When Super Smash Bros Ultimate creator Masahiro Sakurai revealed some of the game’s online modes before launch I was very excited. It seemed like the smash team was finally taking the online mode very seriously. Unfortunately, I was wrong to be excited. In fact, Ultimate’s online is significantly worse then Smash 4. It’s so incredibly baffling how much they screwed it up so I decided to make a list of what could be better. Here are five basic (just basic) features that would makes Ultimate’s online loads better.
1. UNRANKED SOLO QUICKPLAY AND RANKED CO-OP QUICKPLAY
Ever wanted to just sit down and play some smash brothers against others casually? Well if you choose to play online then too bad. Ultimate’s main online mode quickplay only lets you play against players ranked when in solo mode. Your ranking is determined by how high or low your GSP (global smash power) is, and you will fight harder and harder enemies the higher your GSP goes. So if you get particularly good with a fighter you’ll eventually fight opponents who are really good. This is fine and dandy, but if you just want to play to have some fun, and not want to be sweating bullets all the time then your out of luck. There is no way to turn GSP off and just find random people.
It’s a baffling decision that can just suck the enjoyment out of the game especially if you leave the game for awhile and come back rusty. I know that everyone should always fight people their skill level, but sometimes we just want to unwind (and maybe noobstomp). Yet, we can’t though because the matchmaking will always put us at the edge of our seats. Especially if you get to elite smash (which happens when you get a very high GSP), in which case your opponents might all be way better then you. You could try to play in a arena (a mode which lets you create online rooms for friends and randoms alike to join), but chances are you will have to wait too long to actually find a match. Online tourneys aren’t a good alternative either because you have to wait also, and you’ll still be sweating bullets. One more thing to point out too is that when you use one character online and raise their GSP high, every fighters GSP is raised a bit too for some ungodly reason. So if you get good with one fighter then try one your just OK with your going to get stomped since their GSP is going to be higher then it probably should. This can get incredibly frustrating and almost seems like a bug its that annoying.
With that said, there is simply no way to play Ultimate online unranked, and the game really needs it. Co-op quickplay on the other hand, is the opposite. You can only play this mode unranked, no GSP to be seen here. My brother and I would have loved to see how high our GSP could get playing Co-op, but alas it will never be. I know I was just complaining about solo not having unranked, but also not having ranked is annoying. We should have both for both solo and Co-op, and its silly that we don’t. Before moving on, I’d also like to mention that it’s dumb that when playing Co-op you have to play on the same Switch. Mario Tennis Aces lets you play online Co-op with friends abroad, and same Switch. Brandon and I can’t smash together in the same room all the time, (wow that sounded wrong) so it would have been nice having that play with online friends option.
2. TEAM ATTACK AND STAGE MATCHMAKING OPTIONS IN QUICKPLAY
The quickplay matchmaking options are pretty good. They are significantly better then in Smash 4, which was missing some big ones like being able to play on battlefield, and using stocks (outside of 1 vs 1). But of course none of Ultimate’s online features are perfect, and matchmaking options are not an exception. First off, while you can now play on battlefield there is still no option to just pick a stage you want to play on flat out. You can choose all stages or all stages with no hazards, but nothing specific. If you wanted to play on Pokemon Stadium 2 because your good on it, or you just like it then tough luck. You would have to just hope that Smash picks that stage (and there are over 100 of them folks), and that’s is less then ideal. So while allowing battlefield and hazards off is a step forward stage matchmaking still needs tweaking.
Secondly, there is no option to turn team attack when playing in Co-op on or off. And to make everything 1000 times worse, team attack is ALWAYS TURNED OFF! This makes playing Co-op in quickplay not competitive at all (even if same Switch Co-op online was ranked). Seriously, sometimes matches are just determined by how fast a team can spam moves. Especially freaking projectiles, its the most headache inducing thing ever, and can suck a ton of fun out of it. My brother and I have lost countless matches (and sure, have won some) due to this BS. Please Nintendo, add a friggin team attack option to the matchmaking.
3. ARENAS NEED SOME TWEAKING
Arenas can be fun, but a couple things need to be fixed. One thing is that while you wait your turn to play a match you don’t do anything. They need to add the option to fight a CPU or something while you wait. Quickplay does this and its a nice convenience, so I don’t see why arenas shouldn’t have it. Also, you can’t have a same switch partner in a arena with you. So if you wanted to play with friends online, and someone next to you wanted to join, they’d have to use their own Switch. This is dumb, and its a feature Smash 4 had so it should have been included.
4. MAKE SPECTATE MODE BETTER
Spectate is a little mode that has you watch a random real time match online, and has you predict a winner in order to win or lose coins. It’s been around since the Brawl days, and returns here in Ultimate. Like the Brawl days Spectate is a pretty meh mode. It’s pretty barebones (before an update winning coins wasn’t even a thing), and winning some coins isn’t a good way to get people to play the mode very often. They could at least add in some better prizes like music and/or spirits (maybe even have some exclusive prizes), or even pit you against other player online to see who can predict correctly in some sort of competitive fashion. Spectate being dry isn’t a huge deal since playing is way funner then watching anyway, but it doesn’t have to be this dry.
5. THE GARBAGE ONLINE TOURNEY STRUCTURE NEEDS TO BE FIXED
God where do I even begin? Well, lets talk about Smash 4’s online tourney mode first. In Smash 4 there were plenty of options. You could create your own or join a random persons tourney where the tourney creator got to pick the ruleset for said tourney. You could also take part in a Nintendo computer made tourney, and there were plenty of different styled tourneys to fit your liking. Want to play a 4 player tourney with no items? You could get that. You want a 1v1 tourney with items? You could get that too. A 1v1 tourney Fox only on FD only wavedashing and all?? Well maybe not that specific, but all in all Smash 4’s online tourney mode was pretty good.
So how about Online tourney in Ultimate? Well your only option is to take part in a 4 player all items, time, any stage tourney for 3 days. Then it switches to a 1v1, 2 stock, Omega form only tourney for 3 days before reverting back to the 4 player tournament. And well that’s it, the lack of options are so baffling especially coming after Smash 4. And having to wait days before the type of tourney you want to play shows back up is complete BS. Why can’t I just choose either one always? I mean even if we had that option the mode would still be way worse then in Smash 4.
There are these neat special event tourneys (like only using fighters from Brawl etc.) that sometimes pop up that can be played alongside whichever of the two other tourneys are up to the plate. Unfortunately, despite how unique these style of tourneys can be, (one tourney had you fighting alongside your amiibo which is really cool) they are always 4 players with items. AKA they are never fun. We should be able to matchmake online tourneys in some way, (including battlefield and Co-op tourneys) and not have to deal with this stupid BS setup. Online tourney used to be worse too, the 1v1 mode at one point only had 1 stock matches before they changed it back to 2 stocks because fans were angry. Despite how much Nintendo has pissed on this mode I have managed to win a fair amount of tourneys which is fun, but overall this mode just sucks.
SOME LAST WORDS
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is fantastic, the same cannot be said about its online mode. There are just a ton of issues, some I may have even forgot about (that I may or may not add to this list in the future) due to the plethora of problems. From the bizarre ranking system to the awful online tourney mode, Smash online is just a mess. I feel like it could have been so much more, yet it almost seems like Nintendo didn’t care about it. Which is strange considering all the effort that went into pretty much everything else the game has to offer. Hopefully Nintendo fixes it up better in the future (though not likely), but in the meantime this pic below perfectly resembles what Nintendo has done to Ultimate’s online.