Please save fighting games, ARIKA
[The year is 2018. Mankind has fled to the moon. The only things left to look forward to on the Earth’s surface are androids and fighting games. So what’s there to look forward to in 2018? Here is a probably-not-comprehensive but in-depth look at this year’s fighting games, brought to you by Virtua Kazama. ~Marcel]
2017… What a year it was. We’ve seen a lot of things happened during that year, with the most important one being the release of the Nintendo Switch. The verdict: It sold 10 Million copies in its first year.
In fighting games, we saw the releases of Tekken 7, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Injustice 2, Pokken Tournament DX, ARMS, Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers, the Steam release of Killer Instinct Season 3, Nidhogg 2, Chaos Code: New Sign of Catastrophe, Under Night In-Birth EXE:Late[st], Gundam Versus, the re-release of Samurai Shodown V Special, and others. We even saw a brand new fighting game such as Unholy Knight: The Darkness Hunter released for the Super Nintendo this year.
We were also blessed with several DLC such as Whip, Yamazaki, Vanessa, and Rock in The King of Fighters XIV, the return of Tekken Bowl and the addition of Geese Howard in Tekken 7, the rest of the Season 2 characters (Kolin, Ed, Abigail, Menat, and Zeku) in Street Fighter V, Guilty Gear Xrd getting a REV2 update which includes Baiken and Answer, and the addition of Kilgore, Shin Hisako, and Eagle in Killer Instinct Season 3.
We also witnessed unforgettable moments in FGC history such as Mena RD winning Capcom Cup, Tokido winning EVO 2017 for Street Fighter V, Siologica winning NEC18 for DOA5 Last Round, Xavier Woods’ beating Kenny Omega in Tekken 7, and Katsuhiro Harada competing in the Tekken Royal Rumble at CEO 2017.
2017 brought us more fighting games, but there aren’t any signs of slowing down going into this new year. Let’s take a look at the upcoming fighting games of 2018, starting with the one everyone is talking about.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
For more than 20+ years, there had been a lot of Dragon Ball Z fighting games. They were played in 2D and 3D, but they weren’t usually played on a competitive level (except for Super Dragon Ball Z). Arc System Works and Bandai Namco made it work with their latest Dragon Ball fighting game.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is a fighting game created with eSports in mind. This game is played 3v3, similar to Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and 3. It also uses assist mechanics and draws inspiration from Roman Cancels from previous Arc System Works games (known as Dragon Rush), along with Vanish (based on the Dust system on Guilty Gear Xrd series) and the Homing Dash from Arcana Heart. Of course, they have their signature Ki Charge to refill their Super meter.
The Story Mode of this game is original, since it’s focused on Android 16 and the original character, Android 21. They created an army of Androids that look identical to the Z Warriors. It is split into three arcs: Super Warriors, Super Villains, and Androids.
It may also interest you to know that this is the final time that Hiromi Tsuru would become the voice for Bulma, since she passed away on November 16, 2017. She voiced that character for 32 years since Dragon Ball made its TV debut.
Dragon Ball FighterZ will be released on January 26, 2018 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam.
Will it be at EVO?: It better be! Shoot…
For five years, the SoulCalibur community wondered when there would be a brand new game since SoulCalibur V wasn’t received well. Just as they were about to give up hope, Katsuhiro Harada has blessed the entire world with a trailer for SoulCalibur VI during The Game Awards.
SoulCalibur VI is a soft reboot of the series, going back to the first SoulCalibur game. It may also interest you that 2018 will be the 20th anniversary of the first game released on the arcades, so that’s what they were going with.
The gameplay is said to be a callback from SoulCalibur II and an improvement over SoulCalibur V. A brand new mechanic that was introduced to the series is the Reverse Edge. Inspired from Tekken 7’s Slow Motion mechanics and the Weapon Locking system from Soul Blade, Reverse Edge allows players to defend themselves against the opponent’s attack and counter them with a heavy strike.
Some elements from SoulCalibur IV and V, such as Super moves and damaged clothing, are retained in the game. Guard Impacts no longer costs meter to use anymore, and you don’t take damage after breaking a throw. Soul Charge returns for the first time since SoulCalibur III, but it works differently this time around. It costs one bar of meter and it works similar to SF5’s V-Trigger and KOF14’s MAX Mode.
Sophitia and Mitsurugi are the only two characters confirmed so far. Since this game is a soft reboot, expect to see returning and new characters joining the roster.
SoulCalibur VI will be released this year for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam.
Will it be at EVO?: I don’t think it will be out in time for EVO, but it will be there possibly as an exhibition.
Fighting EX Layer
April Fools Day is the known to be the worst holiday for gamers because you can never tell what is real when it comes to gaming news. On that day, ARIKA introduced a nameless fighting game that brought back characters from Fighting Layer and Street Fighter EX series. Everyone thought that it was an April Fools joke at first when the news hit. Turns out that it was a real game that is currently in development.
If you are familiar with the EX series, the game retains several mechanics from ARIKA’s past fighters, such as the Super Cancel for example. It also adds in running and sidesteps, making the game more of a 3D fighter.
The latest mechanic added to this game is the Gougi System. The Gougi System represents five icons that will give your character a boost, similar to the Gem system in Street Fighter x Tekken. Much like that game, you have to trigger it based on certain conditions such as blocking a number of times for example. There are five different decks to choose from, such as Aggro, Juggernaut, Shinobi, Infinity, and Miracle.
