Street Fighter V… where do I begin?
Seems just like yesterday when I wrote a blog about saying goodbye to SF4, you came out with a rocky start. I remember back in 2016 while I was working at Best Buy that I got the game and played it despite how barebones the game came out. The game didn’t have a proper story mode until a few months later and that wasn’t good either. For the casual players, they didn’t get enough content, but the competitive players got what they needed.
The main gameplay mechanic that was introduced in SF5 was the V-System, which gave three skills to use: V-Skill, V-Trigger, and V-Reversal. All of them use the V-Meter, which is completely separate from the Super meter. The base roster gave us 16 characters, including the mainstays returning from SF4 (Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Zangief, M. Bison (Dictator), Vega (Claw), Dhalsim, and Cammy), brand new characters (Necalli, Rashid, F.A.N.G., and Laura), and characters we haven’t seen in years (Birdie, Karin, R. Mika, and Charlie Nash).
A year before the release, us fans were able to try the game out through the beta and yes: the beta would have some issues to work out in terms of online. But the gameplay did give us some concerns because it felt different compared to SF4. For some, it was refreshing because we didn’t have to deal with the Focus Attacks and Ultras anymore, but for others, they weren’t fans about the gameplay itself.
It was a time where Street Fighter V went full speed on the eSports experience, having the game appear on tournaments on big networks like ESPN 2 and TBS for example. Yeah, EVO 2016 airing on ESPN 2 was a huge deal and it was a time to show the world what the FGC is made of. It also had the highest number of entrants with 5,000+ players at EVO 2016.
Looking back, it was a mixed emotion. It had both the good with the FGC support, but it also had the bad with the casual fans that have been around since the beginning or newcomers who just want to have fun. I personally admit that I’ve lost my way as well since I thought that it was going to be the new wave for the future of fighting games and I was wrong. Casual players were left high and dry due to the lack of single-player content that it had when it first came out.
It wasn’t until 2018 where things were about to turn around with Arcade Edition. The game received major changes from brand new moves, fixed online experience, a revamped training mode, brand new interface graphics, two brand new gameplay modes, a second V–Trigger that everyone can use, and more. The best part about it is that it was a free update for those who already own SF5, which made it easier for us because we didn’t want to buy an update unless we wanted to play the game on PC or another console. Then again, it was only released for the PS4 and PC, followed by an Arcade release one year later with Street Fighter V: Type Arcade.
I do recall a time when SF5 Arcade Edition was out, there was an issue with the online play since Capcom attempted to try Rollback Netcode for the first time, and then someone from Brazil was able to fix the netcode without issue. Online issues aside, SF5 Arcade Edition was a total improvement over the first iteration of SF5, but it would not be the end.
Two years later, we would see the release of Street Fighter V: Champion Edition. This would include an option to select a second V-Skill, as well as more balances and changes. Once Season 5 was released, we were later introduced to another gameplay change with the V-Shift ability, which would serve as a predecessor to a certain mechanic that would later be used in a future game which should be out sooner than later.
Even when COVID hit, the game still managed to survive without issue as well. Capcom Pro Tour was relegated to online tournaments until 2022 when the situation became better. The final Capcom Cup for SF5 happened on February 19, 2023 with Capcom Cup XI where MenaRD represented the Dominican Republic and won the tournament. It was hype overall!
Let’s also take a look at how much the roster evolved. Season 1, we had a lot of returning characters such as Balrog, Guile, Ibuki, and Juri returning from SF4, while two characters that we haven’t seen in a long time, Alex and Urien from SF3, made their triumphant return. Season 2, we had one returning character in the form of Akuma (Gouki), the official debuts of Ed (who appeared in SF4 as part of Balrog’s ending), Zeku (first appeared in Street Fighter Alpha 2 as an NPC) and Kolin (Gill’s assistant from SF3), the official debut of Menat (who was introduced to this game), and we saw the addition of Abigail, who was a boss character in Final Fight.
By the time Season 3 came out, we also saw more fan favorite characters return such as Blanka, Cody, Sagat, and Sakura (all returning from SF4), while we saw the official debut of Falke and G. Season 4 saw more returning characters such as E. Honda, Poison and Seth (returning from SF4), the epic return of Gill from SF3, the debut of Kage (another alter-ego of Ryu), and the addition of Lucia from Final Fight 3. Lastly, when Season 5 came out, we had the return of Dan and Rose (returning from SF4), the debut of Eleven (who is a prototype of Twelve from SF3), the epic return of Oro from SF3, the addition of Akira from Rival Schools (complete with her brother Daigo), and the debut of Luke, who would later become the new protagonist for Street Fighter 6. Overall, we ended Champion Edition with 46 characters total!
As we say goodbye to Street Fighter V, we will remember the good times and the challenging times that it had. I admit that the game didn’t have a proper launch the way it was intended and that it could have been a lot better if it had more content at launch, but it did allow them to learn several lessons from the developer’s side such as listening to the feedback from both the casual and competitive communities. Always remember that you can never leave the casual fans who don’t play fighting games competitively behind. It took you two updates, but you managed to survive it all and improved over time.
Street Fighter 6… It’s now your time to shine!