Unlockables in fighting games, yay or nay?

chuckman1

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Jan 15, 2009
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Should fighting games have unlockables or not? Some people like if everything is unlocked from the beginning. Personally I find that unlocking characters, weapons, or in dbz skills, is something that keeps me coming back to the single player in fighting games. But I have seen reviewers take away points because a fighting game had unlockables.

I do like having an unlock all cheat code as an option though.

Do you like unlockables in fighting games?
Do you like unlocking characters?
Why? Why not?
 

MajorTomServo

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Jan 31, 2011
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Unlocking is fun, but I've had many a party where people started groaning because nothing was unlocked in Smash Bros. on this wii.

I'm in the camp of "Make an 'unlock everything' code that's super long and tedious and re-locks everything not permanently unlocked once the game is turned off."
 

DrownedAmmet

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Apr 13, 2015
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MajorTomServo said:
Unlocking is fun, but I've had many a party where people started groaning because nothing was unlocked in Smash Bros. on this wii.

I'm in the camp of "Make an 'unlock everything' code that's super long and tedious and re-locks everything not permanently unlocked once the game is turned off."
Truth, I love unlocking characters and levels and stuff, especially when it's a surprise fight that pops up.

But it also sucks to play with friends and not have everything unlocked.

Probably the best way is to have a majority of the characters unlocked from the start, and leave costumes, stages, and maybe one or two characters to unlock
 

LaoJim

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Aug 24, 2013
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Cosmetic unlockables are fine.

I strongly dislike the Street Fighter 4 way of unlocking things. Some characters unlock when you complete arcade mode with a specific character; meaning that you have to go to the internet to find out what to do, or to slog through each and every character and find which ones do it at random. Thing is when you are starting to play a fighter usually the best way is to play a few rounds with some of them and then pick one and stick to it for a while until you get reasonably good. This unlockable method means you have pointless busy work straight away.

On the other hand, I think it was Soul Calibur, had you earning XP for practically anything you do and doling out new characters every half an hour or so; this is better but it still feels a bit pointless.

The way I'd like to see it done is that 'progression' is something that is limited to the single player story/campaign mode only. Using Street Fighter as an example, when you start the story mode, you can chose any of the 30 or so playable characters to be your 'main' and you have both a generic story and a character specific story going on at the same. At certain (fairly frequently) points the game will open up a slot into which you can put another character and this opens up their story and challenges and training; eventually you will finish a characters story and they will be locked out of further story mode play. Probably the main campaign lasts for about the length of about 6 characters story (that's typically about the number of characters I really enjoy playing in a typical fighting game), but you can always plough on and finish everyone's story if you like.

I'd also like to see a system where you can nominate and manage one 'main' character, two 'secondary' characters, four 'tertiary' characters, and have the game give you fights and tag team battles based on this. (and also have this information available in multiplayer, so one way to handicap an advanced player is to only let them play a tertiary character rather than their main, but that's another story...)
 

KyuubiNoKitsune-Hime

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Jan 12, 2010
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I think it's fine as a development choice, especially for completionist single player types. Still it can ruin a party.

Personally I liked having a cheat device available to unlock everything from the start. In the era where we're seeing the death of things like the Action Replay, and already seen the death of the Game Genie, Game Shark and Codebreaker... This is steadily becoming impossible though.
 

FPLOON

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Jul 10, 2013
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I'm mostly indifferent to unlockables in fighting games until I unlock them and shit... There's something about not knowing what I could unlock until I do unlock it makes them kinda worth in depending on how much I was enjoying the fighting game to begin with...

Other than that, I'd rather have unlockable characters instead of DLC characters, but I digress... I mean, not every DLC originated from the disk itself, you know...
 

Mutant1988

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Sep 9, 2013
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Better than DLC (Or the Namco variety - Locked on disc until you pay more money).

As a gameplay design, I don't mind it - Unless it's far too much gameplay content locked away behind absurd requirements. It's a balance act.

I think the single best compromise is to tie them to achievements but have a cheat code for instant access that lets you use the unlocks but not unlock the achievement. And no, I'm not talking about shortcut DLC. That's nothing but exploitive ("We made the game worse on purpose - Pay us to skip the terrible part").

I really think that King of Fighters 13 did it well. 2 unlockable characters behind reasonable challenges, purely cosmetic unlocks for harder accomplishments and continuous unlockables just for playing. Although the latter could definitely have been done better. You unlock colours for palette edit (Another feature that far too many developers find it appropriate to sell as DLC rather than let you edit yourself) by selecting characters and then finishing a match - And this only for versus fights. So you pretty much have to purposefully grind versus fights to unlock anything or just play multiplayer constantly.

