Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] pre-release impressions on Wagner and Enkidu from Evolution 2017

By on July 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm
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Though our attention is still focused on Evolution 2017’s grand finals and the winners, as well as some crazy announcements from Arc System Works, there’s a fighting game release creeping up on us this week! While we know that an English translation is coming from Aksys Games, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] is coming July 2oth to PlayStation 4 and 3. It’s likely that the majority of US UNIEL players will want to pick it up anyway, as is typical with Japanese fighting game releases.

The Arc System Works booth at Evolution 2017 granted an opportunity to test-drive the basically-ready consumer build. While I couldn’t spend an extensive time looking through the product, I glanced at the much bigger menu, now featuring extras to make the game more complete. Tutorial and Mission Mode in particular are attractive. UNIEL is accessible, but doing optimal combos is quite challenging. Having more help in the game should make a tangible difference.

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Jumping into Versus, which had people lining up to play several games, included the console-exclusive characters: Enkidu and Wagner (Phonon and Mika were also selectable. These two have been playable in arcades). Now, I am not a highly-competitive UNIST player, but I sat down to try both Wagner and Enkidu anyway.

I played Wagner first. She reminds me a little of Sophitia from Soul Calibur in her design — short sword and shield, and she also backs up her move set with kicks. Clearly, her attack range is very short. She does have fast pokes, and while I couldn’t find an optimal pressure route that fast, I enjoyed 6C a lot. It’s a relatively quick overhead. She’s fast-paced and didn’t feel complicated to use at all. It’s surprising how easy UNIEL makes their characters to pick up, but obviously, mastering them and their intricate combos is a big challenge.

As for her special moves, she has a shield charge, a “drill” move that can move her diagonally upwards, a solid Dragon Punch, and an “enchanter” move. Pressing 22A or B would enhance either the shield or the sword. The shield version would power up the attack where she charges forward, while the sword type would make the drill move jump-cancelable. That second buff maybe sounds insignificant, but it not only lets her extend the combo, but also do really quick, crazy-looking cross-ups on pressure. The C version of the enchanting move, which costs meter, gives her both at the same time, as well as a pillar of flame on activation, so she can do this mid-combos as well. Her special move set is also rounded out by an air 2C divekick and a stomp on the ground ‘a la Soul Calibur’s Ivy.

Enkidu, on the other hand, took me off guard with how fun he felt to play. I’m not normally into hand-to-hand combatants, and yet, he doesn’t feel like a typical one, with his imposing figure and shadow-powered attacks. He doesn’t have a projectile, and that’s okay, because he can deal with any thrown at him thanks to his parry. The parry will grab the opponent if they are close enough, and the C version costs meter even if it didn’t catch any attacks. Another enjoyable attack is the air divekick, which also has several versions. It will obviously be used in combos, but I’m not sure how it works when the opponent is blocking.

Enkidu also has a “magic series” of attack strings, namely an easy B B B into C C C. His main special moves are rekka-oriented, so he tends to chain several specials. They felt punishing and impactful on the opponent, ending with a strong punch or powerful kick. I also checked out his “pillar” special, the Infinite Worth move, and it looked scarily good. Overall, Enkidu felt even more fun than Wagner, though at first look I didn’t think I would enjoy him. He also felt very easy to pick-up, and his parry will make knowledgeable difficult to approach. There’s also a unique “Havoc” mechanic whenver he scores a counter-hit, which power-ups his moves, but I’m not certain on specifics.

The new guys are great additions to the cast. I also tried out my main briefly, Yuzuriha. Most of the changes for her are not as noticeable, there are some improvements to her frame data, like faster air and ground normals. She now has a “D” slot for her stance, but that’s mostly just for “sliding” as in, storing an extra slash, not an actual D move. She can also use her “Force Function” move in the air (a.k.a. a Crush Trigger of sorts). A big system change everyone was trying out was using is activating Veil Off mid-combo.

I hope you got something out of my quick impressions, and you’ll be able to try out both Enkidu and Wagner yourself if you buy Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] from the Japanese PlayStation store on July 20th.

Catch up a little more by reading the 3.20 patch notes for UNIST, which detail some system changes and rebalancing for the cast.

Luke "Woocash" Siuty is a Chicago-based writer who specializes in ArcSys titles. A Guilty Gear veteran, he plays Baiken and commits atrocities by playing Sin when he's not busy pondering the ArcSys Cycle. He's always down to talk on Twitter, so send him tips. He's good at OS-ing in real life, not so much in video games, though.