Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's Byleth Isn't Just Another Fire Emblem Sword Boy (or Girl)

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's Byleth Isn't Just Another Fire Emblem Sword Boy (or Girl)

As usual, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate takes an otherwise straightforward character and makes them fun.

To say Byleth's announcement for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was divisive is putting it mildly. With a 148,000 to 83,000 like-dislike ratio on YouTube, Byleth's reveal divided people along roughly two lines: "a character from the best Fire Emblem game in years is good," versus "not another Fire Emblem sword person."

There are plenty, and I mean plenty, of sword-wielders in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Almost every Fire Emblem character in the game to date—Marth, Roy, Chrom, Ike, Lucina, Corrin, and even Robin—is a sword-wielder in one way or another. Looking further afield to characters like Link, Ganon, Shulk, Meta Knight, and Cloud, there's a bevy of sword boys and girls at anyone's disposal.

But Byleth isn't just another sword-wielder. In fact, Byleth has three weapons at their disposal besides a sword: an axe, a lance, and a bow. They're all Relic weapons from Fire Emblem: Three Houses, powerful armaments bestowed by the gods themselves in each of the three individual campaigns. The lance is named Areadbhar; the axe is known as Freikugel; the bow is named Failnaught, and the sword is aptly named the Sword of the Creator—the weapon that only Byleth can wield.

Byleth has scooped up (or stolen) all these weapons from their comrades, and absconded to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to wield all four weapons at once. Better overprepared than underprepared, I guess. The weapons are bound to different buttons and states on the Switch: B when stationary summons Failnaught; B while airborne or moving uses Freikugel, A is linked to the Sword of the Creator, and the right analog stick uses Areadbhar.

In short, Byleth has a lot of weapons. Sure, Fire Emblem characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate so far have varied weaponry—look at Robin with his little spellbook—but none of them come close to rivaling Byleth for versatility. Characters like Marth, Ike, and Roy can't hold a candle to the weapons and tools Byleth brings to the fight. They feel like the result of some kid mashing together limbs from different action figures to create one superpowered being.

Garreg Mach's best teacher also moves a lot differently compared to other sword fighters in Smash Bros. Get a feel for Marth or Ike, and you'll find that they're actually quite nimble and quick on their feet, despite them being relatively beefy boys. Roy and Robin move around equally as quickly, which fits given that they're generally some of the smaller characters in the Smash Bros. lineup.

Byleth, by contrast, is slow. Real slow. Every move from them feels like a painstaking decision, knowing that you'll be locked in for at least a few seconds. Charging up the axe attack or powering up the bow for a piercing shot takes at least a few seconds to fully kick into gear, with no way to abort.

Charge attacks are also fundamental to Byleth's character. With other characters you can deal enough damage to a foe that you don't necessarily need to charge up Smash attacks and the like, but Byleth doesn't have the hit power behind their base attacks. Instead, you'll need to charge up axe and bow attacks if you want to make quick work of an opponent.

It's not just the charge attacks that feel painstakingly slow: the average sword, lance, or bow attack from Byleth feels far heavier than any other close-quarters character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Among the DLC fighters, Byleth's average attacks feel way less slick and speedy than the likes of Joker, Hero, or even Terry. Byleth is less speed, and more pure strength.

This is a massive contrast to the likes of Ike, Marth, and Roy. The trio slice through the battlefield with elegant energy, whipping out swords in a flash like your average anime swordsman. Playing any of the existing Fire Emblem characters post-Byleth feels like you're gracefully gliding along on a cloud. Their attacks don't need to be planned very far in advance because their weapons are a whole lot quicker than Byleth's.

For that reason, discounting Byleth as simply "another sword fighter" is doing the character a huge disservice—let alone the effort from the dev team in assembling the deluge of weapons and abilities. Byleth is slower and more deliberate than any of the existing sword fighters in Smash Bros. Ultimate, with plenty more weapons available to them and an entirely different fighting style. This isn't just another sword fighter built around the use of a single weapon-it's a character with an entire arsenal behind them.

Byleth is now available in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. You can find the additional patch notes for the update here.

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Hirun Cryer

Staff Writer

Hirun Cryer is by far the most juvenile member of USgamer. He's so juvenile, that this is his first full-time job in the industry, unlike literally every other person featured on this page. He's written for The Guardian, Paste Magazine, and Kotaku, and he likes waking up when the sun rises and roaming the nearby woods with the bears and the wolves.

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