The Best Fighter
E3 2015 gave us the opportunity to try out the latest big fighting game sensation, Street Fighter V , and trust me, this is truly a new Street Fighter . The first thing you are going to have to do to effectively play SFV is to throw everything you know about Street Fighter out the window, especially everything you know about Street Fighter IV . This game is faster, hits harder, and has completely different mechanics. Unless you are playing the simplest of low forward fireball Ryus, you are going to have to relearn your favorite characters from the ground up.
We have already been over the basic mechanics of Street Fighter V in some previous news stories, so here is a quick rundown. Characters have two meters, super and v-gauge. Super meters are three stocks long and allow you to use EX moves and a critical art when it is full. V-gauge, on the other hand, can be several different lengths with multiple different stocks and only fills when you take damage. You can spend a stock of the v-gauge to do a v-reversal, a counter attack out of block stun, or wait until it’s full to go into a v-trigger power up. Every character’s v-trigger is different, and every character can use a v-skill to help build the v-gauge without taking damage.
That much we already know, so let’s get into the nitty gritty. Like SFIV , certain normals can cancel into special moves. However, unlike SFIV , normals that are part of target combos can also be canceled into specials. A new “combo assistance buffer” makes combos easier to do, by adding 2 frames of leniency in either direction. This turns one frame links into, effectively, five frame links. Landing a counter hit adds even more hit-stun and landing a counter hit with a slow move, like a fierce, causes a crush counter which does even more.
While the combo buffer makes landing combos much easier, many professional combo execution skills have become obsolete. You can’t plink buttons to increase your link window, for example. Even double tapping buttons only seems to register a single button press. While input shortcuts, like mashing diagonal down toward for a dragon punch, are still there, combos that utilize them, like pressing df+mk df+lp to get a low forward to dragon punch combo, have been taken out. Certain moves can be done two ways, like Chun-Li’s lightning legs. You can either do them with a quarter circle or with rapid taps, but specific combos that utilized their nature as a multiple tap move no longer work. Essentially, there are no system exploits – or at least Capcom is attempting to remove them all. It’s all about timing this time around, even if that timing is more lenient.
Stun makes a return from Street Fighter IV , but you can see it represented as a stun bar underneath your health, like Street Fighter III . Stun also lowers much slower than it did in SFIV , so do your best stay out of pressure to avoid going dizzy.
There are very few things in the game that cause a hard knockdown. Even sweeps and throws allow you to choose between a quick or delayed wakeup. This makes it much harder to set up vortexes or pseudo unblockables. Only very specific super arts and special moves cause a hard knockdown, like command throws, so those will become staple additions to any character’s move set.
It’s worth it to mention that normals in Street Fighter V are vastly simplified. You don’t get close and far range normal moves anymore, nor do you get jumping neutral and jumping diagonal moves. All air buttons are the same, as are all standing ground buttons.
It’s also worth noting that normals now do chip damage, but recoverable chip damage. Essentially, all damage gained while blocking can be recovered if you go on the offensive. You cannot kill an opponent with chip damage however, unless you are using a critical art.
Specials are, strangely, all very slow in this game. They have a ton of start-up , though they have a lot less recovery than normal. This shifts the focus on the game to normal and combos, rather than fireball wars and special battles. Nearly every special in the game, with the exception of the Shoryuken, can be broken by someone simply mashing on jab.
But enough about the nitty gritty of the system, you guys want to know about characters.
Ryu, as we mentioned before, plays the most like his previous incarnations. His v-skill lets him parry attacks to gain v-gauge, and like all v-skills, it is executed by pressing both mediums. The difference between this and a third strike style parry, is that this parry has an animation, so if you whiff it, you are actually vulnerable. However, if you hit, you can immediately parry again, allowing you to parry multi hit moves basically by mashing it. So yes, you can recreate EVO moment #37.
Ryu’s v-trigger gives his special moves electric properties and allows him to charge his fireballs. Charged fireballs now break guards, allowing him to penetrate his enemy’s defenses easily. His v-gauge builds rather quickly, especially if you parry, so the v-trigger can be used multiple times in one match.
Chun-Li has a lot of new moves, like reworked lightning legs, a command overhead, and reworked head stomps. She is a very quick character and plays most like her Third Strike incarnation. Now that her lightning legs are a quarter circle motion instead of a rapid tap, they can be frequently used to keep her safe. Her v-skill is a short hop that hits on the way up, and if it hits it builds v-gauge. However, her most broken aspect is her v-trigger, which adds extra hits to her normal. Not only does this make her very easy to combo with and allow her to build up a ton of chip damage, but it means that simple combos like Strong Strong Fierce will essentially stun the opponent. Nuts.
Charlie, or should I say Nash, is completely different. His Sonic Boom starts up very slowly but has a huge hitbox. He doesn’t have a flash kick, or any invincible moves for that matter, but he does have a jumping full screen overhead axe kick and a dash jumping hit-grab that sucks meter from your opponent. He also has a step kick which is his go-to move of choice for combos. His v-reversals and v-triggers allow him to short range teleport which is perfect when used in combination with his sonic booms. His v-skill lets him pocket projectiles and add to his v-gauge.
M. Bison is the second most changed character after Charlie. He has the slowest walk speed in the game, slower than say Hugo or Zangief from SFIV . He no longer has a psycho crusher and instead has a slow but long lasting invincible flame spire move that hits on both sides of him. He also has a short range projectile that stops right in front of him, but is a charge move. It’s not quite clear what use this has yet.
His v-skill is a counter attack. If an attack or projectile hits him while he uses it, he throws out a small psycho energy fireball to attack the opponent. Unfortunately, this can be baited if he uses it too often.
His v-gauge is longer than other characters, but is a core part of his gameplay. When he uses it, he gets invincibility on most of his moves and can teleport around the stage quickly and safely. He essentially enters “boss mode” and it lasts for pretty much the rest of the match. So he struggles in the first half of every match with reduced mobility, and then dominates if his life falls far enough, but of course, then he is only a few hits away from death.
Cammy is still mostly the same as her SFIV incarnation. The only difference is that her spin knuckle is now her v-skill. Her aerial special moves also have a height limit on them now, making it harder to tiger knee them to instantly do them off the ground. Her v-trigger makes all of her moves, especially her special moves, quicker. It essentially makes any unsafe special moves safe, either by making them quicker, or by allowing them to cross over the opponent (as is the case with spiral arrow).
Finally, Birdie is the weirdo of the bunch. He has a slow ranged chain grab, a jumping command grab, a close range command grab, and perhaps the most hilarious v-skill of anyone. His v-abilities are all centered around eating. He can eat a donut to build the v-gauge, eat a banana to throw a Diddy Kong style banana trap that will trip the opponent if they walk over it, and eat a soda can for a slow moving, low hitting projectile. This even allows him to set up some unblockables, though these are really more gimmicks than a central part of his game plan. Two things worth noting are that he has a headbutt special that is done by holding down a punch button and letting it go, like Balrog’s turn around punch, and his command grabs do not require 360s but instead half circles. His v-trigger causes him to eat a hot pepper and do more damage.
Street Fighter V is fast, hard hitting, and fun. It’s aggressive, and feels sort of like a combination of the Street Fighter III and Street Fighter Alpha series, with a couple hold overs from Street Fighter IV . It’s the first Street Fighter in ages that feels “new” and I can easily see this taking the place of SFIV on the tournament circuit. Street Fighter V will release on the PS4 and PC early next year, and a public beta will start at the end of July.