After nearly two years of literal trials and tribulations, Microsoft’s long battle to buy out Activision-Blizzard has finally come to an end. The UK regulator, CMA, has approved the deal, giving Microsoft the go-ahead to purchase Activision-Blizzard and gain ownership rights to all their videogame IPs.
I’m excited about this deal for many reasons like allowing the employees of Activision-Blizzard to unionize for better working conditions more easily, and the developers getting more creative freedom. For myself, it's the potential guest characters for the Killer Instinct revival effort.
Since Microsoft is planning on reviving Killer Instinct with more updates, as stated by Iron Galaxy when they announced the 10th-anniversary update, this could be a golden opportunity for Microsoft. They could use the characters from the new IP at their disposal to turn this beloved fighting game franchise into the Xbox equivalent of Super Smash Brothers.
With so many franchises and characters from Activision-Blizzard to pick from, the possibilities for new guest characters are enormous. So, I will speculate and pick which characters I would love to see from Activision-Blizzard’s library be added to the next Killer Instinct.
BE WARNED: Some sections may contain minor legacy spoilers for games these characters originate from.
World of Warcraft: Arthas the Lich King.
Let’s start off with Blizzard’s juggernaut MMORPG, World of Warcraft. This game has thousands upon thousands of memorable and cool characters that would be an awesome guest character in Killer Instinct. Thrall the Orc Warchief, Lord Admiral Jaina Proudmore, Illidan Stormrage the demon hunter, the scheming warlock Gul’Dan, the loveable Bronze Dragon, Chromie, the wise Baine Bloodhoof, the bitter and vengeful Garrosh Hellscream, the complex banshee queen Sylvanas Windrunner, and so many others.
However, my pick is for one of my favorite characters in the entire Warcraft franchise, Arthas the Lich King. From his humble beginnings as a noble Paladin to becoming a corrupt monster that slaughtered entire kingdoms, Arthas embodies everything that I loved about Warcraft back in the day; A classic villainous Warcraft character design complete with shoulder pads and cape, an entertaining rise to power, an intimidating voice, and a boss battle that is regarded as one of the best raids World of Warcraft has ever produced.
If Arthas was added into Killer Instinct, I can imagine he would be a slow, heavy-hitter like Killer Instinct’s Tusk, but Arthas would use super-armor-type special moves (a state where characters don’t get knocked down by attacks) to bulldoze through enemy attacks thanks to his heavy armor and being undead. In addition, he would incorporate moves from Warcraft 3, World of Warcraft and Heroes of the Storm to act as special moves.
He could perform the Death Coil attack to strike enemies from far, freeze them in place with Howling Blast, or summon the Undead Scourge as small minions to harass enemy players.
Arthas’ Instinct Mode (a gameplay mechanic that activates as a character’s super form, granting them temporary new abilities) would enable his sword, Frostmourne, the ability to steal special-move meter resources from enemies. In addition, Arthas would also gain the power to summon the Frost Wyrm, Sindragosa as a minion and command her to freeze enemies solid with a frost breath attack that fills the entire screen.
Arthas’ stage would be the Icecrown Citadel, as it was his base of operations, and the arena players would eventually confront him at the end of Wrath of the Lich King. As for the stage’s theme music, it must be a rock-orchestral remix of “Arthas, My Son”, combined mixed with “Invincible”, as these music tracks are associated with Arthas’ backstory.
StarCraft: Kerrigan the Queen of Blades
Like Warcraft, Blizzard’s genre defining real-time strategy series, StarCraft has a roster of iconic soldiers, alien monsters, and ancient warriors Microsoft could pull in for Killer Instinct. For example, we have Jim Raynor the former-Terran turned rebel, Zeratul the Protoss Dark Prelate, and many horrifying creatures and monstrosities from the Zerg faction like Hydralisks.
My personal pick from the StarCraft universe is Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades. Like Arthas, Kerrigan was once a noble soul fighting for humanity but after being abandoned by her commander, she was captured by the Zerg and was forcibly transformed into a monster that served them. I was drawn to her in StarCraft: Brood Wars for her crass yet cunning persona, grotesque alien design and how she eventually broke free of the Zerg’s brainwashing and took control of them for herself.
If Kerrigan were a Killer Instinct character, I could imagine her attacking foes at close range using her mutant-blades and stunning them at long range with psychic attacks. As for her Instinct Mode, I think they could have her summon Zerg as minions to aid her or go into a berserker rage where she hits twice as fast and deadly, while breaking enemies' minds with psychic attacks.
Kerrigan’s stage could be the inside of a Zerg Hive with various Zerg creatures in the background or New Gettysburg, the ruined city from StarCraft 1 where Kerrigan was betrayed and left to die. Her theme song could be the Zerg themes from StarCraft 1 but remade into fast-paced dark synth anthems.
Diablo: Diablo the Lord of Terror
Nearly every character from Blizzard’s Diablo series would fit right at home in Killer Instinct’s monster-mash of a roster. We have angelic warriors like Inarus, the player class characters like the Barbarian, Necromancer, and Demon Hunter, and demons like Lilith and The Butcher. To represent Diablo, who better than the villain whom this entire franchise is named after: Diablo the Lord of Terror.
