The King of Fighters XV has just entered open beta, and it didn’t take long to realize that this game is awesome. If Guilty Gear -Strive- was the premier fighting game for the next generation, then the upcoming release of SNK’s flagship fighting franchise is sure to offer a great alternative.
The King of Fighters XV open beta offers a training mode and a few tutorials for those curious to get a head start with mastering the various systems. While several welcome changes and revisions have been made to the core fighting experience, it is more or less just as good as the previous entries in the franchise. If you enjoyed The King of Fighters XIV, the sequel maintains that excellent flow while being more refined and polished.
There is a local versus mode available, which allows you to fight CPU opponents. This is mainly helpful if you’re having trouble finding an online match. It’s a good idea to try some CPU battles because the AI is actually quite fun. The series has always been known for its competitive AI, which usually became frustratingly cheap in the final boss battle. Plus, between the training and CPU opponents, you get plenty of time to come to grips with the open beta character roster before you challenge real players online.
The final release is set to feature 39 playable characters, and the open beta lets you try 8 of them, out of which two are series newcomers Shun’ei and Dolores. Shun’ei will be familiar to those who played The King of Fighters XIV and fits in nicely with the current roster. Dolores, making her first appearance in The King of Fighters XV, comes out of left field and feels like someone out of a Guilty Gear game, especially when her primary offensive involves summoning some weird mud creature. She’s certainly a stark contrast to what you would expect from an SNK fighter, so it will be interesting to see how the rest of the fanbase receives her.
The rest of the playable cast in the beta are the good old classics, you got icons Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami, and you have the Orochi Team straight out of The King of Fighters 97 era, which includes Shermie. These characters are familiar but feel better than ever as they get into the classic team vs. team action. It’s great to have Shermie and her pro-wrestling style here, she will take you to suplex city in no time with her variety of holds.
Online multiplayer holds up nicely here, with only casual matches available, but you can set up a room just for your friends if you like. Again, the experience holds up really well, and playing on PS5 shows the promise of another great fighting game to look forward to. It may not be at the cutting edge of 2.5 D graphics like Guilty Gear -Strive-, but it’s still a great-looking game with stylish characters and dazzling effects. The best part is, the gameplay just feels so smooth and fluid, complemented by the precise character animations.
The February 17, 2022, release date of The King of Fighters XV isn’t that far away, but in the meantime, this open beta gives you just enough to ease the pain of anticipation, while also providing some assurance that fighting fans have another great game to add to their library to kick-off 2022.
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