[quick rant] modifiers in fighting games

Fighting games are difficult on their own. So why do developers think it’s a good idea to make them even more complicated by throwing in modifiers?

I have nothing against them when they are optional like Test Your Luck in MKX, but if they are required to unlock skins, like in MK11, or to play through the story, like in Shadow Lords, I dislike them.

Most of the time, it is done to keep the game fresh and replayable, but in my opinion, the fun of a fighting game comes from getting better at the core game.

In other cases, they just exist to make a fight almost impossible to encourage you to buy microtransactions or to grind even more.

If the only way to win against some modifiers is to use a consumable that nullifies the enemy’s modifier, then why are they in the game in the first place?

1 Like


My main dislike with shadow lords.

For me, the reason being on why modifiers are added is because fighting against AI does not really allow for the player to gain much improvement in the first place. Apart from learning the basics and hit confirming, you cannot play against AI the way you play against a human being. It leaves out a lot things essential for playing FGs such as mind games. The AI makes no mistakes, except for the ones it makes on purpose.

Since AI cannot replicate the feeling of fighting a real opponent, developers try to make it a new experience in general compared to the base game. Fighting against basic AI would just be…boring. It needs something else like you said

Also, I don’t play Shadow Lords, but doesn’t it give you plenty tools to beat it as long as you grind for it enough. I know the game gives you pretty strong modifiers and AI can be cheesed as well. It might not come in by storming through the game but it’s still there. The reasons they want you to use a consumable is for you to play more for you to get that said consumable, almost like a necessary key to beat the boss.

1 Like

I play a lot of fighting games and I almost never fight against another person. I think beating up the helpless easy mode AIbwith cool superpowers is fun.

1 Like

to me mods arent an issue, because i only ever play fighting games online against people or im in the lab practicing my inputs. i get where youre comin from though. we get away from games like the wonderful world of RPGs or looter shooters to have a straight up, raw, no RNG, you fail or succeed on your own merit kind of experience. this is why i love fighting games so much

1 Like

Generally speaking, I think the idea is that FG AI’s are almost always reducible to a relatively basic and repetive cycle, so developers toss in modifiers to spice up what would eventually become a stale and unfulfilling process. If beating up on Computer Opponent XYZ isn’t fun the 100th time you do it, then maybe have the player dodge missiles while you fight or implement your own broken modifier for additional fun and zest.

The goal on the developer side is to keep you playing their game, since keeping you playing means you’re invested and invested players are the ones who will purchase either DLC or the next version of their game. Like others in this thread I’m of the mind that fighting an AI is largely boring and uninteresting, and making me have to dodge exploding teacups or letting me stack poison on the opponent isn’t really going to alleviate my boredom. Beating an AI is unfun because the AI doesn’t adapt or respond beyond a few canned ways, and I’m smart enough to generally find those and exploit accordingly. Eventualy you up the difficulty to it just straight up reading your inputs, which is also unfun, and which is typically beaten by finding some silly loop to repeat that the computer responds poorly to for whatever reason. Modifiers don’t change those core aspects of the FG AI, and so they don’t really do anything for me.

All that said, I’d have to assume all the modifiers and such come from somewhere so I suspect whether they keep getting included will be a function of whether devs see players engaging meaningfully with that content. MK11 gatekeeps skins and such behind that, and I’d be curious to see if and how players engage with the Towers. Do they play religiously regardless? Do they only play when the skin of a popular char comes out? After a skin is obtained do they continue to go through the Towers? NRS collects a lot of data from its players…it’d be really interesting to see the actual numbers on some of that stuff. :thinking:

I guess I’m a freak then. I don’t think I’d ever get tired of beating up the computer with or without modifiers.

Maybe I’m just not smart enough to fight other people.

1 Like

Yeah, you aren’t alone but it’s definitely unusual. I have basically walked away from the MK11 towers because I couldn’t deal with the boring repetitive grind.

This is definitely not the case. I don’t think you need an atom smashing intellect to be successful fighting online. I think there is reasonable evidence a few high level FGC players (who will remain nameless) are certainly not big thinkers, but I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole. The community as a whole isn’t even very proficient at analyzing fighting games let alone other intellectual challenges. So intelligence, while it may be useful, is not required. You do need some mental agility in order to adjust your play style.

