Something went wrong. Try again later

    Killer Instinct

    Game » consists of 13 releases. Released Nov 22, 2013

    The fighting game series that defined high-risk, high-reward combos returns as a free-to-play launch title for the Xbox One, later receiving constant updates with new characters and game modes. It can also be played on Windows 10 systems with cross-platform multiplayer.

    Short summary describing this game.

    Killer Instinct last edited by hunkyhairshaver on 01/27/24 01:37PM View full history


    Killer Instinct is back for more Ultra Combos!
    Killer Instinct is back for more Ultra Combos!

    Killer Instinct is a free-to-play 2.5D fighting game developed by Double Helix (later by Iron Galaxy) and published by Microsoft for the Xbox One (as a launch title) on November 22, 2013. It was later released for the PC (running Windows 10) on March 28, 2016, featuring cross-platform play with Xbox One owners. On November 28, 2023, the game received a free next generation update for Xbox Series S and X owners for the game's tenth anniversary.

    The game is a same-name reboot of the original Killer Instinct franchise, with assistance from Ken Lobb (designer of the original game) and Rare. It features classic characters from the series, online multiplayer (including ranked and eight-player lobby matches), multiple single-player and training modes, and character cosmetic customization.

    The free download does not come included with a permanent playable fighter (later changed so that protagonist Jago is unlockable). Instead, one single fighter is made available to everyone, which changes on a weekly basis. Characters are available for purchase à la carte (for $4.99 each) or in various bundles (including the multiple $19.99 Combo Breaker packs, the multiple $39.99 Ultra Edition packs, the $39.99 Definitive Edition pack, and the $59.99 Supreme Edition pack). Players are able to compete against the entire roster both offline and online, regardless of whether they own the opposing character or not.

    After the game's development moved to Iron Galaxy, the game has received numerous updates, titled "Seasons" throughout the years. Each Season added new characters (including bonus guest characters from other Microsoft and Rare franchises, such as Halo and Battletoads), stages, game modes, and gameplay mechanics.

    Ports of the original arcade versions of Killer Instinct and Killer Instinct 2 can be downloaded as a bonus when players purchase the Ultra Edition packs (Season 1 for the first game, Season 2 for the second). Players who own the Supreme Edition pack get both games.


    Sabrewulf and Jago battling it out
    Sabrewulf and Jago battling it out

    Killer Instinct is a combo heavy fighting game. The game is a 6 button fighting game with light, medium and heavy kicks and punches. Combos mean everything, maximizing combos will increase the damage a player makes to their opponent, though if a player does not finish a combo with a combo ender the damage output will not be fully maximized. Almost everthing in Killer Instinct can be broken, when a player breaks a combo the player has a chance to counter attack but also has the risk of being broken as well.

    Your basic combo follows a structure Opener > Auto > Linker > Auto > Ender.

    Openers are Special or Shadow attacks that can start combos. After an Opener, any attack button will start an Auto. An Auto is a chain of two Normals that are basically executed from a single button press. After an Auto, you can preform a Linker, a Special Attack that can extend your combo. You can execute Linkers by using Light or Medium Special Attacks. The last element in a basic combo is an Ender. An Ender is a hard-hitting attack that finishes a combo. Ender power is determinded by the length of your combo. A Ender is executed by using any Heavy Special Attack.

    Shadow Attacks are extra-powerful versions of special attacks. They require at least one stock of your Shadow Meter. Earn Shadow Meter by connecting with attacks. The amount of Shadow Meter you have is indicated by the blue rectangles below you character. A Shadow Attack is inputting the same stick motion as a Special Attack but pressing two attack buttons.

