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EVO was dominated by rollback netcode announcements, and I couldn't be happier

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Evo 2022 just wrapped up this morning, and as a UK resident who stayed up to watch the whole thing until roughly 30 minutes before work started, it was exhausting. I’m not talking about the run time, I’m talking about the back-to-back banger announcements coming from multiple fighting game developers over the weekend. A large quantity of which, you’ll be happy to know, revolves around the implementation of rollback netcode.

For those not in the know, rollback netcode has kind of been the hot topic over the past few years (although arguably it’s been heating up for over a decade now), reaching its burning point during the worldwide COVID-19 lockdowns. While before a large chunk of games struggled to match you up with opponents online without lag, dropped frames, or teleporting, we’ve now seen a vast selection of games past present and future featuring this improved netcode moving forward.

Have you watched the new Street Fighter 6 trailer yet? If not, you can right here!

While new characters may seem far more exciting for the average player, and this weekend didn’t hold back with announcements for rad new roster additions, it’s way more important in my book to see pre-existing games with entrenched communities get the support they need via online overhauls.

Already, we’re seeing games with rollback patches announced receiving waves of newfound hype. Previous Evo champion Sonicfox has already announced their intent to return to the game, as well as pointing to the announcement as having “birthed a new age of dbfz and playerbase”.

During the announcement, the largely non-japanese-speaking crowd erupted into cheers at the mention of rollback, with the rest eagerly waiting for the translator to confirm the announcement. Once certain, the live attendees erupt in cheers, as you can see for yourself below.

While that’s all well and good for Dragon Ball Fighterz, a game with a bustling community still rich with competition even before this announcement, the addition of rollback does wonders for games that had the wind ripped from its sails during COVID. Samurai Showdown is the prime example here. A game tragically doomed to lacklustre player numbers as a side effect of no more in-person play, it may very well see a second lease on life next year as the developers decided to embrace rollback (and likely a hefty price to rework the netcode from the ground up), rather than death.

If there’s one negative consequence of all these rollback announcements, it’s the lessened impact of announcements from other titles not featuring them. Granblue Fantasy Vs - itself a pretty great fighter with some excellent steps towards accessibility - is getting its own online community tournament league… with no netcode improvements. Already dropping in popularity due to the struggles on playing online, the announcement tweet has over 1,600 replies filled almost entirely with disappointed faces. You’ve got to click the link below and see it for yourself to believe it, it feels endless.

But it’s hard to feel overly sympathetic here, aside towards those running the community league that have nothing to do with rollback coming to the game (sorry Mike Ross). As more and more games take the step towards proper online functionality, reasons to invest much time or money into games left behind shrink dramatically.

So yeah, I’m damn happy we got so much rollback news this Evo. The days of spending weeks convincing your mates across town to buy Street Fighter 4 just for the online to be ballsack are drifting further and further behind us.

If you’re not like me and just care about the character reveals, check out our articles on Bridget’s reveal trailer for Guilty Gear Strive, as well as Juri and Kimberly’s announcement for Street Fighter 6!

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