With Nintendo dropping patch 3.1 a few weeks ago in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, we can now see how the meta is shaping up after the dust has settled. The fighters below all have the potential to be the best, and the tweaks from the patch might now make others more viable than before.
Although Pichu was the recipient of nerfs in Patch 3.1, no one seems to have told him. His playstyle remains largely unchanged, but his self-damage will now be an important consideration for players. Back air attacks and forward smash are still king in terms of kill potential. As before, opponents who play passively against Pichu are going to have a bad time, but conversely, it is now easier to pressure him, requiring a good defense to be a good Pichu player.
Despite also being nerfed in her forward air and side smash having less knockback, Lucina is still an outstanding character. Her damage is still consistent, her combos are fluid and forgiving, her speed and aerials are solid, and she still has the strongest neutral game of anyone. Some may debate that final point, but even if we concede and say she has among the best neutral game, that is fine.
Here is another popular character to receive a nerf in Patch 3.1, but similar to Pichu, has not fundamentally changed how she tackles fights with an oppressive playstyle. Certain changes were necessary, as now Peach will not be able to trap an opponent in a shield and defeat them at 110% at the ledge with some rage. No, now she is more reasonable in her finishers, which come later, but still demand a player to answer her aggressive playstyle, which is no small task. If players wish to continue dominating with Peach, they only need to work a little on their edge trapping and guarding, and they should feel nearly as strong as before the nerf.
Unlike Pichu and Peach, Wolf has felt the effects of recent nerfs far more in how they have affected his playstyle. His down smash now has far less knockback, his Blaster causes increased periods of vulnerability, and the final hit of his special knocks back for less as well.
Still, Wolf is still among the top characters in the game and will likely remain so unless he receives even further nerfs to his toolkit, because despite those changes, he also received buffs for his jabs, as hey now are able to connect more reliably. His reflector also activates more quickly, deals more damage, and catches projectiles more often.
Some may debate how good Fox can be. While he does have great mix-ups and speed, he never feels as broken as other characters. Instead, Fox brings consistency in his fighting style and overall power. He has always felt like a great point to start in the game for being well-balanced and still offers fierce competition in the hands of a veteran player who appreciates fundamentals.
Similar to Fox, Inkling offers strong mechanics and consistency. For her though, this seems to come at the cost of not being able to easily finish off opponents, and against opponents who bully her away from the ground, which can be problematic. Still, these issues are probably balanced in the larger scheme of things, as Inkling is otherwise still a strong character at competitive levels due to her ability to consistently retain the ink damage multiplier on an opponent. For those unfamiliar with Inkling in this regard, the neutral special, jab combo, and down smash all apply ink, which is why not treating an opponent Inkling carefully can often result in a snowball effect that leaves you defeated in no time.
Here is a controversial character for sure, as players are either “Shulk” players, or they are not. Many consider him far too complex to use, and to a point, they are right. If one is playing casually or getting into the game after a long absence, there are plenty of characters in Smash that are fantastic choices, but some people enjoy the unique flavor the Shulk brings to the game.
There is a case to be made for picking the character up. Like Fox, Shulk has a solid, consistent toolkit from which to begin. By focusing on the fundamentals of a character, Shulk is quite powerful, and then later, a player can begin weaving in those aspects that make people turn away. Moreover, playing against Shulk is always a bit off a mystery, because either your opponent is a genius that is dancing all around you, or, they are not. You too can take advantage of their confusion by playing a simple game of fundamentals before breaking out the madness to mix things up.
The newcomer to Smash has only been around since April, but has made a big splash in a short time. ESAM says it best when describing why Joker feels so strong, and it is not that he is overpowered and sticks to one game plan, but that he has the tools to deal with all opponents easily. This demands from a player an encyclopedic knowledge of all the other characters and their playstyles. If you know how your opponent will use their Fox, Peach, or whoever, Joker begins to feel like an unstoppable force. For some reason, Joker received a slight buff to his Arsene-powered Side-B in Patch 3.1.
Here we have what should be considered one of the top three characters in the game right now. His disadvantage remains one of the best due to quick attack and forward air, his combos are still fantastic, and for some reason, he received a buff to his grab range. If you are a Pikachu main, you are in a good space for competitive fights, though it may come at the cost of all your friends.
Snake, despite being consistently high tier, did not receive any nerfs in Patch 3.1. Rather, a slight buff was given to his jab. When speaking of Snake, we need to affirm that players must be bringing their A-game to be effective. However, similar to Joker, Snake feels like an unconquerable powerhouse when a player takes the time to learn what to expect from their opponent and respond accordingly. In this way, Snake demands a player’s true understanding of the game, but rewards them with a fantastic character.
Dishonorable mention: Kirby and Piranha Plant
A set of buffs, or maybe a complete character rework feels necessary for these two characters, so down on their luck that they only really pose a threat if an opponent trips on their controller cord and disconnects from a console. Come on Nintendo, make it so we see a Kirby and Piranha Plant meta, or at the very least, something to move them from the lowest spots on every tier list that they have occupied for so long.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is available for the Nintendo Switch.