Like many others, being put under lockdown during the quarantine lead to the discovery of new hobbies, and one of those, for me, was watching gameplay on Twitch. Although I started out watching the usual Call of Duty jocks, I eventually discovered a niche that seriously piqued my interest. Mortal Kombat and the Fighting Game Community.
I spent months watching tournament after tournament but never felt the need to play any of those games myself. I was more than content being a spectator until I finally began to ask why such an entertaining genre didn’t have the mainstream player bases like MOBAs and first-person shooters.
Are fighting games truly that difficult? I mean, I know it takes years to get to a professional level but is learning how to fight really more difficult than learning how to build and edit? No matter which game, online multiplayer will always have a learning curve so is the barrier for entry to new players really that high? That’s exactly what I intended to find out.
So, with almost zero fighting game experience, I began my journey to see how long it would take me to learn how to play fighting games. I already started the first week playing through the main story campaign of Injustice 2 and started preparing for my first online match. Here’s week 2 of ‘How Long Does It Take To Learn Fighting Games.
Finding My Main
One thing that became more and more annoying as the campaign went on was being introduced to a new character, learning a few of their moves, gaining a fair amount of skill, and then being forced to do it all over again when the chapter ended and I was forced to play as someone new.
I wanted to stick to one character, learn as many of their moves as I can memorize, and make more progress in my training. It was time to pick my main. The one character that I would play over and over again until I got good and that process was a little more complicated than I thought.
The Right Playstyle
See, I learned that most characters are designed around a certain playstyle and, in order to pick the right character for me, I had to know which playstyle suited me best. Given the fact that I recorded most of my games, it was easy to go back and see exactly how I was using each character and which playstyle I was naturally gravitating towards.
I was constantly trying to get into the enemy’s face and lay the smackdown on ’em before they even had a chance to blink. Closing the gap, using endless combos, and keeping them locked in the corner was what I enjoyed. A style commonly referred to in the FGC as Rushdown (or Unga Bunga…I’ve been told).
Once I identified which characters in Injustice 2 had a Rushdown playstyle, it all came down to personal preference. It ended up being a tight decision between Robyn and the Flash. As much as I like a challenge, I found Robyn’s combos had one extra input compared to the Flash and that proved to be a major frustration for me. So, in the end, I chose the Flash.
Train, Train, And Train Some More
The plan at this point was pretty simple: spend as much time as I can in the Practise are and then break it up with some trips in to the multiverse to play against A.I. opponents that will actually fight back and help test my skills a little better. Plus the chance to earn some gear and customization options really couldn’t hurt.
Based on the advanced tutorials that I spoke about last time, I was able to put together a simple formula for a combo with a good opener, a decent link, and a powerful finish. I practiced that one combo over and over again concentrating on the timing of my inputs and trying to button-mash as little as possible.
But nailing a combo in practice is way different when trying to perform the same combo in battle and that became pretty clear once I played a few rounds in the Multiverse. Trying to set up an extended combo while also remembering the fundamentals like blocking and meter management proved to be tricky at first.
Nevertheless, I slowly but surely got the hang of it and felt that good old muscle memory start to kick in. But by the time I got the Flash to a high enough level I started to feel like beating up helpless A.I. just wasn’t satisfying anymore. It was time for an online match against a real human opponent.
My First Online Match
In the blink of an eye, we were already at this final test. While games like Injustice have gone a long way to provide a great amount of single-player content, the longevity in fighting games rests in online multiplayer. Fighting Games are built on competition and I knew that this is what I would have to do to claim I’ve truly learned a fighting game.
Had I spent enough time training? Is the skill gap really too high for new players? We were about to find out. So, I gathered all my courage and cautiously joined one of the main online rooms in Injustice 2. After scouting for someone to fight, I sent an invite to someone I thought would be an even match.
While I had practiced to the point where I could almost pull off my epic combo blindfolded, trying to land your inputs when there are all the other stresses of battle to contend can be tough and it was easy to see once the match began. I landed every hit as soon as the round started and was never able to complete that combo again for the rest of the match.
Not to mention the fact that I had never actually played against this particular character before and once the health bars reset, my inexperience was starting to shine through. As the match progressed it got harder and harder for me to gain an opening and both of our health bars were reduced to the point where a single hit would end the round. Luckily that last single hit was from me and I was successfully able to win my first ever online match in a fighting game.
So, there you have it. If you want to know how long it takes to learn how to play fighting games, it took me exactly
No seriously, a week and 2 days after I started playing Injustice 2 I joined an online lobby and was able to defeat another human opponent. I honestly thought that it would take weeks, maybe even months, but with dedication, and a very, very, very large amount of time spent practicing I just don’t think it takes that long to get to a competent level.
This doesn’t mean that I’m about to start dropping everybody in tournaments but I’m at a level where I can join a room, get in a few matches online and thoroughly enjoy myself. Which is something I’ve done more than once since that first match. Even if I lost, the thrill of improving, adapting, and facing many different foes is addictive, to say the least.
There’s a lot to discuss in terms of why exactly I got the results that I got and all the factors that went into this experiment which I’ll probably cover more in-depth in the future but for now, 9 days is the answer.
Do you play fighting games? How long did it take you to learn? Let me know in the comments section below.