Like all modern competitive games, Tekken 7 is no stranger to some questionable updates for the sake of keeping things fresh and interesting. A fighting game with 51 characters would naturally be tough to balance, especially with usage and win rate data available to developers that may contradict the community’s impressions of the roster. Over the years, competitor and content creator PepperBeef2Spicy has seen his fair share of these big decisions made by the balance team over at Bandai Namco, and these are his thoughts on what they got right and wrong.
As a longtime competitor, PepperBeef has been entering tournaments for almost nine years. Starting in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 with his team of Lei & Law, PepperBeef became one of the most recognizable names on the East Coast. His more recent Tekken 7 tournament results include his exciting wins against Lil Majin and CherryBerryMango. Needless to say, PepperBeef’s experience with the game has given him enough insight to judge balance changes over the course of Tekken 7’s lifespan.
(Note: these changes occur in no specific order, and are based on changes made since Tekken 7’s console launch)
1. Season 4’s wall combo scaling change
“During that time before the end of season three, there were a lot of complaints about getting launched once and losing about 80% of your health. Since everyone’s been on the receiving end of it, it left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. The change is just better for longer matches, more interesting matches, and less punishing on the players.”
2. Yoshimitsu’s season 2 cd1 buff
“This is really one of the most significant changes to a character. Yoshimitsu’s problem before was that he didn’t really have a way to punish you for staying down. You get wall combo’d and you’d side roll and be fine. Now, his crouch dash 1 flips them over and leaves them pretty close to Yoshi. If you don’t tech roll, he can do cd1 indefinitely. However if he reads that tech roll, he can time an unblockable sword sweep. Without that, I think a lot of people would see Yoshi and be like “whatever”. But nowadays, people really don’t want to get launched by Yoshimitsu because that ender is such a pain to deal with.”
3. Fahkumram’s movement nerfs
“Fahkumram was, and still is, one of the best characters in the game. He’s such a complete character which is one thing in itself; in Tekken the general idea is that if something is good, it has to have a weakness somewhere. Fahkumram didn’t really have a weakness when he came out, and anyone could pick him up in like two days and just run through everybody. For some unknown reason he also had extremely top-tier movement which made no sense for a bigger character. If you have a character with crazy good range, they can’t also have a crazy good backdash because it’s essentially like running away with a spear in your hand. By making his movement worse, it put him on a bit more even playing field.”
4. Akuma and Geese’s meter nerfs, and Geese’s CH d1 nerf
“These characters are still pretty crazy in terms of Tekken. Since they could already take about 80% of your life, they [Namco] needed to curb it so that they couldn’t always do this. It’s kinda the identity of the character; how do they change them without hurting the theme of the characters? They are supposed to be combo monsters, especially Akuma with having some pretty unsafe tools and not-so-great pokes. Even though they’re designed in a way focused on combos, it was way too easy to frequently access this damage. The meter nerfs were a good way to deal with them being way too oppressive, which meant that they can still do things but maybe only once or twice in an entire set.”
5. Steve’s df2 homing nerf and b1 recovery nerf
“Steve has been good in like, every single freakin’ Tekken game. He’s so safe, and the better you get at Steve, the better you’d get at things like finding people’s timings to get counterhits. These changes made people have to work a little bit harder like the rest of us. For a lot of characters, if they have to do a homing move it’s either low reward, unsafe or slow; or, if they do moves for tracking, they have to think about which sides they’re tracking. Steve never had to worry about stuff like that, so this made the game a lot more fair. He’s still a strong and low-risk character, and some of the best players in the world love Steve because they’re so good with timing. By nerfing b1’s recovery and df2’s properties, people have to think a little bit more strategically on how they place moves.”
Other honorable mentions by PepperBeef included Feng’s buffs over the years, Dragunov’s wr2 tracking nerf after season one, Eddy’s b233 string, Asuka’s d1+2 buff, and Lei’s season four buffs.
1. Season 4 health buff
“Going from 170 to 175 was done for the same reason to avoid people being deleted in one combo. This wasn’t really an issue as much mid-screen, it was mostly due to walls where you’re forced into a 50/50 plus high damage from the wall. The health increase, I think, didn’t address it in a smart way. This hurt the low damage characters more than the high damage characters. The change wasn’t too significant because some already chunked you so much with power moves. Now, the low damage characters have to hit you soooo many more times to hurt you.”
2. Anna’s FC df2 range buff
“I understand why they did it; she’s one of the game’s premier coin-toss 50/50 characters. Before, if you were at a certain range, that crouching low would whiff. But in season three, the FC df2 now has insane range, so when she crouches you’ve just gotta guess. I get that’s what the character is meant to do, but it leaves little room for counterplay and it leads her into a pretty non-strategic way of thinking about things. It reinforces lazy play, and I’m not a fan of that.
3. Leo’s new KNK 3+4
“I think Leo got one of the worst new moves in the entire roster in season four. This change makes no sense to me because this move is a 24-frame knockdown low from stance. It’s a hard knockdown, but Leo’s recovery is so bad that there’s no okizeme. KNK 3+4 would make sense as a way to beat fuzzy guards, but the animation is super slow and telegraphed. What they did was basically gave Leo a poor dragon tail from stance; it just doesn’t do anything for the character.”
4. Leroy Smith
“He eventually got adjusted, but when Leroy first came out, Leroy changed the dynamic of Tekken 7 so much. For proof just look at Evo Japan 2020 with six Leroys in top 8, and the winner was a Leroy. I just don’t understand what they were thinking with this character; d1+2, db1 extensionss, b1+2, ff3, etc. There’s so much with this character, it was ridiculous! He has good pokes, high combo damage, good wall carry, his parries, you know. He had no weaknesses.”
5. Mishima hellsweep tracking buff
“WTF were they thinking? The whole point of counterplay against Mishimas is to go left; they’re supposed to be bad at tracking because they’re good at almost everything else. Why the hell would you make it so that now when you go left, you’ll get punished? If Kazuya wavedashes at you, you just had to guess now. It’s like Anna on steroids! My only thought about this process was that they clearly wanted Mishimas to be better, because they weren’t being played in tournaments. I’m speechless, especially when in the same patch they made electrics harder to whiff punish. Thankfully they almost immediately reverted the change, because the negative response from the community was almost universal.”
(Dis)honorable mentions for this category were Alisa’s df1+2 power crush from stance, Law db3 becoming a CH knockdown, Jin’s f4 buff in season two, Bob’s cd1 becoming a standard launcher, and Marduk’s new uf12 string in season four.
“I’d still like to see a bit of buffs to Leo’s lows and tracking. With those issues, it can be a bit hard to justify playing the character. Leo has to work pretty hard to compensate against counterplay, and it kind of just forces the character into a pretty rough spot. I’d also actually really like to see bears get buffed since in the 4.20 patch they focused on underused characters, but what happened to bears? Aren’t they one of the least-played characters in the game? Aside from that, I have some minor changes I’d like to see for Lei and whatnot, but otherwise just nerf the top tiers and keep the mid-tiers where they are right now.”
This far into Tekken 7’s lifespan, updates and balance patches may be few and far between. The game has had quite a few significant changes over time, some a bit more questionable than others, and PepperBeef2Spicy is one of many competitors always ready to adjust for new gameplay changes.