But I think more importantly, you don’t really seem all that interested in participating in a competitive online experience. Which is just fine.

As far as the OP and modifiers, I similarly don’t enjoy modifiers. I think Shadowlords handles it better than MK, but the truth is modifiers take you out of the game you are playing and put you into a different game. For Shadowlords it’s a resource management game. For MK… I don’t know what it is. But your enjoyment hinges on your ability to recognize that you are no longer playing the game, and then to enjoy this new game.

For me, modifiers that add an element to the basic game are fine. But too often they completely overwhelm the game state and many of them (in other games than just fighting games) take a perfectly well tuned control scheme and game design and then break it in the name of “interesting new challenges.” But usually they aren’t interesting and they leave you feeling like you are using controls that simply weren’t designed to play this way (which is usually the case).


I really wish WB and Microsoft would give MK12/I2 and KI3 a bigger budget so they can keep cpu fights interesting with more story elements rather than random modifiers scrapped together from old assets.

Side Tangent: Also, for the love of god NRS, scale back the grinding to unlock skins and costumes. It ain’t fun.

1 Like

the first game i played that had modifiers was the original late 90s release of street fighter alpha 3 on ps1. there was a world warrior mode where you had to beat the A.I. under specific conditions and as such you would earn mods to throw into the slots you had. some took up more than others, and i believe as you leveled up you got more slots to hold more mods.

i found it fun for a while, i was using sagat and i put in some power mod that hilariously made his standing fierce kick hit harder than a stage 3 super when combined with a few others. so id just footsie the A.I. to death and kill them in 2 shots. it got old, i felt i broke the game lol

speaking of, i dropped MK11 like a bad habit, i did like it though fighting other people but my fingers were paying the price having to press the block button so much. its not like soul calibur where you have 3 strikes and block, this game has 4. so that 5th button sucked and i felt like id get carpal tunnel :\ i tried putting all 4 up top and use my thumb to block but i just couldnt adjust lol

The way I’ve always seen it is that there are different audiences/players for fighting games. You have the super casuals, who basically want to button mash and best up their friends and the AI. You have the extremely competitive players who play rather intensely online, go to tournaments, etc. You also have an inbetween group who learns the proper fundamentals and some advance mechanics, but don’t hardcore compete and usually mix Multiplayer and Single Player.

As such, I find different game modes are cater to different player types. Using Mortal Kombat 11 as an example, the super casuals aren’t going to dabble in Kombat League for long, and that game mode isn’t designed for them.

Likewise, a mode like Towers of Time, with typically poor AI opponents that are made tougher through modifiers, are not designed for the ultra competitive player, they’re designed for the super casuals so they have a challenge to face, solo, but also have means of overcoming the challenge (Konsumables and to a lesser extent, Augments) that they can earn/create simply by playing the game.

I’m okay with these different modes for different core player types, as I’ll simply focus on the ones that appeal to me the most. In a game like Mortal Kombat 11, there truly are game modes and types of play available for each and every kind of player!

In terms of locking items in that mode, they’re all kosmetic only and have no impact on actual kompetative play, many of the skins are simply pallet swaps and each character really only has about half a dozen unique skins, and more importantly, you can get them in other ways (i.e. Time Krystals, easily earned by playing the game as well as Kombat League).

In terms of playing things like Towers and if players will or not without the kosmetic incentive, again, that’ll depend on the player. For Mortal Kombat X, for the first few months, the Living Towers, which had modifiers but no real unlocks, was my main mode of play as I toyed with the game and learned the mechanics better. After that I started doing Single Fights as well as Private Sets with friends. Less of the latter since the netcode was still poor and frustrating at the time.

1 Like

It’s done to spice up a single-player mode that would otherwise have nothing special to experience compared to standard CPU battles, though I haven’t played any game that implements these things well enough to keep me interested long-term. I wouldn’t argue that it makes the game more complicated, since it most often just devolves into building and spamming your OP stats and special abilities to defeat the CPU before it does the same to you.

1 Like