Of all the characters in the Smash universe, Zelda is probably the most paradoxical. Or maybe the only one!
Zhe is widely loved by most of the community yet never considered particularly strong, she’s always been delegated to specialist players and masochists. Thanks to some minor tweaks and knob turning in Smash Ultimate for the Switch, though, all of that is in the past – to a certain degree, at least.
While still not quite ready to rise to the top of the tier lists, Zelda is now a solid mid-tier, defensive-oriented character. In this Smash Ultimate Zelda Guide, we will look at all the changes the legendary Hyrulean damsel in distress has received and how to play her to her strengths.
Know Your Enemy, But Know Yourself First
When thinking about how to get good with any character, you first need to understand how they play. Zelda is, for all intents and purposes, a character who thrives on the defensive. Her Specials (B button attacks) are the foundation of this. They’re a combination of defensive and long-ranged moves, all part of the lifeblood of a character like Zelda.
While operating as a type of impenetrable wall is fun and all, it doesn’t get you kills which, in turn, win matches. This is where the other element of her gameplan comes into play: high risk/high reward punish-based offence. While Zelda’s kit makes her quite strong at keeping her opponents at bay, it requires a fair bit of skill and risk-taking to end stocks. Don’t misunderstand – she’s a lot more effective than before! You just need to pick the right moments to mount an attack and end it swiftly.
Is all of this sounding good to you? Ready to step out of the World of Light mode and into some online with Zelda? Then read on!
She Knows Kungfu
We’re going to start by looking at the areas that make Zelda’s defensive play strong. Then, we’ll look at the best ways she can end stocks. Finally, we’re going to end with some simple strategies to help you land the kills.
We’ll Show You!
Zelda has always been heavily reliant on all of her B attacks and for good reason. They’re what make her main gameplan work. After receiving heavy buffs in Smash Ultimate, the majority of her B attacks are now better than ever.
These are Zelda’s moveset in detail:
Neutral B (nB)
This move has always been considered quite powerful. Now it’s just bananas! In Smash Ultimate, Zelda’s nB has not only been sped up but also has had its invincibility frames increased. This move is possibly one of the best “get off me” attacks in the entire game now. You can toss it out in most up-close defensive situations as well as some offensive ones as well. It can also be thrown out during your opponent’s pressure to interrupt them.
Forward B (fB)
Zelda’s fB used to be a difficult move to land as its arcs were awkward. On top of that, the size of the projectile was too small, requiring a fair bit of precision and luck. In Smash Ultimate, the move is a lot easier to use thanks to its increased size and more predictable trajectories. It’s an excellent move to use for spacing as well as edge guarding.
Down B (dB)
Known primarily as the Phantom, Zelda’s trusty guardian has seen a heavy rework in Smash Ultimate. It can now be charged at up to six levels. Each level knocks back the enemy further. The best part is at full charge, where the Phantom will automatically dash forward on its own. This means you can hold down your charge and move around freely while the Phantom takes a big ol’ swipe at your opponent without needing to do much. Keep in mind that this locks you out of your other B attacks.
Neutral A (nA) and Tilt Attacks
Zelda’s nA (jab) used to be one of the slowest in the game, placing her at a huge disadvantage during up-close skirmishes. Now it’s been made on par with the majority of the cast and it’s fantastic! It’s got good range and the final hit of the combo is a multi-hit, racking up a lot of damage for cheap.
Combine that with her fTilt and dTilt, and Zelda’s medium-ranged capabilities become impressively powerful. Take advantage of those ranges to stifle your opponent’s movement before setting up an attack of your own.
Kills (Not Love) Are in the Air
The final big tweak that Zelda has received in Smash Ultimate is in her ability to end stocks, a.k.a. get kills. The Hyrulean princess used to struggle to get her opponents to well over 160% before even conceiving tossing out a big smash. Now, the majority of her smash attacks kill at far more reasonable percentages; some as low as 104%! Her dash attack, in particular, can work as a nasty surprise while your opponent feels comfy at a bit over 100%.
The icing on the cake is that both her up throw and back throw can kill at decent percentages as well, making them excellent mix-up tools. Just be sure not to toss them out willy-nilly as throws are considerably slower in Smash Ultimate.
Getting into the Killzone
So, we’ve looked at Zelda’s awesome tools and know we can keep our opponent’s at bay. Let’s look at the mindset and strategy we need to smash our opponents into the great void.
The most important skill you need to master when playing as the object of Link’s adventures is good defence and movement. Zelda, being the princess that she is, favors grace over speed which places her at the low-to-mid range on the mobility chart. Learn how to focus on tossing out her B attacks and Tilts while you move to cover ground while also creating space.
The next thing you want to do is start using her longer-ranged attacks to stuff your opponent’s offence. Stuffing involves stopping their moves before they fully come out, so timing is essential. This will be particularly hard with her Tilt attacks if you’re not used to using them. Once you’re able to half them in their tracks, you can start mounting quick and lethal offences into smash attacks or throws.
This involves punishing. Once your opponent becomes predictable with their attacks, it will be much easier for you to gauge what they do. Once they toss out something unsafe, you can stuff it, chase after them and mount your own attack. Mix up your jabs with smash charges and dash attacks to get kills or built percentages. When they start cowering in their shield, it’s throw time!
Don’t You Dare Say She Hits Like a Girl
While Zelda isn’t a particularly difficult character, she does take some getting used to. The important thing is to play her to her strengths which lie in the key moves we discussed in this Smash Ultimate Zelda Guide. If you enjoy messing with your opponent’s attacks and striking with swift high-risk offence of your own, then look no further than Zelda!
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