The time is upon us! Street Fighter V is out today, and the hype amongst the fighting game community is reaching boiling point. The betas have been, for the most part, a great success, and with Sony financially backing Capcom’s behemoth series, it seems Street Fighter is very much here to stay. But as successful as Street Fighter IV has been in reviving a once-feared dead genre, it was not exactly a title that welcomed newcomers.
In many ways, this made it a fantastic game to spectate. There’s nothing quite like watching high-level players from across the globe (hello Japan) pulling off insane combos and making ridiculous reads on their opponents in front of a hyped crowd. But outside of their tightly knit communities, fighting games are largely ignored, and even feared, by the casual gamer. I myself often find it really difficult to get my friends outside of the FGC to play fighters with me, especially when games like Street Fighter IV make the gulf in skill level so apparent.
The good news for newcomers is that Capcom have been striving to bridge that gap with Street Fighter V in a number of ways by going back to basics and making it easier than ever before to get into a fighting game. Here are just a few of the reasons why even if you are completely new to fighting games, you should still check out Street Fighter V.
Combos are hard. Pulling off cool looking combos in Street Fighter IV or even more technical games like King of Fighters XIII are not easy. They’re evidence of hundreds of hours of practice, muscle memory and, most of all, dedication. But 99% of gamers will never have the time, the patience, or let’s face it, the actual skill to pull them off. Street Fighter V aims to make the game much more accessible by removing things that made them so difficult in IV. Things like one frame links, FADCing and plinking are now gone in favour of easier ‘target’ combos. What this means is a complete reset in player skill, and a much bigger focus on fundamental skills. Controlling space, anti-airing and mind games are more important now than execution, so players can enjoy the mind game aspects rather than worrying about dexterity.
A better single player experience
I know, I know, fighting games are all about the competition. But Mortal Kombat X showed just how important having an interesting story mode can be for enticing newcomers to buy their game. How many of us who are less interested in the competitive side of fighting games and more interested in just having fun would have actually bought MKX had it not included a story mode and the ‘krypt’? Street Fighter V seems to have learnt this lesson, and will feature the series’ first full story mode. Not too much has been revealed, but we know that its story mode will feature over an hour of in-game cinematic sequences and will be several hours’ worth of content.
Cross platform support
Street Fighter IV’s biggest community was on the Xbox 360, and many of the ‘high-level’ players could only be found there, which often left players on the PS3 and PC feeling frustrated by the smaller pool of players to battle with, although the Steam version did get better over time. Street Fighter V will support cross platform play, which will allow PC and PlayStation 4 players to beat each other up, and that means a more open and united community. So whether you’re a console gamer or a PC master racer, you won’t have any excuse not to give Street Fighter V a chance, as there’ll be no shortage of competitors to challenge.
No more paid upgrades
While Street Fighter IV attempted to extend the games’ lifespan by releasing a new iteration of the game every few years, Capcom have decided to go a different route with Street Fighter V. Citing accessibility as a key priority with their new business strategy, Capcom will roll out regular, free updates, as well as regular character releases similar to what you might see in MOBA games like League of Legends. This approach should stop the community becoming segregated, as well as making it easier for Capcom to listen to feedback, improve and continuously evolve the game. This all means, in theory at least, that Street Fighter V will not only be easier than ever to get into, but more successful in retaining your interest, well into its lifespan; something its predecessor seemed to struggle with.
I have to end this by explicitly stating that I have not found Street Fighter V to be an easy game by any means. Any fears by more serious fighting game players that this is a ‘masher friendly’ game that doesn’t reward skill and hard work should be put to rest; this ain’t no Smash Bros (but I still love you, Smash). However, Capcom’s plan has clearly been very well thought out – make it a much easier game to get into, but still allow for depth and difficulty to master. But unlike previous games, the barrier for entry now comes at a much more attractive cost. For that reason, whether you are a seasoned veteran, a complete noob, or someone who used to spam hadoukens as a kid when you went to the arcade, I implore you to check out what looks to be the fighting game of the decade.