Casually better at Sekiro and sticking with practicing in Xrd (I managed a combo)

Suddenly better at Sekiro: I still insist on playing Sekiro. It still beings me joy so why not. Boss Rush works wonders. I start the game up, head to Boss Rush and do sets of 3 or 4 fights. It’s pretty damn casual. I mean, I still try to be as good as I can (no hit fights are pretty good) but if I mess up it’s fine. I’m past getting worked up about stuff. I’ll simply go again and try to do better. Me and the game are in a wonderful space.

Maybe that goes someway to explaining one of my recent fights against Owl Father. I’m decent against Owl Father – I have not died to him in a while but all of my fights against him last around 5 to 4 minutes. I think my previous best was 4 minutes 30 seconds. One day, while editing some footage for gifs I had a spare 10 minutes so I figured I’d have a little go on Sekiro. Fought Owl Father. It went well. It went surprisingly well. I wondered how well. I clipped the footage of the fight and went to cut the clip down to size and get the time.

2 minutes 30 seconds. What? Wait, what? I’ve never done Sword Saint Isshin in less than 3 minutes and I have way more experience in that fight. I have not been practicing Owl Father. I have not been grinding the fight in search of all of his tells and tricks. But for this fight I was on it. I was playing well. I was way more aggressive than I normally am – particularly in the second phase. I gave him far less chances to turn into his Owl form with constant chase downs. Not much of this was conscious – I got into a flow and ran with it. Thinking less and being relaxed has its benefits. This is by far my best Owl Father fight. None of the previous attempts come close. 

I also have managed to defeat Owl Shinobi without taking damage. That’s never happened before – been close but never happened. And again, without any major practice I rolled into the fight, kept up the aggression – don’t care about those anti-healing balls, Owl, don’t care – and then the death blow presented itself. I remember getting slightly stressed on the last portion of the second posture bar until the voice in my head reminded myself what I was doing was working, and just keep doing what I’m doing – it’s succeeding. Being able to silence those jitters is nice.

In addition, I now have my fastest Genichiro kill. 1 minute 54 seconds. I should try and get Isshin below 3 minutes. That should be doable. Just going to take a little work is all. Speaking of taking a little work…

Still sticking with Xrd: I have not bought Guilty Gear Strive yet. It is in the PSN basket though, so progress. I am still playing Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator. I have been sticking with practice mode and basic AI. It’s not much – but I haven’t bailed yet. So, progress. I’ve done the basic inputs for a whole bunch of characters – over ten of them. That’s good for solving over 200 problems – which is good for a trophy that has an achievement rate of around 10%. Again, I’m learning just how niche fighting games are.

While I’ve been doing this I have learn a few things. One, I can sit down and lab things. I am capable and willing to go to training mode and practice. That process doesn’t put me off. It’s pleasant – running though button presses and seeing what happened and what doesn’t in a relaxed environment is fun. In addition, there is tangible progress – I can do the thing I couldn’t do before – hooray! Two, even some of the simplest things are more complex to execute than what other games would consider a ceiling.

Doing this combo took around half an hour. Initially I could not get anywhere near it. Then I got a little closer. I decided at some point I had to stop looking at the controller and get the button presses down as a matter of course. Had to work for it but it got done. Felt pretty damn good. Getting the timing down and switching between the buttons – it’s a lot more than most games I have played.

Most inputs haven’t been too hard to pull off (in training – more on that later). I can do down back and down forward, I can chain different attacks together and I can (sometimes) time inputs in sequence (catching an enemy in the air for example). Neat. Some inputs though I’m not great at. Holding back and going forwards catches me out – I don’t know how long to hold back for. Making a square with a cross across the middle on the corner of the D-pad – I mean, I can do it but it’s not consistent. It’s pretty terrible honestly. I’ve not got the dexterity right now to manage it. The good news is that this can be remedied by practicing over and over again. I can dig that. But I am bad at it. It’s something I’ve never really done before. Directional inputs like that I have very little familiarity with.

I also suck at blocking. To block I have to hold back. What gets me is that in my head, I think there is going to be a point where the character assumes a block pose. That never happens. The block just happens. I guess I’ve played so many games where there is a block button and a block animation that follows. Something else that is new and I need to get used to.

Fighting the basic AI isn’t everything, but it is something. And I’ve made a little progress. What I used to struggle with (still do, but I used to) is doing stuff in practice mode, feeling good about doing stuff in practice mode and then going into a fight and oh god I’ve never practiced just press buttons – any buttons – just press them. This can be fixed. And by fixed I mean a long arduous (but rewarding) process of learning. I will have to fight real people, adjust based off what they are doing and slowly but surely, put all of those moves and combos together over time.

Sounds fun.

But this fight with Ramlethal (vs basic AI Sol), I actually did some of the stuff I did in practice. I got the swords working. I think I even combined a few kicks and punches. It felt good. It felt like I accomplished something. A small accomplishment, but an accomplishment still. Something to build upon. Got to start somewhere.


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