DNF Duel is in trouble and something needs to change quickly

Talk now, or there may not be anyone left to talk to

DNF Duel seemed to have a pretty strong start to a brand new fighting game earlier this summer with a good deal of buzz around the FGC and visual flair to back it up.

Now that the game isn’t 3 months away from its release yet, however, things are looking pretty bad and there must be some big changes soon made if DNF has a chance to stay long-term.

It is not just 1 thing that is weighing DNF like a boulder currently, but multiple community concerns / fears, which have apparently become reality at a rapid pace.

While we can’t really see how the PlayStation player base is doing, the PC numbers are displayed in their own right and are pretty awful.

At the time of reporting, Steam Charts showed DNF Duel only had 94 players online on Steam with a 24-hour peak of just 137.

This is certainly very different from where the game was at the time of release with over 12,000 concurrent users, and those current numbers are exactly on par with the Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax re-release.

At this point it is expected that every fighting game will see a steep drop in population after the first month, but this is the fastest drop we’ve seen for a “big” new release in recent memory.

DNF Duel dropped to fewer than 1,000 players in less than a month and has continued to deteriorate much more since then.

The King of Fighters 15, with its infamous online matchmaking issues, also triples DNF’s active base on Steam.

This is not a situation that a simple bandage will solve and from which we can move forward. The game and its management must change.

I reviewed DNF at the time of release and enjoyed it a lot, but the early concerns about depth and variety rang true.

In the first weeks there was no shortage of exploration, experimentation and optimization shots. After that, however, it seemed that practically “everything” had been understood.

You can only fight a Striker that locks you in the same blocks for 10 seconds or a Swift Master that envelops you in oblivion so many times before you feel like you’ve basically seen everything.

DNF has received some updates aimed at taking away the most broken things out there, but the game is still the same overall.

At this point, I’m not even sure how to “fix” that problem. They can’t really open combo options any more because they are about as open as they can be.

Basically it would take a massive balance overhaul to make matches fresh again for those who have fallen, although the biggest improvement I could see the developers make is to give characters more skills to build custom gear, but I won’t be holding my breath for what.

All of these feelings are encapsulated in the biggest problem facing DNF, and this is the complete lack of communication from those who created the game.

People like to complain about Season Pass announcements and DLCs before a game is even released (and rightfully so), but the opposite approach seems to be worse for the modern landscape.

DNF Duel has been out for around 2.5 months and there hasn’t been a mention or even a whiff of new DLC characters coming to the game.

You would think Evo 2022 would be the perfect place to announce something, but no. Anything.

It might just be that Nexon and Neople wanted to approach this game as such and did it as they were exiting the Arc World Tour, but they have to tell the players if so.

Gamers generally expect continued support in their new games, and no claims of this will cause anxiety and people will wonder if it’s worth spending more time when there is a wide range of other great fighting games out there.

You would think Neople would have a strong understanding of how to maintain an online user base considering the success they have seen running Dungeon Fighter Online for 17 years, and I don’t think it was through absolute silence.

They need to talk and just before the spark they emit in the world goes out.

I’m not here to declare DNF Duel a dead game. It still has a lot of potential and a lot of people had a lot of fun playing it at one point.

The game still clearly has an interest in the FGC considering it was the second most entered tournament at the East Coast Throwdown just last weekend.

It’s a rarity for a fighting game to feature such a wide range of character archetypes and generally opposing design styles that combine together, and it would be a real shame to see DNF not living up to its potential.

Ghostblade is one of my new favorite fighting game characters ever and I would love to play with him a lot more.

Just not so much right now.


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