Shulk 101
by TrueSapphire, June 13, 2018


The upcoming 5th Smash game of the series is now officially called Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which will come out in December 7th, 2018. Many people wondered if Shulk will return or get replaced by Elma or even Rex and Pyra in the recent Xenoblade games. To everyone's surprise, Masahiro Sakurai has succeeded in putting every fighter in all Smash games to join in for the ultimate experience!

According to the two videos, Shulk can cycle through his Monado Arts as usual from Jump, Speed, Shield, Buster, and Smash in order. In Ultimate, Shulk can directly choose a specific Monado Art by pressing the Neutral Special and a quick directional tilt (Jump top left, Speed bottom left, Shield bottom right, Buster top right, and Smash above). It also appears the cooldown to activate a Monado Art in this fashion is drastically reduced. Normally, in the video above, Shulk could not have say Jump Art, jump up, immediately cycle to Smash Art, and Air Slash because it requires more button presses and a slightly longer activation of a new Monado Art. It also appears that Shulk can almost immediately switch to a new Art, while having his current active Art, without the need to deactivate. With this new change, this is very useful to quickly choose more Monado Arts in situations that would normally not be possible in the previous game. Here is a list of some of the theories and speculations that the Shulk Discord community come up with (some can be changed before the final product of the game since Nintendo is listening to feedback):

