SNK’s long-running 2D fighting game series hits next-gen, with dynamic combat and online play that’s smooth and stable.
The King of Fighters is a legendary series. SNK’s flagship fighter comes jam-packed with fan-favorite characters such as Terry Bogard, Kyo Kusanagi and Ash Crimson. These characters fight on teams of 3 and while each character has a storyline team they fit on, players are free to create their own teams using any fighters on the roster. While it’s not as widely known as Street Fighter, its pedigree goes toe-to-toe against Capcom’s legendary franchise with gusto. After a second online open beta test, we’ve got a solid grasp on what’s coming next for the franchise. Here’s what we found.
The beta had an excellent presentation. There were both online and offline options to mix it up with others, which was a nice change of pace from most beta tests that focus solely on the online play experience. Fighting against others online felt rock-solid with a good connection with below-average ones feeling good as well. Matches against players nationwide and overseas felt smooth, with solid rollback able to compensate for the lag. This is necessary for a game like King of Fighters that offers a deep and compelling combat system.
KOF XV’s systems make combat a tense and engaging affair. The game keeps the signature robust movement options, complete with short-hops, runs, and dodges. Adding to the depth is Max Mode, which powers up your moves and acts as an animation cancel to extend your combos. You’re also able to cancel into Quick Mode, allowing for expanded combo possibilities. These let players go for the powerful extended combos the series is known for with gusto. In addition, traditional special moves can be powered-up into EX versions with the smaller use of some meter to pile on the damage without using super moves.
This isn’t to say the skill gap can’t be closed, however. Rush combos allow you to perform damaging combos with simple button presses, allowing light attacks to be chained into one another then into a couple of heavy attacks, then ending with an automatic super move if you’ve got the meter to perform one. Shatter Strikes also allow newer players to bridge the gap by unleashing a powerful strike that’s able to absorb a hit to punish a careless enemy. These counters are devastating and can open up enemies for big combos, including Rush combos, allowing you to get a grip on the game flow and turn the tables in your favor.
The beta allowed a good playground for all of these mechanics to shine, with solid gameplay both online and offline. It wasn’t perfect, however. The character selection was severely lacking, making the team-based nature of the title feel a bit pigeonholed in terms of depth. While it was fun to try out newcomer Krohnen, there wasn’t too much else on display here. While this is only a beta and hardcore fans will be grateful to get all the time in they can, it can feel a bit stifling in a team-based game. Thankfully, each character feels fleshed out and fits their niches perfectly.
While the roster left a bit to be desired, the gameplay experience both online and offline felt great. Playing against others was always a quick and easy affair, especially when using the random matchmaking system. Even when setting matches to only level 4 and 5 connections, the highest possible ones, you were able to fight against a diverse amount of opponents who fit the specific criteria. Combined with stellar stability in-game, it created an experience that left a good impression for it to be the next best online fighting game.
With the pedigree and depth of the KOF series behind it, tons of fan-favorite characters returning and impressive online play, The King Of Fighters XV is one to look out for. Especially for the hardcore fighting game fan.