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DNF Duel is in trouble and something needs to change fast

Speak now, or there may be no one left to speak to

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • September 11, 2022 at 7:11 p.m. PDT • Comments: 43

DNF Duel appeared to get off to a fairly strong start for a brand new fighting game earlier this Summer with a good chunk of buzz around the FGC and the visual flair to back it up.

Now that the game is not even 3 months out from its release, however, things are looking pretty bad, and there needs to be some big changes made soon if DNF is going to have a shot of sticking around for the long haul.

It's not just 1 thing that's weighing DNF down like a boulder currently, but multiple concerns / fears of the community, which have seemingly become reality at a rapid pace.

Although we can't really see how the PlayStation playerbase is doing, the PC numbers are on full display, and they're pretty dire.

As of the time of reporting, Steam Charts showed DNF Duel only had 94 players online on Steam with a 24-hour peak of just 137.

That's certainly a far cry from where the game was at upon release with over 12,000 concurrent users, and those current numbers are exactly on par with the re-release of Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax.

It's become expected at this point that every fighting game is going to see a sharp decline in population after the first month, but this is the fastest decline we've seen for a "big" new release in recent memory.

DNF Duel went down to under 1,000 players in less than a month and only continued to degrade much more since.

Even The King of Fighters 15 with its notorious online matchmaking issues more than triples DNF's active base on Steam.

This isn't a situation that a simple bandage is going to fix, and we can move on from. The game and its handling needs to change.

I reviewed DNF upon release and had a ton of fun with it, but the early concerns about depth and variety rang true.

There was no shortage of exploration, experimentation and optimization shooting around in the first few weeks. After that though, it felt like pretty much "everything" had been figured out.

You can only fight against a Striker locking you down in the same blockstrings for 10 seconds or Swift Master looping you into oblivion so many times before you feel like you've basically seen it all.

DNF has received a few updates aimed at taking away the most broken stuff around, but the game is still the same overall.

At this point, I'm not even sure how to "fix" that issue. They can't really open up the combo options more because they're pretty much as wide open as they can be.

It'd basically take a massive balance overhaul to make matches feel fresh again for those who have fallen off although the biggest improvement I could see the developers make is give characters more abilities to build custom loadouts — but I'm not gonna hold my breath for that.

All of those sentiments are wrapped within the largest issue facing DNF, and that's the complete lack of communication from those who made the game.

People like to complain about Season Pass and DLC announcements before a game is even released (and rightfully so), but the opposite approach seems to be worse for the modern landscape.

DNF Duel has been out for about 2.5 months, and there's been no mention or even a whiff of new DLC characters coming to the game.

You'd think Evo 2022 would have been the perfect place to announce something, but nope. Nothing.

It could just be that Nexon and Neople wanted to approach this game like a one and done while riding off the Arc World Tour, but they have to tell the players if that's the case.

Players generally expect continued support in their new games, and no affirmation of such is going to cause anxiety and people to question whether it's worth spending more of their time on when a massive lineup of other great fighting games exist.

You'd think that Neople would have a strong understanding of how to maintain an online userbase considering the success they've seen running Dungeon Fighter Online for 17 years, and I don't think that was through absolute silence.

They need to speak up and soon before the spark they put out into the world fizzles out.

I'm not here to declare DNF Duel a dead game. It still has tons of potential and a lot of people have had a lot of fun playing at one point.

The game still clearly has interest in the FGC considering it was the second-most entered tournament at East Coast Throwdown just last weekend.

It's a rarity for a fighting game to feature such a wide array of character archetypes and generally opposing design styles that meshes together, and it'd be a damn shame to see DNF fall short of its potential.

Ghostblade is one of my new absolute favorite fighting game characters, and I'd love to play so much more with him.

Just not so much right now.

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