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Killer Instinct

We Dive Deeper Into The Game's Early Roster
by Jeff Cork on Jul 18, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Platform Xbox One
Publisher Microsoft Game Studios
Developer Double Helix
Rating Teen

Right now, we know of three characters from Killer Instinct's character roster. We spoke with Torin Rettig, the game's producer at Microsoft, to learn more about the new incarnations of Jago, Saberwolf, and Glacius.

Rettig broke down each of the revealed trio as far as who they are, how they play, and what unique traits they bring to the game's combo system. Here's what he had to say:

Profile: "He’s a Tibetan monk. His story from the first couple of games is that he had this thing called the Tiger Spirit, and it was what gave him all of his special abilities. Eventually that Tiger Spirit corrupted him though, and he figured out that he was being manipulated by one of the bosses, Gargos. Now he wants to redeem himself. You can actually see it in his outfit. He’s got a Tibetan monk outfit, but it’s kind of half off of him, and he has a tiger tattoo that shows his conflict with the Tiger Spirit. We wanted that to come out with each of the characters; we wanted their costumes, when you looked at them, to tell a story."

Style: "He’s kind of a hybrid rushdown-zone type character. He has tools to do both pretty well, but not as awesomely as other characters. So he has fireballs, which he can use to zone a character out and keep him at bay, but he also has really, really powerful combos. He can get in and when he starts comboing he has some of the best juggles in the game. Once he knocks you into the air, he can keep you in the air, he can kick you, throw fireballs at you, do uppercut after uppercut at you." 

Combo quirk: "Inside the combos, every Killer Instinct character has the standard opener, double, linker, double, ender kind of paradigm, but each character has a little different take on it. Jago’s little different take on it is that he has this thing called around the world. What that is, you can keep doing doubles instead of having to keep going back to your linker. It’s kind of technical – if you aren’t familiar with the game, it might sound like Greek. But it’s actually pretty cool. He can keep doing these doubles, which are double hits that you get with one button press, and he can keep doing those like 'boom boom boom' like crazy. Unfortunately, it’s also very breakable; you have to go down the buttons in order to do it."

Profile: "He’s a tormented scientist who got turned into a werewolf. Much of his struggle in the first Killer Instincts was in trying to turn himself back into a human. Now, he’s more embracing the werewolf within him and trying to control it and trying to come to terms with it."

Style: "He’s a pure rushdown style character. He has really fast moves, he can get in really quickly, and he can dash through you. Most characters, when they dash into you, they get blocked by your character. That doesn’t happen with Saberwolf. He will dash through you – like front, behind, whatever. He’ll knock you down, and then he’ll be back, forward, back, forward – you won’t know what side he’ll be on. He’s definitely about speed and keeping you on your heels and being in your face. But his thing is, he has to get in. If he can’t get in, he can’t do any damage. He doesn’t have any projectiles; all of his moves are melee-style moves."

Combo quirk: "His unique trait for combos is he has this thing called rabid doubles. Normally when you do a double, you press once and you do two moves. But you can keep pressing the same button and he’ll keep on doing increasingly faster and faster hits where he’s biting or scratching you, and it looks insane. The trade off is that they’re very easy to break. The way breakers work, now you can actually break anything. Before, you could only break doubles, but now you can break anything. The way they work, is that if you’re in the middle of a combo – someone is comboing you – you can break the move that they’re doing against you. You do that by matching the power level of the attack they’re doing on you. So, if Jago is doing a medium double, if I press medium punch and medium kick at that time, then I’ll do a combo breaker. Rabid doubles are fun, and they’re great for a newbie kind of player to get in and feel like they’re doing a lot of damage – even if they may not be. It’s really gratifying and people really get into it."


Profile: "Glacius is an alien who crash-landed on Earth. The original Glacius was an alien who crash-landed on Earth and was captured by UtraTech. We’re not actually getting into Glacius’ story right now, but it will most likely relate to UltraTech and what UltraTech is trying to do. He’s ultrastrong and ultrapowerful, and he’s an alien, which relates to what UltraTech is trying to do."

Style: "Glacius is a straight-up zone style character. He wants to keep you out, he wants to keep you on your heels, he wants to keep you away, so he can have his way with you. He has long normal attacks, like his ice lance. He sticks his arm out and this lance comes out – that’s like his staple bread and butter move. It goes way, long across the screen and he can immediately go into a combo if he hits you with it. He also has this thing called hail, which is an ice shard that basically shoots down at you, but he can summon it at three different angles, and he can use it to set up little traps. There’s another move he has called shatter, where he can summon an unblockable attack from the ground at three different points on the screen. So you can imagine, he throws this hail at you, you’re thinking “Oh, I have to block this attack,” and then while you’re blocking he uses shatter, and while that opens you up he’s comboing you."

Combo quirk: "His cool combo attribute is that he can combo you from range – he doesn’t need to be in your face. He can do a total complete combo from across the screen."

As you may have guessed, combos remain a big part of the Killer Instinct series. The development team at Double Helix has been working to make sure that while high-level play is rewarded, combos aren't simply a passive experience. Here's how Rettig explains it:

"We wanted it to be a fighting game that anyone could get into and have fun, and we find that people can do really gratifying combos without having a lot of physical dexterity and really great timing. In order to do really good combos, you need to do more of that. To get to the higher echelons of gameplay, you have to be really inside your opponent’s head and be one step ahead of them all the time.

"The thing about our combos as opposed to other games, when you’re in a combo in a lot of other games, basically it’s a one-way interaction. The guy doing the combo is basically doing something to you and you have to wait until it’s over. Some games have options for breaking out, but sometimes they’re limited. Like Mortal Kombat. Great game. Their combo breaking is meter based, so if you don’t have meter, you can’t break out. In our game, you can always break out of a combo. We want there to be a constant two-way interaction all the time. We don’t ever want someone to say, “Oh crap, I can’t do anything,” and just watching things unfold. You always have a chance to break out, but it’s risk/reward. If you try to break a combo and you guess wrong, you hear the announcer say “Lock out,” and you’re locked out for three seconds. For those three seconds, you can’t break a combo, and the guy who locked you out can just do more damaging moves that are normally easier to break – but now that you’re locked out, it doesn’t matter."

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Killer Instinct

Xbox One
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