Fancy a little Fighting Game?

In most fighting games it takes time to switch between characters. They usually play pretty different, depending on game.

KOF it tends to matter the least, 3D and anime fighters it tends to matter the most.

Yeah, I could be off base in how much of a difference this is between games. And of course, I want the characters to play very differently from one another for the sake of variety.

But my impression was that some games had a bit more in the way of shared fundamentals. Them’s Fightin’ Herds and Guilty Gear Xrd both made a point in their tutorials about all characters being able to combo light into medium into heavy into launch, though there will be differences in reach, startup time, damage, etc., as well as character-specific quirks and special moves. KI has a pretty flexible system where you alternate between any auto-double attack and any linker special move, until you do a heavy special move as the finisher. Switching characters requires learning various nuances about which moves to use in what circumstances, but the basics carry over.

But MK11 has 15-ish hardcoded valid combo strings per character with completely different inputs from one another. It feels a bit more prescriptive to me about which buttons are allowed to follow one another in a string. At this point, I’ve practiced and developed the muscle memory to do F2+4+3 for an advancing attack that ends with a low sweep to catch people stand-guarding, using Kotal Kahn, but trying the same thing on another character, they’ll just do their F2 attack and then stand there because 4 isn’t a prescribed follow-up to it.

In a way, it’s closer to 3D fighters in that regard ,though 3D fighters tend to have universal types of attacks as well. MK seems to have no rhyme or reason in its strings, and on top of that, the game has very tight windows for strings so it’s really hard to hit-confirm, especially if you’re not mega practiced, so you tend to have to commit to the whole thing.

I really don’t like NRS games. They tend to have a ton of gimmicky mechanics, awkward inputs, and often radical changes between versions that lead to flavor-of-the-week picking.

There’s a sweet spot between having your game get stale due to lack of changes (Soul Calibur goes through this), and having it so often that folks hide stuff just to avoid getting it nerfed before big events.

I started my latest foray into Street Fighter V and I came up with a theory I want to try. In character action games, I usually do the same repetitive attacks during the first 10-15 hours of the game because my brain is too overloaded and focused on defense. Then around that time I naturally – without thinking about it – start mixing in other attacks because the game slows down and seems easier.

I’m wondering if the same thing happens in fighting games after a long break. I plan to practice in the training mode, but mostly I’m playing ranked matches without trying to do too much. I’m letting my brain absorb all the input.

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.

The netcode in SFV isn’t at the top of the heap, but it’s better than the input delay games.

If KI is 10/10, I’d put SFV at around 7/10. I’d give it a try if fear of netcode is holding you back.

As for Calibur, if you want help with that game and you have it on PC, it is probably the game I’m strongest at, even if I’m not really much of a tourney contender.

and damn the FGC just blew up hard with #metoo scandal worse than even what pro wrestling got last week.

Head of EVO, Creator of Skullgirls, several others accused of sexual misconduct/pedophile stuff.

Cool, I think I’ll go ahead and give it a shot. I know there was some issue with people quitting a tournament because they had a bad connection to the opponent, but if they’re able to hold tournaments in the first place, it can’t be too horrible.

Thanks! That would be great. You suggested posting some replays earlier, so I saved a couple from last night (this is two matches, but they’re split in half because the Xbox stops recording at 2 minutes).

Ok , Mina is probably the easiest character in the game to do offense with.

Learn how to use her 44 (double tap back) A and the lethal hit with that, and her options off 236 (quarter-circle forward). These are ridiculously strong, and can lead to easy ring outs (used to be easier, but she got nerfed way too slightly)

Also, don’t finish strings all the time and learn to mix them up more. At this stage, don’t be afraid to explore the movelist a bit.

There’s also a Sueng Mina discord;

My personal favorite right now is Cassandra. She’s awesome, though you must be really careful with blocking since guard break is a greater risk than with other characters.

Thanks! Yeah, I remembered liking her reach a lot back when I played SC2, and at least some of the muscle memory came back, so I’ve mostly been focusing on her so far.

I was definitely noticing that the BBB string got blocked and punished against better players. Need to train myself to wait and see if they’re blocking before pressing the next button.

And yeah, I’ve generally been using the option to be in practice mode while waiting for matches. For exploring the movelist, I’ve generally been picking a couple of moves at a time to try and focus on and remember, since more than that tends to get jumbled. The 1(A) crotch-fling was one of those that I had just been practicing in the training mode, and it was super gratifying to actually remember and use it with the match on the line. After a few matches deliberately working them in, they start to feel natural and I’ll move on and pick some new ones. I’ll focus on the 44A and 236 next time. Is there a good resource you use for exploring the moveset? One thing I actually miss going from MK11 to SC6 is having detailed frame data built in to the movelist in-game.

