ARMS recently had its final update with the release of it’s newest character, Dr. Coyle. Update 5.0 marks the completion of the game from a development perspective, as the only future updates the game will get will be balancing adjustments. Five new characters and five new stages have been added to the game for free since its launch, which certainly makes the game feel more complete. One of the game’s major complaints was its lack of characters and content, and while only a few new modes were added to the experience, the roster certainly seems much more fleshed out. ARMS finally seems to have maximized its potential as a casual fighting game, but where does that leave a potential sequel?
Nintendo has confirmed that update 5.0 is the last content update for the game, so it’s not like ARMS will continue to grow in scope. The community has certainly died down since inception, but those that still play the game absolutely love it, especially after all of the updates. There’s a good chance that it could become a dedicated Nintendo franchise if a proper sequel was delivered, but it won’t be as simple as releasing the same concept with more characters and stages. Those are things that were accomplished via free updates, so the sequel would have to go BIG.
ARMS laid the foundation for what could be an absolutely fantastic fighting game. The proof of concept is there, but there’s so much more they could do with the franchise in a potential sequel if they focus on content and world building. They have a great cast of characters that players would love to learn more about, however they only included a 10 round arcade mode for players who were going solo. It did a serviceable job of helping players master the game’s mechanics, but it offered almost nothing in the way of character building. They don’t need to follow the path of game’s like Injustice and include a veritable movie in their single-player campaign, but injecting more of the world into their design decisions could go a long way for a game like this.
Speaking of adding content, the online suite needs a big upgrade. Party mode can be fun, but there needs to be other ways that players can compete casually. The addition of a tournament style mode could make it easier for parties of friends to meet up online and participate in matches while also spectating their friends. Modes like Volleyball and Basketball could also be much more fleshed out so they feel fun enough to play on their own. As fun as they are the first few times around, they end up feeling like more of a button masher (or waggle fest) as time passes.
The Basketball mode could be transformed into a full 2v2 or 3v3 game type. Dunking other players into the hoop is fun for a bit, but the system could definitely work with an actual ball. Passing, shooting, and blocking mechanics could all be utilized with enough tweaks to the core controls. For example, players could use the jump button to take a jump shot whereas the defending team can stretch their arms up for a block. There could be an online mode completely dedicated to this game type if it was fleshed out enough.
The mechanics work well and are simple enough for new players to learn fast, however, a few adjustments could be made in order to make them feel even better. For starters, the arms themselves could be tweaked in order to really stand out. The nunchucks feel awfully similar to the boomerangs and chakrams. Also, how many versions of the boxing glove do we really need? The elements could use some balancing as well, since some are clearly better than others. The wind element is not nearly as good as the fire or explosive elements. Yes, it provides a form of crowd control, but only if you actually land a hit unblocked. At that point, it would be better to just have the charged version do more damage since there are very few instances in which a combo could occur off of a wind attack.
New types of arms need to be added to the sequel. 9/10 of the available arms are used for offensive purposes (with the exception of the shields). Imagine if new types of zoning arms were added to the mix, such as an arm that drops an explosive mine somewhere on the battlefield. Another example could be an arm that pushes the opponent around even if it doesn’t land. There is a huge amount of potential for utility type arms that aren’t necessarily offensive in nature, and it would invite a whole new slew of different play styles.
Think of ARMS as the first Super Smash Bros. game for the Nintendo 64. While light on content, it laid the foundation for what could potentially be a jam-packed sequel that addresses all of the issues of the first game just as Melee so expertly did. There is serious potential in the series, especially if you ask the community that continues to play it to this day. A diverse selection of game modes may have caused more players to stick with it throughout 2017, especially in the single-player department. Hopefully, Nintendo recognizes this potential and doubles down on the sequel’s development.
What do you think needs to be added in a potential sequel for ARMS? Let us know in the comments or on twitter!