Diablo has existed for millennia, scheming from the shadows and exploiting man’s worst fears in a dark war to conquer the world of Sanctuary. Even though he’s been beaten time and again by the heroes of Sanctuary, Diablo always finds a way to come back and make anyone rue the day they could defy the ultimate Prime Evil.
Diablo’s move-set in Killer Instinct would be a fusion between the one he had in Heroes of the Storm and the one from his boss fight in Diablo 3. His attacks would consist of claw swipes, charge attacks which function as command grab moves where Diablo will attempt to impale you on his horns, fire long-range lightning attacks, and stomp the ground to unleash small explosions.
He would also use a special move called Bone Prison, which is a trap laid on the ground that ensnares any opponents who step in them. Once trapped, the opponent will be stuck for a few seconds, their health will start to slowly drain, and they’ll be vulnerable to being attacked by you.
Activating Diablo’s Instinct Mode will cause him to teleport both players to The Realm of Terror. In this dimension, the opponent will deal less damage and Diablo will summon a Shadow Clone that copies any move Diablo does. While Diablo’s Instinct Mode is active, the opponent will essentially be fighting two Diablos at once.
Diablo’s stage would be the Chaos Sanctuary, the arena that served as the final battleground between players and Diablo in Diablo 2. Diablo’s theme song would be a heavy-metal, DOOM Eternal-inspired remix of his boss theme music from Diablo 3, while incorporating bits of the Tristram theme song from Diablo 1 as that track is one of the series’ most memorable tunes.
Overwatch has lots of heroes and villains to choose from that would be a natural fit for a fighting game. This series features the likes of the cyborg ninja Genji, the ghostly assassin Reaper, the largely-than-life warrior Reinhardt, the mad-bomber Junkrat, the cute arctic researcher Mei, the ruthless terrorist Doomfist, the grouchy engineer Torbjörn, the pro-gamer mech pilot D.Va, and so many more. My pick from the Overwatch franchise isn’t my most played character (that would be Genji) but I will admit that she would add variety to Killer Instinct’s roster: Lena Oxton a.k.a. Tracer.
Lena was a test pilot who, after experiencing an accident testing out an experimental fighter jet, became separated from the flow of time, uncontrollably disappearing for hours or even days. Lena’s best friend Winston managed to save her by creating a device called a Chronal accelerator which keeps her anchored. After some tinkering with the device, Lena discovered she could use it to perform superpowers like superspeed or reversing her personal time to recover injuries. Thanks to this discovery, Lena Oxton became the Overwatch agent, Tracer, vowing to defend the world from evil.
I picked Tracer as Overwatch’s guest character because Killer Instinct’s roster currently doesn’t have a speedster-type fighter who possesses time-manipulation abilities like Tracer can. As a fighter, I can imagine Tracer as a close-range rush-down character like Killer Instinct’s Sabrewolf or Street Fighter’s Cammy but with guns and bombs.
Tracer’s fighting style would involve charging towards her opponents, peppering them with her Pulse Pistols, pistol-whipping them, and planting Pulse Bombs on them before backing away via her Blink ability.
Tracer’s unique gimmick would be her time-manipulation abilities that allow her to zip across the battlefield in the blink of an eye, so she can close the distance between her foes or teleport out of danger. She would also be able to regenerate lost health by reversing time on herself with the Rewind ability from Overwatch. However, her time-powers would cost special move resources in Killer Instinct instead of being on a cooldown timer like in Overwatch.
Tracer’s Ultimate move in Overwatch, the Pulse Bomb wouldn’t translate well as an Instinct Mode and would better serve as a special move. To make up for this, I say Tracer’s Instinct Mode would be an original technique unique to Killer Instinct, but also inspired by her lore from Overwatch.
When you activate Instinct Mode, Traver will risk wiping herself out of existence by overloading her chronal accelerator, allowing her to use her time-manipulation moves without spending special move meter resources. This would turn her into an absolute nightmare for her opponents, as Tracer would nearly be impossible to hit, as she would be speeding and rewinding all over the place at the speed of light.
Tracer’s stage for Killer Instinct would be the King’s Row London map from Overwatch 1 as Tracer originally came from England and this location was where Tracer fought against her arch-rival, Widowmaker in the Overwatch animated short film, “Alive”. Her theme song would be a mixture of Overwatch’s main theme and King’s Row theme music, which plays when you are picking a hero before entering a match on the map.
Spyro the Dragon: Spyro
One of my childhood favorite videogame series was the Spyro the Dragon series on the original PlayStation. The adventures of this adorable, adventurous purple dragon entertained fans around the world for many decades for their charming settings and engrossing collect-a-thon platforming gameplay.
You might be thinking that putting a child-friendly character like Spyro wouldn’t fit into a game as bloody and violent as Killer Instinct. However, if a character as goofy and zany as Rash from Rare’s Battletoads series can make it in, then who’s to say other cartoony videogame characters can’t make it as well? Not to mention, Killer Instinct’s roster is lacking a dragon amongst its roster of werewolves, undead skeletons, killer robots, ghost girls, golems, mummies, and world-conquering demons, so Spyro could fill in for that niche.
