I’ve been continuing my dive into fighting games, trying to sample and absorb as much of a gestalt as I can while I have some momentum and enthusiasm. It’s been fun to try and build proficiency while seeing some of the different twists they put on the same core structure. Unfortunately, still struggling to find that magic mixture of game, netcode, and community all in the same place.
Them’s Fightin’ Herds: Cool game, and enjoyed the single-player, but doesn’t seem to have as much legs as I had hoped. Multiplayer lobbies have been mostly deserted, and there’s no automatic matchmaking.
Guilty Gear Xrd: I’m on board with the gonzo style and soundtrack. Online is completely dead, as expected, but it worked as a nice ad for Strive, especially if they’re revisiting some of the mechanics which seemed a bit overwhelming in the tutorial.
Granblue Fantasy Versus: Grabbed this when it went on sale, but it may have been a mistake. It looks great and plays great, with a very manageable level of move complexity that still allows for characters to feel very distinct. I had no trouble getting matches the first couple nights I tried it (and contrary to netcode concerns, the connection seemed pretty solid and I didn’t notice significant lag issues). So I felt good about keeping the game, and put some more time into the story and training modes over the course of a few days. But now that I’m past the refund window, the online appears to have died, as I was sitting in the ranked queue for 15 minutes before getting a match. Those populated first couple days may have just been a temporary spike due to the sale. And the story mode is underwhelming so far – very easy, and with lots of braindead filler fights against generic enemies.
Power Rangers Battle for the Grid: Seemed to play fine and have good netcode, and it was helpful to try out a game with a team system, but felt kind of generic and bare-bones, took a long time to find matches, and I have no affinity for the license.
Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite: Managed to get a few matches in thanks to a GamePass quest to get ranked wins. Probably the worst I’ve played in terms of lag and the community seems to be dead without the quest prodding them to play.
Mortal Kombat 11: Continued to put the most time into this, playing around 150 ranked matches and getting to the fourth (out of nine) tiers in the league season that just ended. Definitely seeing some gratifying improvement from practice and training. I went from around a 10% win rate the first few days of the season to around 65% the last couple days, and more importantly, I can feel that that improvement is coming from a better grasp of the mechanics and tools available to me and making the right choices to counter what I expect the opponent to do. While I’ve been enjoying the experience overall, though, it rankles that it’s mainly down to the netcode and player base and in spite of the mechanics (several of the games I’ve tried seem more appealing than the emphasis on prescribed combo strings with strict input windows here) and aesthetics (pretty much every game is more appealing on this front).
Soulcalibur VI: Picked up the Xbox version in the recent 75% off sale, and it’s been a better experience than it was on PC in every regard – quicker matchmaking, less lag, and more available intermediate-level opponents. The netcode is still noticeably worse than KI or MK when I have a bad connection to the opponent, but the majority of my matches have been smooth. And it’s very appreciated that you can indefinitely rematch when you get matched with an opponent with a good connection. Still really enjoy the mechanics, and goddamn is it a huge breath of fresh air to have bouts on a windswept mountaintop that end in “show respect to the fallen warrior, who fought so bravely” after a month of torture dungeons and “relish every second of this lovingly-rendered disembowelment.”
Thinking I might focus on that for a while – especially as it’s just been added to Gamepass and should hopefully have a surge of activity. But I’m also tempted to check out Street Fighter V, which is in the current Steam sale. I know the netcode is an issue, but it seems to have a lot of activity, so hopefully it won’t be an issue with enough players in my local area. And of course it’s the prototypical fighting game series, so it feels weird to explore the genre without even trying it.