|Players: 1-2 players|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Not yet assigned a final ESRB|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Street Fighter V has hit the wild and, boy, is it buggy. I guess it’s a good thing this is just a beta, right? A lot of people are talking about how the game crashes and how online is spotty at best, but I think that is kind of a foolish thing to focus on. Of course the beta is going to be buggy. It’s a beta. It’s explicitly an unfinished portion of the game. No, instead I want to focus on the gameplay. Sure, it might not be final, but it does us a good feel for what the game might be like in its final form.
Now that we have been able to screw around with the game in training mode, a couple interesting strategies have presented themselves. First of all, activating V-Trigger in neutral game is a horrible idea. It’s not invincible, it has cooldown, and although it stops time it is very easily punished. This is what we saw people doing pretty much throughout the majority of E3, and at most tests prior to that.
For that matter, you don’t really want to activate V-Trigger after a knockdown either. Yes, this makes V-Trigger safe, but this is a one-way invitation to allowing your opponent to turtle up. Most V-Triggers increase your offense, doing things like adding hits, damage, or speed to your attacks. So using them in neutral may be safe, but you’ll end up frantically searching for a way in.
So the new, more effective, way to activate V-Trigger is in the middle of combos. V-Triggers appear to be able to cancel out many normal and special moves, and if these moves hit, then the entire V-Trigger activation takes place during hit-stun. You can then link moves you wouldn’t necessarily be able to link off the V-Trigger activation, extending your combos for more damage. This holds true for every character, including characters with strange and unique V-Triggers like Nash.
With a V-Trigger activation alone, you can easily get combos that deal about 25% damage with most characters, without even spending meter. These are combos that are simple things like jump-in heavy, standing heavy, cancel to special move, V-trigger, standing heavy, cancel to special move. That’s 5 hits, all with very little damage scaling, If you are willing to spend meter, however, you can get even more powerful combos pushing upwards of 40% damage. This is mostly because EX moves either start up quicker, or put the opponent into a special hit state that makes it easier to combo.
Unlike Street Fighter IV, supers are very good in this game. They do a ton of damage and don’t scale as much as any other attacks. So hoarding meter is a better strategy than you’d think. Utilizing supers alongside your V-Trigger activation can net you 65% damage or more! I’ve seen this done with Nash, whose V-Trigger doesn’t even buff him. Simply having the cancel to extend your combo is what makes it so good. It’s kind of like “build your own ultra.” If you don’t spend any of your resources and hold them until the end of the game, one lucky move might win the game for you even if you are on the brink of death.
Each character also has their own interesting ways to open opponents up. Ryu, for example, has true to life guard breaks, i.e. strings of moves he can use with V-Trigger that effectively render his next-set of moves unblockable. This means, if you are on low life against a Ryu player, you have to push forward and attack or else you will simply lose.
Birdie has actual unblockable setups using his low hitting can and banana peel trap. After a knockdown, if you are spaced right, you can time it so that this low attack and an overhead hit at the same time. The banana can be blocked normally, but doing so forces the opponent to hold back, which opens them up to one of Birdie’s command throws.
Nash’s V-Trigger is just a teleport, but since it can cancel itself out of his moves, it basically gives him some of the most dangerous blockstrings in the game. He can choose its direction, so every blockstring he has as full V-Trigger is a deadly game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. He can throw out a move immediately after the V-Trigger flash so if you don’t guess ahead of time, you are already hit.
Every character has methods to open up their opponent like this. Cammy’s V-Triggered moves penetrate the opponent’s position box, allowing her to attack left, right, up, and down with incredible speed. Chun-Li’s do multiple hits which not only keep you in block stun for extended periods of time, but also make it very easy to put you into stun after they are activated. Even Bison can create interesting mix-ups by using his teleport moves and dash.
Of course, I should mention the netcode (since everyone else is) and I’ll say… it’s pretty good. Yes, finding matches is a horrendous pile of hell, but every match I’ve had has operated OK. Granted, there are some wonky disconnects and such, but the game itself feels like it operates smoothly. I’d say their matchmaking has to be overhauled, not their netcode.
Street Fighter V is shaping up to be a very aggressive, very high damage game, but I kind of like that. Combos are very easy to do, and I feel like the barrier between execution and skill has significantly shrinked. I hope that the next beta, however, gives us more time to play with the extended roster.
As time has gone on, and the second set of beta tests has rolled around, few things have changed. Yes, a few normals have been tweaked for damage here and there, but the actual gameplay system is getting further and further from what we will see in the final game. Newer gameplay videos from locations such as PAX show off characters with moves they don’t have in the beta, split second V-Trigger activations, new combos, and more. So the gameplay experience of the beta becomes more and more invalidated as time goes on.
But one thing that can be accurately told from the beta is what netcode will look like, and unfortunately, that’s not looking all that great anymore. Current tests still give us laggy matches, matches with a ton of stutter and rollback, and long waits between finding suitable opponents. While I have gotten a few playable matches here and there, the netcode hampered my enjoyment rather than fostered it. I had much more fun in offline training mode, and would probably have equally as much fun in offline VS. when the game finally comes out.
Then again, this is the purpose of a beta test, to see what problems there are in the netcode and fix them. However, Capcom has a lot of problems to fix before their netcode can be considered serviceable. Let’s hope this changes for the better by the time we see the game’s full release.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Senior Contributing Writer
Date: August 31, 2015