There will always be overpowered characters in video games. It’s an inevitable obstacle in video game design.
Fighting games encounter this problem more so than other games due to their very nature, but other competitive PvP games are certainly not immune to a lopsided character roster or unfair set of mechanics.
There’s been a growing trend of new characters introduced to games via patches, updates, and DLC throwing the serene tranquility of an established cast into disarray.
It’s by no means easy to design characters for video games, but I would imagine there’s probably a hint of wanting to make the character or item too viable rather than too weak in order to get people to pay for it.
Whatever the case may be, the following are a collection of some of the most overpowered characters to grace the world of video games.
This cross-promotion between the pop culture permeating Fortnite and the Avengers two part movie instalment Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame ended some time ago, but if you ran into the mighty Thanos in your game, being clicked out of existence was probably a more preferable option.
Transforming into the big purple guy was as simple as picking up the randomly spawning Infinity Gauntlet, granting you the intergalactic menace’s immense power. Your shield would jump to 300 and your health to 700, meaning that you’d have to have a small army of players focus firing on you to take you out.
On top of that, you can leap around the map covering huge distances, destroy structures in a single punch, perform a devastating ground pound, and fire laser beams from your special power glove. Defeating an enemy would also grant you shield back instantly, however your health would never regenerate.
Plus, dying to him would give a message in the killfeed like “X yielded to the power of Thanos” as an extra pinch of salt in the wound .
Anakin Skywalker (Star Wars Battlefront II)
For the most part, the Heroes and Villains of Star Wars Battlefront II were quite well designed. Some of them had some very powerful abilities like Princess Leia’s alt-fire, and some were downright broken like Emperor Palpatine’s force lightning having no collision meaning it could go straight through geometry (however this was eventually fixed). Then Anakin came along and truly brought unbalance to the Force.
Anakin hits hard, and he hits fast. His damage output is deadly, felling other Villains incredibly quickly, let alone a standard Officer or Assault trooper. His Passionate Strike ability lets him cut straight through another lightsaber wielder’s block and stuns them in the process.
He can also pull enemies towards him (while damaging them at the same time) and has a powerful area of effect attack that grows larger the more enemies it hits.
He also has a fourth ability (the only Hero character in the game to have one) which charges up from him taking damage, allowing him to Force Choke those around him for big damage.
The iconic characters in SWBFII are meant to be powerful and able to shift the tide of battle, but Anakin is a bit of a step too far.
Cinder (Killer Instinct)
This man of fire really gave players a huge headache, and led to Nintendo of all companies having to manually and physically install an update to all Killer Instinct arcade cabinets to fix this extremely broken hothead.
There probably wouldn’t have been as many complaints or anywhere near as much ire expressed from players if Cinder (or any characters in the game for that matter) were hard to master or had crazily long combos that were ridiculous to pull off and required both time and skill to execute.
This wasn’t the case, which led to many exacerbated sighs when the person you were playing picked the molten madman.
Cinder has a notorious “infinite” combo, which as you may have guessed means he can just keep doing the same moves over and over with no chance of any rebuttal from the opponent. He also has a fairly easy to perform stun combo as a backup in case he can’t lock you in to his other rage-inducing loop.
And he has the ability to go more or less invisible.
Gill (Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike)
Boss characters from most fighting games are generally imbalanced on purpose, at the very least when the CPU is controlling them in the single player and/or arcade modes.
This can come in the form of blindingly fast attacks, ridiculous movement options or teleporting, or insane damage output. Gill from Street Fighter 3 is guilty of multiple offences, plus a few extra ones that meant he quickly became banned in online play.
Gill is a powerhouse on all fronts. His moves come out quickly, most of his attacks do chip damage on block, and his projectiles have priority over everyone else’s, meaning if you do a hadouken and he does a hadouken, yours gets erased by his move and it keeps on trucking. His Super Moves are also ridiculous, filling up almost the entire screen and doing an absurd amount of damage.
By far his most annoying trait is his Resurrection mechanic. You work your butt off to defeat him, slowly and precisely picking your attacks to whittle down his health and finally land the killing blow. He then simply stands up and regains all of his health starting the grueling process all over again.
Meta Knight (Super Smash Brothers Brawl)
Balancing fighting games is no easy feat, with the roster resting on a knife edge at the best of times. A new introduction or patch, no matter how small or slight can topple a game from this delicate state, throwing it into chaos. In Super Smash Brothers Brawl, Meta Knight was this chaos.
