Falco (ファルコ, Falco) is a playable fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He was officially revealed on June 12th, 2018 alongside fellow Star Fox fighter Fox and the rest of the returning roster during the E3 2018 Nintendo Direct. Falco is classified as Fighter #20.
Mark Lund reprises his role from Super Smash Bros. 4 with new voice clips, sounding more akin to his appearances in Star Fox Zero and Starlink: Battle for Atlas. In the Japanese version, Falco is now voiced by Kōsuke Takaguchi, reprising his role from Star Fox 64 3D and Star Fox Zero and who also voiced Wolf, replacing Hisao Egawa from Melee, Brawl, and Smash 4.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
With the exception of the third method, Falco must then be defeated on Corneria.
Falco is a lightweight character with the highest jump in the game, a fast initial dash speed, the 7th highest gravity, the 10th fastest walking speed, the 11th fastest falling speed, the 12th highest traction and the 9th best air acceleration, but in contrast has average dashing speed and the 23rd slowest air speed. This makes his movement somewhat polarizing as he has overall mediocre horizontal movement (especially while airborne), but excels in reaching insane vertical heights.
Owing to his status as a "talented aerial fighter" with an "amazing jumping ability" and fast falling speed, Falco's greatest strengths lie in his strong combo, juggling, and edgeguarding capabilities; with his aerials being most evident of these traits. Up aerial in particular, is his primary juggling tool, thanks its quick startup, wide hitbox that can hit opponents on landing, and low overall lag and knockback. These traits make it very effective at starting and extending juggles, and as well as being capable of comboing into itself and other aerials. Additionally, it can KO at high percents near the upper blast line. Neutral aerial has a large, lasting hitbox that covers Falco and is a fast multi-hit, making it a good disruptor and combo extender/finisher. It can also drag opponents downward, allowing it to start combos on stage. Forward aerial has decent horizontal range and is also a lasting multi-hit, allowing it to edgeguard and KO reliably. Like his neutral aerial, it can drag opponents downward as well, putting offstage opponents in a very bad spot. Back aerial is one of the strongest aerials of its kind and can reliably KO even from center-stage. Lastly, down aerial, while nowhere near as notorious as its previous iterations, comes out fast and is a lasting hitbox; with its clean hit being a powerful meteor smash, giving it the ability to start combos onstage and score early KOs against poor recoveries.
Although Falco's ground game looks limited, he has a handful of respectable options at his disposal. Up tilt, in particular is Falco's staple in initiating combos thanks to its very quick startup, great coverage, and low ending lag and knockback. It can combo into itself and any of his aerials, and even setup for KO's into back aerial or up aerial at high percents. Down tilt, despite being Falco's most powerful tilt, is also capable of follow-ups into aerials thanks to its sourspots' lower power. Additionally, it covers a good distance in front of himself, allowing him to burst KO grounded opponents or call out low recoveries aiming for the ledge. Forward smash has a wide front hitbox and can kill fairly early if performed near the ledge, while down smash comes out quick and sends at a semi-spike angle, working as another burst KO option and heavily threatening those with poor recoveries. His other moves, although more situational, still have their uses: neutral attack comes out exceedingly quick and its first two hits can lock, forward tilt can be angled and is relatively fast, allowing it to be used as a decent spacing option, and dash attack has a long duration, enabling it to catch dodges and landings, with its clean hit sending at a favorable angle for juggles and its late hit sending opponents at a much lower angle for edgeguards.
Complementing Falco's aerials and tilts is his grab game, as overshielding his feared up tilt and aerials provides Falco the opportunity to make use of his highly damaging throws. Up throw is Falco's best throw, as much like up tilt, it is an effective combo starter into any of his aerials at all percents and can perform KO setups or even outright KO with its second hit. Forward throw and down throw, while lacking true combos, can lead into follow-ups lower near the ground at low to mid percents. Finally, back throw's first hit is a semispike that sets up for Falco's strong edgeguarding game, while its second hit can outright KO at high percents near the blast line.
Considering his special moveset, Falco's specials can provide unique benefits. Blaster is his primary ranged option, with it being an effective disruptor due to its fast projectile and greatly reduced ending lag. Its shots can be used to pressure, provoke or halt approaches, snipe double jumps, or even outright gimp poor recoveries. Falco Phantasm has Falco dash very quickly, making it great for horizontal recovery. Its grounded version can start combos at low to mid percents and even set up KOs with back aerial at high percents, while its aerial version can meteor smash careless edgeguarders. Fire Bird is his main recovery option and grants respectable distance in any chosen direction. It can also work as a niche damage option due to having damaging hitboxes throughout and can deal well over 30% if all hits connect. Lastly, Reflector activates on frame 1, making reacting against quick projectiles less of a liability for Falco; it also has a hitbox which activates slightly later that serves as a decent poking tool.
