Beyond Street Fighter: the PC's other tournament fighting games

You might have noticed that we’ve been a bit heavy on Street Fighter for these past few columns, what with a new game coming out and the beginning of the Capcom Pro Tour. This column, however, is dedicated to some of the other major fighting games that make up the pro/tournament scene: what they are, what they’re about and where to start watching. Give them a look!

Mortal Kombat X

Okay, this one is a bit sad. When MKX was originally released, it made some pretty big waves and attracted some really good numbers to its various tournaments. The ESL League Finals were a whole load of fun and looked great, actually attracting a bit of mainstream publicity in the US. NetherRealm are looking to build off this success in the coming year with Kombat Pack 2, which adds a bunch of exciting new characters but, most importantly, is completely reworking the netcode to something resembling the GGPO model, which is the current fighting game standard for quality online play. For the most part, things are looking good for the next twelve months of Mortal Kombat.

Unfortunately, the PC version isn’t receiving any of this, rendering it an almost completely pointless purchase on this platform. A terrible, foolish decision by Warner Bros and yet another black mark against their name when it comes to PC ports. A real shame, because Mortal Kombat XL is a damn fine game.

Where to start watching

Pro players and commentary team, the brothers PND Ketchup and Mustard, run an excellent YouTube channel dedicated to all aspects of Mortal Kombat X. As well as showcasing some really high-end gameplay and analysis, they have a series of videos dedicated to new players, which are useful even if you’re only planning on watching MKX. They offer the right level of enthusiasm and analysis to help newcomers get an idea of what they’re seeing. Also, The Kombat Kast is a sporadic video show that features news direct from NetherRealm. It is usually the first place you’ll get to see hands-on with new builds of the game, characters and modes.

Guilty Gear Xrd

Guilty Gear Xrd

Released on Steam at the tail end of 2015, ARC Systemworks’ exciting anime fighter is a unique game and one with a hardcore, loyal following. Emphasis on the word ‘hardcore’, because Xrd is one of the most challenging fighting games currently out there. I mean, just take a look at the Dustloop Wiki—there’s five bloody ways to block attacks!

It’s good then that Xrd has one of the best tutorial modes in the genre, breaking down the game from the absolute basics to the more advanced systems and even frame information associated with the high-end of fighting game knowledge. Some of this stuff can even be applied to other games, meaning that although the skill ceiling on Guilty Gear Xrd is very high, there is a lot of stuff here for people looking to get properly into these games.

It also looks and sounds absolutely incredible. No, really. Just look at it. Just listen to it. BACK TO BACK! Death comes arrivin’ on a Midnight Train! YAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSS!

Where to start watching

There’s not a lot of entry level content for GGXrd (which is why having that exceptional tutorial is so important) but there’s some really good stuff out there if you want to see a lot of high-end gameplay. The best place is twitch.tv/joniosan, which re-streams the GGXrd stream from the legendary Mikado arcade in Tokyo. Streaming most days a week, and for hours at a time. If you miss the livestream, YouTube user Goldenrody uploads a load of it every week for you to catch at your leisure. You might need to understand Guilty Gear to get the most out of this content, but for those who take the plunge this is some really elite stuff.

Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct

Much like Mortal Kombat X, the ‘World Cup’ took place in January, so we’re in a kind of ‘Off Season’ for KI right now. ‘Season 3’ of the game kicks off on the 29th March, which is going to feature some balance and gameplay tweaks, some additions to the UI that make it more ‘spectator friendly’ and a host of new characters—KI2 classic characters Kim Wu and Tusk will join the roster alongside the first two ‘guest’ characters Rash from Battletoads and The Arbiter from Halo. The PC version of the game is also set for release alongside the Season 3 launch, which allows for cross-platform online play and even cross-platform purchases.

Aye, that’s right. Purchases. Killer Instinct actually follows the model popularised by League of Legends. The base game itself is free-to-play, with characters being cycled in to playable rotation, meaning that anyone (or at least, anyone with Windows 10, anyway) can at least give Killer Instinct a go. A robust training mode, clearly defined and easy to understand systems and some of the most interesting characters around mean that Killer Instinct is well worth a look when Season 3 gets here.

Where to start watching

Fighting game YouTube man extraordinaire Maximilian Dood is your go-to guy for Killer Instinct content. Some character analysis, plenty of online streams and, well, he’s actually working in some capacity on the game now, so expect KI-centric content to ramp up exponentially after the 29th March. He tends to keep things fun and passionate about all things Killer Instinct rather than overly technical gameplay breakdowns, but regardless he’s a pretty decent KI player anyway so is a good starting point for those looking to watch Microsoft’s one and only exclusive fighting game.

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