The (Final?) State of Street Fighter V
In the midst of a four-year lifespan, Capcom’s fifth installment of international street fighting competition has morphed into something worth paying attention to.
Initially, Street Fighter V was a rushed, feature-less and all too unfinished fighting game that disappointed Capcom’s ardent fanbase. Executive producer and Blanka mega fan Yoshinori Ono and the development team alongside him set out to refine and improve the game in order to bring lapsed fans back into the fold. New characters, fresh battle mechanics, a slew of additional playable modes/challenges and newly introduced character balances/changes have seemingly accomplished that goal.
Now that it looks as if SFV has provided fans with its final piece of character DLC and last edition within the series, let’s take a look at the state of SFV and see if it’s in the best place it’s ever been in.
At launch, SFV’s selection of playable combatants offered 16 characters. Four of those characters made their grand debut in the Street Fighter franchise in this latest installment – F.A.N.G, Laura, Necalli and Rashid. While the initial offering of characters was a bit paltry when compared to previous series entries, SFV managed to introduce a number of fan favorites and all new combatants to the roster.
Now, players have access to 40 street pugilists who all come with interesting play styles that cater to every type of fighting game player. In a series first, SFV is the first SF game to feature the main boss character from each series installment. Sagat, M. Bison, Gill and the incoming Seth have all returned with new abilities to boot. There’s certainly a few popular names still missing in action – Makoto, C. Viper, Sodom, Fei Long and Oro immediately come to mind. But SFV still wins in the roster department thanks to a fun mix of series regulars and worthwhile newcomers.
Modes & Features
Here’s the God honest truth – there wasn’t a whole lot to do in SFV when it first hit the PS4 and PC. Dedicated FGC members could go online and test their mettle against the world in casual/ranked matches, of course. But the more casual crowd was forced to play through all too short character stories and a lackluster Survival Mode.
Thanks to a collection of timely updates, SFV’s mode and feature suite has filled itself out in several intriguing ways. The Survival Mode has become less of a chore due to the inclusion of usable items that affect your character pick and a mid-game save state that makes the mode’s longer challenges less of a chore to complete.
The game’s Cinematic Story Mode followed NetherRealm Studios’ template and tried to offer a much more deeper and involving take on Capcom’s usual fighting game campaign. It was decent at best and not up to par with the ones featured in the last three Mortal Kombat releases, however. The inclusion of special matches that unlock new costumes and other types of rewards became a fun detour for those looking to play offline for a bit, though.
However, the reduced amount of Fight Money given out by completing missions and other character-related tasks still makes little sense to SFV’s vocal community. At least we finally got a worthwhile Arcade Mode to keep us all busy. While SFV finally gives players a lot more to do in an offline setting, a few of those newly implemented modes aren’t as strong as they should be.
Near the beginning of SFV’s lifecycle, each character headed into battle with just one V-Skill, a single V-Trigger and one Critical Art. Now everyone on the SFV roster has the ability to work with more options and offer dedicated players new ways to approach their preferred roster pick.
A second V-Skill has now been applied to everyone alongside another V-Trigger, which has done a commendable job in making the game’s weaker roster members more viable in certain situations. Sure, SFV still has only one Critical Art to work with. But the addition of new V-Skill’s and V-Trigger’s is enough of a reason to hop back into the game if you were let down by its weak skill set at launch.
Anyone who considers themselves an avid viewer of fighting game tournaments have spotted the same familiar faces on stream for SFV – Karin, Rashid, Ibuki, Akuma, Birdie, Laura and M. Bison. Popular FGC players, such as Punk, Bonchan, Fuudo, Tokido, Problem X and several others, have proven the top-tier superiority of that cast of characters over the years.
But at the 2019 Capcom Cup tourney, the unthinkable took place – Idom took home the number one spot by defeating Punk’s Karin with the most recent roster addition of Poison. Minds were blown once this shocking moment took place and chances are high that new Poison users were born at that very moment. On the very same evening of the 2019 Capcom Cup, a new character balance patch was introduced. Early impressions have come in droves since then – Ryu finally seems like a threat, Laura is now one of the game’s stronger characters, Gill is definitely a problem and Rashid’s second V-Skill is scary as hell.
With the introduction of new V-Skill’s and buffs/nerfs for the entire roster, SFV’s current balance patch implementation looks to be the best one yet. Weaker characters appear to be more viable than their past selves, the top tier characters are still good at what they do and all the new V-Skill’s help change up the meta for such a long-running fighting game.
SFV has certainly come a long way since launching in 2016. The roster is now massive, the stage selection has been expanded greatly, the mode suite has gotten ever more substantial and the balance patch has freshened up the game’s competitive landscape.
There are still a few roster omissions and longstanding issues that keep SFV from reaching its full potential, however – several beloved characters are still missing, plus the overall decrease in Fight Money rewards and weak Story Mode elements are hard to ignore. But all in all, SFV has morphed into a strong fighting game that champions character complexity, match intensity and hype FGC moments galore.