Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Release Date, Modes and More

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is quickly making its way to Nintendo Switch, and we just got treated to Nintendo’s last Nintendo Direct before the game’s release. Nintendo's upcoming all-star fighting game will launch with an incredible roster of over 70 playable characters which will only increase with post-launch additions.

News about Smash Ultimate picked up pace significantly in the last few months, so it could be a little difficult to keep track of it all. Whether you’re new to Smash Bros. and want to know what you’ll be getting into, or are a series veteran looking for the most important gameplay changes, we’ve pooled together everything you need to know about the hottest Switch game of 2018.

I’m brand new to this. What kind of game is Super Smash Bros.?

Super Smash Bros. is a unique type of fighting game starring iconic Nintendo characters and a variety of guest fighters in which your goal is to knock your opponents off of the stage. The more you hit them, the more a damage number will increase next to their name on the bottom of the screen.

The higher the number, the further and faster they’ll fly when hit. Matches range from one-on-one duels, two-on-two fights all the way up to eight-person free-for-alls. Smash Bros. can be as chaotic and silly or as simplified and skill-based as you want it to be.

When does Super Smash Bros. Ultimate come out? And where can I buy it?

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will launch exclusively on Switch on December 7th and can be pre-ordered starting November 1st from retailers as a physical copy or digitally from Nintendo’s own site.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

The digital version lets you pre-load the game before release so it’ll unlock and be ready to play on launch day. However, the exact time of day it’ll unlock is not specified yet.

What does the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate bundle include?

The $359 Nintendo Switch Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Edition bundle ships now and includes a download code for Smash Ultimate that unlocks on release day. It also includes an exclusive Smash Ultimate branded Joy-Con and Switch dock.

Smash Ultimate roster: How many characters are there?

On release day, the full Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster will stand at a staggering 74 characters spanning all of Nintendo’s most famous games as well as those from third-party titles like Snake from Metal Gear Solid, Sega’s famous mascot Sonic and Ryu from Capcom’s Street Fighter series.

Every character ever present in a previous Smash Bros. game has returned for Smash Ultimate, from Ice Climbers to the Pokemon Trainer. But you’ll start the game with only the original 8 characters playable in the first Super Smash Bros. and have to unlock the rest.

The two most recently announced characters are Ken, an Echo Fighter of Ryu, and Incineroar, a Pokemon from Pokemon Sun and Moon that uses moves inspired by professional wrestling. The game will also feature Simon and Richter Belmont from Castlevania, King K. Rool from Donkey Kong Country, Isabelle from Animal Crossing, Ridley from Metroid and the Inklings from Splatoon.

MORE: Here's Every Character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

But it doesn’t end there, Nintendo announced six more characters will join the roster over the course of the next two years as premium DLC, and that the first such addition will be the Piranha Plant from the Super Mario Bros. series.

The character is scheduled for release for some time in 2019, but if you buy Smash Ultimate digitally or buy the physical version and register it on My Nintendo before January 31, 2019 you’ll get Piranha Plant for free when it becomes available. If you wait to register or buy the game after that date, you can buy the fighter separately for a price to be revealed later.

What are Echo Fighters?

Echo Fighters are characters that use the same core moveset as other fighters in the game. For Ultimate, Peach gained an Echo Fighter in Daisy, Lucina and Dark Pit are now officially labeled as Echoes of Marth and Pit.

But just because these fighters are Echoes doesn’t mean they’re completely identical. Chrom is listed as an Echo of Roy, but shares some moves from Ike. Ken is an Echo of Ryu, but Ken has a faster running speed and several of his moves have different properties and timings. It may be difficult to tell, but skilled players will definitely notice a difference between a fighter and its Echo.

Smash Ultimate stages: How many will there be?

There are currently 103 stages that have been officially revealed. Many have appeared in previous games, including some classics like Dream Land from the original Nintendo 64 release. The official listing includes stages that have appeared in all previous Smash titles, however unlike the fighter roster not all stages will be returning from previous games.

And unlike the fighters, you won’t need to unlock any of the stages to play on them. Each stage will also have toggles to turn stage hazards off or to turn them into flat “Omega” and “Battlefield” versions of themselves if you’re interested in a no-frills contest of skill.

Smash Ultimate DLC: What's available, and how much will it cost?

Nintendo has outlined about two years worth of content to be rolled out for Smash Ultimate. This will include periodic releases of DLC bundles that each include a new fighter, a new stage and new music tracks. Five bundles have been announced so far and each is currently set to cost $5.99 per bundle, the bundled items cannot be bought individually.

