Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has finally come. The highly anticipated game dropped on December 7th and has received overwhelmingly positive reviews. The competitive community has also embraced the game, with many top professionals from various fighting games indulging in it, as well the game holding the top viewership slot on Twitch the day of its release. Despite this, there is one major gripe about the game that has enraged the community: the online.
While the netcode is a noticeable improvement over previous installments, there is still a bit to be desired. The game has its moments of input lag or flat-out stutters depending on the connection. As the game operates on a PvP system, this means all users need to have quality internet. A great way to reduce lag is to purchase a USB to ethernet adapter, which is sold online and connect your Nintendo Switch directly to the router. This improves the experience well enough…if the experience was worth improving.
The online matchmaking system is the real problem with the game. Removing the “For Fun” and “For Glory” options from Super Smash Bros. For Wii U, Ultimate now offers “Quickplay” and “Battle Arenas” for people looking to battle with players worldwide or with friends, respectively. Both of these options seem fine at first glance; Quickplay allows you to set rules and the game will try to find opponents with the same or similar rules to match you up with. Battle Arenas let you set your own rules and host friends in rooms up to 8, with a rotation that resembles Street Fighter’s system.
Unfortunately, these systems are incredibly flawed in practice – Quickplay has been constantly matching people up regardless of the rules they set, meaning people looking for 1v1 with no items are being put into games with four players and all items on high. On top of the fact that purposely leaving the match is grounds for a penalty which can prevent you from playing online, this has left many players incredibly frustrated:
Super Smash Bros Ultimate really is something special, man.
In what other game can you have a 4 man match where Cloud, Joker, Mario and Sonic face off, with pokeballs and assist trophies going off left and right, despite those 4 players all searched for 1v1 no items.
— Leffen (@TSM_Leffen) December 9, 2018
I really hate how when I'm playing ELITE BATTLES I get FORCED into a FFA or TEAMS match (with items sometimes) even though it's clearly meant to be the competitive online mode and it doesn't give me the option to quit or leave (and if I do, I get banned).
Please fix this.
— Tempo ZeRo (@zerowondering) December 9, 2018
ULTIMATE ONLINE : WORST GAME IVE EVER PLAYED
ULTIMATE OTHERWISE : MY FALCOS NASTY
— Joseph Marquez (@C9Mang0) December 8, 2018
Battle Arenas are a little more consistent, being able to set your own rules from the get-go. However, while rooms can hold up to 8 people, only one match can happen at a time. On top of this, switching your character requires you to step outside the waiting line for the next match – this means if you’re about to play somebody and want to switch characters, you’ll have to go all the way to the back of the queue to make this switch. This applies even if you’ve won the match; you’re stuck with that character unless you lose or you drop out of the ring to switch it up. This is very frustrating, and while the basic idea of Battle Arenas is great, these little issues cause major headaches.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a wonderful game, and arguably the best in the series. However, these issues with the online gameplay absolutely need to be addressed, as it seriously hinders the experience of enjoying the game with friends and others. A few simple patches to make the Quickplay more consistent and accurate, and a few tweaks to the Battle Arena could make this one of the best fighting games in the modern era.