When Street Fighter V first launched about five months ago, its reception was overall fairly critical. While the core of the gameplay felt fantastic, the game suffered from crippling server instability issues and lacked many standardized features such as character tutorials and a full story mode. The seemingly empty feeling of Street Fighter V alienated many players and while the sales for the game weren’t terrible, they didn’t meet Capcom’s lofty goals which prompted the company to re-evaluate the amount of development time they need to dedicate to future games.
However, since its rocky beginning, the game has seen a multitude of updates, new characters, and the inclusion of a full cinematic story mode, leading us to wonder if Street Fighter V has finally found both its rhythm and its place among the other currently popular fighting games.
The bulk of Street Fighter V’s problems never stemmed from its gameplay mechanics, but rather the overall hollow feeling of sifting through menus which either brought up an announcement claiming the feature was to be added in the future or boiled down to the question of “Do you want to fight a bunch of people or just one?” Although, with the A Shadow Falls story mode release earlier this month, the once empty game is beginning to feel much more weighty. Sure, the story mode suffers from some issues, a short length, offbeat voice acting, and some really strange pacing issues, but at least it provides options and changes the scope of the game to feel just a bit wider. It also gave us a tease of the new DLC characters by making them playable in the story, which is an outstanding way to help you choose who to buy when strapped on Fight Money.
Two of the most asked for features have also been implemented into the game: character tutorials and the shop. Character tutorials give players the chance to learn all the in-depth mechanics of each character and the game as a whole. They supply the player with basic combos to learn and the chance to master them in a dedicated, repeatable environment. In the end, Street Fighter V is a competitive game with one of the primary player goals being to improve one’s abilities and these tutorials are a great tool that truly improves the game’s quality of life.
The shop has been out since March. However, on its initial release it felt rather dull as the only purchasable item of merit, outside of additional costumes, was the DLC character Alex who was free-to-play at the time due to issues with the game’s former real-life money system, Zenny. The Zenny system has since been replaced by a far less convoluted one and the shop now boasts multiple maps, costumes, and four DLC characters with the fifth, Juri, releasing today. It makes all that hard earned Fight Money feel like it’s worth something and gives players more goals to work toward, which is a vast improvement over the original format.
As stated, Street Fighter V is a game supremely based off competitive play and as such its standing in the fighting game community is a huge indicator of where the status of the game currently rests. On release the game was met with general praise within the community, but also with minor skepticism on whether it could surpass Street Fighter IV. However, over time and with the help of the Capcom Pro Tour, Street Fighter V cemented itself as one of the premier competitive fighters in this generation.
The game has even broken the record for the number of entrants for a single game at one of the largest tournaments in the world, Evolution 2016, coming in at 5,065 total competing players. The game with the next highest registration numbers was Super Smash Bros 4 which pulled in just over half of Street Fighter V’s numbers at 2637. Even without these eye-opening numbers, the Street Fighter V grand finals for this tournament were seen as important enough to be aired on ESPN2. This act brings Street Fighter V into the same light as the most popular esports games around the world such as League of Legends and DOTA 2. There is no question about Street Fighter V’s weight within not just the fighting game community, but within the esports community as a whole. This alone shows a tremendous upward trend for the game that cannot be denied.
Street Fighter V is a game with a messy history which is becoming all too common these days. Despite every issue or problem, the development team carried on and tried to make the best out of what they had, and they’ve certainly done a good job. There is still more to be done – the servers aren’t perfect and the always online feature essentially makes playing offline pointless from a progression standpoint. However, the current state of the game is a far cry away from what it once was in the best of ways. Implementation of more DLC characters and additional story mode options would do wonders to keep the game afloat as well. The future for Street Fighter V is definitely bright and if it continues in the same way it has, we will see a great many things from it.