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Killer Instinct’s second season is still going on strong as we are now at Iron Galaxy’s sixth character. From returning faces such as T.J. Combo, Maya & Riptor to unique newcomers Kan-Ra and Omen, the developers have done a superb job bringing these characters into the KI universe. However, the rock golem Aganos is arguably their best effort into a newcomer to the franchise and turns out he is arguably the most fascinating character to grace a fighting game yet purely from a gameplay standpoint. It is creative newcomers like him that show why Killer Instinct has the best character designs going in the fighting game genre now.
Aganos is not your typical “big body” character as seen in other fighting games with a learning curve because of his main gameplay mechanic. He is all about getting chunks to be used as armor to get in against opponents, projectiles that have low, medium and high variations, and walls to shorten the fighting space. Chunk management is key to success knowing when to get them safely usually after a throw or one of his combo enders along with using armor and walls to start your offense. He can even use walls that are placed behind him as a rock club to pummel the opposition as a limited use. Having more chunks (maximum of four) makes him have slower mobility and jump. There is a lot to keep in mind when playing as Aganos, but he still simple enough to learn once you understand the chunk mechanics becoming one of the most hype and satisfying characters to win with in Killer Instinct.
His other specials are a Blanka-like roll, multiple swings of punches called Pulverize, and a Juggernaut Punch-like move called Ruin where it can go through projectiles if the shadow version is timed right and also break through his walls sending opponents flying with lots of damage. He also has one button autos along with regular manual timing. The Blanka roll can also bounce catching people in the air as well. Instinct mode revolves around his Peacemaker club that can be pulled from a wall. He replenishes them for the duration of the mode when being used frequently. If you wanted to see all of this in action with more understanding, Iron Galaxy had a stream a couple weeks back showing Aganos off.
The latest Killer Instinct update also introduces the long awaited ranked leagues. Similar to how League of Legends and StarCraft II handle ranked matches, you have ten qualifying matches every month to determine your tier of bronze, silver, gold or killer being the highest. Once you are in the tier you qualified in, a set number of points is required to get a promotion match to the next rank. Points are gained and lost by winning and losing matches respectively, but once you’re promoted to the next rank, you won’t demote back if you lose consistently. This is finally what fighting games needed in the online department to keep players fighting against opponents at their skill level and I hope future games implement a system like this. Besides ranked leagues, character balance changes are there for some characters as well as more colors and accessories can be unlocked for the whole cast meaning more grinding for those.
Since Aganos is such a huge character, the gameplay camera had to be expanded a bit as seen in the image above, but the stage sizes stay the same. He does look like a menacing rock golem that has been around for thousands of years pursuing Kan-Ra, his main rival in the storyline. Aganos mirror matches allow both characters to forgo armor as Iron Galaxy would say it is more fun that way like sock’em robots. His stage also looks great and has a stage ultra when you can turn opponents into stone. Composer Mick Gordon has once again done a masterful job with the Aganos theme called “Polemos” and is already one of my favorite ones of this season’s soundtrack with Kan-Ra’s.
Killer Instinct’s Aganos is one of the most interesting characters you will ever play as in a fighting game. The gameplay design alone makes you think he is a dream character that you theory crafted from your childhood. His chunk mechanic is used in a variety of ways for offensive and defensive purposes. Besides that, he just has so many tools for a “big body” character to win matches with. It doesn’t mean he is one of the best fighters already in the game because in my time with him so far, opponents with multi-hitting moves and also not letting him chunk up frequently are bad matchups. With Iron Galaxy being three for three with unique and satisfying newcomers in Season 2, I’m very curious how their character that was teased at the end of the Aganos trailer, the ghost girl, will play like. We will see how she pans out later this month.