I've been watching some of the "stress tests", and I counted three(3) Fatal Blows (FB) in a single minute of play, and perhaps an average of one(1) per minute for a 20-minute duration of stream ogling.
Now, I know they're only a one-per-match comeback
clutchcrutch mechanic, and that their damage is canned to 30~35% (and likely scaled to nothing when used as a combo "ender"). However, I've noticed them being OTG'd, a lot -- a pet peeve of mine with MKX's armoured X-Rays -- with the offshoot being that, the player without the FB tends to instinctively back away once the opponent's "LB+RB" indicator starts flashing (*was this insulting indicator really necessary?... MK11 has no Samshow inputs for the FB's... I hope it can be toggled OFF ) and the rounds then almost always devolved into projectile spams at full-screen and / or YOLO teleport attacks.
What makes this worse, is that, because of how the mechanic works (activated at 30% remaining HP), the most critical stage in the bout ends up losing most of its "hype", because of the negative play that the threat of being FB'd imbues. So-called "footsies" (*admittedly, I've been seeing less of this kind of gameplay since they sped the game up -- more pokes and hit-confirms into rote combo chains, seem to be the order of the day now) get 'defenstrated', and the game turns into a predictable waiting game -- something that's not fun to play; much less, to watch.
So, here are my concerns, in point form:
• That these "super move" abilities will, instead of being eschewed entirely, like in MKX and IJ2 (the very subtext for NRS making the changes they did), will now be seen in literally every match... twice, even -- by both combatants; and given they're canned, non-interactive, mini cuts-scenes, once one has seen them a few times, they become a literal eyesore, as well as breaking up the flow of the game
• That, being as no-brainer to execute as they are, they'll inevitably be abused online -- e.g., in OTG situations -- diminishing the online experience
• The leading player will be encouraged to stand back and let the FB active player come at them, and then to spam from afar -- which may have the offshoot or imbuing projectile-based chars. with a huge advantage, whenever leading an FB active opponent (and I doubt anyone wants another IJ2 situation, when it comes to projectiles)
• FB's recharge too quickly upon a failed attempt
• Given many FB's seemingly have slow start-ups, they'll mostly be YOLO'd or used for their armour properties -- further exacerbating the same-y-ness of the their application
• The sum total of the above effects render the abilities unsatisfying to, not only watch, but, also to perform -- certainly not what NRS (or anyone) wants
Here's what I'd like to see done to the FB's, in order to make them, frankly, better:
• Lower the HP activation threshold to 15% remaining HP -- i.e., turn them into a true "desperation" attack (*even SNK "despos" could be used repeatedly -- FB's can only be landed once, which means they are, in effect, or should be, true "desperation" moves)
• Tie FB's to full attack meter (as well as low HP) and, to compensate, increase their damage to 40~50% (*char. dependant)
• Tie FB's to full defensive meter too (as well as low HP) and, to compensate, increase the damage of FB's used with both meters to 50~60% (*char. dependant)
• Increase recovery on the FB's, such that a blocked or wiffed FB = guaranteed punish -- even for the slowest character / player
• Suffice to say, all meters are drained up each FB attempt -- successful or failed
• Given meters already do not recharge universally across all chars. and / or all meter-dependent abilities, tweak meters in accordance with the power of a given character's FB -- examples: if Sonya's FB does the least damage, her meter recharges the fastest; if Shao Kahn's is most powerful, slow his meter regen down to a comparative crawl -- thereby, more individualising the FB's, instead of most chars. feeling cookie-cutter--in this respect
• Seeing as certain chars. have some kind of buff tied to FB use (e.g., Jax gets his "molten fists" after a successful FB), give chars. without such specific perks, faster meter regen for a landed FB, than for a wiffed / blocked FB -- kind of simulating "spirit" or "adrenaline", and also promoting more prudent use of these powerful abilities
I think implementing some of these ideas would, if nothing else, make the FB's more strategic and individualised tools (rather than just a crutch to throw out whenever one is being beat) and -- arguably most importantly -- more enjoyable to use and also witness.
For if I'm getting bored of these "supers" this early in the piece (and without actually having even played the game myself), there must be something awry with how NRS have designed them for MK11. The obvious explanation is that they still only provide a solitary FB per character -- which is something that cannot be easily addressed, and definitely not a month out from a game's release.
I've played fighting games for decades and, although all games are repetitive at their core, there is something distinctly "cinematic experience-y" with these rather 'detached' abilities; and to now be forced to see them all the time, versus hardly ever, is not a good trade off from what we've had before -- almost certainly worse for the medium-to-long-term longevity of the game.
Tekken 7 has the near-exact same system with its "Rage Arts", and a cursory glance at any T7 forum will immediately find many complaints relating to said "casual crutch". I hope NRS do not make this same mistake with MK11...