Only eight characters have been confirmed so far, which are Allen Snyder, Blair Dame, Darun Mister, Skullomania, Doctrine Dark, Garuda, Hokuto (Shirase), Kairi, and Skullomania. In addition to this, we were greeted with a Beta that can only be played from December 11-25, with six playable characters.
Fighting EX Layer will be released exclusively for the PlayStation 4 this year.
Will it be at EVO?: Unknown at the moment since no actual release date was given.
BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle
(Ed note: This blog was written before the 20 characters at launch, 20 characters for DLC heel turn.)
Arc System Works has been busy throughout 2017. Other than developing Dragon Ball FighterZ with Bandai Namco, they also announced a crossover title that includes three games that they worked on in the past, along with a CG animated series created by the late Mouty Oum.
BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle is a 2v2 crossover anime fighter that has characters from ASW’s BlazBlue, Atlus’ Persona 4 Arena, French Bread’s Under Night In-Birth EXE:Late, and Rooster Teeth’s RWBY pitting against each other.
The gameplay will not be like the three games, but it draws inspiration from them such as Resonance Blaze (which is based on Overdrive from the BlazBlue series) and pressing C for EX moves in UNIEL. The Cross Gauge is the main mechanic of the game, as it will be used for tag combos such as the Cross Burst and the Cross Combo. Each character will have their own health bar.
BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle will be released for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Steam this year, marking the first title to be published under Arc System Works’ North American branch that recently opened up months ago.
Will it be at EVO?: It might make the cut along with Dragon Ball FighterZ. If not, then there’s AnimEVO.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT
Dissidia Final Fantasy has been out for the arcades for awhile now in Japan, but there wouldn’t be news on a console port until E3 2017. The best part about it is that the team behind Dead or Alive, Nioh, and Ninja Gaiden are developing the game.
Developed by Koei Tecmo’s Team Ninja, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT focuses on 3v3 battles unlike the first two games. Each character has their own HP meter, stamina meter, Summon meter, Brave attacks, and a Party HP meter for the whole team. Once a character is defeated from their team, a segment of their Party HP will be removed. The team loses when your Party HP is completely depleted.
It is said that there will be a total of 50 characters in this game with four different class types: Vanguards, Assassins, Marksmen, and Specialists. Fan favorites such as Cloud, Tidus, Terra, Lightning, Squall, and Noctis will be duking it out. There will also be characters from the Final Fantasy spin-off games such as Tactics and Type-0. Storyline-wise, this game takes place after the previous two Dissidia games. This game will include story elements that will be revealed during battle.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT will be released worldwide on January 30, 2018, exclusively for the PlayStation 4.
Will it be at EVO?: I doubt it, but it would be nice if it made the cut.
DLC and Other Games
When Street Fighter V was released, Capcom put more effort into the competitive players, but also left the casual players high and dry with lack of single-player modes. Capcom took note of that, and fixed their mistakes by releasing an update for the game called Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition.
This update adds gameplay changes such as adding a second V-Trigger for all the characters, new UI, and more. It also adds Arcade Mode and Extra Battle mode for the casual audiences, along with a Bonus Round. Six characters have been revealed for Season 3 of Street Fighter V. Fan favorites such as Sakura, Blanka, Cody, and Sagat returns to the roster, while Falke and G make their Street Fighter debut.
The update will be released on January 16, 2018 in two formats: a disc for anyone that missed out on Street Fighter V, and a free update if you already own the original game.
Capcom is also releasing Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, a compilation of the first 12 Street Fighter games. That includes Street Fighter, five games from Street Fighter II, three games from from Street Fighter Alpha, and three games from Street Fighter III. Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha 3, and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike will have online play. The game will be released on May 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam.
Blade Strangers is a fighting game that was revealed at E3 2017. Developed by Studio Saizensen (the team that developed SEGA’s Blade Arcus from Shining), this is a crossover fighting game featuring characters from Japanese indie games such as Cave Story, Code of Princess, the Umihara Kawase series, and more. The characters will use 2D sprites instead of 3D models like in Blade Arcus. Gameplay was said that the controls will be something like Super Smash Bros., but the speed and complexity of Street Fighter and Guilty Gear. Blade Strangers will be released for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Steam sometime this year.
During the Tekken World Finals, we were given a reveal on who the next character will be added to the Tekken 7 roster, which was Final Fantasy XV’s Noctis. Based on what we saw on the trailer, he comes with a unique moveset drawn from the game he came from, along with Dissidia. He will have his own stage, which is Hammerhead Garage. Noctis will be joining the Tekken 7 roster on Spring 2018.
Lastly, Injustice 2 introduced the next three characters that will be joining the roster: Atom, Enchantress, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Atom is the first character of the three released last month, while Enchantress and the Ninja Turtles have yet to be released. Those two characters should be released sometime this year.
2018 is gonna be one wild year for fighting games, starting with the EVO Japan tournament coming up this month. Not to mention, we also have anniversaries coming up for certain fighters such as Street Fighter IV, BlazBlue, Virtua Fighter, Tekken 3, SoulCalibur, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, and more.
Until then… Train Up, Fighters!