KOFXV Review: P5: Reception

  1. Graphics
  2. Gameplay
  3. Content
  4. Sound & Music
  5. Reception

Reception

Sorry this is so late, but it’s given me a chance to look over the opinions through a longer period from the game’s release. It’s already been almost a month since the release. Let’s take a look at reactions and opinions to the game, ending with my overall review score.

Many reviews will go something like this:

Hey, remember Street Fighter? Yeah, I’m not good at fighting games, but they are fun! Do special moves! Boom! Look there’s Terry from Smash! But unlike Street Fighter which I gave 10/10, even though it doesn’t have much content, KOF doesn’t have that much content, so I’ll give it 7/10.

The thing is, they aren’t wrong.  But some reviews have been surprisingly high with 8s and 9s.  And if we simply compare to scores for SF4 and SF5 and KOF14, they are also correct.  However for a real mainstream audience, all of these titles lack a proper story mode or some sort of extra content to keep them happy when they unironically bought a fighting game.  It’s always a struggle to cater for all audiences.

Did you know that 90% of KOF’s audience market is actual foreign?  It’s quite the succesful import, and shows why they decided to hire Joshua Weatherford to oversee the foreign marketing.  Perhaps we’ll hear about his actual influence at some point, as it is very interesting to see how decisions were made, as the difference in tastes between Eastern, Western and Latin American tastes vary quite a lot. For example in Latam, characters like May Lee and K9999 are tremendously popular, and well, that explains why we have Krohnen but raises the question of why we don’t have Zharina, Nelson and Bandeiras…?  SNK surely have data to know who was playing which characters so we can only assume either they weren’t as popular or the mainline story characters were given priority.  It may turn out to be an issue for SNK one day, when they try to reorganize their roster… imagine a KOF without an AOF team!… but so far the KOFXV selection is full of favourites and the reaction has been good. Returning characters such as Shermie and Chizuru have reached millions of hits on YouTube.

Speaking of foreign markets, SNK is very very very aware of the voices on social media crying out for Team USA or Todoh Ryuhaku and how serious (or not) they are.  Surveys consistently prove that these voices are a bit disconnected from the general playerbase, but that is not to say they should be ignored… perhaps the day when these characters arrive is coming sooner than later!

What wasn’t coming soon was the game in physical edition.   Koch Media is a European distributor, and you may recognise their other labels, such as Deep Silver.  They have now expanded into more regions including North America.  KM in fact published KOF14, although the community was upset that the official support for events didn’t last very long. I might revise this part if somebody jogs my memory but the launch tournament was really good, at least.  For KOXV, however, there have been some ‘hiccups’. 

KM had a stream on Gamescom and all the fans piled in waiting for KOFXV information.  The chat was literally overun with demands.  The mod running the stream told people there was more info coming and then finally they didn’t know anything and we waited for two hours for nothing in the end.  And then KM tweeted that there was a mixup…

Well that was convenient, KM managed to have all the KOF fans check out their other products.  The video still got 2.2k dislikes.

KM has multiple social media channels and they worked in different ways to promote the upcoming launch… I’m not a fan of some of their choices of who/what to promote but from a purely business side I suppose it was smart. Small time streamer / event organizer, but loyal? No need to mention you then. Hmmm.

Anyway, while the digital edition was announced, and then the actual physical edition on Amazon could be found, the fans were left wondering where was the deluxe edition. Japan has been advertising this for a while already and the huge cost was still tempting, but having an art book in Japanese is only so good. The KOFXV Omega Edition for Europe was announced on the 30th November 2021; while I was ecstatic, I was concerned that the game still had not appeared in listings in other regions.  The digital release was without problem, but for those who wanted to buy the lithographs and CDs, it was worrying.  It was not announced until Jan 14. Literally a month before release, so fans had to rush to ensure it would be delivered on time, if they hadn’t already ordered it from Japan or Europe.  It also popped up in some physical stores, but the news only filtered through via detective work by fans. Not a good look.

