Tekken 7 uses rollback netcode, according to Katsuhiro Harada
Fans have accused Tekken 7 developers of not implementing rollback netcode, which makes the online experience bad, but it turns out that isn't the case.
Rollback netcode has become an essential feature for fighting games, and Tekken 7 is no exception. It's not like the most popular fighting games had perfect netplay before 2020, but with the COVID-19 pandemic putting an indefinite stop to live events, it's become glaringly obvious. With the only safe way to play competitively and with friends currently being online play, it's no wonder the FGC has made it a hot topic.
EVO 2020 was canceled in favor of an online event, EVO Online, but it's a lot different from just moving the tournaments to the internet. For starters, most of the main stage titles will have closed tournaments, while Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was removed entirely from the event. Boasting much better netplay, titles that weren't supposed to get the spotlight now do.
While Skullgirls 2nd Encore and Them's Fightin' Herds have never rubbed shoulders with the larger games before, Mortal Kombat 11 was a main stage title at EVO 2019, while fans have been waiting to see Killer Instinct make its return. Mortal Kombat 11's exclusion this year did cause a bit of an uproar, but now it returns to the forefront and could be the biggest tournament in EVO Online.
Fans of Tekken 7 have complained about the bad netplay for years. Some, like myself, have almost entirely given up on all the online modes, which is sad, because it's a fun fighting game. Before now, fans accused the developers of not implementing rollback netcode, which was the reason why the online experience was so bad, but it turns out that it isn't the case.
Speaking on Twitter on his 50th birthday, Tekken 7 director, Katsuhiro Harada, revealed that the game does indeed use rollback netcode. This is a technique in which the game simulates frame inputs without delay during online matches. Unlike delay-based netcode, this provides a smoother experience by cutting down the latency between players. Its implementation means that it mostly does away with frames skips, preventing matches from turning into frustrating button-mashing sessions. However, things like Wi-Fi and ping are still factors to be considered.
No, in fact there is rollback (everyone talks rollback without knowing it). But the difference is whether the rollback frame is 1 or 6 (TK7 is 3). Increasing this number is more ideal, But causes problems with 3D animation. We’ve already working on this.https://t.co/SxfLohDRGZ— Katsuhiro Harada (@Harada_TEKKEN) June 10, 2020
Harada explained that Tekken 7 and almost all other fighting games do not have dedicated servers but instead, use a P2P system. "And if the matching server also uses a first-party ID (PSN ID, XBOX LIVE, etc.), it is normal to use a first-party server," he added, sharing the blame.
The director further revealed that a game implementing rollback netcode has its performance also influenced by the number of frames its rollback code uses. Tekken 7 makes use of 3 frames, but something higher is ideal. Unfortunately, 3D animation creates problems the higher the number. The game's age is also to blame, as Tekken 7 was originally released for arcades in 2015, becoming the first arcade cabinet to have proper online play. Then there's the game's character models creating rollback animations that just don't look good.
In addition, the TK7 realized the world's first online battle in an arcade (coin operation), which was released in 2015 (console 2017). So it takes time to convert old generation rollback values to 5 or 6 frames instead of 3 frames. https://t.co/tsy61e7P1v— Katsuhiro Harada (@Harada_TEKKEN) June 10, 2020
In essence, a lot of work is required to improve Tekken 7's netplay, as the problem goes deep into the game's root. Harada did clarify that the blame isn't solely Bandai Namco's, which must have made all the past criticism hard to bear in silence. It's also good to learn that the general assumption the game uses delay-based netcode is false.
Thankfully, Harada stated that the development team is hard at work finding solutions to these problems, but one thing is sure. With all the work Bandai Namco is putting into fixing the game's online experience, the next title in the franchise should have a much-improved netplay.