Written by Jonathan Watts
Byleth was released on 28th January 2020 to much controversy, being the 8th Fire Emblem character, Byleth is the most represented game series in the Smash roster. While it’s understandable Nintendo want representation for the newest game in the franchise, it feels like they picked the most obvious choice. With 10% of the roster now being from this series, some fans felt that this took the slot of an otherwise potentially cool reveal from a different underrepresented or new third party. Of course, now the community has had time to see how they play and determine if they’re any good or fun.
Unfortunately, Byleth has too many flaws to be worth playing. They’re very slow, many of their moves and in particular, their specials, have massive recovery times that punish the player for missing, more so than pretty much any other character in the roster.
It’s not just their attacks either, Byleth acts like a heavy character, which means despite looking like a Lucina or Marth, they move at similar speeds to characters like Donkey Kong and Ganondorf. This combination of awkward slow recoveries and little in the way of movement speed makes them feel not very intuitive or fun.
Many characters have moves that punish missing with big recoveries such as Ganondorf’s warlock punch, but Byleth has many of these moves, making their playstyle somewhat unique in how deliberate you have to be with specials. But also, a bad style against a large majority of smash characters, who recover much quicker and can punish them with ease.
Byleth isn’t useless however, while on stage they may be slow and clunky and awkward to play, they have a very strong off-stage presence. Byleth’s specials make them very hard to edge guard and getting caught with this move is almost guaranteed death. Meanwhile, their aerial normals make them very good at edge guarding other characters and chasing after kills. They have a 0 to death combo, but its unreliable and only works on two characters, Donkey Kong and Bowser, so it isn’t something worth playing the character for.
Byleth has, unfortunately, in my experience, been a rather disappointing character to play. But I have no doubt in a few months, there will be many more tricks, such as the 0 to death combo that gives players more reason to play with this character. However, until then I recommend just skipping this one and hoping the first character of the next fighters pass is more exciting and more fun to play!