Tekken 8, the much-anticipated addition to the beloved fighting game series, has generated a wave of excitement among fans. The game was first teased at EVO 2022. After a few months, Bandai Namco made an official announcement during the September 2022 State of Play event. Among the various aspects that have captured fans’ attention, the netcode stands out as a vital part responsible for ensuring a smooth and lag-free online multiplayer experience. With a closed network test approaching, hopes are running high that Tekken 8 will rectify the issues and problems of the previous game’s netcode.
What is Netcode in Fighting Games?
Netcode in fighting games refers to the underlying technology and protocols used to enable online multiplayer matches. It encompasses the systems and algorithms designed to facilitate smooth and responsive gameplay experiences when two or more players are competing against each other over the internet.
In a fighting game, where split-second timing and precise inputs are crucial, netcode plays a critical role. It is responsible for minimizing lag, reducing input delay, and keeping synchronization between players. The goal is to copy the experience of playing locally (offline) as closely as possible.
There are different types of netcode implementations used in fighting games, each with its own advantages and limitations that are commonly seen on closed network tests. Here are a few common examples:
This approach introduces a fixed delay (usually measured in frames) to sync players’ actions. The game waits for a certain number of frames to ensure both players have sent their inputs before advancing the game state. While it provides stability, it can introduce some input delay, making it less responsive.
Rollback netcode attempts to reduce input delay by predicting player actions locally and rolling back the game state if there is a discrepancy between the predictions and the received information. It provides a more responsive experience by prioritizing immediate input feedback. However, in case of severe network fluctuations, it can result in visual stutter or temporary desynchronization.
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Netcode
P2P netcode establishes a direct connection between the players, allowing them to communicate and exchange game data without intermediaries. This can result in lower latency if the connection is good. However, it heavily depends on the players’ internet connections. In fact, it can be susceptible to various issues like desynchronization if one of the players has a poor connection. Even with a thorough closed network test phase, such problems could still persist.
Dedicated Server Netcode
Dedicated server netcode involves using centralized servers to host matches. Players connect to the server, which handles the synchronization between them. This method can provide stable and consistent experiences. However, it often introduces additional latency due to the round-trip time between players and the server.
Developers continuously work on improving netcode to provide the best online experience possible for fighting game players. The choice of netcode implementation depends on various factors, including the game’s mechanics, network infrastructure, and player base. Now, to fully understand the cruciality of Tekken 8’s upcoming closed network test, let us look back at the previous game’s issues regarding its netcode.
The Issues with the Previous Tekken’s Netcode
Tekken 7, the previous game in the Tekken series, used a Peer-2-Peer (P2P) netcode, where both players shared the same connection. However, this netcode often caused significant lag and unplayable conditions if either player had connection problems. Moreover, the distance between players had a noticeable effect on the delay, making matches against enemies from far regions hard and truly frustrating.
The poor netcode in Tekken 7 had a negative impact on players’ experiences. Many casual players, who make up a significant portion of the player base, struggled to find enjoyable matchmaking experiences. And this is due to the limitations of the netcode. The frequent disconnections and rage quitting further intensified frustrations, resulting in an online environment that was far from ideal.
Why it is Crucial for Tekken 8 to Have a Successful Closed Network Test
The closed network test for Tekken 8 represents a significant step in assessing the game’s netcode. Unlike previous alpha tests held at physical locations, this test will be conducted online in two separate phases. The first phase, exclusively for PlayStation 5 players, will take place from July 21 to July 24. Meanwhile, the second phase, which runs from July 28 to July 31, will include players on Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Steam, and PlayStation 5.
This closed network test provides players with the first opportunity to experience and observe Tekken 8’s netcode in action. It allows the community to provide valuable comments to the developers. Also, offer insights into any necessary improvements before the game’s official release. Moreover, the inclusion of crossplay functionality in the test will help assess the netcode’s performance when connecting players across different platforms.
With the launch of Tekken 8 inching closer, excitement is mounting regarding the expected improvements to its netcode. Players eagerly expect whether the game will resolve the challenges that plagued Tekken 7 and deliver a smoother online gameplay experience. The introduction of rollback netcode, the inclusion of crossplay features, as well as the involvement of Arika bring optimism that Tekken 8 will establish a new standard for superior netcode performance within the fighting game genre. Now, let us see how the closed network test plays out.