Soul Calibur 6 players talk about what the game needs to do to succeed

Soul Calibur 6 players talk about what the game needs to do to succeed

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The last couple of years have been a very busy period when it comes to fighting games and the fighting game community (FGC). Whether you’re a champion, competitor, or casual fan, now might be the best time yet to start dipping your feet into the water of fighting games. But with the landscape being as packed as it is with games that do so many different things, whenever something new comes out, the questions of just how much of a success it can be, and what it needs to do in order to reach those levels, need to be asked. For every Dragon Ball Fighterz, there’s a Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite (which, mistreated and maligned though I think it was, unfortunately, isn’t what you could call a success).

So with Soul Calibur 6, the much-anticipated sequel/reboot of the weapon based fighter having come out recently, I talked to some players about what the game can do to succeed, the importance of community, and Reversal Edges.

One common thread in all of my conversations was that, for a game to really succeed, the community needs to be there for it, especially if a new game wants to have a lively competitive scene. Units sold is one thing, but that alone isn’t enough for a game to find a place in an FGC that’s becoming more and more crowded; Soul Calibur is the third major fighting game to come out this year alone. Iambic_feet, a fighting game player for TSN, said that “a game starts off very small on its own,” and that a community of die-hard fans, as well as the game reaching out to “communities that speak the same language” will allow it to find a place. For something like Soul Calibur, that means getting in the legacy fans, as well as drawing from a wider spectrum: the 3D fighting fan base of Tekken, and the newer fans that could be drawn in through the game’s guest characters, a tradition going back to Soul Calibur II. This time, the guest characters are Geralt from the Witcher series, and 2B, the protagonist of Nier: Automata. Newer, more casual players can often find the FGC to be something of an unforgiving place, and iambic_feet argued that fixing this is something can be done from both sides: while new players need to “dedicate their time to learning the game,” the old-school players should also be “more welcoming to newcomers and understand the fact that a new player does not know what they’re doing.”

The importance of a grassroots community presence, something that’s been a part of the FGC since its inception, was also echoed by Jonnitti, who said that for a game to succeed, it needs to “have a strong community presence, both in numbers at events, and on social media.” For him, it’s up to the players and fans themselves to make sure that the game can thrive, saying that it’s “up to the community to support content creators” on sites like Twitch. But a community alone isn’t enough for a game to succeed; developer support is becoming more and more necessary. Again, to compare Dragon Ball and MVCI, the former has had developer support from the beginning, including a pro tour circuit, where the latter was unfortunately left out to dry almost as soon as it came out. Party Wolf, a player for BxA, said that a game “game needs support from the developers to maintain general interest int heir games. You’ve seen cases with other fighting games where the series is really popular, but all of a sudden they move on to another project which makes the meta stale after a few years.”

With players saying that both the community and the developers need to hold up their end of the bargain to keep the game alive, it becomes important to think about just what can be done to bring new players into the scene, and keep them there. Not everybody will be travelling and heading to majors, but for the game to do well, it needs to be able to keep player interest up beyond just competitions and prize pools. After all, the FGC isn’t made up of only competitors, and it’s already been mentioned that content creators of different stripes will need support from the FGC. Party Wolf said that this kind of content can also help keep new players interested, saying that this can be “done quite effectively through guides” as a way to help new players understanding the nuances of the game, and keep them coming back for more. On the surface, Soul Calibur 6 is a satisfying game to play at entry level; it’s relatively easy to make your character do fun and flashy things, and between Reversal Edge, Critical Edge, and Soul Charge mechanics, there are plenty of ways for new players to stay alive in matches, and maybe even stay competitive. This potential influx of new players and talent is something that Jonnitti thinks should be embraced by the community, that players should set aside any potential bitterness of losing to “outsiders,” which he dislikes because the FGC is “one collective community,” one that often trades on the idea that anyone can play. And even if community members want to be involved in tournaments, this can be done in ways beyond just competing; Joniitti argues that one way to have newer players involved in “hosting online [or] local tournaments to help them get a feel for tournament play.”

That tournament play is where Soul Calibur 6 is likely to find its most vocal and dedicated fan base, and although the game is still in early days, it seems to be in a good place competitively; there’s an interesting variety of characters turning up at high levels, and the swords-and-sorcery style aesthetic makes the game a thrill to watch even if you’re not entirely sure about everything that’s happening under the surface at all times. One mechanic is particularly interesting to me when it comes to competitive play: Reversal Edge, an easy to use get-off-me tool that parries attacks and leads into a rock-paper-scissors minigame that lets you turn the pressure around against your opponent. But given just how many things that mechanic can parry, I was curious about what these players thought about the kind of impact that it might have on higher levels of play.

Reversal Edge seems to have divided opinion a little among players; where Jonnitti thinks that it has “a much deeper mindgame than straight RPS,” Party Wolf argued that it will “seem less effective as time goes on.” In the end, the extent to which Reversal Edge stays effective or not in tournament play comes down to the players. Iambic_feet said that decision making in Reversal Edge changes “after you figure out your opponent’s RE patterns,” something that could potential add to both character matchups and individual mindgames.

It seems that Soul Calibur 6 has had a strong launch; pleasing die-hard fans and relative newcomers, but in order to keep succeeding, it needs to maintain a delicate balance, one of communities and developers, newcomers and veterans, casual players and competitors. There’s always a danger that, with the ever-increasing number of fighting games coming out, that the community could become oversaturated, but in the end, the players I talked to seemed to think that, as long as there are players out there who like the game, and are willing to put in the time and energy that it requires, then it has a chance at success.

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