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7/05/16 - Shaheen nerf and the unevenness of Tekken

posted Jul 5, 2016, 1:30 AM by Tyler Bustinza
Well Tekken 7: Fated Retribution has now been officially released and an interesting development with Shaheen has come to light, namely that his WS+3 no longer hits grounded opponents. Now I said it earlier in the year but I still stick by it, "f+3+4 and iWS+3 because without either he'd just be high-mid tier at best". While I haven't wrote much about Shaheen on here, I have done quite a lot of writing regarding him on /r/Tekken because he's a new character, is somewhat unique, and was arguably the best character in the game. Now while frustrating to get hit by WS+3's unscaled damage post combo, it does have some executional requirements that aren't immediately beginner friendly.

S!, dash up, f+3+4~d/f,d/b,WS+3

There's two real barriers to the ender. 1) On longer combos, the dash up needs to end with a forward-buffered f+3+4, which requires both hits of the f+3+4 to hit to guarantee the follow-up. 2) f+3+4 must enter stance but more importantly must cancel out of stance and end with WS+3. There's a few points of failure there but worst case scenario, you're looking at a shallow f+3+4 into stance 3, completely leaving you BT, open to punishment.

Which leads me to my two major complaints about Tekken 7 (or more accurately 7.0):
1) Unscaled damage
2) Non-generic 3+4 while grounded

Now for those unfamiliar with "unscaled damage", it refers to damage scaling and combos in general. Basically the longer a combo is, the less damage your attacks do. This has been so ingrained into Tekken that even airthrows now do scaled damage when previously in every game prior to T7, they didn't. So dealing "unscaled damage" is bypassing the scaling system and hitting the opponent with a 100% hit, as opposed to typically a ~15-20% one. This tags on extra explosive damage at the end of the combos that turns a slightly less optimized combo into a 100% necessary one. Now while Shaheen appears to be getting the boot losing his WS+3 ender, it's looking to be a nerf unique to him.

See the main problem is there are a good amount of characters in T7 that can deal unscaled damage with a significantly lower entry barrier. It's not hyperbole when I tell you that there's characters out there that can pretty much do the same combo enders they've done all their life and get a bonus unscaled hit on the end of the combo. Characters like Lili, Ling, and Hwoarang immediately come to mind. Then there's somewhat unique cases, such as King, who can tag on unscaled damage to the end of NC attacks which brings him into another stratosphere.

Of course of the new characters, all of them in 7.0 could deal unscaled damage and while by definition could be construed as "cheap", it was a flavor that could have been unique to them alone. Now in FR, of the new characters, both Claudio (the input is now a completely different move) and Shaheen have lost their ability to deal unscaled damage, so the question should really be... why? If it was frustrating to play against, why are they the only ones to lose this mechanic.

If anything, this really highlights Namco's inability to approach certain balancing decisions effectively. It seems like an "all or nothing" type approach instead of making smaller changes to modify the dynamic or approaching the problem at the root. For instance, lets say that Shaheen WS+3,3 deals something like 15+20 damage for 35 damage total (I don't have the exact figures and aren't on Ina). Now you want to adjust Shaheen's unscaled damage but don't want to completely negate WS+3,3 as a viable punisher, so the easiest way to start would be to redistribute damage from the first hit and instead put it into the second, such that the end result (sum) is the same.

Life is also a little trickier because you can't completely negate the initial first hit due to more fringe cases such as using WS+3 as a pickup post CH f+3, for instance. So instead of going to 10+25, a good starting point would be 12+23 taking into consideration that an initial 13 damage would be rounded down during the example combo while still leaving most of the explosive damage, which in this case we're obviously trying to avoid.

 Unscaled 1st HitUnscaled 2nd HitScaled 1st HitUnscaled change
Scaled change
Original15207N/AN/A
Overnerf1025566.7%71.4%
Undernerf1322686.7%85.7%
Just right1223680.0%85.7%

So to surmise, we reduce the "explosive damage" by 20% (3 points) while only affecting the combo damage by ~15% (1 point), a good compromise. Now also keep in mind number balances don't require a complete system rewrite, which honestly the other unscaled hits might require, but the point being that completely removing Shaheen WS+3 is a very poor decision and hopefully an accidental one.

Lastly, another somewhat new mechanic for FR is the change to the b+3+4 wakeup option. Now only requiring an 3+4 input out of FUFT, it's one of the strongest options for getting up off the ground, especially with the wall to your back. Crushing mids and a good amount of lows, it's basically a "get off me" card when you're in trouble; It's a huge change to the Tekken wakeup meta. The problem is there are still characters in the game without 3+4 an instead still have the old roll to acrobat roll. This animation does not have any of the invincibility and can be floated in certain situations, so is a double whammy of trash when comparing it against the new generic FUFT 3+4.

While I do, once again, appreciate the flavor of having different characters with different options. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to who gets which and while bigs/ultra bigs typically have special, unique ways to get off the ground, the normal size characters don't and get the worst of both worlds.