  • General
    • Characters are more rewarded for aggressive plays than defensive plays. Once a character gets the advantage, they can continue the pressure.
      • Shulk players that are known for their aggressive plays in history (based on Profile Cards): M (+10), Artryuu (+10), Darkwolf (+9), GetShulked (+9), Catalyst (+8), Xmas (+8), Kome (+7), Kurage (+7), Tru4 (+7), Scarhi (+7), Jerm (+6), TrueSapphire (3DS), etc.
      • In 1v1, damage dealt is increased. While Buster Art can inflict even more damage, Shulk will take even more damage in Jump and Buster Art. Shield Art can reduce the increased damage dealt.
    • In Ultimate, Perfect Shielding (releasing the shield button just as your opponent's attack connects to your shield) can allow Shulk to punish back more easily. However, assuming his poor frame data stays relatively the same, this is worse for Shulk because he is one of the easiest characters to Perfect Shield against.
    • The landing lag of all characters seem to be overall reduced. This is a great buff for Shulk who is known to land with landing lag in matches.
    • Running allows characters to travel faster in the air. Unfortunately, this makes bad matchups like Diddy and Sheik harder because our reaction time is reduced. This will mean that Shulk will struggle in the Neutral even more against aggressive plays. He will have to respect his opponents and be more grounded.
      • Characters cannot run past someone's shield for a pivot grab mixup or other attacks. Confirmed as a bug.
    • Perfect Pivoting is gone. No more of Speed Art Perfect Pivots.
    • Air dodges and recoveries seem to be nerfed, which benefits Shulk because he is a great at edgeguarding. When he edgeguards with Fairs, even if the oppoenent does a non directional air dodge, they can no longer air dodge again and will most likely get hit to refresh their air dodge. Of course, Shulk is also suspectible if he is in the disadvantage due to his linear recovery (unless he uses Jump Art)
      • How air dodges work in Ultimate:
        • Only 1 air dodge. If hit, you can air dodge again.
        • Non directional air dodge = can attack/jump
        • Directional air dodge = very laggy
      • Juggling becomes easier, especially with Utilt or even Speed Art Dash Utilt. Since a dash can be cancelled for an attack, Shulk gets a buff of covering the ground much easier while juggling with Speed Art Utilts or Dtilts (or a surprise Smash Art Air Slash). Dash Attack is still present, but to input them is a tiny bit different.
    • The blastzones is overall extended (which can be seen when the radar pops up at the corner). Despite the buffed knockback (think of it as hitting a balloon), it will require more percentages (and Rage) to kill.
    • Characters can tech footstools to avoid footstool combos.
  • Shulk Specific
    • Specials
      • With the directional input of the Monado Arts, we are considering the name Dial(ing). Other possible names are select(ing), scroll(ing), Art Palette, Art Wheel, etc.
      • Due to the Monado Arts' Activation Timer being reduced (~21F instead of 45F), our timing and muscle memory will be slightly off, but we can quickly adjust to it.
        • Intagibility Frames is most likely present (or at least will be in the final version) due to the quick flash, and Shulk can act with another action (like Air Slash).
        • Art Cycle -> directional air dodge towards the floor -> Art activation cancelling air dodge lag.
      • The timer of a Monado Art can be seen in the Dial method (could be how much time the Art is active or is in cooldown). We can assume the timer will also be seen on Shulk's portrait instead of the Monado Art flashing quickly.
      • MALLC might still be in while the Dialing method can be used for general use. Dialing is faster, but it has startup lag while cycling has no startup lag.
        • If offstage, cycling might be preferred instead of Dialing to avoid a Back Slash SD.
      • Buffered Deactivation is much easier without the excessive button presses. Buster Art Nair -> angled up Fsmash or Dial Smash Art angled up Fsmash.
      • Since characters can input an attack to cancel their dash, Monado Arts Run Cancel (MARC) may no longer be needed.
      • Dialing Monado Arts can help when Shulk is in a combo. Shield Art to quickly reduce the damage and knockback or Smash Art to escape combos easier.
        • Dialing Shield Art allows Shulk to live longer as opposed to switching to Shield Art, getting knocked off too far into the blastzone, and Shield Art activating too late.
      • Buster Art + increased damage output and shield damage/pressure in 1v1 gets a big buff. May be possible to get the opponent over 100% in around 5 moves.
      • Back Slash's startup is F20-21 instead of F22.
      • Air Slash's second slash seems to connect much lower than usual.
    • Moves
      • Nair's startup is F12 instead of F13? A tiny bit better Barrier Nair when edgeguarding at the ledge, but still not lower than F10, meaning Shulk still does not have a combo breaker move.
      • Dair's beam is longer (still unknown whether it will have a proper hitbox like Cloud's Dair)
    • Potential Combos/Strings/Reads (Note: Due to the increased knockback and Rage, it is more difficult to combo because they fly very far upon being hit):
      • Jump Art Utilt -> DJ Dial Smash Art Uair read.
      • For the Monado Purge, it may be possible to Jump Art Uthrow -> Dial Smash Art Uair/Air Slash read kill.
      • Speed/Buster combos -> Dial Smash Art kill (Fsmash, Air Slash, sweetspot Bair, Fair, etc).
  • Others
    • Snake's C4 + Vision Slide doubles strategy (assuming Vision Sliding still remains, but we are doubtful Vision Sliding will remain).
    • Inkling's Ink + Buster Art doubles strategy
    • Shadow Eye might get patched

Further theories will be in Shulk's Smashboard forum (Ultimate), Tremendo Dude's Twitch, the Shulk Discord, and various sources in the Smash community.

Fiora in her Mecha form is also added into Shulk's Final Smash, possibly for more damage dealt. Although her Mecha form is supposed to be spoilers, it appears that the general consensus of her outfit is no longer a spoiler since Xenoblade Chronicles is eight years old (in Japan's release date). This can be compared to Sheik being Zelda in Ocarina of Time. However, the reason why she is in that form and beyond that should still be considered spoilers to respect those who still have not played Xenoblade Chronicles.

In regards to Shulk content in Ultimate, this website will include them. Our website developer, Napon, has officially started working on ways to separate Smash 4 content and Ultimate content. As for the Shulk Discord, some people speculated what will happen to it. For now, the moderators have decided to put the Ultimate metagame channel group, meaning you can still join the Shulk Discord for Smash 4 and Ultimate.

Official Smash Bros Ultimate website and news update:
Shulk's official page and images:
Shulk's Smashboard forum (Ultimate):
Breakdown of Ultimate's mechanics (demo version):
Tremendo Dude's Analysis on Shulk Ultimate:
ZeRo's Thoughts and Impressions on Ultimate:

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