My initial impressions of Street Fighter V were not great. Like many of you, I was left feeling short changed by Capcom due to the fact that at launch, so much content was, and still is, missing. It’s already March, and we’re still yet to see trials or the shop. Hell, there’s still not even an Arcade mode or an option to play against the CPU in proper matches. Even Bikini Karate Babes had that option. Let that sink in for a moment.
But take away all of the controversy regarding the lack of content, and Street Fighter V is quite simply, one of the best fighting games money can buy right now. It’s probably not worth the price tag it’s currently being touted for, but the core game really is a special blend of quintessential Street Fighter gameplay and a deep and rewarding accessibility that the series has never had before.
So let me update you on my current feelings towards Street Fighter V now that I’ve sunk 100 hours into it. I’ll start by saying this. I suck at Street Fighter V, but I love the game for it. Anyone who played a ‘unique’ character in Ultra Street Fighter IV will no doubt be suffering from the same problems I have been. In Ultra, I had a top 10 Blanka. I had crazy mix up options, hop shenanigans, and a character that flourished in lag! In SFV, I’m sitting on 1500LP. I don’t have any of those options anymore. I’m being forced to play a smarter and more patient game. As Mike Ross would say, “I’m playing Street Fighter now!” And despite losing more than I am winning, I’m having a much better time with SFV than I ever had with Ultra. The game forces you to properly grasp fundamental skills like anti-airing, whiff punishing, and knowing when it’s your turn to defend or go in, rather than relying on tricks, and it makes for a much more balanced and refined fighting game experience than Ultra ever was.
However, there are still a host of issues Capcom need to resolve before I can really recommend this game to anyone other than those with an interest in fighting games. I’ve already mentioned the lack of single player content, and the fact that the free story mode DLC won’t be coming until June, so let’s talk about what really matters… becoming an online warrior. I have to praise Capcom for implementing their cross-platform support so well. It really is a convenient and great option that I can play with my friends on PSN or on PC, and I’m finding very few issues with connectivity. Ranked and casual matches seem to load up much faster now, and when I am in them (provided the other guy isn’t in a country on the other side of the globe or is clearly playing on a wireless connection), I don’t experience a whole lot of lag. The biggest issue plaguing SFV right now is the rage quit epidemic. Players who routinely disconnect before the points can be synced and sent to the servers can do so without punishment and rank up artificially. It’s not fun when it happens, and it’s certainly not fair, as the winner gets nothing in return.
Capcom will be addressing the issue by monitoring players with high disconnects and unrealistic win rates and win streaks, but it’s still happening to me enough to make playing ranked a somewhat frustrating experience. Fortunately, it’s certainly happening less and less now that Capcom have warned us about it.
Street Fighter V has really grown on me, to the point that I don’t see myself playing Ultra Street Fighter IV much any more. But what’s really surprised me is how much interest it’s gotten from my friends who were always on the fence about Ultra and most fighting games in general. I’ve got colleagues messaging me every day asking me for advice on anti-airing and character match-ups, or linking me to videos of tournament matches and saying how hype a particular moment was; people who had never even heard of Daigo, Excellent Adventures or even seen Evo Moment 37 this time a month ago. And that’s probably the biggest testament Capcom needs to know; in the long run at least, they’re on to a winner here.