In the story, he is a budding young scientist on the world of the Bionis examining the mysterious properties of a mystical sword, the Monado. When an unexpected attack by a ravenous group of machine-like beings called Mechon results in the murder of a close friend, he takes the Monado and, along with his childhood companion Reyn, sets out across the vast reaches of Bionis for revenge against the Mechon.
Shulk is introduced as an intelligent and socially clumsy youth. He spends most of his time in Colony 9's weapons development lab, making weapons for himself and others. His main fascination is with the legendary Monado, the only weapon known to damage Mechon, but only usable by the injured hero Dunban; Shulk spends day and night researching it, trying to discover its secrets. When the Mechon attacks Colony 9, Dunban cannot continue to wield the sword, so Shulk is forced to take it - and to everyone's surprise, not only does he have control of it, but he finds that it gives him occasional visions of the future. Spurred to take revenge on the Mechon for their attack, Shulk sets out on a journey across the Bionis to find his enemy Metal Face and put him to justice.
Shulk has little life experience, but he is for the most part level-headed and takes a methodical approach to situations. Despite his desire for revenge on the Mechon, he wants to understand their origins and motivations before he does anything rash against their leaders, and respects the wishes of others even when it appears they might hinder his quest. However, he is initially reluctant to reveal his visions to others, and he does make some foolish decisions when Fiora is involved, both of which get the party into some tricky situations.
In combat, Shulk's main role is to slip beneath enemy notice and deal large amounts of physical damage. His Back Slash and Slit Edge Arts are most effective when the enemy's attention is elsewhere, and he can also contribute break and daze around an ally's topple to momentarily incapacitate foes. The Monado gives Shulk an extra set of Arts, which allow him to deal extreme damage to Mechon, disable an enemy's powerful auras, or protect party members from powerful attacks he has foreseen - Shulk doesn't have to be present for the party to get visions of immiment attacks, but he is the best-equipped for dealing with them. Shulk's main weakness is that his high damage output can easily draw attention and he doesn't have much health to survive being the target of enemies, making him a glass cannon. He also lacks ether attacks, which is problematic against enemies good at dodging his physical arts, and his complex character design renders the game's AI rather poor at controlling him when the player is someone else.
As a playable character
Main article: Shulk (SSB4)
Shulk was leaked as a playable character three weeks before the release of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS on YouTube videos from a video used to rate the game by ESRB, before being officially confirmed on August 29th, 2014. On May 19th, 2014, before the leaks and his official reveal, Shulk's English voice actor, Adam Howden, had posted on his Twitter that he had done recording for a game he was not allowed to talk about.
Shulk uses the Monado as his weapon, which grants him the longest overall reach in the game, even outclassing other swordsmen like Ike and Cloud, and uses an ability from his original game, Monado Arts, to adapt quickly in combat by tweaking his abilities. While active, they grant him multiple perks such as a greatly improved edgeguarding game (with Jump) or an extremely damaging moveset (with Buster), at the cost of giving him disadvantages as well. He also has one of the more effective counters in Vision, which grants an especially long counter window when fresh along with high range and power.
Shulk is currently ranked 35th on the Smash 4 tier list, placing him within the D tier. While he has a good amount of strengths, such as a very effective moveset for spacing, versatility in his multiple Monado Arts, and outstanding through polarized stats while any Art is active, he is held back by a very high learning curve due to his multiple Arts changing his attributes, one of the slowest movesets in the game, and the inability to autocancel any of his aerial moves without the use of frame-perfect Monado Art Landing Lag Canceling. This forces him to be heavily reliant on spacing due to his sluggish moves and vulnerability of being juggled up close. Shulk's tournament results have been below-average, but his results have been improving as of late due to dedicated mains such as Nicko and Kome bringing noticeable success to him at nationals.
As a playable character
Main article: Shulk (SSBU)
Shulk returns as a playable fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He is now an unlockable character as opposed to being a starter in Smash 4. His moveset is mostly the same, with minor additions including the ability to select Monado Arts directly without cycling through them, and Fiora taking part in his Chain Attack Final Smash. Additionally, his Monado Arts last less time, but make more dramatic and polarizing changes to Shulk when used.
Names in other languages