Everyone has a character that they hate. Its just natural when playing a highly competitive game. Sometimes many elements are fueling the fire, other times it comes out of bad experiences. Adding to this, there are always some characters that stand out as the most hated in the metagame.
Just looking at the last period of Smash 4, Bayonetta instantly pops up. Since her release, she attracted a high level of controversy due to her unique design. Bayonetta possessed a combo structure that stood true to her game but wasn’t suited for competition. However, it wasn’t until she started dominating tournaments that the community began showing hatred towards her, all due to the dense pools of players that were topping competitions with her.
A community’s hate evolves side-to-side with the metagame. Players start figuring how to adapt and deal with hard situations and as results new strategies pop up. In Smash 4, the community was hating on Sonic and Rosalina and Luma way before Bayonetta came into the picture. Sonic due to how much he slowed the game, and Rosalina and Luma due to an extensive list of crazy Luma shenanigans. With time, the hate shifted and the community learned how to accept the different characters as long as they were not toxic for the metagame.
Now let’s look at some key elements that feed animosity towards a character.
Oh No, the Projectiles are Coming
To most players, playing against a zoner is annoying. In the rise to the top, zoners are pretty standard among the vast pool of characters. Some people enjoy throwing projectiles everywhere, mentally exhausting their opponents and accordingly capitalizing off of that exhaustion. However, it is not an efficient strategy. Once a player reaches a certain level, it becomes easier to play around projectiles and punish the opponent. Though, for new players, a swarm of projectiles can be very intimidating. While trying to grasp the always growing knowledge of competitive Smash, it is tough learning to play against zoners.
In Ultimate, a prime example of this issue is seen with two characters: Snake and Olimar. Snake possesses grenades, a C4, mortar throws, and a Nikita missile. Having all of this thrown against a player without any matchup experience is overwhelming. In this matchup, there is always something happening from grenades exploding to the C4 catching players off-guard. As a result, highly skilled competitive matches that feature a Snake feel like war zones.
Olimar, on the other side, has Pikmin that help him adapt to different situations. All due to the niche properties every Pikmin has. He also has a pretty strong neutral game but playing around the Pikmin make everything harder.
Circle camping isn’t a concurrent issue in Smash Ultimate. However, some struggling against projectiles. Ganondorf is a clear example due to his slow movement. As a result, his players grow some animosity towards zoning.
One Trick Ponies
Strategies in Smash vary from character to character. However, some carry more power than others. This means that a player can abuse it and get some decent results. This doesn’t carry players to victory, but irritates players that don’t know how to play against the linear strategy. In rare cases, an approach doesn’t have an efficient way to counter it.
Coming back to Bayonetta, she possessed a versatile combo structure. Her special moves allowed her to extend combos in a way that no other character could. This made players abuse her kit with little to no counterplay provided by the game. She got nerfed in the game’s final patch, but in due time, her rise to the top picked back up.
This section goes hand-in-hand with the zoning issue — all due to the level of reliance some players have in the strategy.
At the bottom of the hate list is the annoying characters category. This feeling changes from person to person, but in certain instances, it’s shared by the community.
People play Smash for enjoyment. This enjoyment comes out of different sources; be it a victory, match quality, etc… the goal is to go out of the match on a positive note. A player’s mindset has a lot of weight in this issue, but there are certain instances where playing against a character is not fun.
Inside this category lay “cheap” strategies. This category comes out of an unbalanced level of risk-reward level. Rosalina and Luma in Smash 4 were a prime candidate for this category. At times, she killed enemies at ridiculously low percentages of the top all due to Luma’s ridiculous amount of knockback. Being killed at 20 percent in an important match isn’t fun, at least when the player doesn’t make any huge mistakes that justify it.
Is the Hate Bad?
Having a character attract much hate isn’t necessarily bad for a community as long as it is reasonable. If it is used correctly, it can tell the development team that there is a real problem on the table. However, not all hate is justifiable. The best way to illustrate is with Ice-T’s wise words “Don’t hate the player, hate the game”.
Character hate is a reality most games face. Where the player takes it is what defines its potential.
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