Throughout the years, Netherrealm Studios games have been host to a number of criticisms: overly offensive play, rigid animation, ETC. However, whereas most were personal opinions, one almost universal complaint is that NRS games always have poor netcode.
In case you’re not aware, netcode is what is used to ensure a good connection between players; this is especially important in a fighting game, where missing a fraction of a second at any point can easily mean life or death. Unfortunately, Mortal Kombat X has been suffering from the fate of its predecessors: lag spikes that can even turn into straight out pauses, and even fairly frequently dropped connections. However, Netherrealm has finally set out to right this wrong.
Starting January 19, players who have played an hour or more online in MKX will be eligible to sign up for a closed public beta to test out a new netcode for the game. Unlike the first netcode, which slowed or paused to ensure each player’s console had the same information ready to process, this new netcode is similar to the more standardized GGPO style, which automatically delays inputs slightly to hide lag and create a smoother experience overall. Though in extreme cases, rollback causes jerky animation and even reverses certain outcomes (granted, they should not have happened to begin with), it is certainly a lesser evil than having to wait and risk getting your inputs swallowed by lag whenever there’s a hiccup.
Playable characters in this beta include: Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Jaqui Briggs, and Johnny Cage; with more becoming available as the beta goes on.
Now, what does this mean for the future of Mortal Kombat X and Netherrealm Studios games in general? Typically speaking, NRS games have a shorter shelf life than Capcom’s powerhouse titles like Street Fighter IV and Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3; some attribute this to certain elements within the games such as the canned combo system and necessity to memorize the strings therein, or the lack of footsies and neutral options compared to other games in the genre. Others say that the poor quality of netplay turns people off of playing online, which stops streaming. Lack of streaming means less exposure and hype for the game, and less exposure means less tournament life; not to mention that fewer players online also simply means fewer people playing the game.
When this new netcode hits, we’ll see who has the right idea.
Come the 19th, you can sign up for the beta at beta.mortalkombat.com