In the beginning of today’s Smash Direct, now known as “Mr. Sakurai Presents,” Masahiro Sakurai said he had today’s secret final DLC fighter under tight wraps. Even fewer people than usual at Nintendo knew! Except, sorry chief, absolutely nobody was surprised it was Byleth from Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Absolutely nobody. Who could have seen that the last Smash Ultimate fighter in the DLC pack, which has been all not Fire Emblem characters, would be the Fire Emblem character from the most renowned Fire Emblem game of all time?
But it’s not the end of the world. Fire Emblem: Three Houses, again, is probably the most popular FE title to date. It’s maintained cultural relevance since its summer release, and the game is regularly releasing new content. Heck, they announced a fourth house today!
And meanwhile, Nintendo seems extremely aware that they’ve packed more than enough Fire Emblem characters into the game. In the English version of the fighter trailer, they jab at the sheer number of sword-wielding characters in the game. In the trailer, Byleth starts off their fight montage well — but then gets their ass handed to them by other sword fighters.
“Too many swordsmen, are there?” fellow character Sothis taunts. Wow, Nintendo.
Anyway, it’s then revealed that Byleth is only sort of a swordsman. They transform based on what direction you’re swinging in, so every attack is unique. In fact, yes, that’s “weapons” plural: Byleth has four they can utilize. (Or each is possibly just a special sword attack, depending on if you’re salty about all this.)
For those interested in how Byleth plays, Sakurai (or at least his translator) literally calls them a “distance demon.” Their close-up attacks aren’t great, but give them a little space, and their weapons hit hard.
The first is, of course, a sword, the Sword of the Creator. It’s the default appearance, and is used for general attacks such as flurries, dash attacks, and more. The up-attacks are a little more interesting; for one, the up-smash does multiple hits by turning the sword into a whip. But the up-special (up-B) allows you to latch onto your opponent (or ally) and pull both of you towards each other.
The side attacks utilize the spear Areadbhar, a massive spear. It’s most effective at the end, where the blade lies, so it’s great for closing out space. The side-special is just another swing, but the distance and power are fairly better.
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Then there’s Aymr, which is a hammer more about down-smashes. This weapon includes one Falcon Punch-like attack, which comes with a brief charge that pulls up a super-armor, immune to everything except grabs. All the down-smashes also hit groups instead of just one person. So if you’re dealing with Captain Olimar, Ice Climbers, or others, in theory, you could just hit them all at once. In theory.
Finally, there’s the Failnaught, a bow and arrow used for neutral moves. The neutral air just spins the bow, like Ike or such, so it’s fun air tech. But things get real spicy with the actual archer aspect. By hitting B, you can just release a normal bow and arrow. Of course, there’s also a held-down charge attack, which attacks across the field. Hold down long enough, and you’ll shoot an arrow of light — except you can’t cancel out of the attack, even with a shield, so there are plenty of counters you may face if you’re not careful.
Byleth seems like a lot of fun, with versatile and exciting moves, but they also seem like they’ll get their butt kicked if they’re not careful. After all, most of these attacks can be pretty easily counter-able.
For Smash fans, it might be a blessing. Plenty didn’t want to see another Fire Emblem character in Smash, and one that’s relatively tame (but fun for those playing) won’t break the meta like Joker or Bayonetta did. So we’ll take that, I guess.