In the world of Super Smash Brothers, having a character with a bad recovery is a serious hindrance. This is especially true in Super Smash Brothers Brawl where “ledge-hogging”, a technique used to stop opponents from grabbing the side of the stage to recover, is prevalent.
A huge problem when playing against Meta Knight was that he could use each of his special moves to recover from even the deepest depths of the Blast Zone, making him basically “ungimpable” as it’s known in the Smash community. Factor that with his numerous jumps and fast frame data, and he was at the apex of the meta for that game.
And he had a move where he could turn invisible for as long as he wanted. Great.
I’m not a player myself, but even watching Overwatch is entertaining as a spectator from all the glitz and intense action taking place on screen. The joy and satisfaction of watching a crazy team wipe or a fluid team’s slick play is just as dramatic and enjoyable as the highs and lows of regular sport.
There’s a real beauty in the teamwork in Overwatch. When the pitch perfect mix of Heroes come together to take the win, there’s few video games that can rival it in terms of viewing pleasure. Individual plays aren’t in shortage either of course. However, not long after the game’s release, the meta became stagnant and players were crying out for something to shake up the game. Blizzard heard them. Enter, Brigitte.
With characters split into their respective archetypes, your chosen avatar will naturally suffer in some departments, whether that’s health, speed, damage, whatever.
Not Brigitte. She played like a mix of all classes, having the strengths of each with no real obvious weaknesses for other Heroes to exploit. Classified as a Support, Brigitte could take out multiple enemies by herself, her shield a very useful tool for hard-countering “dive” characters like Genji and Tracer.
In fact, her inclusion led to the meteoric rise of a new eSports team in the Overwatch League called GOATs who took full advantage of Brigitte to dominate the North American scene. Their success caused a tectonic shift in the meta of the game, and Blizzard basically gave up trying to balance her and introduced the 2-2-2 Role Lock in order to stop certain team set ups.
On the new Overwatch 2 coming out, there’s big hype that all the characters will be balanced, if you’re looking to get your hands on Overwatch 2 but don’t want to overspend money, check out Gamecamp to find the best deals possible.
Leroy Smith (Tekken 7)
Revealed to the world at the competitive video game fighting event EVO 2019 with fellow character Zafina, fans fell in love with the fresh new character of Wing Chun master Leroy Smith, and it’s easy to see why from his gameplay and reveal trailers.
His speed, his look, he radiates style and coolness. Once people got their hands on him, his overwhelming power quickly became a very big problem in the community.
It’s not unusual for a new character coming into a fighting game to upset the tranquil peace of the roster. Bayonetta’s inclusion into Super Smash Brothers Wii U had a particularly negative effect, but thankfully her use in the pro scene wasn’t too widespread, and she’s a much fairer selection in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate.
Tekken 7 occupied a fighting game utopia before the martial arts aficionado came along; the roster was almost universally agreed to be near perfectly balanced. There were better and worse characters naturally, but overall fans were happy.
Leroy’s meta-shattering was caused by a number of factors. He was good at literally every aspect that one could expect from a fighting game character. He hit like a freight train, he could poke well with good range, he could juggle easily with good combos, he had everything cranked up to ten.
Much like Cinder, Leroy also didn’t take that much time to get his execution down. You could just pick him up and start ruining people’s days in online lobbies in just a few hours of practice with him.
Ivan Ooze (Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Fighting Edition)
As mentioned with Gill, the final character of a fighting game’s arcade mode is often given moves and abilities that are above average with no real or major weaknesses. It’s a fact that has been pretty much universally accepted, but within reason. The character of Ivan Ooze waiting at the end of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Fighting Edition is not within these reasons.
Ivan doesn’t walk around. He’s too good to touch the ground. Instead, he hovers around the arena making him a nightmare to even get close to, and he’s unaffected by low attacks and can’t be grabbed/thrown. While you’re attempting to lay a finger on him, he’ll be firing homing projectiles and large columns of lasers at you to make your encounter with him an absolute misery.
Mr. Ooze has a move called “Invulnerable Strike” where he charges forward in an electric ball, all the while being (as you may have guessed) unable to take damage. The only saving grace and minor touch of balancing is that he never blocks.