Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has completed its first weekend with immense success. The game has achieved a 93 on Metacritic, tying Brawl as the highest rated Smash game on the aggregator site. Much of the game has been praised, especially the combat system. However, one important aspect has been met with much less praise, and currently very controversial with players: the online system. Here's what one top Super Smash Bros. player had to say about it:
Super Smash Bros Ultimate really is something special, man.— Leffen (@TSM_Leffen) December 9, 2018
In what other game can you have a 4 man match where Cloud, Joker, Mario and Sonic face off, with pokeballs and assist trophies going off left and right, despite those 4 players all searched for 1v1 no items.
This is very true. So, in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the main online mode players are using is Quickplay. This makes sense, as this mode is presented as the most efficient way to battle other players around the world. This is also the only way to raise your Global Smash Power, Smash Bros's version of a ranking system. In short, Quickplay is the mode Nintendo expects people to constantly use. In Quickplay, you are given the option to put your preferred rules. Want 1v1, and Battlefield stages? You can put that as your preferred ruleset. The problem is that the game does not guarantee you a 1v1. In fact, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that it often sends the player into a 4-player free for all instead.
This is a very odd thing, as Nintendo knows that competitive players would be more interested training in 1v1 matches. In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, the online system was split between "For Glory" and "For Fun." For Glory is a much better system that what Ultimate is offering, because For Glory always guaranteed 1v1 matches. It does not make sense for Quickplay to give players the option to put their preferred ruleset, and not work half the time. Also, in Quickplay, you are locked into your character of choice. If you want to switch characters, you'll have to exit and go back in. This is especially annoying if you find a good opponent, but can't train other characters.
One possible workaround is the other online mode: Battle Arena. Here, players can host their own arena, guaranteeing their preferred ruleset. A player can set the rules to 3 stock, and only one other player allowed. This can be set up with friends, or publicly. If set publicly, you can battle anyone like in Quickplay. This is fine, but here's the conundrum: Battle Arena does not count toward your Global Smash Power. Interested in getting your Pichu to a high number? That cannot happen in Battle Arena, only in Quickplay. So, if you care about Global Smash Power, you're forced to only hope you'll get a 1v1 battle.
Poor online mode implementation isn't the only controversial aspect. Battling your friends online has also been made more difficult. It seems as if every individual needs his/her own Switch. For example, if you live in New Jersey and have two cousins in New York City, those two need two separate Switches in order to play with you. Otherwise, one of them has to take turns. This was an odd oversight by Nintendo, unless the company actually intended this. Also, lag is present in the online. It may not always be there, but chances are you'll run into a match with lag at some point.
Lag is probably not something Nintendo can fix at this point, but the company can do something about the online modes. As of this year, players have to pay for online play on Switch, so it's understandable that many are feeling cheated. Hopefully Nintendo is listening, and adds an update that addresses these complaints.