If you’re like me, you’re eagerly awaiting the Evolution 2020 Tournament, the fighting game community’s biggest and most prestigious tournament of the year, scheduled for July 4th. Although this year is going to feature some unique but necessary changes, the main lineup games will still have exhibitions streamed on their official Twitch channel, twitch.tv/evo. If you’re interested in watching or playing, here’s a quick breakdown of the games and what to look out for!
Anime fighters are going through a bit of a high period right now, and Dragonball FighterZ is at least partly responsible. As a fighting game, “DbFZ” earns a lot of credibility for having recognizable characters and crisp, easily understandable gameplay. Players select three fighters to form a team, alternating the active fighter while the two inactive fighters can be used to form special "assist" moves. Gameplay tends to be very fast paced and players are encouraged to explore their creativity in order to make their play style more difficult for their opponent to figure out. As is typical for an anime fighting game, DbFZ is also a very pressure based game, so expect to see players get up close and personal using measured, safe offense in order to break through their opponent’s defense.
Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r]
Under Night is certainly a unique fighter, even for an anime fighting game. It has a unique shared “GRD” meter in the middle which measures the flow of the game, rewarding the player with greater momentum with unique properties and abilities. The game gets played at all ranges and is a more pressure-based fighting game, with players frequently attempting to crack each other's defenses and score highly damaging combos.
Tekken 7 is the latest release of the most famous 3D fighting game series, and has been very successful as of late. Gameplay in Tekken tends to be fast but measured, with pressure often coming in shorter bursts. Players make use of careful movement and positioning in order to out-maneuver their opponents, giving their matches an almost dance-like quality. In Tekken, getting your opponent to commit to a bad decision is better than simply opening them up through pressure. Successful combos can also vary based on where in the stage each player is positioned and how effectively a player can get the other against a wall.
Soul Calibur VI
To a casual observer, Soul Calibur might appear to have much in common with Tekken; however, this is primarily because both are 3D fighters. In Soul Calibur, character movement is simpler to achieve, but the use of weapons in the game makes pressure and zoning play out a bit differently. Gameplay leans a lot more heavily into the Rock-Paper-Scissors dynamic, with many actions having very simple counterplay, which encourages players to avoid taking repetitive, obvious actions. Additionally, the use of a ring-out mechanic means that stage selection and knocking your opponent off stage are viable strategies for winning, and the cheers (or boos) a crowd makes when a player is knocked off stage give this game an exciting, immersive environment.
Street Fighter V: Champion Edition
Street Fighter is to 2D fighting games what Tekken is to 3D fighting games. This fighting game has a long legacy stretching back to the days of eating quarters back at the arcades. Gameplay in Street Fighter has a healthy amount of variety, but ends up similar to Tekken with greater emphasis placed on positioning and maneuverability over outright pressure. Street Fighter also features a strong, yet basic, Rock-Paper-Scissors type game play, making its pressure game less visually complex but very effective. All of this makes Street Fighter very inviting to new players to learn. While there is a fair amount of complexity to learn, the mechanics to employ it tend to be achievable for most players.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus
Granblue Fantasy: Versus is a fairly recent addition to the fighting game genre. Although it has the aesthetics of an anime fighting game, the lack of air movement options (multiple jumps, air dashes) give it a much more grounded feeling similar to Street Fighter. That said, while the gameplay can end up feeling a lot like 2D fighters, it still keeps the style present in anime fighters. Games in Granblue can end up playing out in two opposing ways, either very carefully spaced games or measured-but-aggressive mix-up games, sometimes switching between the two within the same match (or the same character!). As a result, the pacing of the games tends to be pretty varied. This fighting game also features very high damage combos, leading to explosive games where a player can come back from the brink of almost certain defeat thanks to landing a hit that leads to massive payoffs. It also features a unique cooldown-based special system which creates a type of resource management not present in other fighting games.
Samurai Shodown is a fighting game with an uncompromising commitment to flavor and aesthetic. Gameplay is slow and methodical, and poorly planned attacks can often lead to massive punishes. Players must often deconstruct their opponent’s defense before they can expect to land any significant hits, but once a player does, that single hit can lead to massive damage. Because of this, combos in Samurai Shodown are often short and limited, and the game plays out at a greater distance than other fighters. Often called the "thinking man's" fighting game, players frequently only land small hits that do little damage until they’ve managed to convince their opponent to commit to a bad decision, after which they punish this mistake mercilessly.
EVO 2020 Fighting Game Exhibition Stream Wrap-up
If you’re still not sure which fighting game you’d like to watch, here’s a few things to help you choose:
- If you like fast, aggressive gameplay, or are just a fan of the Dragonball shows, you might enjoy Dragonball FighterZ.
- Although it can be difficult to follow, if you like flashy games with fast paced highly varied gameplay then Under Night might be for you.
- If you want to see players attempt to carefully outwit one another, Tekken 7 might be for you.
- If you want to see a fighting game where safety and unpredictability are central to its gameplay, Soul Calibur VI might be entertaining for you.
- If you want to watch a variety of supported play styles fight together, you might want to check out Street Fighter V.
- If you like watching fights where anyone can win, or you're a fan of Granblue’s other games, you might want to check out Granblue Fantasy: Versus.
- If you’ve ever watched Seven Samurai or other samurai films and wanted a fighting game that gives the same feeling of sizing up an opponent in a windy field, waiting for the perfect moment to strike, you might enjoy the gameplay of Samurai Shodown.