While, I’d like to think I did a decent enough job keeping Street Fighter V at arm’s length throughout the beta period, the temptation was always there. I mean, it’s Street Fighter, man. Look, I can quit whenever I want, it’s just… important to get into a new fighting game on the ground floor. Yeah, that’s it! I’m getting a head start, is all.
Unfortunately, the ground floor is pretty damn empty.
I have no doubt that the game I’m playing will likely be unrecognizable six months from now, but as it currently stands, there’s an embarrassing dearth of content. While I actually like the relatively stripped down roster, there just isn’t that much to do with them right now. You can play through a “story mode” with each character that’s really just 3-4 pitifully easy fights broken up with still pictures for narration, but after that it’s just a matter of playing through survival mode to unlock colors or trying to find matches online, usually just settling for a fight with the erratic servers in lieu of a human opponent. Too often I’d miss out on EXP and Fight Money because the game would be unable to document my victories, reducing my epic 15 fight win streak to about half in the record books. I think I’d be more bothered if there was anything to actually spend Fight Money on, but the shop is also non-functional, not opening until sometime next month.
It’s almost like they shouldn’t have released the game until sometime next month.
The real shame is that underneath it all, the actual fighting part is really freaking good. Even trying to relearn the systems and starting out as a boring Ryu player, it already feels miles better to me than IV did, probably because it’s more of a throwback to Alpha than an attempt to recapture the magic of Super Turbo again. Combo timing seems a lot more forgiving as a whole, making it more of an offensive game than its predecessor. The fact that pretty much no one online has a clue what they’re doing yet makes each fight faster-paced and erratic, which is a nice way of saying that we’re all running around like headless chickens with the ability to do Hurricane Kicks.
Even in its current state, I find it hard to step away from, however. The ever-present meta-game that comes with learning a new fighter is always going to be a draw. I just wish there were more of it. In an age where games like Skullgirls have exhaustive tutorials explaining every system, it’s unforgivable for the most high profile fighting game in the world to not even explain what V-Skills (a pretty important addition to the game) are, let alone lacking frame data, which has become pretty standard. While I enjoy a good thick Prima guide for bathroom reading as much as the next guy, it shouldn’t be a necessity to those trying to understand the basics of the game. If we’re ever going to lower the barrier to entry for the genre as a whole, it needs to start at the top. Otherwise, I’ll be stuck playing scrubby Dragon Punch spammers for years, quickly growing bored with the frequency in which I’m able to stomp them into a fine paste.
Actually, now that I think about it, that never gets old.