Dead Or Alive 6: This Stuff Is Stupid

Recently I did consulting work for a medium-profile game. This involved very thorough critical analysis on every inch of the game, and aside from the big ideas I also set aside an entire section for little complaints that I felt were both annoying and easily fixable. Stupid stuff, in other words. Here, then, is a list of stupid things that grated on me in Dead or Alive 6.

In 3D fighting games with complex models like these, this kind of clipping is really common and normal, but since you can go through frame-by-frame in this game there’s all kinds of body horror

Allowing players to move around before the round is fine on paper. It sounds like freedom. But in high-level practice there’s only one result: smart players charge in immediately and try their best to stand on each other’s toes before the match has started, after which they’ll start in with one of their fastest attacks and immediately put the slower player on defense. Since back dashing is slow and forward dashing is super fast, it only takes one player to force a point-blank situation. This is stupid.

Forcing a point-blank situation off the bat deprecates the neutral game and heavily favors speedy rushdown characters. Normally a fast rush character has the advantage of superior close-range attacks and the disadvantage of having to take risks to get in. By contrast, at the start of a DOA round, both players are “in” for free and the character with the faster attacks has a decisive advantage. To use character examples from Soul Calibur, is it fair to both players if Taki gets to start the round standing on top of Astaroth? It’s a decisive advantage for characters with fast moves: how are you going to deal with Helena in your face in Bokuho stance at the moment the announcer says “Fight”?

I recommend a more traditional starting range ala Tekken, from which both players have room to jockey for position and play the neutral game before one moves in. If we must be able to run around before the round begins, it’ll be necessary to force a distance between the players… which would feel bad, and likely be more trouble than it’s worth.

I don’t like the visual cues, which are largely relegated to notes on the side of the screen. You can’t really understand what these words mean without having read the tutorial, and games with all these systems need to use everything at their disposal to be comprehensible at a glance. The words “Combo Throw” don’t mean anything, certainly not “press the Throw button faster than your opponent to break out of this throw.” Even if players don’t always understand the messages immediately, games like Guilty Gear Xrd and Soul Calibur have great visual effects that aren’t just flash but tell the player exactly what just happened on the screen. Throw breaks, Critical Stun, and counter hits could all use lighting effects like other games have.

The post-match menus and timer are stupid. After every online match you have to click through two level-up screens and an unlock notice, while a ten-second timer counts down. If you actually bother to look at what you unlocked or how you leveled up, you run the timer down to nothing and you don’t get to the much more important choice of whether or not you want to rematch your opponent. Often you’ll lose a good opponent to a simple time-out.

The solution is simple here. Do I need to click past three screens? Not really. All that information can pop up on the screen instantly at the end of a match with no input from me. See Guilty Gear Xrd, where level-ups and awards flash on the screen at the very moment of the KO so that they don’t disrupt the post-match process. Ask the player as soon as possible whether they want to rematch.

The wardrobe interface is stupid. Because I don’t know what I unlocked in my online sessions, I have to flip through Wardrobe and check my characters. When you get a new item in Overwatch, (NEW) flashes over the character’s face on the equivalent screen so that you don’t have to go digging. In DOA6, it’s a mystery what you unlocked — especially because you have to flip past the unlock messages — until you open up every single character’s page. This would be easy to fix with “NEW” icons over categories in DOA Central and over character faces in Wardrobe.

Multiple bounds in an air juggle combo is stupid. They weren’t meant to be up there for 20 seconds and a juggle shouldn’t do 80% damage. At least in Tekken those combos are situational.

Nico’s 236T throw is stupid. I am not crazy about the DOA throw mechanic in general, particularly how chains are broken, but there is at least some risk and reward involved in landing a chain throw. The problem with Nico’s 236T is that as well as having two different follow-ups, simply *not completing* the throw places Nico in the overpowering position of +4 and behind the opponent’s back. Nico just gets to attack for free from here, without even the threat of a hold due to the back turn. This character has an excellent high/mid mixup up close, so the opponent just has to block and “hold that”, as we say. After a few hits, if Nico catches the opponent in a standing hold, she can even reset the situation. It’s too low-risk, too easy, and most importantly, repeatable. A death by ten thousand frame-advantaged needles.

I say this as the guy who plays the character with 50% damage throws.

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