Though to be fair here, they did screw things up by having 3 "DLC" characters locked on disc. Thankfully, the excellent Steam version "includes" those characters without any additional charge.

So to sum it up - I like unlockables. Even if they're obnoxiously hard, they're better than the alternative which is greedy nickle and diming (Namco! You are the worst).

I refuse to buy most fighting games with an abundance of DLC. Put it in the game or leave it for a sequel - I don't care if it's instantly accessible or not, anything is better than having it be DLC.
 

Nazulu

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Jun 5, 2008
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I loved the unlockables in Melee, it's what made me and my friends excited to come back and attempt every challenge. We had an all-nighter once where we spent all night trying to unlock all the characters, or what we could.

I guess maybe it's not the best thing for party's unless you plan it before hand, but for someone who enjoyed playing it alone, they are big prizes to earn.

One thing I didn't like for an unlockable idea is having to play up to 500 melee matches to unlock whatever. It's only fun for me when you have to accomplish a specific challenge, especially when it's an interesting challenge. I think a cheat code would take away from this unfortunately, unless the game makes up for it by making the story really worth completing it for.
 

Mutant1988

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Nazulu said:
I loved the unlockables in Melee, it's what made me and my friends excited to come back and attempt every challenge. We had an all-nighter once where we spent all night trying to unlock all the characters, or what we could.

I guess maybe it's not the best thing for party's unless you plan it before hand, but for someone who enjoyed playing it alone, they are big prizes to earn.

One thing I didn't like for an unlockable idea is having to play up to 500 melee matches to unlock whatever. It's only fun for me when you have to accomplish a specific challenge, especially when it's an interesting challenge. I think a cheat code would take away from this unfortunately, unless the game makes up for it by making the story really worth completing it for.
I think a cheat code would be a perfect solution.

Just have the game have achievements or trophies or whatever - It's pretty much mandatory these days.

Then make the cheat code necessary to input every time you play, not allow you to unlock anything further without resetting and not unlock any of the trophies and achievements and there you go - Instant multiplayer party without robbing people of the feeling of accomplishment for unlocking things "legit".

If I designed a fighting game, that's how I would do it. But then again, I'm not a greedy executive suit.
 

Lufia Erim

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Mar 13, 2015
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It kinda annoys me having to unlock characters. I remember having to beat arcade mode with everyone character in tekken 2 to unlock the second half of the cast. That was time consuming and i didn't like playing most those characters. I also remember having to play for like 9 hours to unlock sonic and solid snake in SSB brawl. That too was annoying. Then there was getting 200 000 world dollars (which can only be unlocked offline) to unlock Sin in GGXRD, which also annoyed me. So i guess what i'm saying is that i dislike having to unlock characters

That being said, i don't really mind having to unlock stages and sound tracks or even costumes because they aren' really necessary in a figgting game, just cool extras. But i do prefer unlocking to DLC . Thats for damn sure.
 

Nazulu

They will not take our Fluids
Jun 5, 2008
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Mutant1988 said:
Nazulu said:
I loved the unlockables in Melee, it's what made me and my friends excited to come back and attempt every challenge. We had an all-nighter once where we spent all night trying to unlock all the characters, or what we could.

I guess maybe it's not the best thing for party's unless you plan it before hand, but for someone who enjoyed playing it alone, they are big prizes to earn.

One thing I didn't like for an unlockable idea is having to play up to 500 melee matches to unlock whatever. It's only fun for me when you have to accomplish a specific challenge, especially when it's an interesting challenge. I think a cheat code would take away from this unfortunately, unless the game makes up for it by making the story really worth completing it for.
I think a cheat code would be a perfect solution.

Just have the game have achievements or trophies or whatever - It's pretty much mandatory these days.

Then make the cheat code necessary to input every time you play, not allow you to unlock anything further without resetting and not unlock any of the trophies and achievements and there you go - Instant multiplayer party without robbing people of the feeling of accomplishment for unlocking things "legit".

If I designed a fighting game, that's how I would do it. But then again, I'm not a greedy executive suit.
I would never assume you're a greedy executive suit. lol

The cheat code is probably the perfect solution. However, allow me to explain why I don't believe it 'has' to be there. I really want to say 'should', but I can understand everyone elses view here.

