I’ve written a couple of articles recently about Street Fighter 6 and my wishlist for characters — plus my hit list of characters, because God knows I hate some of the cast members from Street Fighter (I sure do – Ed.) — it’s just the way it is in fighting games, you can’t really escape it.
Today, though I want to talk about just how far Street Fighter V has come since its troubled launch, and how much it has truly redeemed itself in the eyes of the fighting game community.
I’m going to go through some of the biggest flaws that the game had in the first few years of release, then go through how these issues were addressed and fixed. Finally, we’ll just talk a bit about the final update that the game recently received — and how it’s reinvigorated not only the game itself but the players as well. Of course, it should also be mentioned that not every issue the game had was ever truly solved, so I might dip into that as well. Without any more delay, let’s begin.
Upon release, one of the biggest things that players slowly began to notice was the way in which each character on the roster had a seemingly “fixed” way to play. By this, I mean that the game was fairly barebones, and as a result of this, once someone had figured out the most optimal things to do with a particular character, everyone else would just follow suit.
Chun-Li is a good example of this. During the first season of the game’s lifespan, Chun-Li had a special attack that was called “air lightning legs”. She would jump in the air and perform a flurry of kicks as she slowly descended to the ground. Street Fighter players, being Street Fighter players, figured they could use one of the many tricks they had learned over the many years of playing previous titles to exploit this attack in a particularly powerful way.
Essentially the technique allowed Chun-Li to perform this aerial move as close to the ground as possible, which became easy to confirm and then combo from when it hit, but also something that was completely safe if blocked.
This became the definitive way to play the character and no matter where you looked, everyone playing her was doing a very similar thing — even my scrubby ass was spamming air lightning legs during the first season of the game. These things were eventually patched out of the game and become more balanced, but that alone didn’t solve the problem — players would then just find the next most optimal thing and the cycle of following the leader would repeat.
Eventually, we would see the arrival of alternate V-triggers and V-skills for all of the characters, and this was the start of the variety that we had been craving. V-triggers were the backbone of SFV and what made each character feel unique, so everyone getting a second V-trigger allowed for players to play in different ways from one another. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a step in the right direction and was a part of the process that turned the popular opinion of SFV around.
As someone who was really into Street Fighter in general when Street Fighter V was first released, this was such a hard one to defend. All I wanted to do was talk about this amazing game that everyone was loving — who knows, maybe I could have even gotten a friend or two into it. But instead, it felt like every other week there was a new problem with the game that made it the laughing stock of the fighting game community.
As a competitive genre of video games, fighting games don’t have teams of players that need to work perfectly with one another in order to succeed, nor do they have massively complex interlocking mechanics like Dota and League of Legends. Fighting games are two players pitted against one another in a game of high-speed mental chess, where it’s important to not only get a read on your opponent, but also be able to react quickly. And the latter aspect is what can really make fighting games shine from a spectator’s perspective.
Street Fighter V launched with an innate 7-frame input delay, and was subsequently berated on social media once this became public knowledge; I’ll never forget it.
It completely changes how the game is played when players can’t react to certain things. But even worse is when players are able to react themselves, but the game’s inherent lag means it wouldn’t read their input in time to show that reaction in-game. Dark times.
Eventually, this would be remedied, but it never got fully fixed. After roughly two years of playing through the delay, Capcom released a patch that would reduce the delay down to 4 frames. While it would be best to have the delay as low as possible, it’s never going to be perfect, especially in the case of SFV, as Unreal Engine 4 forced a level of input delay that Capcom unfortunately couldn’t fix.
The final update
Now we arrive at the present day, a couple of weeks after the game has just been updated for the final time in its lifespan — unless there is something massively game-breaking that’s found. Street Fighter V has always been a game that Capcom really wanted to be an eSports title, and as much as I love the competitive Street Fighter scene, designing your game around this concept doesn’t produce the greatest product.
Street Fighter V, when compared to past Street Fighter titles, ended up as an incredibly well-balanced game. Sure, there will always be that character or couple of characters that rise a bit above the rest, but there are very few truly terrible characters. This is great, but it’s only because the characters were more constrained in their design that they are like this.
So when we first saw the trailer for the final update, I was hesitant to believe that the developers would make any massively drastic changes. I must say, I was very happy to be proven wrong. They really allowed for a lot more creativity and possibility with almost all members of the cast, and a lot of the characters that were considered a little weaker got a great number of buffs and changes to make them not only better, but more fun, too.
This update has single-handedly revitalised the SFV scene and brought a number of players back to the game. Seeing so much positivity surrounding the game is honestly such a lovely thing to see.
Street Fighter is a title that is bigger than just a fighting game — it’s the father of the genre and it’s wonderful to see it thriving again. It really is quite the comeback story for a game that had such a horrendous beginning. Now, are we going to have to go through all this again for Street Fighter 6, or will Capcom learn from the mistakes made here?
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