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Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown will not have rollback netcode

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • May 28, 2021 at 2:09 p.m. PDT • Comments: 99

2006's Virtua Fighter 5 will receive an eSports-focused update on June 1 and evolve into Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown, but will sadly be missing a key eSports component: a netcode the fighting game community has faith in.

Sega told Kotaku Thursday that though VF5 will be receiving new online modes and updated graphics, they will be sticking with delay-based netcode.

That may have cut it in terms of fighting game community expectations five, ten, or fifteen years ago, but that news alone will be a deal breaker for a number of FGC members in modern times. Especially with COVID-19 restricting offline play over the last year and a half, players have been more often turning to and thus raising expectations for online experiences.

Delay-based netcode essentially waits for inputs sent from either player to reach the other, and any time there's a hiccup in the process things noticeably slow down until the console that's behind catches up. Rollback attempts to circumvent this issue by simulating inputs and, if the simulated inputs wind up not matching what actually comes down the pike, the game will rollback a few frames and then show what actually happened.

Neither makes for a seamless online experience, of course, but rollback has far and away proven itself to be the better choice and offer better overall network gameplay.

Players have deemed rollback far superior to the alternative, and have been increasingly vocal toward developers who have yet to make the jump to rollback. Modern titles like Dragon Ball FighterZ and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are often decried for this, especially as some older games jump on the rollback bandwagon.

The coming Virtua Fighter update will be free to all PlayStation Plus users (it's slated to be a PlayStation 4 exclusive) so this less than tasteful call may not deter as many potential users as if they'd have to pay for it.

Even so, Sega has billed this new VF venture as an eSports one, and trying to compete in the emerging fighting game eSports space without rollback might be compared to going into battle without a key piece of armor. Speaking of competition, the long-anticipated Guilty Gear Strive (which will have rollback) is scheduled to come out just 10 days after VF5US rolls out.

It's wonderful to see Sega dusting off a beloved franchise and adding a few new bells and whistles, and we're very much grateful for what is coming. That said, they admittedly don't look to be set up for a ton of success, as much as we'd like to see the new Virtua Fighter 5 soar after it's released.

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