How to unlock all the characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has over 70 characters, making for the series' biggest roster ever. That's because Nintendo has decided to include every single character in the game's history, as well as introduce a handful of newcomers.

But if you know Nintendo, you know it's not just going to give you all the goods right away. You'll only start with the 7 original characters that were featured in the original Super Smash Bros. game on Nintendo 64 to start, and you'll have to do a bit of work to unlock all the rest. Here's a quick guide on how you can do just that.

How do you unlock characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

There are a couple of ways you go about unlocking new characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. But before we dive into that, let's first talk about how the system works.

More often than not, you'll be seeing new challengers at random. These encounters happen after the end of battles. Your goal is simple: defeat the challenger in a sudden death battle and you'll earn the right to use them in any game mode you want.

It sounds simple enough, but these AI fighters can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, especially for newcomers. If you lose the fight, don't fret — you'll get another opportunity to face the fighter in due time.

That's because Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has a built-in timer that tracks how long you've played without a random encounter, and no matter what you're doing in the game — whether you're playing online, playing Classic Mode, battling friends in the various Smash battle modes, or what have you — you'll get another random encounter once the timer expires.

The timer goes off every 10 minutes or so in our testing. And if you've lost a previous encounter and want to try another one without playing a quick match, you can manually trigger encounters under the Games & More menu by clicking the Challenger's Approach button on the bottom right.

Unfortunately, there's no easy way to get a beeline to your favorite character. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has a specific order in which you can unlock characters. Most players will be starting with the likes of Ness, Villager, Zelda, and so on. The only way to get who you want is to best all the foes before them.

We should also note that things work a bit differently in World of Light, which is Smash Bros. Ultimate's new adventure mode that incorporates Spirits. Some characters can be battled out of order, such as Kirby and Pac-Man. Defeating the characters in these special encounters will unlock them for you in all other parts of the game, so this is another fun way you can earn more characters.

It's worth noting that the reverse is not true, meaning characters you unlock outside of World of Light mode cannot be used right away inside that mode.

Every character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

What's the best way to unlock characters?

While Nintendo didn't intend for there to be a quick path to salvation, gamers have already found early ways to speed up the random encounter system. YouTuber Austin John discusses it in detail in the video above if you're a more visual learner. If you're pressed for time, here's a quick rundown on how it works:

  1. Trigger a random encounter either by playing a battle or using the Challenger's Approach button under "Games & More".
  2. Defeat your opponent to unlock them.
  3. As soon as you see the victory screen, press the Home button on your Nintendo Switch to be taken to the main menu.
  4. Close Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, then start the game back up.
  5. Play a quick match to trigger another random encounter. Feel free to change the rules of that quick match to make it faster, such as requiring just one knockout to win.

Keep doing this in a cycle and you'll cut down a significant chunk of the time it'll take to unlock characters. Most people can get their hands on the full roster after 2-3 hours of doing this, but if you're good at knocking opponents out fast you can do it in as little as 1.5 hours.

Try World of Light, too

Super Smash Bros. World of Light spirits

Super Smash Bros. World of Light spirits (Image credit: Nintendo)

If you're having trouble unlocking characters through random encounters, try unlocking them by playing through Spirit Adventures, aka World of Light. You'll have to slog through a bunch of gimmick fights against borderline overpowered opponents and map conditions, but it can be a nice way to break up the fun.

And if you play on easy mode, you can use the lower difficulty and the extra power afforded to you by Spirits to make those battles a bit easier. This isn't the most efficient way to unlock characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but it can be the most reliable way for those who aren't well-versed in the ways of Smash.

How Spirits work in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Who's your favorite character?

If you've been enjoying Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, let us know with a comment discussing your favorite character in the game so far!

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Beginner's Guide

Quentyn Kennemer