Your First Character In Killer Instinct Is Free On Xbox One

Tekken isn't the only major fighting game series with a sequel that starts off costing nothing. The Xbox One's launch day fighting game Killer Instinct will also be free. You'll get one character, Jago, to play against anyone.

And you'll get a rebirth of a long-dormant series.

You can then pay for other characters.

"We wanted to do something disruptive," Microsoft producer Torin Rettig told me as people played the new Killer Instinct near us at a Monday night Xbox One showcase tied to E3. "We wanted to do something that took into consideration how most people play fighting games. Most people who play fighting games aen’t even going to play half the characters. Why not let them play the characters they want?” Each character other than Jago can be purchased individually. Players will be able to buy bunches of characters at a better value.

Killer Instinct is a classic fighting game series that appeared on the Super Nintendo, Nintendo and arcades in the mid-1990s. It was made by Rare, a studio then partnered with Nintendo but now owned by Microsoft. And after nearly two decades, Microsoft finally brought it back — though not exactly with Rare.

The new Killer Instinct is being primarily developed by Double Helix, the studio behind recent Silent Hill and Green Lantern games. It is being produced in-house at Microsoft. The team is sending builds to the original Killer Instinct studio Rare, but, Rettig said, “Honestly a lot of the original people at Rare who made Killer Instinct aren’t there anymore.” Ken Lobb, a Nintendo game maker who has been at Microsoft for the last decade, is helping keep an eye on the game.

Double Helix seems like an odd fit. They haven't made fighting games. Microsoft actually reached out to several studios to see if they’d be up for the game. “Double Helix stood out head and shoulders above the rest,” Rettig said. “Their pitch was awesome, their passion was great. They have really passionate fighting gamers in the studio. They had a great engine.”

Rettig said that this new Killer Instinct should feel like a rebirth of the franchise and that it should feel updated from its original 90s aesthetic. “We wanted to capture some of that but we also wanted to modernize it for a bit,” he said. “The way Double Helix approached their concept is that there are like three main articles that define what the character is about.

“For Jago it was his belt, his sash and his sword. These are things that spoke about what the character is about. It may not be apparent, but Jago’s monk outfit is torn down. And in the original Killer Instinct there was the idea that Jago had this thing called the Tiger Spirit, and he felt betrayed by the Tiger Spirit. Seeing that his sash is pulled down, it’s [showing] that he’s in conflict with the Tiger Spirit. That level of thought was put into not only the character but how that was put into the design.

“For Sabrewulf, Sabrewulf is a man and beast in constant conflict with each other. If you look at Sabrewulf, he’s got like the torn jeans and everything, but if you look at his idle animations, he’s got a twitch. He’s basically a mad scientist trying to cure himself. We’re not showing it, but Sabrewulf’s stage has that motif.”

Rettig said that Killer Instinct was known for having a menagerie of characters, from beasts to aliens and skeletons, and that that will be back.

The original was also renowned for its massive combos, which are back with a tweak. “Killer Instinct had this kind of unique system where you would piano down the buttons,” Rettig said. “You had to piano down in order to continue the combo, but you could continue it. You were kind of locked into a combo state. We have that, with big combos, but we also have combo breakers. You don’t want to be stuck there in a combo and not be able to fight back. We wanted there to be a two-way interaction within the combo.” Someone can interrupt a combo, and then the interrupted player can defend themselves. “We wanted it to be like a game. 'What’s his next move going to be?' I have to guess what your next move is going to be so I can make a break. If I guess wrong, you can continue the combo for free.”

The game will use Kinect for voice commands to switch options in the game’s training mode. This removes a lot of menu navigation.

Killer Instinct will be out on day one when the Xbox One launches in November. If you get the console, it seems like an automatic thing to try. After all, it will cost nothing, for starters.


Comments

    Let's get serious here, it's basically a demo with DLC options to upgrade.

    Flash forward 18 months.... "Remember the days when you could buy a product and you got the whole product for one, simple price?"

