2017 has been one of the best years for the fighting game genre. Just in the first half of this year alone we have received Injustice 2, Tekken 7, Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers, and ARMS. And we still have lots more to come with Marvel vs. Capcom Ultimate, Pocket Rumble, and Pokken Tournament DX. So naturally with an influx of games in the genre, I have noticed more of my friends becoming interested in fighting games that normally could care less about them. With this increased popularity of new comers coming into fighting games I start to notice more articles and comments saying “There is not enough content to justify the price”, “It’s pointless to play fighting games by yourself”, and “Fighting games are too hard”. All of which I would respond with, you might be playing fighting games the wrong way.
I want to start by expressing that this is just my opinion. Once you buy a game its yours to play whatever way you like, there is no right or wrong way to play. I just think there is a way that you can get the most out of your fighting game experience that many newcomers to the genre tend to overlook. I want to help guide you to the best experience possible.
Not Enough Content
Every time a new fighting game comes out it seems like the reviews could be good or bad, but without fail the reviewer will be quick to point out that there is not enough content in the game to justify the price. Sometimes this is true, there is not enough content. The problem is figuring out what is enough content in a fighting game. Unlike most video games the fighting genre is not meant to be heavily story focused with a campaign, though sometimes they do feature a campaign that is never the core of what a fighting game is. Fighting games are about competition and usually most of their value lies in whether or not the community will rally behind them. This is why you will see Street Fighter V, a game that received many negative reviews for its lack of content upon release, on the main stage of the EVO tournament.
It becomes hard to understand for many casual players, as they will play through the arcade mode once or the short campaign mode and complain that the game was too short, when in reality you have yet to scratch the surface of what the game offers. To help myself put it in perspective I view each playable fighter in the game as a level. Once I am able to master them all then I have beaten the game. Each fighter was designed by the developer to play completely different much like each level in an action game like Uncharted holds a different challenge for the player. Where one fighter could get away with a combo at long range another fighter might never be able to pull that off. This means that the way you play Ryu in Street Fighter V is vastly different than the way you would play Laura, another character from the same exact game.
If you view it this way it could take you hours upon hours to master one fighter alone. So by the time you mastered all of them you will have in more cases than not received your moneys worth in play time.
All By Myself
Fighting games are all about competition, so they are probably no fun to play alone. False, the only way to get better at fighting games is to practice by yourself. It takes a long time to master timing and counters with precise precision. Thankfully many modern fighting games have very in depth training modes that will allow you to hone in on exactly what you need to practice the most. Some of this can be overwhelming to new players. Luckily there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that will help even the most basic of players explore what you can do in these training modes. One of my personal favorites is Cross Counter TV’s Gootecks tutorial series for Street Fighter V (video below). If Street Fighter isn’t your game don’t worry, there are plenty of channels out there dedicated to helping new players learn to practice any fighting game you can think of.
Training isn’t your only option for playing alone. Many fighters feature survival and challenge modes that can really put your skill to the test. These modes can often get overlooked by casual players who tend to go straight for the story or arcade modes instead, but completing special challenges can really help you when learning to chain together combos. These are essential skills and reflexes you’ll want to have when playing against friends or online opponents. Survival mode is also great. Going up against endless foes with only one life bar really pressures you to conserve your energy and practice your blocking. Defense is sometimes more important than offense in these type of games and you’ll want to get the hang of outlasting your opponent and saving your combos for the right moment.
No one likes to lose, but the only way to get better at anything is to take a few hits and learn from your mistakes. This was the toughest thing for myself to learn when getting into fighting games. No matter how hard I practiced I would still manage to play against people who would beat me down like it was nothing. It can be frustrating, but you have to stick with it. Think of it like Dark Souls. If you could beat every boss on the first try in those games then it wouldn’t give you that same wild feeling of accomplishment that the series has become known for. People play those games because they are brutally hard and when you get beaten a hundred times and you wanna throw the controller out the window, you calm yourself down for one more try and you win. There is absolutely no feeling like it.
People play fighting games for the exact same reason. Its tough there are lots of great players out there and you will get your face kicked in more times then you would like, but when you finally do beat somebody that’s a higher rank than you online or in a tournament it gives you a rush that makes it all worth it. Fighting games are not the most accessible games, but they offer an experience that is unlike any other. And if you are willing to put in a little bit of work then you will definitely start to understand just why the people who play cannot get enough.