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Dark Souls II seems to lack something, maybe it's interconnectedness?

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The Game is Changing, so, um play with more skill?


As I wrote in my last blog post, I've become addicted to the new Mortal Kombat game. I find that the more I play it, the more I want to keep playing it. But this week's TNT made it clear that the game is already evolving (at least somewhat) into the kind of serious fighting game that demands consistent playing and tactic changes. With no disrespect to Jeff, watching him lose a lot - using strategies that would have dominated during the first week of release - made me realize that things are changing, as are the characters that people use. Sure, there are plenty of Scorpions out there spamming the spear and/or teleport, but those are quickly becoming replaced by fighters using Raiden, Kitana, and Sub Zero. So, in blog fashion, I'd like to offer a few observations on how the online game is evolving, at least from my perspective.


1) All-out offense is a great way to lose

- Again, watching Jeff on last week's TNT provided some illumination - not anticipating and blocking attacks is now, more than ever, going to cause you to get the crap kicked out of you. The reason is that so many characters can disrupt crazy offense (like smoke or sub-zero). When I look at records, and face off against someone average a 3-to-1 victory spread or better, I can expect to see a defensive match. Most players just wait for the kinds of moves that leave one wide open and vulnerable. Sure, I've seen some players go all out and win with blinding speed, but usually not in the "bigger" matchups. I often win thinking to myself "damn dude, you gotta start blocking that"


2) Kombos aren't everything

This may be a contentious point, but learning those ridiculous 12-hit combos isn't a fast track to success, unless those kombos can be paired with excellent timing and fundamentals. However, I think there's this popular opinion that the only real "skill" is in chaining together the largest attack possible. But from what I can tell, this leads a lot of players to play terribly, just waiting for their one opportunity to piece together that 40% beat-down. It's really just an elaborate form of spam at that point, and since it doesn't lead to victory, it's bad spam. Personally, I don't like looking for the big kombos at all. I play Smoke (primarily), and though I can do some big ones (I've landed 12 once) I rarely have a need to go for more than 4 hits at a time. Why? Because additional hits do minor amounts of increased damage, while the input orders for these larger ones may be many times more difficult. So, take Smoke - why do the difficult 5 hit combo that does 25%, when there's an easy 4-hit, with the exact same set up, that does 23%.


I catch a lot of crap (mainly from scrubs) because I don't go for the big kombos - but they don't realize that while they're thinking about the crazy button combinations, I'm just waiting patiently for basic openings. For those players just getting started: START small. Learn how to time uppercuts, how to block attack patterns, how to time grabs, and how to do basic sweeps and HP combinations. If you can time these most basic attacks, you can literally beat almost half the players out there. This goes back a little to my last post, but you need to go with whatever works, and if you're like me and don't feel confident in making that 10-hit kombo work, then don't bother with it. The jerks in the King-of-the Hill room are probably going to give you 0.0 anyways, because they are, you know, jerks.


3) Fatalities are already getting old

I remember a couple of weeks ago on the Bombcast, Jeff mentioned that people who have to do fatalities all the time are kinda dicks, because they hold everything up. At first, I wanted to disagree with him, but now that I've played more than 500 matches, I don't care to see a single one ever. I still think they can be used to make a point, if say, you beat down that jerk giving 0.0 to every fight, but I have seen every single one in the game probably 50 times or more. Enough already! It's not exactly a matter of skill, is it? It might not be a popular opnion, but I'm done.


4) Where is the next patch?

Although I love MK, I have to say that there are some things that need work. I've seen excellent players of almost every character, but certainly some players have it easier than others. I've never seen a successful Shang-Tsung or Sindel, for example. I don't think broad character balances are needed, but damnit if there aren't some bugs that need to be fixed in the game. For example, Raiden's torpedo, when blocked successfully, still puts him out of uppercut/grab range (which is a little ridiculout); don't even get me started on the Johnny Cage X-ray glitch. There are just a few things that need to be tweaked, and this is normal, but the sooner it happens, the better. What's worse is that the netcode in King-of-the-Hill matches is still pretty bad. I have yet to play one where the room didn't get unplayably laggy once certain people came in. To make matters worse, lagged-out matches can result in disconnects being posted. I can honestly say I've never rage quit the game once or left a match before it was over, but yet I have 13 disconnents that showed up after lag-broken matches.


5) Ranked Matches are kinda busted

The short story is that the ranked match system leads to completely inconsistent, random matchups. I've maybe completed only 30 or 40 ranked battles, namely because finding a match can take 5 minutes, and once you do, your opponent could be 1000/10, 0/5, or anywhere in between. While Trueskill rankings are assigned to everyone, these don't seem to factor into matchups. But on the whole, the competition in ranked matches is somewhat weak, because there's no way to filter the people you play.


6) Player Match Basics

Player matches, on the other hand, tend to be a good indicator of what to expect. If you challenge someone who has a win-loss ratio of over 5:1 with more than 500 games played, then you may be in for a tough time. If you go after someone whoe's closer to 1:1, then it's going to be much better for you. Although, the person who's 1:1 with 1000 games played is probably better than the one with 10. Experience is woth a lot in this one. Yeah, you could boost player matches with a friend, but nobody serious seems to be doing that, at least not if my matches are any indication. So the bottom line: BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU CHALLENGE. To be fair, you need to play better people to get better, but I feel bad when someone who is 0-3 keeps challenging me to a fight (even if I won't go more than 2 out of three with them)


Again, these are only my observations, and if you disagree, then that's totally cool. I'm far from being the best player at this game (there are some sick dudes out there), but I feel I've found a modicum of success. Just for full disclosure, I play mostly 1v1 player matches, with main characters being Smoke, Sheeva, and Scorpion, and my record there sits at about 430-105. So your experiences may be WILDLY different from mine.