The announcement of Street Fighter V last week has excited fans worldwide for the possibilities of this sequel to the popular fighting game franchise. So far, we’ve only seen a small glimpse of what’s to come but we’re going to see more this weekend during a special SFV exhibition at the Capcom Pro Tour finals tournament. Until we know more, it’s always good to speculate on what could be in the new game and there’s quite a bit to cover, but for now I’ll run through a couple of things we can reasonably expect in SFV.
Since 2009, the Street Fighter IV series has stuck to its core gameplay with very little alterations along the way, which is fine of course, considering it’s more or less the same game. Throughout the many iterations of SFIV, that is: Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV, SSFIV: Arcade Edition, SSFIV: Arcade Edition ver. 2012 and finally Ultra Street Fighter IV, we’ve enjoyed and have been made salty by a variety of mechanics. Focus attack (and subsequently Focus Attack Dash Cancels, aka FADC) and Ultra combos have been the staple of SFIV games, and recently USFIV added Red Focus (which absorbs multiple hits and instantly crumples on contact) and Ultra combo double. These mechanics caused quite a stir for a while but were ultimately accepted by the community and indeed the world. The SFIV games went on to be some of the biggest and most hype games at every major and local tournament in different regions of the world. Suffice to say that they’ve done their job and run their course. Now, we need some fresh stuff.
Within the SFV trailer, we see several hints at what could be all-new mechanics. The combo system looks very different; quite fluid in-fact, with air combos and ground bounces that are similar to those in Street Fighter x Tekken. Ryu and Chun-Li also power up in a method that resembles that of ‘Instinct Mode’ in the new Killer Instinct. We also get to see a guard break at some point which led to a long combo, and even a stage transition in the middle of the fight. It’s been nice to ride the hype train of the SFIV series with its crazy Ultra combo comebacks and long link combos, but a new game means a new meta. SFV may be likened to fighting games that are already out but I imagine that it will grow to be a beast of its own. I’m sure there’s even more mechanics than what we’ve seen in the trailers alone so it’ll be exciting to see what else is coming.
It’s a given that a new fighting game will add new characters, so this segment doesn’t need much explanation. However, the way in which these new characters might exist is definitely worth pondering. By new characters, I don’t mean characters from other SF games that get ported, I mean completely new designs that will be added to the roster, just like El Fuerte and C. Viper were introduced with SFIV. Of course, they can just add all new characters but they could also go the route of Soul Calibur V and replace old favorites with younger but similar characters that mix up their fighting style. In SCV, characters such as Xiba, Leixia and Natsu took over the roles of Kilik, Xianghua and Taki respectively; honoring each classic fighter’s style but adding several new elements to it. This could be an interesting aspect to replicate in SFV, as it would be a good way to draw in new fans to the series.
Many often remark that long series such as Tekken do a poor job of drawing in new players since they are so set in their ways and rarely introduce characters or mechanics that will grow the fanbase of the games. While remixing characters isn’t necessarily a fast track to this end, it might help to change things up enough and get more people involved with the series. Personally, I would like to see tons of classic characters return in SFV as well as see newcomers. Hopefully Capcom is considering this and working to make an all-star cast.
Fighting games these days tend to have a theme or gimmick that permeates the majority of the game’s experience. In the SFIV series, this gimmick is that of ink and this can be seen in the intro to the original SFIV and within the Focus Attack mechanic that all characters utilize. SSFIV added a sort of sketch outline theme within its intro, but still kept the ink theme also. In Street Fighter x Tekken, the gimmick was more water based, with several water themed art styles seen in the intro video as well as the Boost Launcher mechanic. In SFV, we’ve seen something like this within the power activations where Chun Li surrounds herself with water and Ryu surrounds himself with ink. It’s unclear whether this will be part of the main theme of the game but it’s an interesting aspect so far.
Other parts of the aesthetic that might evolve or change are that of the stages. Street Fighter stages are usually varied backgrounds from different parts of the world, often with bystanders or animals populating the environment. Some have remarked that the stage seen in the trailer for SFV feels more like a stage from Tekken, however there’s often overlap between the two series. Most fighting games tend to have stages based on real world locations and only become fantastical based on the lore of the game. In fighting game series like BlazBlue, you visit many anime inspired environments that take place in a fantasy world much unlike the real world, and the stages reflect this. In SFV, we could see more of the same or we might have more fantasy-like stages, but this is all dependent on the lore of the game. Other factors such as music and visual style may play a huge part in how this game is received. Each Street Fighter game has a unique feel and it’ll be intriguing to see what niche SFV is aiming for.
New Focus On Competitive Play
Whilst Street Fighter has always been a welcoming game to all sorts, it’s also been a major part of competitive play in the FGC (Fighting Game Community). Since Street Fighter II, many have fought in or spectated large tournaments where players all around the world compete to see who can come out on top. Capcom has been doing their part recently with the Capcom Pro Tour tournament series, to generate more hype for a game that already has quite a bit of prestige. They also seem to have taken this into account as the SFV ‘Rise Up’ trailer makes a very clear emphasis on competitive play. By this, I don’t mean to separate ‘hardcore’ from ‘casual’ play, I quite literally mean competitive play. This is something that is at the heart of fighting games and sets it apart from co-op games, single player experiences and other types of games. So whether you’re playing for fun with a bunch of friends, or grinding it out to place high in a big tournament, the competitive drive is a massive part of fighting games and the FCG.
We’ve seen this support for the competitive spirit with other fighting games too. Team Ninja has provided a ton of support to the competitive seen of Dead or Alive 5 and constantly keeps fans in the loop of new content, such as the upcoming DOA5: Last Round. Nintendo embraced the competitive Smash scene with their Smash Invitational during E3 2014, an amazing turnaround after Super Smash Bros Melee was nearly prohibited from appearing at the Evolution 2013 fighting game tournament. More and more fighting game developers are creating a closer relationship with their communities and providing even more hype content for everyone, whether they are serious about fighting games or just getting into them. SFV represents yet another step in this direction, where the passion, camaraderie and drive can be shown for all to see. We can also expect SFV tournaments to be even bigger than those of the SFIV series.
What are you looking forward to in SFV? Is it new or returning characters? A new visual style and aesthetic? Or are you waiting to see what Capcom does with the competitive scene? Let us know in the comments.
Street Fighter V is coming exclusively to PS4 and PC.