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How good is Tekken 7's upgraded online netcode? Well it managed to make matches from Iowa to Sweden completely playable and enjoyable for starters

So far so pretty darn good

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • November 10, 2020 at 1:10 p.m. PST • Comments: 18

The prospect of Tekken 7 receiving a big upgrade to its online netcode functionality had long been at the top of many players' wish lists for Season 4, and though early reports about its progress sounded promising, we remained a bit skeptical about how much of an impact it'd make on a game that originally hit arcades in 2015.

Well, that Season 4 update is now here, and like many others around the globe, Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor and myself decided to put the new netplay to the test for our early impressions while also trying to find out its limitations.

One of our first ideas was to see how Bandai Namco's fighter could perform under extreme circumstances, so we decided to run a first to five set against one another.

What makes that worth mentioning is the fact that there's over 4,000 miles of distance between us as well as the Atlantic Ocean.

We expected going in that our connection would be an unplayable joke, but it was very much the opposite.

Below, you'll find our full early impressions of Tekken 7's new and improved netcode from our matches and also playing other people with a wide variety of connections starting with my compatriot.

MajinTenshinhan's early Tekken 7 netcode update impressions

I'll be upfront and admit that I haven't played Tekken 7 online before this patch. The fact of the matter is, I'm not much of an online player at all. I'll obviously dabble in it since that's the only way to get games sometimes, especially given the ongoing pandemic sweeping the world, but I'm very firmly an offline player in most cases.

While I've kept playing Tekken now and again throughout Season 3 with friends who main the game, I've never gone online in it simply because it's not something I thought I'd enjoy very much, knowing from experience how frustrated I get with any degree of latency coupled further with the fact that I'm far from a professional level player in Tekken 7.

Because of how frustrated I get at even the most miniscule level of lag, I'm very particular when it comes to online and tend to focus on only playing with people in my own country or neighboring countries to maximize the chances that we'll have a smooth connection, regardless of whether the game in question is rollback or delay-based.

But when my colleague Dakota asked me to try out the new netcode, I said "Hey, why not" and we decided to set up a few matches to see what the new connection was like.

For context, I live in Stockholm, Sweden while Dakota lives in Iowa. That's over 7,000 kilometers of distance, so I had very little faith that we'd have anything even resembling a playable match when we connected. I figured it'd be a quick test to a ragequit from either of us and that would be that.

What I actually experienced was quite different. It was definitely not "just like offline" by any stretch of the imagination, but it was easily playable. My combos were landing without any issue, I sidestepped some of his attacks on reaction, and he reacted with a Rage Art to one of my attacks. Again, it was clear that we were playing online, but I'd estimate this being against probably a German or French opponent if I didn't know who I was playing against, certainly not an American.

The main area where the latency was notable was during the start of the match, especially during the character intros. Once the match itself actually started, things were smooth for the most part and even if there was some latency we weren't seeing any massive hiccups or slowdowns and it wasn't notable enough to mess up any of my timings. It felt solid for me the entire way through, and started feeling even smoother towards the end (we decided to call it at the end of a first-to-five).

Obviously, it's not much of an online play test if you're only going up against just one opponent, even if they happen to be far away, so I also made the choice to venture online and challenge a few ranked matches. The Wi-Fi filter felt like a massive blessing at first, but I soon realized that Harada really wasn't lying when he said that 60% of players online use Wi-Fi — I kept rejecting match upon match because of seeing the Wi-Fi indicator, and I soon realized that due to my low rank (since I don't play online at all, obviously) the rate of Wi-Fi players was much higher than just 60%. My rough estimate based on the people I got matched with during the day was closer to 90%.

I got a few wired players and I went up against them - I fought opponents from Denmark, Germany, England, France and Italy and none of the matches felt unplayable at all. Eventually I had to relent and start accepting Wi-Fi opponents to get matches at all, and to my surprise several of these were fine as well, though the massive problem with Wi-Fi isn't necessarily lack of bandwidth, but rather the inconsistency of the connection. Having a quick 2-3 minute match against someone on Wi-Fi can be perfectly fine, but prolonged play against someone playing on Wi-Fi is likely to see many more hiccups.

