2013’s Killer Instinct has made a triumphant comeback in the fighting game world this year with a sudden surge in popularity on Twitch and the announcement of the return of the Killer Instinct World Cup, which was last held two years ago.
Brandon Alexander, head of the KI World Cup, made the announcement on Twitter, thanking the community for bringing the game to the mainstream.
Killer Instinct was released in 2013, with Microsoft Studios taking over on publishing. Microsoft did its best in translating the classic 90s fighting game series for a modern audience, but the game garnered a niche fanbase and had no big X-factor in its gameplay.
While games like Tekken 7 and Street Fighter V boasted new mechanics and new characters, KI brought in Xbox-franchise guests like Arbiter from Halo and Rash from Battletoads that didn’t really appeal to any other demographic except North America.
However, the game has an ace up its sleeve that is suddenly paying off during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic: rollback netcode.
With the current situation arising from COVID-19 and all offline tournaments canceled, KI’s rollback netcode has made it the best game for online competition.
Most fighting games, including Street Fighter and Tekken, use delay-based netcode, which requires both participants to wait for the input of the other before the game state can be advanced, resulting in delays to ensure that the inputs have arrived. When players are playing over long distances, this causes lag and can slow the game down tremendously.
Rollback netcode, on the other hand, does not wait for input from both users before updating the game state. Instead, both players run the game simultaneously. Inputs are marked with the time they occur, and whenever input is received, the simulation will roll back to when it occurred. While this can result in characters teleporting to catch up to the correct position, it does not affect your own input timings, and the online experience is generally smoother.
This is why all four of Evo Online’s online tournaments (Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath, Killer Instinct, Them’s Fightin’ Herds, and Skullgirls 2nd Encore) are for games that use rollback netcode.
Dates for the Killer Instinct World Cup will be announced in the next couple of weeks.