Killer Instinct is a one-on-one side-scrolling versus fighting game and the third main game in the series. Set several years after the events of the second game, it contains several characters from the previous game that each have their own story campaign. The series continues its trademark fighting system based on stringing together combos with a large amount of moves. They are not performed by individual button presses for every single hit, but by chaining together special attacks with button presses to continue the combo automatically, dubbed auto double. Characters can perform combo breakers to halt the hits, but these in turn can be countered with the new counter breakers, reversing the combo breaker and preventing the other player from performing another for several seconds.
The super meter built up while fighting is split up into two segments. The second segment enables shadow properties where moves do more damage and open up new combos. Typical of the series an ultra combo can performed to end the fight with a large rate of hits. A new addition is the instinct mode where a secondary meter offers the ability to enable a unique enhancement for the character, altering the combat. It also offers additional options to stop incoming combos with less penalties and dangers. While fighting a small meter appears below the combo value, showing how far it is coming along, how much more hits are possible and when it is likely to end, making it easier to anticipate.
The game was launched as free-to-play initially exclusive to Xbox One with Jago as the only character and all game modes available. The free-to-play version, dubbed Round One, has a single, rotating character and offers additional costumes and accessories packs as DLC. The eight characters of the first season along with costumes and accessories packs can also bought in different bundles, also opening up early access to upcoming characters (such as Fulgore) and offering Killer Instinct Classic, the original 1994 arcade game along with the v1.5D variant and different changes and additions. The game offers offline and online muliplayer modes. This game entry only cover the free-to-play version and an overview of the available content, all bundles and DLC are listed separately.
The eight available characters for the first season are:
- B. Orchid
- Sadira Killer (new to the series)
- Shadow Jago (new to the series and exclusive to Xbox Live Gold members)