While we can’t all master Kung Fu in real life, we can at least try to master it virtually. Sifu is a vengeance story of a young martial artist who sought revenge after witnessing the murder of their father. Fellow editor Noah Anzaldua reviewed the game for us last year, which you can check out here, but I’m actually here to talk about the new Arenas expansion. Arenas will put your Kung Fu skills to the test so you, too, can become a Kung Fu Master.
You’ve got some unfinished business to attend to. In the Arenas, you’ll go face-to-face… to foot… with street thugs, bosses, and other bad assets as you grind your way through 45 new challenge levels across nine different stages. Challenges become increasingly difficult as you progress, putting you up against even fiercer opponents with different specialties. Each challenge has three levels of scoring, earning you a point for every level you achieve in the challenge. Earning enough points unlocks the next set of challenges for you to continue your mastery journey.
Challenges can take five different forms. The first is Capture where you’re trying to capture zones on the map while you’re constantly under attack. Time Attack times how long it takes for you to take down all your foes. Manhunt is similar to Time Attack, however you have specific targets to take down as fast as you can. In Performance, you fight waves of enemies, trying to achieve the highest score you can by the end of the run. Finally, Survive puts you up against waves of enemies that get progressively stronger while you try to remain as young as possible. Earn more points by achieving faster times, staying young, and whatever else you need to do to complete each objective, and continue to climb the challenge ladder.
While I would get pummeled into the dirt during the first attempt at each challenge, I quickly learned the different enemy types I was facing and how to counter their specific attacks while also thinning the herd of pawns that accompanied them. Chaining kills together to perform finishing moves and maximize my score or dispatch all attackers became a thrill, even if a little tedious when facing a particularly difficult opponent.
Unfortunately, simply completing a challenge doesn’t always earn you a point, which is disappointing. I can successfully complete a challenge multiple times and still not earn any progress to unlocking more challenges simply because I got knocked out one too many times. I feel like I should still be given some level of credit for at least completing the objective. Some of the challenge levels also feel like you would have to have a flawless run just to get two of the three points available, particularly challenges where the objective is to get the highest score possible. One such challenge has a 3-point score over 6000 points, but I was never able to get to even the 2-point level of 4500. It feels unattainable.
What frustrated me to no end during some of the challenges was when I’d finally knock out all the lesser opponents to then go toe-to-toe with someone who seemed untouchable, unblockable, and undodgeable. Why these enemy types exist, I will never understand, the ones who can attack you constantly while being completely unaffected by anything you try to do. It ruins any enjoyment I may have been experiencing prior.
The Arenas expansion is launching completely free right alongside the Xbox and Steam editions of Sifu, offering over 10 hours of additional Kung Fu action, more if you have to redo challenges like I did. Arenas can be accessed as soon as the tutorial is completed, but it is still recommended to play through the story if you haven’t yet so you become more familiar with the game controls. There are eight new achievements/trophies to earn by completing challenges for those who like to go hunting. It also appears that more challenges are going to be released in the future as there are challenge blocks labeled as ‘Coming Soon’, so more baddies to beat up and achievements to earn.
Now, you may be thinking that only having five different modes might get a little bland and even too easy over the course of 45 challenges. However, you’d be far from correct as each challenge also has a set of modifiers that change how you approach each challenge and mode. In some challenges you may have unlimited health but some other handicap, like not being able to pick up dropped weapons. These modifiers keep each challenge feeling fresh, though it is still a little repetitive as the overall objectives are still the same.
I don’t think I’ll be doing any more of these myself, I prefer to just keep practicing by playing out the story itself. These challenges seem to rely more on constantly overwhelming the player while not letting them evade or block incoming attacks, which is something I have commented on with numerous games recently. Arenas is more geared towards those who like to challenge hunt and make completionist runs on games.
Sifu Arenas gives players 45 new challenges to help them master their Kung Fu. However, the challenges felt more like a chore than something to achieve. This is definitely geared more towards achievement hunters and completionists and less towards those who want to actually get better as it doesn’t actually present that opportunity.
- 45 new challenges, 8 new achievements, hours of gameplay
- Can be played immediately after completing tutorial
- Challenges rely on overwhelming the player
- Rebalancing challenge ‘score’ levels is needed, some levels feel unattainable