If you already know you want everything that’s coming down the line, even though Nintendo has yet to reveal what any of the DLC content will be, you can buy a Fighters Pass DLC pack that will entitle you to each installment of DLC for a total of $24.99, which saves you five bucks.

What kind of single player modes does Smash Ultimate have?

Players looking for a grand story mode akin to Subspace Emissary in Smash Bros. Brawl may be disappointed to learn that Smash Ultimate won’t be getting this kind of content. But there are still plenty of things to do solo while playing Smash Ultimate, including the new Spirits mode.

Other single player modes have been teased briefly and include challenge modes with specific win conditions in each match and an endurance-style All-Star mode in which your damage percentage carries over between matches. There will also be a World of Light story mode, which, based on the trailer, seems to focus on Kirby rescuing the rest of the game's characters after they all got suddenly snapped away, Thanos-style.

What is Smash Ultimate's Spirits mode?

Spirits mode is similar to an Adventure mode in previous Smash games, but focuses more on equipping your fighter for special challenging encounters. As with the Stickers in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, fighters can be equipped with special "spirits" that boost their abilities. These come in the form the collectable spirits of other game characters that aren’t playable as fighters, such as Metal Gear Solid's Revolver Ocelot and Knuckles from the Sonic series.

The equipment system is rather complex, allowing you to mix and match many different combinations of spirits from an undisclosed and presumably very large number of potential spirits. Collecting spirits in Smash Ultimate replaces collecting trophies in previous Smash games.

You’ll pick your encounters from an overworld map with branching paths, though much of this is yet to be revealed. You get new spirits by winning these battles and claiming the equipped spirits of your AI opponent. You can also buy new spirits from the in-game shop using earned currency from the offline and online multiplayer modes.

These fights are designed to be very difficult and pit you against AI fighters with special powers that require you to use spirits to power up your own fighter, level up the equipped spirits and combine them to evolve the spirits into higher ranked and more potent equipment.

Does Smash Ultimate have amiibo support?

All previously released amiibo for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS will be compatible with Smash Ultimate and all newly revealed fighters have or are expected to receive their own amiibo. The only currently unannounced amiibo is Snake.

Although it is not officially confirmed, it’s been indicated that tapping an amiibo on the Joy-Con’s NFC reader will allow you directly unlock that fighter rather than need to unlock it through playing the game. And it’s assumed they’ll continue to function as in the previous Smash game, in which a tapped amiibo summons an AI companion that can be leveled up the more they fight to become stronger over time.

Smash Ultimate controller support: What can you use?

You can play Smash Ultimate using two or just one Joy-Con controller, the Pro Controller or original GameCube controllers when using the official adapter. Nintendo announced that it will be making a new run of GameCube controllers and adapters, as they did with the previous game. But if the past is anything to go by, these adapters could be in short supply.

There will also be a variety of GameCube-style controllers available from third-parties, such as PDP's Wired Fight Pad Pro.

What are Smash Ultimate's online and offline multiplayer options?

Smash Ultimate will offer the usual suite of offline local multiplayer modes, like timed score attack, stock matches, matches with special parameters like increased starting percentage and so on. Up to eight players can play in a single match on any stage in the game, and you can customize the rules with as many or few items as you like.

Access to all online modes will require a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online, which costs  $20 a year. The online modes offer many of the same options as offline, allowing players to tailor the matches they queue up for to their preference by selecting several filters for item usage, player count and more. Matches can be between people on your Switch friends list or with strangers from around the world.

Four players can battle while online, up to two from a single Switch console at a time. A robust ranking system with a visible ranking number will showcase just how skilled you are compared to all other players. A special Elite matchmaking will unlock for players who reach a certain tier on the rankings. Players will also be able to join a lobby where they can queue up for fights against specific players or choose to spectate all matches in this lobby.

Players you encounter online will reward you with their own Smash Tags if you beat them. These are uniquely designed tags each player can create for themselves, copies of which are earned by the victor of online matches. You can trade some of these tags in at the in-game shop to buy things like new music tracks or spirits for the Spirits mode.

What’s Smash World?

Smash World will be a free smartphone app that launched in 2019 designed to be a social media hub for Smash Ultimate. Not a lot was revealed about the service yet other than that players will be able to upload photos and replay videos taken from the game to Smash World. It’s not clear yet if you’ll be able to directly post these videos to sites like YouTube, as was possible in the previous Smash game.

Image Credit: Nintendo

Andrew Melcon is a freelance writer who specializes in covering games and gaming hardware. He's tackled everything from PC game controllers to Pokémon and PUBG and his work has appeared on sites including Tom's Guide, Tom's Hardware, Laptop Mag, and more.