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'It felt like offline when we played' - MarkMan and Anakin tested Tekken 7's new and improved rollback netcode, here's what they had to say

Mileage may vary, but it's looking promising so far

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • September 29, 2020 at 11:16 a.m. PDT • Comments: 21

Tekken 7 is one of the biggest fighting games in the world right now though one of its glaring detractors among players is its less than stellar online play performance which Bandai Namco is looking to overhaul this year.

During the Tekken Online Challenge event that saw Kunimitsu and the first Season 4 details announced, pro player RB|Anakin and brand/community ambassador MarkMan revealed they were among those selected to test out the new netcode update and shared their early impressions — which are quite positive.

"I don't want to get everyone like too excited, but it was really, really good," said Anakin of his first impressions on stream.

MarkMan shared similar sentiments while noting his surprise that cross-country sets felt about as good as offline play.

"I'm on the complete other side of the country opposed to Anakin and during our initial (S3) test, it was playable, but I wouldn't say it was something I would enjoy," said Julio in a follow up on Twitter. "However, with the S4 [work in progress] netcode, it felt really good and just like offline."

Both players also got the chance to test the netcode against some of the development team in Japan which they were shocked to find was surprisingly playable too.

This came around the same time Tekken director Katsuhiro Harada and Michael Murray opened up a bit more on their netplay systems and the difficulties they've faced trying to get it up to par for the most players possible.

"I'm on the complete other side of the country opposed to Anakin and during our initial (S3) test, it was playable, but I wouldn't say it was something I would enjoy. However, with the S4 [work in progress] netcode, it felt really good and just like offline" - MarkMan

Harada doubled down again to state that Tekken 7 already has rollback netcode, but the development team ran into issues trying improve how it ran previously due to the nature of 3D fighting games and the horsepower needed to make it all work.

The outspoken director points to increased rollback windows causing the game's animations to look janky along with processing power systems need to make it all run smoothly.

"Game processing reads background and character information, along with animation, controlled effects, and much more," said Harada during the Season 4 presentation. "The volume that Tekken 7 has to process is one of the highest of fighting games. Pretty much maxed out. This means that rollback eats a great deal of the power available to the game, so we usually set the attribute to three frames at max. Even then, we found things weren't up to par."

Rollback netcode is more resource intensive than it's older delay-based counterpart considering games will essentially have to calculate multiple matches at the same time: the real match and its predicted inputs to keep things running smoothly when they don't match up.

Anakin expressed his initial doubts in what the Bandai Namco team had told him what to expect, but the tests appear to have made him a cautiously optimistic believer in what the developers are cooking up.

MarkMan's Tekken 7 netcode update impressions image #1
Click images for larger versions

Players should still keep some healthy skepticism, however, as MarkMan notes this was all done under pretty much ideal conditions using a wired connection on PC.

There are a lot of factors that impact how matchmaking functions in the realm of fighting games between connection speeds, ping and packet loss which makes every player's situation unique.

The fighting game community is also continuing to see a push to try and get more people to play over wired connections as opposed to the more unstable Wi-Fi, but Harada previously revealed over half of players use wireless still for online — especially on consoles in the Americas and Europe.

It's also good to see Bandai Namco bring these tests to the actual players instead of keeping everything in house in Japan, so hopefully the final result will live up to the needs of those around the world.

No release date has been set yet for when the new rollback netcode update will be appearing in Tekken 7 though it'll likely be dropping sometime this fall alongside Kunimitsu.

The full clip of MarkMan and Anakin's netcode discussions can be found here.

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