Autocombos have a bad reputation with casual fighting gamers. Any Shoryuken or Eventhubs article about Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle or Dragon Ball FighterZ will have at least a handful of comments complaining about autocombos and games “rewarding mashing”. YouTube comments are even worse.
If you play any of these games with a mind to learn, you already know that autocombos are not as awful as they are made out to be. It sounds bad on paper (reducing a skill-based system to mashing Square), but if you spend any time experimenting with autocombos in a game, the flaws become apparent.
Autocombos are almost universally weaker than ones that require input. DBFZ and BBTAG actually design the game around them, requiring you to mix autocombos and your own inputs to make creative and practical attack strings.
Still, I have an issue with Tekken 7 suddenly deciding to add autocombos to a three year old game.
The story mode of Tekken 7 had “assist combos” that allowed you to mash some buttons and get a decently-damaging string. They’re adding this to the main game in season 2, presumably to make the game easier for new players. I don’t think it’s gonna work at all.
Tekken 7 is the fighting game I spend the most time on, and has been since 2017. Even though the game is much easier than past entries, it has a lot of baggage that keeps new players away.
A short list explaining why Tekken is hard and doesn’t attract new players.
- The game is heavily based on legacy skill. Characters and combos don’t change much over time, so players who started at Tekken 2 have an innate advantage over those who started at 7.
- The movelists are daunting, characters can have 150 moves and there’s no way to tell which ones are good on your own.
- Tekken 7 has no tutorial.
Do you see how “mash square to get a combo” solves any of these issues? At best, letting you do an electric with Kazuya by hitting Square twice is putting a bandage over an electrical fire.
I’m a ‘017er in the Tekken series, so I’m still learning things that older players already knew. But so far, I think learning combos and setups is actually the easiest part of the game, and the least useful. Tekken 7 is harder than a lot of modern fighting games, but it’s because of the time it takes to develop its fundamental skills, not combos!
There’s no equivalent to a wakeup dragon punch in Tekken 7. Once you get knocked down, an autocombo won’t help you safely stand up and get out of danger. The lack of invincible moves also means that there’s nothing you can really mash if your opponent is pressuring you with safe moves and backdashing away from your strings.
One of the most important Tekken fundamentals is punishing your opponent for unsafe moves. If your opponent is pestering you with low pokes, you generally can’t punish them with a full combo. So even if you do learn to block lows, the autocombo system won’t help you out there either.
Another important Tekken fundamental is movement, allowing you to evade your opponent and hurt them for punching the air. While spamming buttons might help if you play Eddy Gordo, anyone with more than a few hours worth of Tekken experience is gonna backdash out of the way and punish you. Autocombos probably won’t teach effective sidestepping or backdash canceling.
So, instead of adding a comprehensive tutorial, or copying one of those “Top 15 Moves For Every Character” lists into the game, or even adding in more sample combos into the character movelists, they’re adding autocombos.
It’s probably something that won’t take much time to implement, but if the idea is to get new players to stick with the game, they’ve already missed the point.