We received Street Fighter V less than a week ago, and I quickly fell for its renewed focus on fundamental skills and measured play. There are no universal safety nets like Street Fighter IV‘s focus attack. Instead, each character has unique methods for dealing with threats, resulting in more varied and tense fights. In the hands of a casual player Street Fighter V’s new mechanics are satisfying wrinkles with low execution demands. At advanced levels, however, they’re technical and strategic tools that demand a great degree of understanding and mastery. I can already tell that Street Fighter V is making me a more responsible fighter, and less reliant on easy answers.
Crucially, I don’t feel like I’ve had enough experience playing online. With a small player base and pre-launch servers in flux, it’s too early to properly judge the net code and, as a result, deliver a definitive verdict. When I was able to fight online–connections have been sporadic–the majority of my matches felt smooth and responsive, but not all. Street Fighter V has so little single-player content at launch that the efficacy of its online components is paramount.
The lack of extra-curricular activities is a problem, especially for casual Street Fighter players. Challenges–activities intended to help you build skill and earn in-game cash–won’t be ready for launch. There is a short story campaign for each character, and by “short,” I mean that they last anywhere from two to four fights from beginning to end. In the case of Fang, one of the four newcomers on the roster, he has two fights against M. Bison, and that’s it. Every battle in story mode is also incredibly easy; you can win by sweeping your opponent’s legs alone.
You may have heard that Bengus–the artist responsible for some of Capcom’s most iconic artwork–has created visuals for the character stories, but don’t get too excited: the quality of work here is a far cry from the beautifully rendered art he produced in the ’90s and ’00s. The storyboard-like images here are inconsistent in quality, with noticeable disparities in detail from one to the next.
On the upside, finishing the character story mode nets you 100,000 Fight Money–Street Fighter V’s in-game currency–but only once. Based on Capcom’s plans for the near future, that sum is just the right amount to purchase a new character. You also unlock a new costumes in story mode, but you unlock it for purchase from the in-game shop, not for immediate use.
A hard fought victory online nets 50 Fight Money, which seems like peanuts after raking in significantly more through the wimpy story sequences.
The fact that the game ties every significant unlockable (not including alternate costume colors) to one form of currency or another is already disappointing, but you can’t put your earnings to use yet because the in-game store isn’t ready. Furthermore, the valuation of Fight Money, relative to what it takes to acquire it, is odd. A hard fought victory online nets 50 Fight Money, which seems like peanuts after raking in significantly more from the wimpy story sequences.
Otherwise, you’re left with Survival mode; and that’s it. It’s serviceable, offering four tiers of consecutive fights where you can unlock new colors for each character’s default costume, but by allowing you to trade in points earned during rounds for health and power boosts, survival comes too easily.
Street Fighter V is a clean slate, for better and for worse. It’s got new mechanics, characters, move sets, and peculiarities that change the flow of combat in exciting ways, but it doesn’t have much to entertain anyone who isn’t a die-hard competitor. Despite its mainstream appeal, Street Fighter V is known for having esoteric systems beneath the surface that most people miss. That is as true as ever with Street Fighter V, but it’s good in a sense because it means there is depth to explore for those who want it. With the right tutorials and activities at their disposal, new players should be able to understand these over time, but we don’t know with certainty when these tools will arrive or what they will offer.
Win or lose, I’m attracted to the thrill of its action-oriented combat system, which discourages overcautious behavior and keeps fights moving along.
When I’m playing Street Fighter V with friends, I’m completely lost in the heat of the moment. Win or lose, I’m attracted to the thrill of its action-oriented combat system, which discourages overcautious behavior and keeps fights moving along. There’s an excellent foundation here, and for now, I am going to keep playing until I can put the servers to the test on launch day.