    Game Modes

    • Story Mode - Play through a story mode and unlock a mural, there are 3 different difficulties with a different ending attached to each one.
    • Arcade Mode - Play through the entire cast and receive character unique endings
    • Versus - Play locally against CPU or a friend.
    • Survival - Play against CPU forever.
    • Dojo Mode - Separated in Basic and Advanced lessons, here one can be taught Killer Instinct fighting game fundamentals.
    • Practice - Practice your killer moves here.
    • CPU vs CPU - Pit two AI opponents against each other.
    • Trials - Complete quick challenges for XP reward.
    • Combo Breaker Training - Practice your combo breaker skills against opponents of multiple skill levels.
    • Xbox Live - Here ranked and un-ranked matches (exhibition mode) take place.
    • Shadow Lab - Train asynchronous copies of your characters to fight exactly like you online.

    Shadow Lords

    Introduced with Season 3, Shadow Lords is the main campaign mode of the game. It revolves around weakening the demonic half-god Gargos, who is trying to conquer the world by opening portals and releasing shape-shifting servants (Mimics) to corrupt each continent.

    As most of the game's roster are under an alliance, players can form a team of three characters and embark on missions throughout the world, attempting to reduce the corruption of each continent while earning new loot and preventing Gargos from gaining new abilities.


    As of the release of Eagle, the game includes 29 playable characters. As a free-to-play game, each character is locked and most must be purchased (either à la carte or bundled). One fighter is temporarily made playable by all on a weekly basis. The character Shadow Jago is no longer purchasable, and can be unlocked for free through the Shadow Lords game mode.

    Season 1

    The original roster features six fighters, with Spinal released on January 30, 2014 and Fulgore released on March 27, 2014.

    Character NameStageFirst Appearance
    FulgoreUltraTech IndustriesKiller Instinct (1994)
    GlaciusCrash SiteKiller Instinct (1994)
    JagoTiger's LairKiller Instinct (1994)
    OrchidRebel OutpostKiller Instinct (1994)
    SabrewulfAlchemical LabKiller Instinct (1994)
    SadiraAssassin's CaveNew
    SpinalShipwreck ShoreKiller Instinct (1994)
    ThunderDevil's LandingKiller Instinct (1994)

    Season 2

    Each character (with the exception of TJ Combo and Maya) in Season 2 were released on a monthly basis from October 2014 to May 2015. The order of release is TJ Combo/Maya, Kan-Ra, Riptor, Omen, Aganos, Hisako, Cinder, and ARIA.

    Omen is only available to owners of the Season 2 Ultra Edition and Supreme Edition bundles, as well as the retail Definitive Edition release.

    Character NameStageFirst Appearance
    AganosForgotten GrottoNew
    ARIAThe PinnacleNew
    CinderFury's CoreKiller Instinct (1994)
    HisakoVillage of WhispersNew
    Kan-RaForbidden ArchiveNew
    MayaCity of DawnKiller Instinct 2 (1996)
    Omenn/a (Shadow Tiger's Lair)New
    RiptorHatchery 09Killer Instinct (1994)
    T.J. ComboDowntown DemolitionKiller Instinct (1994)

    Season 3

    The original launch of the Season 3 roster on March 29, 2016 included Kim Wu, Tusk, Arbiter, and Rash. The other four characters were released on a monthly basis from April 2016 to July 2016. The order of this release is Mira, Gargos, General RAAM, and Eyedol.

    Character NameStageFirst Appearance
    ArbiterArena of JudgmentGuest (Halo 2)
    Eyedoln/a (Forbidden Archive)Killer Instinct (1994)
    GargosAstral PlaneKiller Instinct 2 (1996)
    General RAAMn/a (Hatchery 09)Guest (Gears of War)
    Kim WuChinatown BrawlKiller Instinct 2 (1996)
    Miran/a (Alchemical Lab)New
    Rashn/a (Forbidden Archive)Guest (Battletoads)
    TuskIcehavenKiller Instinct 2 (1996)


    Shadow Jago was originally a special skin for Jago that was given to players who purchased a Day One 12-month Xbox Live subscription, but was re-released with his own movesets (as a premium $9.99 download, bundled with KI Gold) on December 4, 2015. He is also available to owners of the retail Definitive Edition release.