And possibly related, any suggestions on how to reestablish spacing after someone gets in close? I’ve had some luck with using 4K and 6K, which have guard impact points as part of their windup, but they’ve been inconsistent, and some characters seem like they can just keep attacking after I’ve blocked their string.

Thanks, maybe I’ll give her a shot. I’ve been thinking I should put some time into a character with a fast, short-range fighting style for contrast.

Wow, you weren’t kidding. Tons of allegations all over the place, and EVO was just canceled.

I play against a lot of Cassandra. My most common training partner writes a lot of the guides for Cass players!

I can say at least I did the very least EVO if it doesn’t come back, and it gave me my best result in a tourney ever. I’m mad at all the folks who abused their power during all of this.

All this talk convinced me to pick up Soul Calibur VI on the Steam sale. I haven’t played an SC game since 2!

I’m eyeing Killer Instinct and Dragon Ball Fighter Z as well (mostly because a bunch of coworkers play it). But I really don’t like the aesthetic of Killer Instinct. The attack animations are so fast they look awkward. Dragon Ball Fighter Z looks beautiful, but I’ve never been a big fan of games where you control a group of characters (like Marvel vs. Capcom).

I’d be very curious to hear what you think of SFV if you give it a shot @Thraeg. I didn’t connect with it when it came out (despite SFIV being my favorite fighting game) and I’m still not really sure I can put into words why. For some reason the fights felt really one-note to me and not as diverse as SFIV, but that may have just been inexperience.

Which fight sticks do people use?

The Razer stick, or Qanbas, is what I would recommend. I use Razer and have a Hori backup if a friend needs a stick here (though I tend to avoid fighting games with most friends except one who managed to kick my ass while wearing a corset in a SC tourney last year)

They have the lowest input lag, and are good quality sticks.

HORIs are generally low quality and Mad Catz later models had higher input lag, and they’re also now out of business effectively.

BTW Soul Calibur on PC- ranked mode is a shark’s den. There are very few players I’d consider bad at this point, especially if recent new content hasn’t been added.

Got a link? I’d be curious to check those out.

I did pick it up and have played around 90 minutes. So far so good, though I don’t have any previous experience with the series to compare it to. But the online matches were smooth, and the controls seem to be in a reasonable middle ground between complexity and ease of use. There were a couple fights that seemed one-note due to more fireball spam than I’ve noticed in other games, but that might just be inexperience.

I’ve been using a regular gamepad so far, but wondering what I’m missing by not trying an arcade stick. Saw a couple discussions that said it’s basically all preference – people are winning tournaments with both, and if you’re used to either one, there’s not much reason to switch. But there are definitely a few things that feel weird about the gamepad. I sometimes screw up back-forward or down-up inputs because the stick drifts just enough out of center to trigger the diagonal. These motions are easy enough on the d-pad, but those give me a harder time consistently doing quarter-circle motions. I’ve actually played a bit on keyboard when checking out games that weren’t recognizing the gamepad, and had the thought that it might be a better option due to the ability to use all my fingers at once, but haven’t put in the hours to retrain my muscle memory (especially since I’m going back and forth between PC and Xbox).

link to Cass discord. Discords are how people learn fighters these days.
Cass discord should have the guide.

I use the Talim one on occasion. (Talim kinda got shafted in S2 though)

If you’re not used to a stick, sticking with a pad is fine.

ANother option is something called a hitbox, which is kinda a hybrid of a pad and stick, but is kinda awkward to learn. That is considered the best option overall though.

The best pads to me are Hori fighting commander, and Razer Raion pad.

If you get a modern arcade stick you can use it on console and PC. Once you map the buttons in a way that makes sense to you the muscle memory kicks in pretty quickly.

Steam has preset configs you can use to emulate your console stick of choice.

HRAP 4 Kai is what I use for PS4 (Will work for all PS4 sticks I think, it’s just button mapping)

Street Fighter 5 now requires you use it I believe if you have a PS4 stick.

It’s so bizarre to me that everything in gaming has taken this hard turn to Discord. Everything is Discord, now! But it’s so fleeting. If you want to know something, the answer shouldn’t have to be “hope someone is online and willing to answer questions that have undoubtedly been answered countless times already”. The web wasn’t supposed to be this ephemeral. If I’m having an issue with an older game, I can look at forum posts from fifteen years ago and see how people dealt with them, which is handy and just interesting sometimes. Discord guarantees things like that just can’t happen. Nothing that happens on Discord can leave a single mark, which could be an advantage if you want to talk politics or be racist, I guess, but when it comes to knowledge about game mechanics or whatever is just really frustrating. A total step backwards.