It appears that Project Soul has been hard at work developing a newer philosophy regarding Soul Calibur VI, and a new patch has recently been released. Due to an error, the link and .pdf for the patch notes was broken until late last night/early this morning, and there are some… quite strange developments in this patch.
A quick rundown of the overall patch notes: basically everyone either got majority buffs or had a pretty even trade of buffs and nerfs. The majority of buffs come from a series of both gameplay adjustments that are universal as well as mechanical adjustments, but the balance adjustments themselves are a bit more varied, though most still got minor buffs. The main reason for this is going to be discussed in a bit, but the basics boil down to this: many characters have received some mostly basic buffs to their movelist. Most buffs do not increase the damage dealt by attacks, but rather many buffs are instance of increased tracking, increased hitstun, or increased damage to an opponent’s guard. So, while not directly increasing damage itself, many of the adjustments certainly help to open the window to either causing or increasing your damage potential with almost every character. (It should be noted, however, that, in a way, everyone also got universal nerfs to adjust to the netplay issues.)
There is one glaring exception to this patch: Raphael. He is the only character to primarily receive nerfs, outnumbering his buffs 12 to 7. Many of his nerfs run the gambit: reduced damage, reduced tracking, removing the ability to cancel into Arriete Gambit from super, reducing the window of attack, reducing his overall punishing tactics, and more. Project Soul’s rationale in the patch notes was that he was “too good” at punishing many of the cast’s attacks, and thus his capabilities were reduced to force him to be a more “precise” character who continued to focus on vertical attacks. Personally, looking at his status from the notes, he seems to be pretty close to his Soul Calibur V iteration, which is particularly worrying because he was pretty terrible in SCV. It might be related to the next point, which is the ultimate potential for worry among fans.
Shortly before the release of the patch, it came to light when someone translated a stream from some of the dev team that many of the adjustments were being made to accommodate netplay. This is, quite possibly, the worst idea a dev team could implement- particularly when the netplay issues that are most common in the game are due to a mediocre-at-best netcode rather than the game itself. This is the equivalent of sidestepping a pothole only to fall off a bridge- you’re not addressing the actual problem by making these revisions, and these revisions only help to actively make the game worse. The team might believe that making these changes will help the netplay, but it will make LAN events and traditional 2-player gameplay worse by extension. Unfortunately, the solution to solving the netplay problems is to actually fix the netcode, which would be an arduous and uphill battle for a team that seems to either not have the resources or doesn’t sincerely believe the netcode to be the problem.
While I hope this isn’t the case, this particular patch might be an incoming sign of trouble for things to come with the game’s intended development. Many of the changes in this patch are inoccuous or understandable, but they are ultimate pointless, and the mechanical changes and the rationale to support netplay with these changes is a worrying sign as to the thinking of the team and how they intend the game to be played. Of course, this isn’t the end of the world for the game, but fans also should not ignore warning signs when they’re being broadcast by the staff. Let’s hope better developments are in store.