King of Fighters XIV receives balance update just before Christmas

On the 24th in the West (25th in Japan), SNK released a brand new balance patch for the PS4 version of the game. While the patch addresses a number of bug fixes, there are some pretty significant changes to certain characters in the roster, with one gargantuan bundle of changes to one character in particular.

Overall, the balance patch is pretty interesting, in my opinion. Many of the changes are quite small, with the majority of changes to drama data being only 2-3 frame differences from previous. There are a few odd balls, like the changes to Terry Bogard who got both buffs and nerfs to his arsenal. A few characters received a particular “bonus” of making certain commands easier to input related to crouching inputs, like Andy Bogard’s Genei Shiranui. Leona Heidern received a bunch of nerfs with only a few buffs, particularly to her damage. Her Moon Slasher also has a new hurtbox, which is one of the more rare occurrences in this patch.

Mostly, just be prepared for a lot of hitbox adjustments, including extensions and reductions going all sort of directions. Weirdly enough, Vice received multiple nerfs with a few of her normal and a couple of her special moves, with some increased damage scaling for a couple of her EX moves. Team Women Fighters probably has the most consistent buff spree, with both King and Mai getting some frequent smaller buffs. Alice received a couple buffs herself, but her changes were half bug fixes rather than adjusting her play. A few DLC characters received the most attention, likely to adjust to the rest of the cast performances. Whip received a series of (mostly minor) buffs, Ryuji got some buffs and nerfs to his specials, Vanessa mostly got some hitbox adjustments and frama data buffs, Rock got a couple nerfs with more buffs, Oswald got a series of adjustments, Najd received multiple nerfs primarily to his Blade of Purity, and Blue Mary got a series of minor buffs to her normal and a couple of her specials. There is one particular outlier from the entire roster Heidern.

Heidern got absolutely blown away by nerfs in this patch. Overall recovery frames, active frames on hurtboxes, shortened cancel windows, hitboxes getting shortened, delayed active frames, fewer hitstop frames, increased damage scaling, reduced damage, he’s got it all working against him. Gae Bolg also no longer hits crouched enemies. Everything from his normal to specials to supers received nerfs, and while most were minor, the sheer number of them takes multiple pages to get through. He’s the only character to receive nerfs like this in the entire game.

Naturally, I haven’t had much time yet to delve into the changes in practice, but, in theory, I like the majority of these changes… though, admittedly, I might be biased since most of my more favorite characters received some buffs, even if minor. It’s difficult to tell the severity of some buffs and nerfs, as the patch notes themselves can be pretty vague (particularly with the damage scaling changes). We’ll have to see if any of the changes play out to better balance over the coming months, and if the meta changes because of them.

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