If there was one game I wish I could be good at, it’s Street Fighter V. Maybe it’s because I’ve played the series, in some form or another, for around two decades, maybe it’s because most of the other games I play aren’t really multiplayer. Sure, I love playing games, but I wouldn’t say I was good at them. I get bested in FIFA, destroyed in Halo, but with Street Fighter, I’m not that bad. However, I’m not a high-level player good either — something that was clearly demonstrated than when I played the latest iteration, thePS4- and PC-only Street Fighter V, here in LA, where I was beaten, occasionally thrashed. But I kept lining up for another go — or pushing the limits of my briefing time with Capcom. The latest iteration carries over the literal jaw-smashing, eye-popping visuals of the 3D reimagining of the series, but adds some next-gen graphical glamour. The game adds a new layer of strategy and difficulty with the V-System. The characters announced so far have been changed in a lot of important ways.
At the start of E3 , Capcom announced two new characters to SFV: Cammy and Birdie. That adds to the four players already announced: staples Ryu and Chun-Li, as well as M. Bison and Nash. If you’ve played a Street Fighter or two in your time, you might recall the character Charlie, a Guile-ish character from Street Fighter Alpha. This time, the same guy’s now called Nash — and his move set has switched from charging in directions (like Guile’s Sonic Boom), to a more hadouken-style quarter-circle rotation. Be prepared to discover all kinds of subversions, tweaks and additions to the game you once knew. Sure, that’s nothing new for Street Fighter, but this is the first sequel since Capcom cleaned house on it’s (officially) fourth iteration, which simplified game mechanics as it dragged the series (canonically) into 3D.
The major changes this time around are centered around the V-system: V-Skill, V-Trigger and V-Reversal. V-Skills you’ll be able to use at anytime and will vary across characters. With Ryu, it launches a parry pose that will (if you have razor-sharp timing) evade an attack without damage. You’re then free to attack your opponent without concern. With Chun-Li, it launches her upwards and forwards — like a jump, but with damage and a different arc of travel, making attacks harder to predict.
Once you’ve built up the V-gauge (separate to the super gauge, which is still there), you’ll then be able to launch the V-trigger. Again this varies between characters but it’s a far more potent way to turn the tables on your enemy. Taking Ryu again as an example, it charges his fists with electric current that increase damage of attacks while also adding stun properties. Sounds pretty damn useful.
V-reversals is the final component, and acts as a way of countering your attacker while you block. However, each character will counter in a different way. Some will knock your rival to the ground, while others will push them backwards. Depending on the character, your mileage may well vary.
After a short briefing from Capcom staff (that I admittedly ignored), I was fighting other attendees. (In the game, I mean). I lost. And at some point, as I tried to Lightning kick as Chun-Li, my opponent, playing as Nash, was teleporting around me. He shouldn’t be able to do that. (Worse still, no matter how fast I hammered the kick button, Chun-Li still wasn’t doing the lightning kick. I learned later that this was because the move had been remapped to a different input.)
I managed to claw back a round, and as I finished my opponent with a kick, he slams into a bus, which opens its doors, and carries him away. There was a chuckle… and then I got beat-down again in the finale. The gameplay itself feels a little bit slower than its predecessor: high-level players might take issue, but for more typical fans this means it’s easy to use the system of parries and counters that now exist. That’s not to say battles still aren’t fast and occasionally manic — they still are. The new changes here suggest that selecting your character will mean selecting your play style, even more so than previous titles. Capcom will be launching an “ambitious” beta for the game later this year on PS4 and PC. It will tie into preorders in the US, while a lottery in Asia and Europe will decide who gets to play a little early — and who may get a chance to master the characters early. And when you get good enough, you’ll hardly have to look.