Minecraft Steve Could Be The Most Broken Smash Bros Ultimate DLC Yet
Minecraft’s Steve and Alex will debut in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as the 2nd fighter on Fighter Pass Volume 2 later this month, and folks are already afraid. Not of the Minecraft fans that will surely flock to Smash Bros Ultimate or of the exposure that the game is sure to get from mainstream gamers – no, rather they are afraid of the moveset that the Steve DLC is introducing to Smash, which is looking pretty broken.
Steve has potentially one of the most unique movesets ever to hit Super Smash Bros in its over 20-year history, with the ability to generate platforms in mid-air, several easy to hit combos, and moves that have a spike on them. This has led some, including pros like Juan “Hungrybox” Dibiedma, to react with dismay calling him “broken,” despite the Minecraft character not coming out yet.
This is mostly in the wake of Masahiro Sakurai demoing the character during Minecraft Live, catering to that game’s audience more so than the typical Super Smash Bros character. This shows that while Minecraft Steve is meant to excite Smash players, it’s mostly aimed at attracting a new audience, and shows the influence that Nintendo has in deciding some of the Smash DLC decisions.
What is Minecraft Steve’s moveset in Smash Ultimate?
To understand why players are worried about Steve’s inclusion in the Smash Bros Ultimate DLC, you have to have a solid understanding of what each of his moves does.
The functionality of Steve’s neutral special varies depending on whether he is on the ground, near a crafting table or in the air:
Steve mines the ground or wall in front of himself to gather resources using an axe, pickaxe, or shovel. As with using a sword, axe, or pickaxe during standard attacks, mining uses up the durability of the weapon used. The weapon used and the speed of mining are determined by the type of terrain being mined, and the longer it is mined, the higher the quality of materials collected, such as diamond. If Steve has no tools available, he will use his bare hands instead; however, this causes him to mine more slowly. Steve can mine wood, sand, dirt, stone, iron, gold, diamonds, and redstone. Similarly to Olimar’s Pikmin Pluck in Brawl, the resources that Steve obtains most often with this move are dependent on the type of terrain being mined, though there is a set order to the materials mined from each terrain. However, on Battlefield form and Ω form stages, materials will appear at a predetermined rate regardless of the type of terrain. This was done in order to prioritize match quality for more serious players due to the popularity of both forms for competitive battles, and to reduce the factors of randomness.
Steve uses his resources to craft a full set of tools (sword, axe, pickaxe and shovel), restoring their durability. Steve starts the battle with wooden tools, with a crafting table appearing at his starting point. The most valuable resources are prioritized when performing this move; for example, if Steve has both iron and stone, then his tools will be upgraded to iron. A Minecraft-styled progression bar appears above Steve while he is crafting, and Steve will flourish a new weapon after crafting completes, though he is vulnerable to attacks throughout the entire animation. The crafting table itself can be damaged and destroyed by Steve or his opponents, but it will respawn at Steve’s location following a few seconds. Steve can also summon the crafting table to his location by pressing the special move button while shielding. If multiple Steves are present, then they can use each other’s crafting tables as well as their own.
Steve places a block directly beneath himself, which functions as a platform. If the special move button is held down while Steve is walking on a block or jumping, he can continue placing blocks directly beneath himself as he moves. He can only place blocks a certain distance around the stage, signified by a pink barrier that appears while placing blocks adjacent to the limit. Behaving similarly to the Frost Walker enchantment, the blocks break slowly over time, but touching them or hitting them (including hitting the block on the underside while jumping) speeds this process up. Blocks placed near the build limit break faster than they would otherwise. Placed blocks can absorb incoming attacks, including projectiles, and can also be used to aid Steve’s recovery or to edgeguard opponents. Blocks can be made using dirt, wood, stone, or iron, and will break more slowly the more valuable the material they are made of is. Unlike Craft, the least valuable resources are prioritized when performing this move.
Steve hops into a minecart and rides around the stage, placing rails as he does so. If Steve has redstone and gold, he can use it in order to lay down powered rails (powered via a redstone torch), making the minecart faster and more powerful. Steve can jump out of the minecart at any time, but it still moves forward a short distance afterward, trapping other fighters within it should they make contact; a trapped fighter will be stuck in the minecart for longer the more damage they have, but can escape by button mashing. Steve needs sufficient iron to place the minecart, and sufficient wood and stone to place rails. Each rail placed uses 1 unit of stone/wood. During Steve’s showcase, Masahiro Sakurai is shown making a track in an enclosed space and driving forwards and back, which appears to confirm that the rails last for some time.
