Knockback will work differently in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate; almost like 'hitting a balloon'

Characters launched will travel very fast, but will slow down after a certain point

Posted by Justin 'AdaptiveTrigger' Gordon • June 26, 2018 at 6:20 a.m. PDT | Comments: 14

The basics of the Super Smash Bros. series are relatively simple to understand. In most modes, victory conditions involve knocking opponents outside of the stage boundaries.

As you strike enemy characters with attacks, their percentage will grow. The higher their damage, the further they'll fly when you are able to hit them. Obviously this makes it easier to send them outside of the boundaries.

Since the Super Smash Bros. series has its own set of rules and physics, it's easy to understand that there are a number of math formulas being used here. This series has essentially been using the same math formula since its creation (with a minor adjustment made to how weight is calculated starting at Melee).

Many viewers may have noticed that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's knockback works in a foreign way this time around. Even Masahiro Sakurai explained that fighters who are launched will initially travel extremely fast, but will slow down after a certain point of their trajectory.

Players that have experienced Super Smash Bros. Ultimate at E3 2018 describe this to be like "hitting a balloon." A balloon that is struck really hard will travel quickly before slowing down as a result of the air surrounding it.

Here's a look at the formula behind the knockback for Super Smash Bros. 64, then the formula behind the rest of the series:

Knockback Formulas image #1 Knockback Formulas image #2
Click images for larger versions

Here's what knockback will look like in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate:

Click image for animated version


• p - Percentage of the target after damage is added.
• d - Damage of the attack. Staleness doesn't count in Super Smash Bros. 64 and Melee, does in Brawl, and only counts 70% for Smash 4.
• w - Target's weight.
• s - Knockback growth divided by 100.
• b - Base knockback.
• r - Other ratios that include difficulty, handicap, single-player conditions, damage ratio, crouch cancel, smash charge interruption bonus, type effectiveness (only in Brawl), and rage (Smash 4 only).

Likely, the values of knockback growth and base knockback will be extremely high on many attacks for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. After a certain period of time, the formula will be influenced by some divisor that makes the travel distance per frame a fraction of its original value.

So what are the implications to this change of the knockback and what could it mean for the meta? Well, obviously it will take some getting used to initially.

While players are not used to the speed of the knockback, there will be times where they lose track of their character after being hit. Given time, this will pass.

According to a translation by Source Gaming, Masahiro Sakurai considered applying this change to knockback during Super Smash Bros. 4's development. He concluded that it would've been too difficult to keep track of the launched fighter on the small 3DS screen.

This does not necessarily mean that competitors will have less time to react and utilize directional influence once they are used to the change. Apparently, many attacks also have a significantly increased number of freeze frames.

Freeze frames cause a struck character to momentarily freeze in place before being launched. This will also briefly freeze the attacker.

Inevitably, this will likely create some difficulties in creating flashy doubles combos. Again, this will take some getting used to.

What effects do you think the new knockback system will have in the long run? Do you like the changes or dislike them?

Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Formula source: Smash Wiki.

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