Thing is, my mind works like this. I cannot ignore the other options, it is almost impossible for me. If there is a cheat code there to make things easier, I will probably abuse it, just like the save any time functions, or even bugs, I will find the best path to beat the challenge. So you can imagine when I have no other option but to do what the game wants, I just do the best I can at that.

It also has to do with the impact of the reveal. If there was a cheat code in Melee to unlock everything, my friends would have made me use it (anyway) and then I would not have had the pleasure in finding out how it all plays out. Instead, like I said, we had even more fun actually trying to find it all and test the toons and stages.

I see the unlockables as earning the chance to play the final levels and bosses in a way. You finally get to see the rest of the game by overcoming everything the game has thrown at you, and I just find that so much more satisfying.

I'm not going to crucify a developer for putting in the options though, that's just being a dick. But, it will never have that impact Melee had on me if they do.

Edit: Also love the "WARNING! INCOMING CHALLENGER APPROACHING"
 

Bat Vader

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Mar 11, 2009
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I don't mind unlocking clothing, accessories, weapons, etc but I hate having to unlock different characters. Personally I think that since I pay sixty dollars for a game that I should have every character available to me right from the start. I don't want to jump through hoops, play online, or complete story mode just to unlock a character.

I hated how in MK9 I couldn't play as Quan-Chi until I beat story mode. Especially with how BS the difficulty ramped up in certain fights.
 

SmallHatLogan

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As someone who sucks at fighting games but still enjoys them and someone who generally enjoys a single player experience more than multiplayer I'm all for unlockables. It gives the single player mode a goal and sense of progression.

However if I was actually good at fighting games and was into the competitive scene I'd probably be all for having everything (or at least all of the characters) unlocked from the get go.
 

OtherSideofSky

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Jan 4, 2010
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Characters and stuff for versus mode should all be unlocked from the start. Having to wade through frequently lackluster single-player mode before you can really play properly against other people (which is what pretty much all serious players of the genre focus on) is a pain in the ass and I'm glad it's become so rare.

Cosmetic unlockables are still fine, and when it comes to single-player modes, anything can reasonably be an unlockable. Unfortunately, very few fighting games have single-player modes worth playing compare to the multiplayer. (CPU opponents are never as fun to fight as actual people, story modes have a tendency to be a series of fights strung together by snippets of dialogue that explain nothing, and a lot of fighters don't even attempt to have anything beyond that.)

Unlockables are mostly still better than DLC, though, unless the requirements are absurd (as was sometimes the case in old console fighters), although ongoing DLC like Skull Girls has is much better than finished characters that become DLC day one.

Edit:
Actually, unlockables are worse to have now than they used to be. In the days of memory cards, you could bring everything you unlocked with you to a friend's house. Now everything's tied to saves and accounts, so if you bring a game with you to a party or something, and your friend doesn't have their own save, you suddenly don't have access to half the cast again.
 

Adam Jensen_v1legacy

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Sep 8, 2011
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Trying to unlock everything in Soul Calibur 3 back in the day was my favorite thing. I love unlocking stuff in games when it's done properly.
 

Doom972

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Dec 25, 2008
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MajorTomServo said:
Unlocking is fun, but I've had many a party where people started groaning because nothing was unlocked in Smash Bros. on this wii.

I'm in the camp of "Make an 'unlock everything' code that's super long and tedious and re-locks everything not permanently unlocked once the game is turned off."
This. Though I don't see why the code has to be long and tedious. If it requires a 4 button sequence on the start screen I doubt someone will do it by mistake.
 

Elfgore

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If done properly I don't mind it. I'll use MKX as an example as I've been playing it. Besides character unlocks, the final character is unlocked by beating the game, the game did it completely wrong. You have to earn in-game currency, through playing the campaign or towers, and then go into The Krypt. Where there are hundreds of gravestones and various other objects that open when you give them enough koins. Problem is, without a guide, you have no clue what is in what. They have everyone's second fatality, all but one brutality, and many costumes hidden here. Though the Krypt itself is fun, the wandering around trying to find stuff is just annoying. You of course can pay 19.99 and unlock everything within.
 

aozgolo

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I like it personally, especially if it's costumes, hidden arenas, or even a hidden character, as long as it doesn't require tournament level skill to do it (IE: get 10 perfect rounds in a row).

Unfortunately I see unlockables as a dying practice in Fighting Games being replaced with DLC and I HATE it... buying costumes, characters, and arenas cheapens the experience so much for me. I still want this content but I already bought what I thought was a full game and in some cases (Dead or Alive 5) the DLC costs like 5 times more than the game does!