    Double Helix also made Silent Hill: Homecoming, G.I. Joe and Battleship...

    ...good resume.

      Silent Hill HC wasn't too bad.

        Hey, check out the Two Best Friends playthrough of Silent Hill: Homecoming where they spend the majority of the time crying over how bad it is.

    "We wanted to do something disruptive" - Microsoft

    Also,

    "Why not let them play the characters they want?"
    Because you can't make money from it after your initial slice of the pie that way?

    Killer Instinct was the only game that resonated with me at the XBone reveal and it was due to Rareware nostalgia factor, not because I am a big fan of fighting games but bleh at Jago being the default character, give me Glacius or Orchid or hell, let me choose who I can access first -_-
    My sympathies to Rareware and being tied to a money hungry monopoly machine whose main goal is to alienate its consumers.

      It's free, so who cares which character is included? It will give you an idea of whether or not you like the game mechanics and from there you can decide if you want to invest some money. Seems like a cool idea.

        I would have wanted Spinal. But I guess Jago is a reasonable choice of character for a beginner (assuming he plays at least somewhat closely to his playstyle in the first two games).

      I was always more of a Fulgore man myself - that or Cinder :)

      Wonder whether they'll release the game with a full purchase mode, bloody micro-transaction/DLC fixation the game industry is going down is giving me the Jimmy Sprits

        I was never that good at fighting games, I liked eye lasers but couldn't get my head around Fulgore. I also had dignity, so I didn't play cinder...much :P

    DOA5 is doing something similar, they're releasing a free version in the future with options to buy the other characters.

    Good idea play as the characters you want and if you buy them all it will cost the price of a normal game anyway

    “Killer Instinct had this kind of unique system where you would piano down the buttons,” Rettig said. “You had to piano down in order to continue the combo, but you could continue it. You were kind of locked into a combo state. We have that, with big combos, but we also have combo breakers. You don’t want to be stuck there in a combo and not be able to fight back. We wanted there to be a two-way interaction within the combo.”

    Ummm...maybe I'm reading this wrong but the original had combo breakers too. This makes it sound like Double Helix came up with the idea.

    “We wanted it to be like a game. ‘What’s his next move going to be?’ I have to guess what your next move is going to be so I can make a break. If I guess wrong, you can continue the combo for free.”

    This is exactly how it worked in the original game (and KI2 for that matter). You didn't just input the combo breaker move command blindly, you needed to identify (or correctly predict) exactly how your opponent would continue their combo. You needed to execute your combo breaker using a fast, medium or heavy variant of it, depending on what your opponent's combo linker was.

    Last edited 12/06/13 2:39 pm

      I think it the break in combos is meant for the player performing the combo in order to stop midway through a combo. It has been many years but iirc, If you went out with a long combo you were locked into it and vulnerable til it ended, even if it hit nothing.

        Well a combo couldn't hit nothing. The combo could only be properly started if the first hit connected. At that point you could combo them and they couldn't escape it, unless they executed a combo breaker. You couldn't just execute a combo without hitting anything.

        While you couldn't briefly pause mid-combo and then continue it a second or two later, you could alter the actual LENGTH of the combo (you didn't HAVE to execute a super long combo, in fact in many cases shorter combos did more damage) and advanced players could play around with some of the hit timings during manual doubles and triples to throw out someone trying to combo breaker you.

    Hey, I have a better idea. Release the two original games on XBLA!

    I'm an arcade rat from way back in the day but I never really liked Killer Instinct, I stuck to SF2 and MK. But I'd be interested in seeing this kind of pricing model in future fighting games.

    Well I;m kinda intrigued. At this moment I haven;t decided if this is a good thing or bad thing.
    But in other news.... Please do what SF4 failed to do...bring back the awesome music!

      I'd posit that some of the character themes that played during rival battles were pretty good, but overall I definitely agree that SF4's soundtrack wasn't fantastic.

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