In spite of Falco's well-balanced strengths, he has numerous weaknesses. His most prominent flaws are his survivability and his inconsistency. Despite being a lightweight, Falco is vulnerable to combos due to his fast falling speed and lack of escape options. Although Falco's recovery grants respectable distance, it is very linear. Falco Phantasm no longer passes shields, making it far easier to corner him from his recovery. Without his double jump, Falco is in great danger offstage due to the nerfs to air dodging and how Fire Bird is still slow and predictable.
Regarding his moveset, Falco has several moves that do not function properly and can even work against him. Up tilt has a sourspot near the end of its first hit with set knockback, making it unsafe on hit. Up smash, despite having fast startup and high vertical reach, has large blindspots that only allow medium-sized or larger characters that are only directly next to and in front of Falco to be hit, leaving him extremely vulnerable from behind and against small or crouching opponents (even if they're directly in front of Falco). Additionally, plaguing him since Smash 4, both up tilt and up smash are prone to failing to properly connect against aerial opponents. Despite its looks, neutral aerial has difficulty hitting opponents from behind, and due to changes in the game's engine, the move's looping hits are more prone to failing to connect than it was in the previous installment. While Blaster and Reflector have reduced lag, the former is still unsafe on hit even from a distance, while the latter still has a misleadingly small hitbox and its removed trip chance ironically makes it even more unsafe on hit overall than in Smash 4. Most notoriously, however, are Falco's back and up throws. Due to changes in the game's physics, the laser from both throws are even more prone to being DI'd than before, allowing opponents to survive in excess of what would've been a KO.
These aforementioned problems compound Falco's other more defined weakness of struggling to secure a KO. Like fellow Star Fox fighters Fox and Wolf, Falco's strongest moves are also his slowest in terms of startup and/or endlag, requiring careful execution to avoid heavy punishment. Lastly, Falco's damage output and range have been nerfed from Smash 4. This is especially noteworthy due to most of the cast receiving various buffs not limited to these aspects and the prominence of swordfighters and zoners in Ultimate.
Overall, Falco has the tools that let him defensively pressure his opponent, then effectively capitalize on their errors with his strong combo and edgeguarding capabilities. However, he can struggle keeping up with faster opponents and as well as against those who have large disjoints. Although he can score early KOs through a well-executed edgeguard or hard read, Falco must be careful not to let opponents take advantage of his own weaknesses to avoid being combo'd and KO'd early himself.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Likely owing to his low-tier placement in SSB4, Falco has received a mix of buffs and nerfs in the transition to Ultimate, being greatly buffed overall.
Falco's buffs mainly address his weakened tools that affected his previous transition from Brawl to SSB4, notably to his notoriously nerfed Blaster and down aerial: Blaster has faster startup, fires at a faster rate while grounded, and has much lower ending lag, drastically improving one of his staple moves and making it less punishable. Additionally, down aerial is much faster (now being half as fast as in Brawl) and has regained its ability to autocancel from a short hop. These changes allow both to function as tools for approaching or walling once again, instead of being limited to only edgeguarding and hard reads. Many of his other moves have been made more usable as well: his neutral attack's first two hits can lock, and its infinite portion connects more consistently. Down tilt, forward smash and up smash deal more damage, while forward tilt and up tilt have reduced ending lag (greatly improving their spacing and combo potential, respectively), and forward aerial starts faster. Falco's grounded movement is noticeably faster, and the universal 3-frame jumpsquat and reduction to landing lag improve his strong aerial game, allowing him to easily juggle aerial foes while leaving him less vulnerable when landing; this also makes his short hop combos more effective. Finally, the nerfs to air dodging further compliment his aerial game, allowing him to once again abuse his edgeguarding capabilities. As a result, Falco's neutral game is more consistent, improving on one of his biggest weaknesses from SSB4.
However, Falco has also received noticeable nerfs, which worsen some of his worst traits, including his recovery. Though he does possess the highest jump in the game, Falco has had his already poor recovery nerfed as Falco Phantasm now travels slightly less distance and no longer passes through shields, making it even easier to intercept and more punishable. Meanwhile, Falco's other recovery option in Fire Bird is also still extremely linear and easy to exploit. Furthermore, the nerfs to air dodges make both of his recovery options even more linear and exploitable than before. Additionally, while many of his combo-centric moves were made more effective through reduced lag, they have also been weakened (forward tilt, up tilt, up aerial), requiring him to deal more hits to acquire damage. This ties in with Falco's KO ability, which has also been toned down: moves such as forward aerial and back throw do less knockback, while his strongest attacks have higher startup lag (down tilt, down smash, and most notably back aerial), making it even harder for him to close a stock. Moves such as neutral attack and forward smash no longer move him forward as much, reducing their range, while up smash's hitbox was altered to such an extent that it will completely miss against grounded opponents unless they are right in front of Falco. Finally, Reflector no longer has a bonus chance to trip opponents, removing its utility for follow-ups and worsening its overall safety. As a result, while Falco may have more effective combos and spacing abilities than before, many of his weaknesses are even more defined.