Steve dons an elytra and propels himself forward, upward, or downward with a firework rocket. During his initial burst, Steve has a damaging hitbox. The mechanics of this move appear similar to Brawl’s gliding mechanic, with Steve being able to control his trajectory while gliding, though he travels a larger horizontal distance than vertical. He is also able to turn around during the startup of the move. The elytra falls off after a short while, leaving Steve helpless. This move does not use up durability points.
Steve lays a TNT block on the ground; this uses up less valuable resources such as sand, dirt, and stone. The TNT acts similarly to a Blast Box; it can be detonated if hit by a sufficiently strong attack and is more likely to detonate from flame attacks (though not immediately like the Blast Box). Its explosion is extremely powerful and triggers Special Zoom on hit. Steve can also place a pressure plate next to the TNT, or further away if he has sufficient redstone to create a trail between the TNT and the pressure plate, which will manually detonate the TNT if stepped on. The TNT affects both Steve and his opponents; however, if the TNT is triggered via a pressure plate, then the fighter who triggered the TNT takes reduced knockback from the explosion, allowing for creative traps.
Some of Steve’s normals also cause unique abilities and have the properties to spike, gimp, and similarly set your opponents up for maximum pain – meaning he’ll be a beast once he gets you off the stage. His one glaring weakness is that he requires time to get his materials crafted up, but thanks to his moveset this shouldn’t be much of an issue as he can play keep away by building block walls, setting TNT traps, knocking you away with the Minecart, or just wacking you repeatedly with his neutral attacks until your damage is high enough to send you sailing.
Minecraft Steve’s Recovery Is Going to Be Insane
Minecraft Steve has the ability to summon a free platform pretty much anywhere on the map. While these certainly don’t last long, especially towards the edge of the map, they do give him the ability to recover almost anywhere on the map, especially since you can use your double jump, make a platform, then double jump again and use your Eltirya to recover further.
This means that he’ll be able to get back from even the furthest launches. Most frightening, however, is Steve’s ability to prevent recoveries. It’s not hard to imagine that a decent Steve player will be able to create walls or ceilings right on a ledge and could prevent recoveries from even the best in the cast. While it’s possible to break them while recovering, it’s something that no other character in the cast can do and will add yet another wrinkle into recovering.
Of course, that’s without mentioning Steve’s ability to summon anvils for a free spike, forward air for another spike, and more setups that can be baited into thanks to adding geometry to the stage.
It’s not hard to see that, thanks to his unique moveset, he’s going to be fairly high tier if an opponent allows him to play his game and get the setups going. The best way to limit what Steve is going to be able to do is to play a fast, rushdown character and not let up on offense. Also any character that has a quick interrupt special, like Joker’s gun or Falco’s laser, is probably going to be annoying to fight against as a Steve player.
Stage choice is also going to be very important against Steve, since much like Olimar, the ground that he’s on dictates what materials he’ll be able to fight with, except on Omega and Battlefield stages. This adds further complexity to what’s already an intense metagame when it comes to stage selection, and one that good Steve players are going to take advantage of as, in a game with 80+ fighters, there’s already a ton of knowledge that a well rounded player has to know about. The intricacies of Steve’s moveset and which minerals he gets in a certain order might be too esoteric for the average player to know about, and will give a well practiced Steve player a winning edge that might be too much for people to overcome.
Will Minecraft Steve Be Smash Ultimate Tournament Legal?
In periods where a character is simply too dominant or has completely unfair tools, Smash tournament organizers have banned characters from play completely. This only happened once, for Meta Knight in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but was under consideration for Bayonetta in Smash 4 for a time as well.
Given how unique Steve is and how much randomness is in his kit, in addition to the unique mechanics, it’s possible that the competitive community could decide that he has too much in his kit to be considered a safe option to maintain competitive integrity of the event.
This usually is not done until it’s been proven that the character is entirely broken, and likely will not happen until Minecraft Steve dominates a number of Smash Top 8s. This likely wouldn’t even be decided this year, as it’s unlikely that Smash tournaments in person will return and online results are very rarely used in any sort of serious discussion – though these events could influence public opinion before the character’s even really had a chance to shine.
Minecraft’s Steve and Alex DLC pack for Smash Bros Ultimate will hit the Nintendo eShop on October 13, and will be available for $5.99, or included as part of the $29.99 Fighter’s Pass Volume 2.