“Street Fighter V” broadens appeal to new players after 30 years

Brian O’Kelly

“Street Fighter V” is an impressive balancing act. Even though the first Street Fighter installment was released nearly 30 years ago, the franchise broadens its horizons with “Street Fighter V” while maintaining the charm and sophistication that made it the crown jewel of fighting games.

In an appeal to casual players adverse to the fighting genre’s high initial difficulty, the gameplay of “Street Fighter 5” is much more forgiving than previous entries. There are larger windows for combos, making them feel easier to land but still just as satisfying. Have no fear: This leeway doesn’t remove a need for precision playing at higher, more competitive levels. The game does come out feeling slower, but not in a way that demeans the fulfillment gained from combat.

The game still demands that players analyze situations on the fly, responding with the proper tactics. Since the inputs themselves are less frustratingly difficult to complete, the game emphasizes strategy and reading your opponents. Skilled players will be rewarded for smart predictions and quick reaction times rather than muscle memory.

A new addition to the base combat, the Variable System, is a powerful new tool that enhances character’s distinctive abilities. While maintaining the inputs of normal moves, V-Skills build upon an in-depth understanding of a character’s base moves by adding parries, extenders and strong single-hit moves to a player’s arsenal.

The new roster is a strength of the title, with 12 returning members and four new fighters. While most fighters play in recognizable ways, some, like Ken, have gone through enough changes to make them feel unfamiliar. And through the new V-System, characters have expanded movesets making the gameplay feel new, even after the series’ 30-year run.

New characters include Rashid, the series’ first Middle Eastern fighter, whose style is based on mobility stemming from his parkour and control of the wind. He shares aggressive play with fellow newcomer Necalli, whose animalistic combat moves savagely deal high damage while receiving virtually none from his opponents. The new additions to the roster all use play styles that are highly distinct from any previous fighter’s, illustrating the effort Capcom took to craft them. 

“Street Fighter V” is noticeably more stylized than its predecessors, with a cell-shaded appearance that makes its art style feel distinct and colorful. While the game is polished in every aspect from its appearance to its mechanics, the game suffers from a lack of basic content found in most fighting games.

The game does away with arcade and single-player mode, both of which are pivotal to a proper single-player experience. There is a story mode that consists of a handful of fights for each character, but the cut scenes between them are forgettable and the fights can only be played on the lowest difficulty, making them boring for veteran players. 

Capcom announced they are seeking to expand the game through free downloadable content that will be released in spurts over the coming year, but it would have been better to include it in the initial release. 

Players who are apathetic to single player modes will be pleased to hear “Street Fighter V” has solid local and online modes that allow players to duel against friends and strangers alike.

“Street Fighter V” is the culmination of three decades of refinement, with superb gameplay that stands out in the fighting genre. Yet, omissions make the game feel like a nugget of gold — it is beautiful and exciting, but it will leave you wishing there were more.