I’m having fun playing fighting games
Fluff about what I’m playing now and what I’m excited for
Despite the global pandemic grinding traditional FGC operations to a halt, it’s probably never been a better time to get into fighting games. There’s lots of great new titles coming out over the course of the next year, and a lot of existing titles are getting updates, either with better online or new content. Online events are also becoming more prominent, encouraging new competition that we wouldn’t normally see in games that weren’t as popular when offline tournaments were commonplace. Even if the social, in-person aspect of fighting games has been unfortunately reduced, the genre itself is in the middle of a great boom. This article will just be a rundown of some games I’ve been trying, others that I’ve been very invested in, and more stuff that I’m looking forward to over the course of the year. If you’re looking for some new games to play (that may also be old games) while stuck at home, or while you’re waiting for Guilty Gear Strive’s new June release date, give some of these titles a shot.
Skullgirls (and TFH) launch party is ongoing
If you somehow don’t already own Skullgirls, now’s a great time to give the indie game a shot. Future Club has taken over development of the game and all previous content from the Second Encore edition has been added to the Steam version’s base. Furthermore, new DLC foreshadowed by Hidden Variable’s mobile game is finally being added to the game via a season pass, with Annie of the Stars finally making her long-awaited debut. Three more characters will be coming over the course of the next year, with a potential fourth if the season pass is successful, and existing cast members like Eliza and Robo-Fortune are also getting reworks. As someone who voted for Annie during the original Keep Skullgirls Alive campaign, I was incredibly excited to see that development on the game would continue and that she would be coming to the main title. Despite being a scrub at tag fighters, Annie feels really good to play, especially when I’m mashing IAD j.HP, and it’s been a great motivator to grind the game out.
If you like Skullgirls and you’re interested in checking out something laterally related, Them’s Fightin’ Herds is also getting updates and new characters. TFH 2.0 launched and heralded balance updates, new features such as replays, and the debut of Shanty the pirate goat. Shanty’s incredible movement options, like her wall cling and running stance, as well as overhead feints and skullcrackers, make her a powerful and brutal rushdown character. If she’s still not your cup of tea, every existing character has gotten rebalanced alongside new special moves. My main, Tianhuo, received a new cross-up special and had the damage penalty from her install removed, and I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with her new tools. TFH is also a one-on-one four-button fighter, so it’s been easier for me to learn than Skullgirls despite sharing the same engine. With the new content and the influx of players, it’s an excellent opportunity to get into either game.
GGPO+R keeps getting better
I’ve talked at length about how great playing Guilty Gear XX Accent Core +R has been ever since Team French Caliburst’s GGPO+R update was officially patched into the Steam version. Even after the initial patch, TFC continues to update +R with insane features that have made the game incredibly rewarding to grind while waiting for Strive. Continued fixes to the online play continue to make +R stable and rewarding to compete in online competition in, and additional training mode features like multiple dummy record slots allow for better practice. One of the most insanely cool additions, however, is the new Take Control feature in the replay system, which lets you literally take control of either character in the middle of replay playback. This is by far one of the best new features to any fighting game, and is absolutely something I never knew I needed until it was in my hands. One night on stream, I got hit by Order Sol stagger loops and I wanted to test if the combo was real, so I opened the replay system and used Take Control during the combo. It let me test out whether I could mash out of the combo, and I also got to try options that let me recognize how to avoid getting hit next time.
Everything about GGPO+R has been an absolute blast to experiment with, and with a bevy of online brackets to enter on any given week, competition is fierce. While the game is tough to get into, it’s also getting easier to pick up and play, so if you haven’t made the leap yet, I would absolutely recommend giving the game a shot. (Much like TFH and Skullgirls, it’s also super cheap. You can find Steam keys for +R on Fanatical for $3 every other day, so you might as well just grab it anyway.)
Is it okay for me to call it Melty Blood 2?
Speaking of anime fighters… During a major announcement for Nasuverse-related media and materials, Type-Moon and French Bread announced a new Melty Blood game, subtitled Type Lumina. The game will be out by the end of the year for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, notably passing over next-gen consoles and Steam. Approximately ten characters will be included at launch, with a focus on those that appear in the upcoming Tsukihime visual novel remake. The game will also be developed with rollback netcode for online play, a major win for French Bread as a doujin fighting game developer. While games like Under Night will hopefully also have rollback retrofitted into them, a version of Melty Blood with an official rollback implementation will be very welcome. The current version of Melty Blood, Actress Again Current Code, is playable online via a fan-made rollback caster that launches in Command Prompt with minimal front-end UI and no matchmaking, meaning it’s clumsy to use and requires direct IP address connections between players. (There are prototype updates in the works for the Community Edition caster designed to fix this.) Recently, fans also made a version of this caster for the Japan-only Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax Ignition- another French Bread production. Even if the games are currently playable online in a fashion, official releases with rollback are easier to use and can also be applied to past and future titles, making Type Lumina a crucial release.
I’m personally a huge fan of UNICLR, but the lack of good online has made it difficult to play over the past year. If Type Lumina incorporates systems from UNI while still retaining what made Melty Blood so popular, the game has the potential to be a huge hit despite its humble ‘bathroom fighter’ origins. Hopefully returning players don’t miss characters like Sion and every version of the maids too much. I also sincerely hope UNI gets revisited at some point with a rollback retrofit, either after Type Lumina launches or as a soft beta before its launch. Either way, it seems like if you aren’t into anime fighters like Guilty Gear and Melty Blood, you’re missing out on a solid handful of games that probably have better online than whatever you’re playing right now.
Give some new games a try
I’ve been playing a ton of new games on my stream, and even if I’ve settled into a handful that I stick to regularly, like +R and TFH, it’s always good to get out of the comfort zone and experiment. Being stuck at home for the time being let me experiment with a bunch of fighting games that I had never played before, running the gamut from AAA titles like Mortal Kombat 11 to widget doujin games like Umineko Golden Fantasia. I’ve talked before about how playing multiple fighting games is good for you, but beyond being able to just apply concepts from other games, it’s just fun in general to try something new. Messing around with new games with your friends, and connecting with the communities that play those games, can be just as exciting as it can be rewarding. There’s bound to be something you like that you can play with other people, and you might even find a new favorite game.