"I was fine trying to react to moves, my inputs weren't being eaten up by latency and overall it was a surprisingly pleasant experience, especially for someone as online-shy as I am."

Granted, I'm no Tekken master and I wasn't going for my most difficult combos (since I have trouble landing them even offline), but my standard ones were landing fine in practically every match. I was fine trying to react to moves, my inputs weren't being eaten up by latency and overall it was a surprisingly pleasant experience, especially for someone as online-shy as I am. If you ask me whether I'm going to start playing Tekken 7 online regularly from now on, the answer will most likely be no, but I am very positively surprised with the experience I had.

Given that I never played Tekken 7 online before, it's hard for me to compare if anything is truly different between now and before, but given what I've heard about the online play in Tekken 7 in the past from friends and just in general on the internet, I have a hard time imagining that a Stockholm to Iowa connection was perfectly fine to play on before this new patch. I must stress that I don't have any evidence for this, but regardless of if it is better than it used to be, the fact remains that Dakota and I could easily play against each others despite being in vastly different parts of the world. That, to me, sounds like a passing grade for online play.

DarkHorse's Day 1 netplay update impressions

Similarly to Nick, I too spent the vast majority of my time in Tekken 7 offline over the past few years. I've played maybe 5-10 online sets in the past, and while many of them were 'functional,' those sets also had enough latency and hiccups to make them not very enjoyable — nor did they hook me and want to come back for more.

Flash forward to loading into the lobby with Nick where I was met with a lengthy synch screen and choppy looking intro that had me worried, but when I actually pressed a button, it still felt good.

As Nick pointed out, our matches didn't feel like they were offline, but there was shockingly little latency and zero consistency issues for the six or seven games we ended up playing.

It didn't really feel like we were playing "online Tekken"; our set just felt like Tekken.

He was able to land some of Lili's fancy extended combo strings multiple times without ever dropping them, and I was happy to be able to react to one of his buttons with a Rage Art. I never would have thought Nick was almost half way across the world if I didn't know.

We left the set content and happy to play more which is an accomplishment in itself though we can't expect this to really be the normal experience either because that sort of distance just brings in too many things that could go wrong.

Coming off of that which exceeded my expectations fully, I went on later to play against over a dozen more players of varying connections and countries to see if it'd still hold up. To my enjoyment, it mostly did.

Five-bar wired connections easily feel offline now and so do a good amount of four-bar statuses. Our match between Iowa and Sweden was rated as a three-bar connection.

Nothing ever chugged or lagged in those wired connections, so even though I was getting stomped into the floor frequently, I could only blame my lack of knowledge and execution instead of latency.

That wasn't exactly the same case with Wi-Fi players, however, as while a five-bar connection against them would be fairly smooth, anything else would still present problems.

The game could still hitch in these moments and cause me to drop combos that I never did at any other point in the night, and I even had one freeze up entirely and lose connection.

"Tekken 7's new Wi-Fi indicator may be just as important as the new netcode itself though even without the icon, pretty much anyone could probably tell what kind of connection their opponent is on now"

Considering a few of them were in South America and Europe though, those games were still probably quite a bit better than they would have been before the patch.

Tekken 7's new Wi-Fi indicator may be just as important as the new netcode itself though even without the icon, pretty much anyone could probably tell what kind of connection their opponent is on now. The gap between the two is that much more noticeable in many cases.

Mileage will vary depending on your own circumstances and connections, but personally, I've come away fairly impressed and even seeing my expectations exceeded throughout most of my extended session.

I'll also note that we were both using PS4s (PS4 Pro for me) with wired connections during our playtime, so other systems may see differences in performance too.

If their goal was to bring me back in and think about playing Tekken even more, the development team succeeded. This is the most I've wanted to sit back down and keep playing / learning in years with this game.

For anyone out there contemplating picking up Tekken 7 or getting back into it, Season 4's netplay makes it so much easier to recommend now.

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