Street Fighter is one of the most iconic series in the industry, and it’s next entry in the series looks to take a huge step forward in terms of system designs and visual notes. It still has that Japanese calligraphy-inspired cell shading feel, but the character models look more human, more inspired by reality. The colors are richer yet the hues are darker. It may also be further in the story’s future?
There’s a lot of information floating around about this brave new Street Fighter world were about to enter, so lets break it down into the most important bits.
1. It’s PS4 console exclusive
Maybe one of the most telling anecdotes of Capcom’s current business direction/financial situation is Street Fighter V’s console exclusivity with the Playstation 4. Yes, the PS4 is selling gangbusters and is currently leading the pack in sales by leaps and bounds, so getting the title on the console is imperative. But ONLY that console? To ignore an install base of over 13 million is to admit that, in order to create this game, you needed big monetary help to do so in exchange for your console identity.
This isn’t one of those new fangled interpretations of the word “exclusive,” either. There’s no attempt to obfuscate the potential of a wide release on the competition’s home boxes in this scenario, as a representative from Capcom made abundantly clear to Gamespot back in June. Street Fighter V can only ever be played on PC or PS4.
2. The V-Gauge
The backbone of this iteration of the decades old brawler is the new V - or Variable - Gauge. Superficially, it is as shiny neon bars in Street Fighter have always been: measures of a player's ability to do special attacks. Like the old revenge bar it stands in for, it gets bigger when you take hits, and doesn’t carry over between rounds. Like the EX Bar is shares the screen with, it’s segmented, meaning there are many different ways to use the bar, with varying values. Past these similarities, the V-Gauge is a different sort of special meter, and possibly the most important meter to ever hit the series.
The V-Gauge fuels actions called V-Reversals and V-Triggers. A V-Reversal is what it sounds like - a way to break an opponent’s momentum by turning an attack back on them. By pushing all three punch buttons and forward, you spend a segment of V-Gauge to put the brakes on your opponent’s advances.
V-Triggers can be used when the gauge is full, and will activate a powerful ability that effect characters in unique ways. With the characters revealed so far, this is often in the form of a timed buff that augments a character’s moveset or basic mechanics some how. For example, Bison’s dashes will turn into teleports when his gauge is triggered. These aren’t as dangerous as, say, X-Factors in Marvel vs Capcom 3, but these have a pretty big potential for turning already competent playstyles into brutal tide-turning displays of dominance.
The V-Gauge isn’t strictly about comeback ability, either. As well as taking damage, players can gain meter by successfully executing their character’s V-Skill. Pressing medium punch and kick - formerly focus attacks - launches a unique move that usually has a more tactical advantage than your average quarter circle attack input. Charlie Nash’s V-Skill can both absorb projectiles from afar, and can be used as a quick poke in close.
3. The Nitty Gritty
The biggest changes revolve around the catchy, easily hashtaggable sound byte features like gauges, but there are some really important, somewhat metagame-y changes you should know about, as well. Some of the more obvious is walk speed, and how dramatically different some are from each other. Bigger, more brutish characters definitely look slower, any Cammy vs Birdie video you see will almost squeeze a nervous laugh out of the hardcore set. She can, almost literally, run circles around him.
Ultra Combos are gone. Critical arts, which are Super Combos simply by another name, are in and are pretty much the only mega flashy move option in the game. It’s probably better this way. Attacks themselves, though, just do more damage. A good counter anti-air is way more devastating now than in SF4, and taking a loose hit here and there can really put you in a bad spot quickly. There is also chip damage on normal attacks as well as specials. The damage you take is temporary, until you take a clean hit or it heals naturally, but blocking excessively will not keep you safe for very long. Overall, this game has gotten far more aggressive.
4. Character Changes
There are many familiar faces coming back for SF V according to the slow drip of reveals Capcom has supplied us since the game’s announcement. To sit down and assume that these characters will be exactly as you remember them is to submit to a dangerous folly. To put it plainly, your main will feel similar, but will require some study time to truly understand.
Some won’t be so different, mind you. Besides how slow he walks, and his parrying V-Skill, Ryu is still Ryu. The overall system changes may actually make him feel more like his SF2/Third Strike version now more than ever. On the other hand, Charlie is as different as he’s ever been, teleporting around the screen and getting in people’s faces makes him pretty much the opposite of Guile.
Many characters have changed more moderately. Bison doesn’t have his signature Psycho Crusher as a special, and his normals leave much to be desired, but he will never be bullied by projectiles thanks to his V-Skill, and his V-Trigger makes him a tactical terrorist. Chun-Li’s Lightning Legs can be done in the air, and is no longer a button mash input, meaning it can be used a bit more aggressively. For a character that quick, this is a big deal that might not be readily apparent the first time Chun players pick up the sticks.
5. Beta and Release Date
As of now, there is no hard and fast release date for Street Fighter V. Spring 2016 is the estimate, but the March date could easily just be a place holder and reminder that they want to get the game released before the end of Capcom’s fiscal year. It’s making appearances wherever it can, though. It was playable at this past E3, and has been feature in exhibitions at big tournaments. It’s big coming out party will probably be at EVO this year, where all of the pro fighting game players will be congregating to get their hands on it.
After that, the first Beta will take place between July 23rd and 28th. It will be online multiplayer only, and only available to players of pre-order the game. The characters available initially will be Chun-Li, Ryn, Bison, and Nash, with Cammy and Birdie to be added to the roster on the 25th.