I suck at fighting games. To be fair I’ve never put in the time to improve, but for one reason or another the genre has never been able to grab me. Awhile back I heard about a new free-to-play fighting game on PC, called Rising Thunder, that aims to change up the way you think about and approach a fighting game. While most fighting games require you to learn a bunch of button combinations, Rising Thunder removes that gameplay element entirely. The idea is to create a fighting game that allows players to focus on strategy rather than complex button combinations. Radiant Entertainment is the studio behind the project and boasts some serious talent with the Cannon brothers (creators of EVO) and Seth Killian (former Capcom community manager) working on the game.
Rising Thunder is currently in technical alpha and is very limited in scope with 6 playable characters and two game modes, training and ranked matchmaking, to choose from. Characters are classed by their difficulty to use in easy, medium, or hard categories. The two easy characters are Chel and Dauntless. Chel is a gunner that shoots a fireball while Dauntless is a striker that is meant to get up close and personal. Vlad, Crow, and Talos make up the medium level characters. Vlad is a striker with lots of aerial mobility, Crow is a mixup character that uses a throwable plasma disc, and Talos is a heavy grappler. Finally, Edge is the only hard rated character and is a fast striker with low health and defense. Each character feels very distinct and offers a different style that should be familiar to fighting game veterans.
Each character has the same basic move set comprised of a throw plus a light, medium, and heavy attack. In addition, each character has 3 special moves that are tied to a cooldown timer. Every character has a loadout with swap-able special attacks allowing you to tailor your fighter to your play style. During a fight two meters, at the top and bottom of the screen, are filled as you land hits and are hit. The top meter represents your super’s charge and the bottom represents your kinetic advance or deflect charge. Supers, triggered with one button, initiate a powerful attack animation that is unstoppable unless blocked or dodged at it’s outset. Kinetic advance provides a dash cancel while kinetic deflect blocks attacks and knocks enemies back. Both kinetic maneuvers are triggered by pressing two special attack buttons at once. All of these concepts are familiar to fighting games but are presented to players in a simplified manner.
Dauntless was my fighter of choice and was a relatively easy character to grasp. The game is successful at forcing you to think about the game differently and I found myself playing safe and looking for windows of opportunity, rather than mashing wildly. That being said, I still had moments of panic mashing which opened me up for heavy punishment. The idea of specials on cooldown, along with the super meter, are great for players who struggle to execute complex input sequences. Instead of worrying about pulling off a crazy string of inputs, I was able to focus on finding the appropriate range and time to initiate a special or super. I still struggled mightily and out of my 16 matches I was only able to win 1, but I did have a few close losses as well. Rising Thunder has a lot of interesting and cool ideas, but I don’t feel that I was able to perform any better than I would have in a standard fighting game.
The player pool seems to be a bit small right now as I was often matched far above my skill level and many people seemed to be quite seasoned. On the game’s website the developers state that 4-5 matches should be allowed to calibrate your skill rank, but the matching was spotty even after those first few games. I also ran into some extremely long queue times, dropped out of a fight, and experienced some severe connection issues. While these are problems worth noting, the game is still in a very early test phase and technical hiccups are to be expected.
Losing over and over is not terribly fun, especially when you know there is no one to blame but yourself. That being said I really like what Rising Thunder is going for. Removing the physical dexterity component of a fighting game is an interesting idea to enable new players to engage in higher level strategy. The game plays well and the servers, as well as the netcode, seem to be working well more often than not. Right now I like the idea of Rising Thunder, but didn’t have much fun while being endlessly manhandled online. With the addition of some single player and advanced training options, to help me hone my skills, I may be willing to return to the game in the future.
This week has been filled with technical glitches for us, but we soldier on despite it all! This week we talk quite a lot about the Black Ops III beta, Rising Thunder technical alpha, talk about some Taken King stuff, and discuss the finer points of Xur having an Instagram account. Buckle up for another fun adventure with And Now Just Listen!