It shouldn't cost money to beat up strangers. At least, so reckons Fantasy Strike, a stripped back fighting game from the folks at Sirlin Games, ditched its pricetag in an update earlier today. All modes and all characters - including two new lads Quinn and Onimaru - are now free to beat up without spending a penny, with a suite of cosmetics and a premium subscription now available for those who'd like to chip in for a little more.
Fantasy Strike left early access roughly this time last year - a little after I started writing news for this here videogame website. Christ, where'd the time go?
The work of Chess 2 creator and (more appropriately) Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix tinkerer David Sirlin's studio, Fantasy Strike was crowdfunded on the idea of creating a compelling fighting game without all that input guff. Now a year out from its Steam debut, the devs have decided to scrap that £25 entry fee. From today, Fantasy Strike is free to download and play on Steam - all characters unlocked and available to use in casual and ranked play, online and off.
Sirlin still needs to be making money somehow, mind. In lieu of that up-front purchase, the fighter's adding a wardrobe of cosmetics into the mix - outfits, sure, but also intro and victory animations for characters alongside new KO screens. The flashiest of these outfits are tied to the new subscription service, Fantasy Strike+, which also opens up a whole suite of replay tools. These include options for frame-by-frame analysis of past games and scouting out replays based on the exact match-up you're looking to work at.
Today's update also adds two new characters into the mix for free. Quince, a Warcraft-looking kickman I immediately despise for his "seeing double" jibes, is all about illusions and tricksy mix-ups. Onimaru, meanwhile, is a little easier to wrap my head around - he hits slow, and he hits like a truck. There's also been a balance and bug-fixing sweep, which can be found via the patch notes over on the update's announcement post.
As someone who plays Street Fighter for about 2 hours once a year and get thoroughly destroyed by strangers online, I don't know how well Fantasy Strike scrapes up. Sin seemed into it, though, describing it as "clear and exciting and pretty and I was bouncing along to the music and losing was the good kind of frustrating" in Unknown Pleasures last year. Might be time to check it out, now the pricetag's been snipped.