two details (the license renewal and the tease) together seemed like clear indicators Killer Instinct was ready to make a comeback.

However, it wasn’t until Microsoft’s E3 2013 Press Briefing that our suspicions were finally confirmed, when Rare officially announced the game, debuted a brief teaser trailer, and then demoed the game live on stage. From the moment gamers realized a next-gen Killer Instinct was, in fact, real it was pure elation.

Yes, Killer Instinct has ditched the claymation art style in favor of a design presumably inspired by Street Fighter, but there was still a lot to be excited about. And it only took a few seconds of hands-on time with the game during a Microsoft Xbox One showcase before we realized this is the game fans have been waiting for.

Killer Instinct E3 2013 Hands On Impressions

While the game’s art style might be very different from what older gamers associate with the Killer Instinct franchise, everything about the game feels like a natural evolution of that basic fighting game template. Combos are still an important part of combat, and they are as rewarding as ever. And rest assured, the silly names for the various combos and the game’s iconic narrator are also back in full force. It may take some time before gamers get used to the move sets and are knocking out 10 or 20-hit combos, but when they do they will be justly rewarded.

The demo was extremely fluid and filled with plenty of personality from super moves to unique, character-specific abilities. Killer Instinct is still, at its core, a fighting game, and it doesn’t seem like Rare is trying to reinvent the wheel in that regard, but they are trying to keep things looking crisp and feeling modern. By that we mean the game is very approachable to any gamer familiar with the fighting game genre.

Unfortunately, while the demo on display — featuring a match between Jago and Saberwulf — was enough to whet any Killer Instinct fans palette, recent developments surrounding the game are very disappointing. As it turns out, Killer Instinct will be a free-to-play, digital-only launch title for the Xbox One — which is great — but every character will come at a cost.

Killer Instinct Xbox One - Jago

Gamers will get access to a single character, the ninja Jago, for free, and that’s it. Rare and new developer Double Helix promise new combatants and fan-favorite characters, but they have yet to announce pricing or any fighters beyond Saberwulf and Jago.

So, while the game might not have the look of Killer Instinct, grabbing a hold of the fight stick and taking control of Jago instantly triggered my muscle memory. The other stuff surrounding the game, specifically the price gouging with free-to-play, is a definite turn off, but at least I can report Killer Instinct is back.

Are you excited that Killer Instinct is back? Which characters would you like to see added to the roster? What do you think of the decision to make the game free-to-play and then charge for additional characters?

Killer Instinct launches alongside the Xbox One in November of this year.

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TAGS: Double Helix Games, Killer Instinct, Rare, Xbox One


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  1. Wow, that’s ridiculous. I wont be paying more than $2 for a character.

  2. And my excitement for a Killer Instinct is now dead.

  3. That’s so weird. I guess my feelings would depend on how much it’s gonna cost the player to get all the characters. I think I’d rather be charged up front for a complete game than all that hassle.

  4. that just killed it for me, to me the free to play model shouldn’t be applied to fighting games, especially this fighting game, I was hoping for a full fledged killer instinct without a catch, where you could just get it and play and not have to worry about paying for every single damn character, they’ve already ruined it imo, at least I still have my n64 and snes for the good killer instinct games that I can actually play all the characters without paying for every lil thing lmao!

  5. I look at it as free to try out. If you like it you pay for more characters, all at ounces if you wish, that makes a total of one purchase.
    How is this bad? Did you really think you’d get a game for free?

    • It’s like they’re upset that they have to pay in a slightly different fashion than they’re used to.

  6. (Insert Picard MEME) WTF IS THIS s***?!?!

  7. Wow… even I have lost interest in it lol.

  8. Wow… even I have lost interest in it.

  9. Wow, so It’s free to play and
    instead of paying $60 for the whole release, you have to pay $40 for the fighters. So it cost less and it’s still a quality game. Only pay for what you want.

  10. it’s way to similar to street fighter imo, except it’s a little faster in pace (from what i saw in the gamepl demos). visually it looks good, but that’s not saying much since the last KI game came out of the n64 (i think).

  11. Charging for characters isn’t that bad!!! No one plays every character in a fighting game. Not only is DoA5 doing a similar approach but the logic behind this is perfectly solid in every way!!

    • “No one plays every character in a fighting game.” I play every character in a fighting game. We have no idea how much each character is going to cost so I don’t see the “logic behind this is perfectly solid in every way”…its not like M$ is known for being cheap…

      • I call bs lol what fighting game do u play EVERY character? And there’s no way the total price Is over 60$

        • It’s called Mortal Kombat, try it sometime you might like it.

          • You’re kidding right? you play every single char… every single one… from Rain down to Shiva? I do play that game and maybe 4 people are used outside my main.

        • Marvel vs. Capcom 2 I played and beat the game with every character. I’ve been doing that since Street Fighter 2 on the SNES.

  12. You’re kidding right? you play every single char… every single one… from Rain down to Shiva? I do play that game and maybe 4 people are used outside my main char I use

    • Why would I kid? I am serious, I’ve been playing MK since it came out in the arcades. It’s hard not to use every character since they all have their own moves and combos, plus it’s fun to see their fatalities. That games gives you a reason to want to try every character. If you don’t believe me add me on PS3 and I’ll fight you with any of them, I know all their moves. I mostly play UMK3 since that one is the best next to MK2. KI the new one looks like a rip off of SF4.

  13. Cuz SF4 is a combo based game?? Lol your a fighting game anomaly then cuz you are litterly the first person I’ve ever known to play every singe char in a fighting game

    • LOL how else do you figure out who you want to play as? You pick the coolest looking character? I don’t get your fighting game logic :P I meant the look, it looks similar to sf4. Plus this KI doesn’t have the same originality as the first one had. The first one was different since it was over the top with the ridiculous combo system. When the second one was released it was hated by fans of the original. I myself cannot grasp the second one if I approach it with the mindset the original carried. Orchid is a perfect example since majority of her moves and combos are different.

  14. Plus you get the MOST out of a fighting game if you do take the time to try and learn every character’s moves. It gives you a good challenge to try to master all the characters. It’s like buying a game and only playing half of the story mode then trading it in. Are attention spans that short these days that people can’t grasp the concept of playing all of the characters on a roster?

  15. This system will deff work for KI the only way they mess this up is if they include a slurry of new characters that no one has ever played. Then yes i see the logic. But most of the people playing will stick with what they know.. Personally Orchid will be bought day 1 lol

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