Overall, Falco is considered to be much better than his appearance in SSB4, since his key strengths are more threatening than before, and his neutral game has seen noticeable improvements. Although his player base is still somewhat small, he has nonetheless achieved very good results thanks to many good players such as Larry Lurr, Kofi, PiXL, and Juice. The general consensus is that he is an upper-mid/lower-high tier character.
Throws and other attacks
Falco has been buffed significantly via game updates. Curiously, he was left totally unchanged throughout several updates until update 7.0.0, which enlarged his shield as part of a near-universal buff. Following this, update 8.0.0 granted Falco a number of noteworthy buffs. His infamous up smash became significantly more consistent, thanks to hitbox and knockback adjustments, and its respectable power was increased even further. Neutral aerial, which was also somewhat notable for being inconsistent, was noticeably improved via hitbox adjustments and its last hit being sped up.
Down tilt's overall lag was decreased and its angle was adjusted; these changes not only improved both its KO and combo potential, but also reduced its susceptibility to DI. Down aerial also became more useful, as its excessive ending lag and landing lag were both decreased. Lastly, Falco Phantasm was sped up and its hitboxes were improved, which improved its trapping potential and even granted it utility as a set-up option.
Due to his buffs, Falco fares significantly better than he did at Ultimate's launch, and he is generally seen a lower high tier character instead of a low tier character like in SSB4.
For a gallery of Falco's hitboxes, see here.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
In competitive play
Before release, many players immediately took notice of Falco's drastic improvements from the previous game. This was thanks to several factors, such as the mechanics of the game being greatly in his favor, the improvements to his already potent combo game, and his improved neutral game due to his improved blaster and speed. In addition, some of Falco's worst matchups in Smash 4 (most notably Sheik, Bayonetta, Luigi, and Cloud) were nerfed and made less problematic for him. Due to this, Falco was greatly anticipated to be a very strong character in Ultimate, with many top professionals stating that he could potentially be a top-tier character.
Unfortunately, opinions on Falco quickly dwindled when the game released as the buffs he received were seen to be "overhyped." On the other hand, players believed Falco's fellow spacies Fox and Wolf were significantly better, seemingly worsening Falco value to other players as they believed one could play a rather similar character with better success. As such, Falco initially saw low results, with his dedicated players failing to obtain notable results with the character, leading the general consensus to assess him as a mid or low-tier character.
As the metagame progressed, however, opinions of Falco began to improve thanks to the efforts of players such as Kofi, Ismon, and, most notably, Juice, all of whom saw great placements at national tournaments. His improved representation led to a small but positive shift in perception: although several players such as ESAM maintained that Falco was at best mid-tier, others believed that Falco had potential to be high-tier. This perception only continued to improve thanks to the buffs Falco received in patch 8.0.0, which improved his combo and kill potential, as well as the efforts of Tilde, who has placed highly in several major tournaments both during the online era and following the return of offline competitive play. As of now, Falco's overall viability remains debatable, but it is widely agreed upon that he is much better than his Smash 4 counterpart.
Most historically significant players
Any number following the Smasher name indicates placement on the Fall 2019 PGRU, which recognizes the official top 50 players in the world in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from July 13th, 2019 to December 15th, 2019.
See also: Category:Falco professionals (SSBU)
Classic Mode: Soar Above the Darkness
Role in World of Light
Falco was among the fighters summoned to the cliffside to fight an army of Master Hands.
During the opening cutscene, Falco was present on the cliffside when Galeem unleashed his beams of light. Falco attempted to flee the scene immediately, as he was already seated in his Arwing; however, Galeem destroyed his aircraft and vaporized him, placing him under Galeem's imprisonment along with the rest of the fighters, excluding Kirby.
Falco is unlocked in the space area of the World of Light on the planet resembling Titania, a callback to the Star Fox games where Fox rescues a teammate on the said planet if they were shot down at certain levels. The player must have a Slippy Toad or ROB 64 spirit to ride the Great Fox to navigate this sector. Then, the player must defeat the Starship Mario and the Aparoid spirits to access his unlock stage.
Falco's fighter spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 300 Gold, but only after Falco has been unlocked. Unlocking Falco in World of Light allows the player to preview the spirit below in the Spirit List under the name "???". As a fighter spirit, it cannot be used in Spirit Battles and is purely aesthetic. His fighter spirit has an alternate version that replaces it with his artwork in Ultimate.
In Spirit Battles
As the main opponent
As a minion
As an ally
Fighter Showcase Video