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Killer Instinct Season 2: Maya Hands-On Impressions

"Also thoughts of Iron Galaxy's newly designed UI and other changes on Season 2 so far"
Killer Instinct Season 2 officially launched yesterday and while we had early access for TJ Combo for some weeks now, we finally get Maya playable. Along with Maya, the UI is overhauled with a fresh coat of paint courtesy of Iron Galaxy since they’re the ones working on the game now instead of Double Helix Games. So how did the returning Maya from Killer Instinct 2 pan out in this new iteration? She is definitely a fun and interesting character with own mechanics to deal out big damage.

Maya’s main game centers around her daggers. Her fireball motions with punches lets her throw daggers at opponents. Light punch is just the yellow dagger, medium is her purple one, while heavy punch is both daggers. When thrown, these daggers don’t come back to Maya and she has to pick them up on the ground by standing on them pressing all three punches, dashing through them, doing her Tumble Kick special or her Leap Kick linker. If one of her daggers come back to Maya after them being blocked she gains a level on them. Once done twice, a dagger is fully powered up. Having fully powered daggers lets Maya throw them as a homing unlockable or deal out big damage as a combo ender. That is a lot to explain in words, but once you see the dagger mechanics in action, you’ll understand it better. Maya’s daggers make her gameplay design seem like an Arc System Works or “anime” fighting game, but that makes her different compared to the rest of the current Killer Instinct cast.
Without her daggers, Maya doesn’t deal a lot of damage as she tends to need one more normal combo than the other characters to deplete a health bar. She is however still mobile without them with her roll jump, but with her daggers she can come up with some nasty combos, mixups and setups. Maya also has good normal attacks to compensate when not having her daggers to start combos. Her instinct mode lets her daggers come back to her at all times after being thrown, so it is a faster way to power them up when used correctly. I’m having a fun time with Maya so far, but I’m personally not considering her as my new main character at a more competitive level compared to some characters I’m better with.

Even though the gameplay UI remains the same, Iron Galaxy completely overhauled the UI with the menus. Instead of gaining KP by completing trials and challenges, Season 2 now has a simple level up progression system where you gain unlockable accessories, colors and stuff for your profile card. This is the better design decision Iron Galaxy went with rather than spending KP on those said items. It means that you just need to play your character a lot to unlock what you want and I’m fine with that. The post-match screen now has more stats that seem straight out something from e-sports along how much XP you gained based on your performance If you rather just want to unlock certain accessories or colors right away, you can spend KI Gold, which requires spending actual money. Since the game is still free to play at it’s bare minimum with $20 and $40 dollar options, I don’t mind Iron Galaxy also adding microtransactions to those that don’t have much time leveling up their character.
Online play also remains unchanged in Killer Instinct Season 2 so far, but Iron Galaxy has said they’re going to change things up for online modes in a future update. The netcode is still one of the better netcodes I experienced in the fighting game genre, but there’s still some laggy matches here and there depending on your opponent’s connection. There is still demotion and promotion matches on ranked and the level cap didn’t get increased, but now you can’t tell who you’re facing and what their level is till the actual start of the match. I guess this works for the sake of people not ragequitting at the character select screen because their opponents having a better rank.

Season 2 also got a bump up in resolution to 900p and it shows for those care about those things. TJ Combo and Maya’s stages look great and TJ’s bring back stage ultras where ultra combos to be performed at a specific area for them to take effect. While the framerate still runs smoothly at 60 frames per second, I did notice rare slowdown at Glacius’s stage when doing ultras. There’s also little bugs here and there such as the screen flickering for a second that will be addressed in future patches.
We still have to wait on story mode just like Season 1 for TJ Combo and Maya along with the rest of the new characters coming for Killer Instinct Season 2, but that’s fine considering they are playable on every other mode now. The teases for the rest of the Season 2 cast are in the launch trailer above that feature the returns of Riptor and Cinder, which franchise fans are pleased about. I also love the homages to other fighting games such as an achievement named after a meme from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and one of TJ Combo’s outfits is straight up from Divekick, another fighting game made by Iron Galaxy. With Maya and TJ Combo, Iron Galaxy definitely made their own stamp into Killer Instinct and I can’t wait to see how the other characters play like as one gets added every month till they finish the cast.


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