As a fighting game character, I would have Spyro fight similarly to Killer Instinct’s Riptor, a rush-down character that can also fight decently at long-range. Spyro’s move-set would incorporate his running tackle, glide, headbutt and close-range fire breath from the original PlayStation trilogy and his claw and tail combo attacks from The Legend of Spyro trilogy from the late 2000s.
In addition, Spyro could have the ability to switch between different flame breath attacks, each with different ranges to attack from up-close or afar.
When you activate Spyro’s Instinct Mode, Spyro’s best friend, Sparx the Dragonfly appears and starts dropping orbs which gives Spyro unique power-ups like in the final boss battle of Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage.
- Spyro gets three Blue Orbs, his running tackle attack will deal extra damage and gain super-armor to power through enemy projectiles.
- Spyro gets three Green Orbs, his flame breath attack will be upgraded with the ability to shoot Plasma Bombs which explode with a huge area of effect and deal tons of damage.
- Spyro gets three Red Orbs, his flame-breath will be upgraded into the Superflame, a huge fireball attack which Spyro can spit quickly and reduce foes to ashes.
Spyro’s stage in Killer Instinct would be the Winter Tundra Castle stage from Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage. This lave-filled arena was the locale where Spyro fought his final battle against Ripto, one of the series' most memorable villains. Spyro’s theme song would be a metal-remixed medley of Spyro 1’s main title theme and various level themes from Spyro’s PlayStation One trilogy.
Crash Bandicoot: Ripper Roo
From one Activision-owned mascot platformer franchise to another, let’s take a look at the legendary Crash Bandicoot series and see which whacky character we can pull for Killer Instinct. Aside from the titular marsupial, Crash Bandicoot has a huge rogue’s gallery of insane characters to choose from like the megalomaniacal Dr. Neo Cortex, the time-warping N. Tropy, the toughened alternate-universe version of Tawna Bandicoot, the pyromaniacal Dingodile, and more.
For Killer Instinct’s guest character pick from this franchise, we are NOT going to choose Crash Bandicoot himself. Instead, we are picking Ripper Roo, one of the bosses that has plagued Crash and his friends for many years since the very first game on the original PlayStation.
Why am I picking Ripper Roo instead of Crash Bandicoot you may ask? Killer Instinct sometimes likes to choose characters other than a franchise’s protagonist as guest characters, like General RAAM from Gears of War or The Arbiter from Halo. Also, Ripper Roo is considered a fan-favorite character outside of Crash and his friends, and Roo’s psychotic personality lends itself well to Killer Instinct’s murderous menagerie.
Ripper Roo’s move-set would consist of hopping around, kicking people in the face, and throwing bombs. Roo’s fighting style would be designed to be chaotic and unpredictable, even to the players controlling him. He would throw bombs that either explode upon impact or detonate if Roo doesn't throw them fast enough for a few seconds.
Ripper Roo would also have access to a cannon he acquired from Crash Team Rumble and use it to fire himself as a projectile to damage enemies or bounce off walls like a pinball until he either hits an opponent or gets dizzy and falls to the ground.
Activating Ripper Roo’s Instinct Mode would cause him to go absolutely nuts and start bouncing all over the arena and bombarding the entire screen with bombs. The player controlling Ripper Roo will be locked out from performing regular or special moves and the only thing they can control is Ripper Roo’s movement as he drops bombs – essentially turning Ripper Roo into his boss fight counterpart from the original Crash Bandicoot game.
Ripper Roo’s stage will be Ripper Roo’s Waterfall, his boss fight stage from Crash Bandicoot 1. Roo’s theme song will be a chaotic, rock remix of Ripper Roo’s boss theme mixed with Crash Bandicoot’s theme song from Crash Bandicoot 1.
Who do you wish to see in Killer Instinct?
And there you have my personal wish list for Activision-Blizzard-based guest characters Microsoft could possibly add to a future Killer Instinct title.
While the idea of Spyro the Dragon having a showdown with Arthas the Lich King sounds hilarious and cool, let’s not forget that guest characters alone are not what made Killer Instinct’s roster great. It was the balance between expertly reimagining classic Killer Instinct characters like Jago, Spinal, and Fulgore for a new generation and introducing new faces that have gone on to become some of the most beloved characters in fighting game history like Hisako.
Either way, I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for Activision-Blizzard, Microsoft, and Killer Instinct. If you have any personal suggestions of what kind of guest characters for one of the best Xbox game series on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, drop your ideas in the comments section or at @WinC_Gaming on X.
Get the Windows Central Newsletter
All the latest news, reviews, and guides for Windows and Xbox diehards.
Alexander Cope is a gaming veteran of 30-plus years, primarily covering PC and Xbox games here on Windows Central. Gaming since the 8-bit era, Alexander's expertise revolves around gaming guides and news, with a particular focus on Japanese titles from the likes of Elden Ring to Final Fantasy. Alexander is always on deck to help our readers conquer the industry's most difficult games — when he can pry himself away from Monster Hunter that is!