The big issue with pretty much every recent relevant fighting game. The power struggle between what is too good/bad and whether it should be patched to correctness, or if people should play to advance the meta and correct the issue on their own. We’ve seen these struggles multiple times in games like SFIV where sometimes patching works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes a character gets nerfed into the ground like Seth in SFIV, then all of a sudden a few people suddenly man up and adapt to his playstyle and he suddenly shoots up the tier list despite his nerfs.
You also have situations like Injustice where Scorpion was deemed too strong. He was nerfed and now not only is he not super strong anymore, nobody seems to really care to pick him anymore while Superman remains less touched and still very relevant. In Mortal Kombat there was so much complaining about the patching going left and right it was ridiculous.
Even with games like Skullgirls where the mantra was “we want to make strong characters and have people adapt to issues instead of patching”. That was all good until people started complaining about how good hornet bomber assist was. MikeZ showed a video of what you could do to “adapt” or fight against it and yet soon enough, despite that the assist was very much nerfed and now no longer one of the regularly used defensive assists. Then slowly patch after patch would come that would change things that weren’t even very necessary to change and just threw the game in with the pack of fighting games that change stuff without really getting anything meaningful done.
Now part of the reason I really got into this game was that like Skullgirls before, the devs working on the game are very in tune with fighting games and some have regularly competed in fighting game tournaments for years. Which means they have a great handle of how things are patched and how people have learned to adapt to things that are too strong or too weak rather than having a patch do it for them that homogenizes the meta. I hope they do follow this and don’t pander to every other request for nerf without watching the best players show if said issue can be adapted to. Which is basically watching the meta evolve.
Whenever there seems to be an issue with balance I always feel it should come down to…
There is an issue. Something is too strong/weak so let’s try to ADAPT to it and find strategies to work around it first.
Evaluate whether players at the highest level of play have adapted to said issue of the character.
If they have adapted, keep the workings of the character as is. The ways to adapt to said issue can be taught to the more intermediate players in the dojo mode or in video tutorials. If it is clearly something the players can not adapt to, then force patching.
I feel these simple steps are key to making a fighting game that doesn’t patch just to patch. Instead makes only occasional patches for when things are most necessary. I hope Double Helix takes to this and doesn’t turn this into another patch fest where the players can’t simply evolve the game like fighting games of old. It makes sense to patch things that are totally out of hand or can not simply be fixed through adapting, but otherwise I would like to see a very “pure” meta evolve. Thanks DH.
To add, I’ll input what I’ve heard commonly as far as strengths/weaknesses for each character.
Jago: Haven’t really heard many people complain about Jago. Just very well rounded for the most part. Some people play “annoying runaway Jago” but that’s just a playstyle that can be dealt with at the highest level easily enough. His instinct is definitely one of the more powerful ones and useful inbetween life bars. His around the world chains with instinct plus frames could prove to be rather devastating in the future.
Sabrewulf: Well, it’s Sabrewulf. Some people complain that his special moves are bit negative on block, but otherwise people seem to understand the strength of the character. Arguably fastest character in the game on the ground and his walk speed is probably only bested by Orchid. Solid normals on the ground that have plus frames for setting up frame traps and his left/right mix ups involving his dash are arguably scarier than some of the jump cross ups in the game. His Shadow Eclipse is also very scary since it locks your inputs after the freeze. It takes 6 frames to start up, but once the screen freezes it starts on frame 0 after the freeze which means if you weren’t blocking after the freeze you’re getting hit. Which can set up a lot of interesting shenanigans. His instinct will also prove to be one of the more powerful since it basically just makes an already very damaging character, do MORE damage.
Glacius: Arguably the character people complain about the most. He is pretty much a tribute to the trend of 2d fighting games bringing back the lost art of trapping and zoning that pretty much died from fighting games after Super Turbo’s release and only really resurfaced in some of the Marvel vs. Capcom games (Cable/Sent, Spiral/Sent, Blackheart etc.). Glacius is arguably a fairer versions of those character concepts. Has a bit of Dormammu, Viper, Eddie and other ranged defense/offense based characters. This can be quite annoying to initially deal with especially for anyone who solely plays 3d fighting games since this long ranged element is near nonexistent in those games. Despite that he has one fatal flaw which is horribly slow movement which I feel people will learn to ADAPT to as time goes on.
Thunder: A character that I haven’t heard too much complaint about yet. It still remains to be seen if he can have his own place in the meta in a game that is very combo heavy. It was weird to even think of how the concept of a grappler would work in a KI style game but they seem to have done a solid job putting him together. Has very strong tools for a grappler including ones that most grapplers usually don’t have (long reaching low attacks, dragon punch with projectile invincibility, combo into throws) and I think is part of what will keep him relevant. Too many grapplers these days are just about the grappling and don’t get the fundamentals that are required to stay relevant.
Sadira: Probably the second most complained about character next to Glacius. Subpar on the ground to some degree. Although I will say her normals and walk speed are very strong for a mix up/gimmick type character that is normally shat on in that department in a game like SFIV. I like how they allow her to be an annoying busy bee, mix up type character but still give her solid fundamentals on the ground to some respect. Pretty much all of her actions in the air outside of her dive kick seem pretty safe so she definitely is a character meant to stay in the air. Considering most of the other cast is very grounded in comparison for a lot of people it feels like fighting against a Marvel or Skullgirls character in a SF game. Luckily though it seems like people are adapting to her rather well so far and it doesn’t seem like she has quite dominated in the past week or so online or in high level match videos as people originally seemed to portray.
Orchid: The perpetual “low tier” of the game. Haven’t really heard anyone talk about her being too good and if anything, have just heard that she seems underwhelming. Main thing people bring up is that her special moves are all unsafe on block. Which to note other fighting games I’ve played, I’ve seen quite a few characters be very strong in a fighting game despite initial worrying of their frame data (Vergil in Marvel). We’ll see what happens with her in the future but it seems early on that she’s the one that people are calling on for some buffs.