Update: I’ve only just noticed the Steam Deluxe edition doesn’t contain the artbook or soundtracks, just dlc packs 1 and 2 (Terry and Leona skin if you pre-ordered).  What the hell, SNK. That’s not acceptable. It seems to me that they are betting on their richer fans to double dip, but if the PC master race doesn’t own any consoles, then what?  Not good.

If you wanted the Neogeo style shockbox, the only way was from Japan or the PixnLove company.  PixnLove had already delivered KOF2002UM quite late, but happily took orders for the lovely KOF15 collector’s edition.  Today is the 12th March.  I received my shipping notice just yesterday.  Well, there was/is the pandemic and  other problems to consider, but for anyone who could only buy that one edition, it’s been a miserable wait; that’s nearly a month late.

It seems SNK is having difficulty finding a stable and reliable distributor. What happened to Athlon? Who knows. I’ve asked for an interview but Koch Media haven’t responded.

This wasn’t universal, some players got the correct sleeves.  Hopefully KM rectifies this.  These hiccups were not major but not exactly a great physical launch, still, the game was launched on time, at least.  Again, while some companies may be using covid as an excuse, we do know that SNK was partially working from home and who knows how this impacted KM and everyone in the production chain.  Now, after production issues, the game has reached the players.

Famous players and big streamers of other games have been picking up the game, and due to the rollback netcode, actually sticking with it.  So far, the complaint that it was unplayable online is unheard.  However, there are some niggles with the netcode such as some stutters and teleports, but this is the inherent nature of rollback, that’s the tradeoff for having smoother play compared to ‘underwater’ yet input precise delay-based netcode.  Rollback is overall a much better experience and we have the player numbers to prove it. Still,   there are some questions…

Controls

The slowing down of the game and the throw priority is divise, of course, as the game tries to become more accessible, it will alienate the hardcore traditionalists.  The changes to the characters are mostly fresh and certainly bring new life to the play.  Again, this upsets some players who just want to do the same old thing and then complain that it’s boring.  Overall the players, old and new, are enjoying it!

I’m afraid I can’t say KOFXV is a masterpiece, but it certainly has the makings of one.  There are just some evident creases that still need ironing.

PS vs Xbox vs Steam

My goodness, Xbox coming through with less lag!  I dreaded this, and back with the launch of KOF13, we all jumped ship for the Xbox. This time, we’re pretty sure it’s not a good idea to repeat history, as EVO is sponsored by Playstation…. but PS5 has some input lag, so PS4, Xbox and PC are the preferred platforms for now.  Buuuuut PC still has some netcode issues, even after a patch.

While the netcode is still very good, some of the older players in Japan were shying away from ranked mode because they didn’t want to be on public streams. While they may be ‘fossils’ (and we use that term lovingly) of the scene, it’s an interesting cultural difference and understandable that some people don’t want to be material for somebody’s entertaining stream. For the new players it seems to be par for the course.

What’s interesting is that all platforms have activity, although the region settings are still causing some issues and walling off some players.  The “found a player” message has still not been fixed on PS4.

While PS4 players who pre-ordered got to play a little early, PC owners did not. No early access for PC users is always a sore point, and the data mining already started during the betas (which were awesome by the way, great stuff, SNK!), so I’m not sure what is the best argument for not doing it.  If there’s a logistical reason, we’d like to know.

Some players felt unlocking the game music was a chore.  Finding the correct combination of characters and then playing the CPU on easiest is boring, they said, while some players enjoyed this.   There is a rush to get everything unlocked because you want the best music experience while playing matches.  It’s not the same as unlocking movies or images because you can look at them at your leisure.  So I do understand this complaint.  Even I want to get the music unlocked as soon as possible but I also don’t like myself for cheating and running to the Internet to get a list.  It is what it is.  Some players don’t ever want to see this happen again and to be fair, I think they are right, as most players probably will run to the Internet and just mash through the game with characters they don’t like.  It’s a good idea to force people to play characters they didn’t choose, as they might find something cool about the character.  At the same time there is a risk that they won’t learn anything, and just mash the custom combo to get the game over as soon as possible. But then again, surely players will be so bored that they try to do different things while playing this team through the mode. The best outcome would be that each player learns to play every character to a certain extent.  This would be great overall and surely has benefits for the overall player base and their knowledge of the roster.  We’ll need to get more feedback from the players, but it’s for sure that the players who love only three characters will definitely see this as a chore.