    Kilgore, a remix character based on Fulgore but with his own moveset, was released as a premium $9.99 download on January 3, 2017. Shin Hisako, another remix character based on Hisako but with her own moveset, was released as premium character for $4.99 on March 21, 2017. Eagle is a new original character that was released on June 27, 2017, included free for Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition and Season 3 Ultra owners, or available to purchase for $4.99.

    Character NameStageFirst Appearance
    Shadow JagoShadow Tiger's LairNew
    Shin Hisakon/aNew


    Jago's alternative costume set
    Jago's alternative costume set
    • Character Color Schemes - Killer Instinct allows for different character color schemes for each character.
    • Character Accessories - Killer Instinct will also allow accessory customization options. Such as swapping out Jago's mask and sword for something different. Accessories can be purchased by real currency, although all accessories can be unlocked by achieving a certain criteria.
    • Classic Skins / Skins - A player can swap the skins of the characters. Classic skins allows the player to use the originals skins of the Killer Instinct roster. Though it is worth noting they are reinterpretations of the classic skins.


    Season 1 Soundtrack

    Composed by Mick Gordon the Killer Instinct Official Soundtrack features 10 songs, most of them character specific. The album is being sold along with the original soundtrack from the first game "Killer Cutz".

    The entire soundtrack is available to stream on Spotifiy and available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon Music, etc.

    #Song TitleArtistTime
    01Touch me and I'll break your faceMick Gordon, Ali Edwards5:49
    02The InstinctMick Gordon6:54
    03HinnamatoomMick Gordon5:51
    04WarlordMick Gordon6:27
    05The Tiger WarriorMick Gordon5:04
    06Type-03Mick Gordon5:23
    07ShatterhailMick Gordon4:45
    08Ballet of DeathMick Gordon5:13
    09LycanthropyMick Gordon9:16
    10The EndMick Gordon2:58

    Season 2 Soundtrack

    The season 2 soundtrack was released on August 04, 2015. (Amazon, iTunes) This release also features vintage tracks and remixes from Robin Beanland.

    #Song TitleArtistTime
    01I'm Back (to Rise!)Mick Gordon feat. Omega Sparx8:49
    02Village of WhispersMick Gordon feat. Erika Mariko Olsen7:16
    03InfernoMick Gordon feat. LittleVMills7:15
    04Temperance & VengeanceMick Gordon feat. Ali Edwards8:10
    05PolemosMick Gordon6:41
    06SandstormMick Gordon6:01
    07.executeMick Gordon7:30
    08HatcheryMick Gordon3:41
    09Herald of GargosMick Gordon feat. Grant Kirkhope8:55

    Season 3 Soundtrack

    The season 3 soundtrack, composed by Celldweller and Atlas Plug, released October 28, 2016.

    #Song TitleArtistTime
    01A Warrior's JourneyCelldweller, Atlas Plug2:07
    02The Dragon SpiritCelldweller, Atlas Plug5:19
    03For the Horde!Celldweller, Atlas Plug5:12
    04Enter the BattletoadCelldweller, Atlas Plug4:25
    05Kneel to Your GodCelldweller, Atlas Plug5:25
    06Nocturne in BloodCelldweller, Atlas Plug4:28
    07The Champion of SangheliosCelldweller, Atlas Plug5:43
    08The Watchman of the GodsCelldweller, Atlas Plug4:48
    09A Shattered EyedolCelldweller, Atlas Plug4:59

    Singles for Kilgore, Shin Hisako, & Eagle

    Singles for characters released after Season 3, composed by Celldweller and Atlas Plug, released August 25, 2017.

    #Song TitleArtistTime
    01Kilgore's ThemeCelldweller, Atlas Plug6:30
    02Shin Hisako's ThemeCelldweller, Atlas Plug5:54
    03Eagle's ThemeCelldweller, Atlas Plug5:33

    Branded Accessories

    Official MadCatz Killer Instinct Fightstick.
    Official MadCatz Killer Instinct Fightstick.

    Releasing along side Killer Instinct will be a Mad Catz Branded Arcade FightStick TE2 for the Xbox One. This fight stick retails for $200.



    This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

    Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

    Comment and Save

    Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.