Evolution 2016 Takeaways

My plan for this weekend was originally to play through a game and then write about it.  However, those plans got thrown aside when I ended up watching Evo all weekend long.  I wouldn’t say that I follow the fighting game scene closely, but I will watch on occasion and look forward to seeing Street Fighter V specifically evolve over time.  I was busy during the Pokken and Killer Instinct finals, but I ended up watching at least the finals for every other game and a little bit more for Guilty Gear, Tekken, and Street Fighter.  Here are my five main takeaways from the tournament.

1. Tekken 7 looks incredible

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Tekken 7 was the only game at Evo this year which is not out yet in America.  The game has been out in Japanese arcades for a while now and actually received a recent update, but us in the states will have to wait for the console release early next year.  Surprisingly this did not stop US competitors at Evo, with two of them somehow making the Top 8.  But my biggest takeaway from watching Tekken was that I can’t wait to play Tekken 7.  The game looks really good, and the competition was fierce for what is such a new game.  The additions to that came with the Fated Retribution update seemed to make a huge difference, and there were plenty of different characters being used.  They even seemed to strike a good balance with Akuma, making him useful but not overpowered.  Tekken 7 was exhilarating to watch, and it looks like a blast to play.  I mean, ultimately it just looks like a really good Tekken game, but that’s fine.  I’m curious to see the singleplayer side of the game, but the multiplayer appears to be solid.  Hopefully it can replace something like Marvel or maybe whatever Netherrealm brings on Sunday next year

2. Mortal Kombat X was surprisingly great

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Coming into Evo, I had very little interest in watching Mortal Kombat.  I really enjoyed the game when it came out, but I quickly stopped playing online and had no interest in the competitive scene after watching the Evo finals last year.  I didn’t even keep up with any of the DLC or the recent XL update.  I expected this years Top 8 to be a total juggle-fest where everybody was using Mileena or Alien.  I was happy to be wrong.  The run of Tekken Master resetting the bracket and then bringing heavy favorite SonicFox to the final game was incredible to watch.  It would have been much better if SonicFox didn’t switch to Alien in the last game and destroy Tekken Master, but it was great nonetheless.  It gave me hope for the future of this game and Netherrealm fighters in general from a competitive aspect.  Injustice 2 will be out before Evo next year, but it would be a shame if MKX was left hanging after the incredible showing this year.

3. I should play an Arc fighter

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I have never played an Arc System Works game.  I haven’t even tried one.  Putting aside my former aversion towards games with a more “anime” style, Guilty Gear and BlazBlue were always just super intimidating to me.  But after watching way more of Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- than I thought I would this week, I can definitely see myself getting into one of these games.  At the very least, I want to give them a shot.  They still look insane to me, but I was surprised by how well I could keep track of things.  It wasn’t the impenetrable mess that I always thought these games were, and it might actually be the game that I enjoyed watching the most.  I’m sure I would be terrible if I actually tried to play it, but I bet I would have fun.  Now it’s just a question of where to jump in.  Xrd is the obvious choice since it’s the current game that I just spent hours watching and will keep getting updates, but Persona 4 Arena might be a good entry point for me since I already love those characters.  But regardless of what I chose, look forward to me writing about getting embarassed in an Arc fighter

4. Smash 4 should get priority over Melee

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Smash 4’s treatment at Evo this year was by all accounts terrible.  There were not enough setups, no projectors, screwed up brackets, and an awful schedule.  This is all for the game with second highest amount of entrants.  There will always be some stigma attached to Smash, but I think what really hurts this game in particular is that Melee is treated like a king.  It is by far the oldest game at the event, but it still gets the second most prominent spot.  The fact that Melee is still so big probably gives some people the idea that Smash 4’s competitive scene will disappear the same way Brawl’s did.  The only way to change this is to give Smash 4 a Sunday time slot and move Melee out of the spotlight.  But that’s not the only reason this change should be made.  Honestly, Smash 4 is just the more interesting game at this point.  Everybody in the Top 8 had different mains, and kamemushi made it to the finals using Mega Man, a character that hardly anybody uses.  Meanwhile, Melee’s Top 8 featured the competitors you expected using the characters and strategies you expected them to use.  I’m not saying that the final match between Armada and HungryBox wasn’t great, because it was.  What I am saying is that there is much more being discovered and learned about Smash 4 whereas Melee is a game that people have figured out.  Street Fighter 4 and Marvel vs. Capcom 2 aren’t played at Evo anymore, despite being great games.  Super Smash Bros Melee should probably join them and take its place as a legacy title.

5. The future of Street Fighter V is bright

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Street Fighter V had a rough launch.  My own review and the sentiments of other reviewers are a testament to that.  The game also failed to light up the sales charts.  But this weekend was a continuation of some recent successes.  The story mode was finally released at the start of the month and is better than I was expecting.  It also came alongside the delayed release of Ibuki and the surprisingly early release of Balrog.  This weekend it was announced that Juri will be released by the end of the month as well.  This means that July alone will have gotten three characters and a new mode and that Capcom is no longer behind but is actually ahead of their DLC schedule.  Back to the even, the game looked great at Evo.  The competition was intense, it got the most signups of any game, and it fared pretty well on ESPN 2.  The Top 8 was full of both usual suspects and some new faces.  The commentary from Mike Ross and Seth Killian was predictably.  The production values on ESPN were on par with everything else the network does.  I don’t know if the game can ever capture the casual audience, but it looked great this weekend.  The competitive scene for Street Fighter V is still growing, and if they can continue to support the game the way they have this month and keep putting a spotlight on it, then it might someday be the game it should have been at launch.

And those are my takeaways from Evo.  I would have loved to have written about Pokken and KI, but I didn’t get a chance to catch them live and have no intention of going back to watch them.  The other game that I did see was Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and I have pretty much nothing to say about it.  It looked just as insane as it always has, and I still have no intention of playing it.  But overall, I had a lot of fun watching Evo this year.  I hope they can fix some of the problems that those attending had for next year year, because the streaming experience was as good as it has ever been.

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