Character Balance

Thinking about players and their likes, SNK were likely very happy that KOFXV Terry is easy to use and recommended for beginners, which is great and nostalgic and wonderful for Smash Bros fans, but what’s the point of Shun’Ei then? Why not just make KOF15 a dream match? Why not just focus on the fan favourites of today?  We’re still anticipating a patch but Terry is top tier right now so hopefully lots of players will get to enjoy him.  Shun’Ei may be a sleeper… but after the first big tournament in Japan it was clear that Terry Ralf and Vanessa were top so far.  Will SNK patch them? Will they nerf them or boost the others?  It may not make a difference for the casual player anyway, but it did bore the spectators on stream… but it’s early days… stun combos are being discovered and there’s lots more to discover in KOFXV; the hardcore base is overall pleased while the more casual base is not happy with lack of story content.

Community Score

My followers are a sample and not global but here you go:

Events

KOFXV still fails to do what Yatagarasu did and advertise physical or online tournaments but their social media with the SNK eSports programme is doing well, and they have a specific calendar that you can check on their website.

Again again again we are just ending (hopefully) the pandemic, and KOF15 has been announced for EVO, and there are other physical events going on. It’s looking up!

As for KM’s promotion, they are tweeting fan art and streamers (albeit only the big ones) so it’s still a bit weird when you see the technical community isn’t featured. No tutorial guides, nothing like that, but why not post match clips and clearly support the eSports community, like SNK does?  Is it too much for one channel to RT every little KOF related goodness?  I guess it’s a full time job, and beyond one person who has other games and other duties to look after.  I’ve given them pointers,  helped them reach the community and now I think I’ll unsub.  

Interestingly, the Tekken Twitter channel did the Sonic /PS/ Mario / Xbox thing and congratulated SNK.  That’s nice!  Now where’s that collab team?  Liek wtf let’s goooooo!!!

PC releases will always have issues.  Got a low spec PC?  Try this mod! You may want to try and uninstall and re-install Geforce Now and / or manually assign the game to use all the cores of your CPU. If your screen tears, disable Vsync.  Make sure it’s added in your nvidia 3D game settings.

DLC plans

There are two seasons and perhaps more, KOF fans in general have accepted this as normal.  SNK is listening, be careful what you ask for! I’ll be disappointed if there’s no collaboration characters… But the current plan looks good, although there’s no hint yet of skins, and the modding community is moving fast.

Ok, that’s enough rambling. We’ve seen a variety of responses to KOFXV, and overall, it’s positive.  It could still be better, but as a fighting game, it works, it does the job, mostly.  The sound unlock is a chore, but can be a surprise if players actually venture to try every character and play the game like we used to when we only had to worry about homework getting in the way.  The online is probably their best yet, but there are some issues between platforms.

Final Review score 8/10

It’s still generous, and SNK needs to do more to satisfy the casual playerbase with more story content and mini games.  They have a huge catalogue they could incorporate, recycle or re-invent for this.  KOF fans are not just eSports tournament players, they are often simply spectators and want to play with their characters in customisation and non-fighting mini games.  Where is that scrolling beat-em up mode?  What’s with that Steam edition with no artbook?

What to do from here?

So you’re still here huh, still want to play some KOF?   The twitter community is really cool (with the odd moron) and they have a whole load of discords and twitter hashtags to find info.  If you want a nice feed of KOF artwork, tech and tips, I highly recommend this account. lol.

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