A Need for Speed: Are Modern Fighting Games Too Fast?

A Need for Speed: Are Modern Fighting Games Too Fast?

We’re in a bit of a fighting game resurgence right now, and a common topic about them is the speed at which they’re played. A criticism of recent releases like Street Fighter 6 and Tekken 8 was that their pace is too fast.

But is this really the case and is it really a detriment to the games themselves?

First, when we say speed, it doesn’t just mean the way a character moves in the game. It also factors in damage being dealt, which determines how quickly matches can go from start to finish. Part of the criticism about modern fighting game speed is that it leads to a lot of lopsided matches. After all, it’s difficult to make a comeback when the round is already over.

It’s funny that that’s the sentiment when we look back a few years when Street Fighter 5 and Tekken 7 were still around. Back then, people had a different criticism of those games — they were too slow and boring. Street Fighter 5 had the problem of oversimplifying the game to the point it became predictable, while Tekken 7 had a lot of tools for players to run away and turtle in fights, making games drag on. 

You could say that this is a pendulum swing of sorts by the game’s developers. They saw the criticisms of the previous games and wanted to correct them.

Now, can you say that it’s swung too much in the other direction that it harms your enjoyment? Not necessarily. 

New Game, New Rules, New Mechanics

While you could say that there’s a conscious effort by fighting game developers to increase the speed of their games, that’s really only one part of their overall design. Many developers, when designing a new game, don’t want to just make the old game just slightly different. More than this, they want to spice things up, try something new, and hopefully make something that stands up to their previous work.

Some people will like that, others won’t, especially when that means they have to abandon what they know and learn a new game. Let’s not forget that Tekken 8 had a period where everyone was seemingly frustrated with it because of its speed. Even pro players were speaking against the game but the reality was that everyone was still learning how to play the game.

That’s not to say that modern fighting games are flawless but there’s more to them than just ‘they’re too fast’. They are different by design and that, like everything else, will bring with it its own problems and criticisms. The increase in speed makes watching fighting games more exciting and unpredictable, rewarding those who can think on the fly. Some will view that as too volatile but that just highlights a different kind of skill set from previous games. 

In the end, modern fighting games are, quite literally, built different. They iterate on their previous games like any good sequel and while it may not be to everyone’s taste, they’re certainly more entertaining.

Banner photo by bluerosetori.

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