It’s June 2017 and I’m writing this during what seems to be something of a crossroads moment for fighting games. Rising Thunder was bought by Riot a year ago. We haven’t heard anything since then. Fantasy Strike’s alpha, by David Sirlin, is hardly getting any hype. Meanwhile, Street Fighter V is getting slack for being ‘too easy’.
Now I’ve won my fair share of fightinggame tournaments, so this is not me complaining that they’re too hard. I am instead simply pointing out that there has always been a lack of fighting games that focus less on technical skill and more on strategic acumen. I’ve been playing Clash Royale for a year, and this has proven what I (and Seth Killian and David Sirlin) have been saying for years: competitive games are just as exciting when there’s no barrier to entry. Rising Thunder let you do special moves without the typical inputs, and combos were a cinch. It was every bit as exciting as SFIV while it lasted. Fantasy Strike is even easier, and considering the excellence of Yomi, Puzzle Strike, and Chess 2, I have complete faith in Sirlin’s next product. But I fear it won’t even make it to Evo’s lineup.
That is, unless people understand that many competitive games aren’t only a test of skill, but can also be a test of being able to out-read your opponent. In fact, I would argue that the mind games that go back and forth between players are the best part of competition. I’m not saying that Guilty Gear or Street Fighter have to change. But I am asking for folks to change their notion of what a fighting game can be like. Robert August de Meijer While this sounds perfectly reasonable in theory, we were surprised at how quickly we tired of Rising Thunder. And seeing a top player pull off a 30-hit combo in a high-
pressure situation is a delight. Perhaps the genre’s complexity is a bigger part of the draw than we thought. In any case, we hope
Arms will prove that the two ends of the spectrum needn’t be mutually exclusive.