Fighting Games Galore! - Rivals of Aether, DBZ Fighters Beta Impressions, IPS Finals on ESPN and MvCI!

We play quite a lot of fighting games here at LAN Mob, on all different levels. Between employees and customers we manage to cover both ends of the competitive/casual spectrum and everything in between. I think it almost goes without saying that fighting games have a very specific and unique energy about them, whether you're spectating friendlies, watching a major tournament, playing with friends or grinding a ranked ladder. I look forward to the moment when LAN Mob gets to pull back the curtain on what we've been brewing for the FGC, but in the meantime weekends like this sustain me! This last weekend had some genuinely amazing moments that I wont soon forget relating to the FGC, and where better to share them then right here on the LAN Mob Blog?! First up is a little indie fighter you may or may not have heard of, unless you've been around me, then you definitely have.

Rivals of Aether

Rivals of Aether is by no means a new game, in fact this Friday Rivals will be celebrating its 2 year Birthday from when it hit early access (along with Slooze's 25th!). However, last month Rivals released a new character, "Ori and Sein", the main characters from Microsoft and Moon Studios' award winning indie title, "Ori and the Blind Forest". The new character pulled me back to the charming "indie answer to Smash Brothers", and boy am I glad it did. Once upon a time, before I was graced with Injustice 2, Rivals of Aether was my go-to fighting game, and I clocked over 100 hours while the game was still in early access. Dan Fornace, the lead designer, and his indie team, have master-crafted what I genuinely believe to be one of the most balanced fighting games of all time. Add in the beautiful pixel art style, top tier soundtrack and deep gameplay and not only do you have an excellent video game, you have the makings of a seriously competitive fighting game. At this last lock-in, Spydude43 and myself plugged in and played Rivals for most of the night, after our excellent League of Legends 1v1 event. Whenever anybody visited the desk for a snack or even just for some conversation, they immediately were entranced by the fast paced combat and unique style that bleeds from Rivals. At one point we had a small group of people watching our matches, and some of them were some serious nail biters. I offered each and every spectator a chance to play, but a lot of them simply wanted to spectate, or took a rain check on us showing them the ropes. Rivals of Aether certainly isn't a AAA EVO title, but it always manages to be a complete blast every single time I find some people to play with. It's just so funny to me that a $15 dollar indie title can create that same energy that those AAA studios can, and it'd almost be impossible in any other genre space. It was a lock-in I soon won't forget, and it really fueled my love for the indie title, and now I just can't get enough. In fact, just a few nights ago I played some guy on Steam for over 2 hours straight at like 3am. Sleep is for the weak!

This is Rivals official launch trailer for when the game left early access in March. 

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Up next in my fighting game fueled weekend was the Dragon Ball FighterZ closed beta. Unfortunately the beta was only available from 1-4pm & 9pm - Midnight on Saturday (9/16) and 4pm-7pm on Sunday (9/17), but maybe it was for the best to prevent me from forgetting to eat and what not. I played as many games as I could in these time frames, and I really gotta say, Dragon Ball FighterZ surpassed my already high expectations. I've played the majority of the Dragon Ball Z fighting games that have been released over the years, and while they manage to scratch that itch for playing out your favorite DBZ moments/making new ones, they all lack in one major way - competition. I don't think its necessary that every fighting game be a competitive one, but up until now each DBZ game suffers from some pretty major balance problems that immediately makes competitive play not even an option. DBZ FighterZ brings some serious depth despite being a licensed anime brawler, and after this weekend I can honestly say the future is bright. I cant think of a better developer then Arc System Works, the developers of Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, to tackle the challenge of developing a game like Dragon Ball FighterZ and I seriously look forward to next year. I think DBZF may even net a spot at EVO if the cards are played right, not to mention what a powerhouse fandom like DragonBall Z could do for anime fighters and the FGC in general. I think people would love to see some seriously skilled players in the driver seats of their favorite DBZ characters on a huge stage, don't you?

Injustice Pro Series Finals

Injustice 2 launched with a pretty in depth eSports circuit, thanks to a tremendous amount of support from various community members, NetherRealm Studios and even Sony. I've been following each portion of the circuit extremely closely, and this past Sunday (9/17) was the final 16 bracket of the biggest event of the 4 leading to eLeague. These 16 players fought over the last few months for circuit points awarded for placing at all sorts of events, including majors like EVO and CEO, and it all culminated on Sunday in some seriously awesome matches. In the top 16 bracket we got to see 20 different character choices, shake ups in the "standard" tier list, trash talk, and a lot of 3-0s. The production value of the whole event was pretty outstanding, and the top 4 of the bracket got to compete live on ESPN2! Bossman and myself ended up watching the top 4 with our parents on television, and while Bossman explained eSports, sponsorships and Injustice mechanics to his folks, I couldn't help but scream every time PG Hayatei (my favorite player) did cool stuff. Ultimately it was an awesome event, and even if you aren't extremely interested in Injustice I would recommend watching the ESPN cast of the top 4. This is the future! They secured the 2 best casters (IMO), Ketchup and Mustard for the cast, and even got PG Kitana Prime and Darth Arma to give some coverage from the tournament floor. Even my elderly dad found some enjoyment in the obvious hype, especially when I cheered for PG Hayatei's Robin, the best representative for that character in the world. Ultimately, Semiij put up a great fight but Echo Fox's SonicFox wiped the floor with Noble's Catwoman player, and took Grand Finals 3-0, which was a true testament to this kid's talent and dedication. Following the ESPN broadcast was a gameplay reveal trailer for the next DLC character, MK's Raiden and his premiere skin; Black Lightning. It was a marvelous day of sleep deprived Injustice 2 spectating!

I would certainly recommend watching the entire Top 16, especially for the incredible character diversity, but the top 4 in itself was an awesome display of top talent. I still can't give enough credit to PG Hayatei for making top 8 with Robin, a character many people wrote off and has proven to be incredibly difficult to master. Not to mention Echo Fox's SonicFox's absolutely disgusting Captain Cold play.

Raiden will most likely release on October 9th for Ultimate Edition and FP2 owners.

Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite

Last but not least is the rather...dramatic release of Marvel vs Capcom Infinite. The game hit store shelves yesterday, but Capcom shipped out some early copies for select players a while ago. I've watched quite a lot of gameplay via streams and YouTube and honestly the gameplay looks pretty damn solid and quite a lot of fun. However, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't turned off by Capcom's ridiculous approach to DLC and terrible art design, but I'm still willing to play the game and appreciate it for what it is. I think no matter how you slice it MvCI will be a fun enough game to play, and I look forward to this Saturday's tournament, but I'm a bit tired of being stung by Capcom year after year. I'll touch on the game in the future again after I actually play the game myself some more, I'm definitely interested in the Infinity Stone mechanic! The internet is calling 2017 "The Year of the Fighters", and how ironic would it be for a titan like MvC to be the weakest link in one of the most important years for the FGC?

Thanks for reading everybody! Whether or not you're into fighting games, I think they can seriously make for some of the most amazing moments in gaming, even if you're just spectating. I seriously look forward to what we have in store in the future, but in the meantime I can't recommend diving into a game strongly enough. Especially in "The Year of the Fighters", there's certainly a game out there for everybody and LAN Mob is a pretty marvelous hub to get started. I'm pretty confident in saying between Enrique and myself we can help you get started in any major fighter! Stay tuned for more news!
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