The Implications of Street Fighter V’s Upcoming Throw Tech Changes

By on March 11, 2016 at 11:44 am
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It’s been a pretty exciting couple days for Street Fighter V players thanks to Capcom providing us our first look at Street Fighter III protagonist Alex, but apart from screens of him clotheslining Ryu, we also received a very interesting set of patch notes.

Amid a few bug fixes(I’ll miss you flying Vega), the developers also plan to introduce major changes to the game’s throw tech system. Defensive throw option selects are specifically being targeted in the first major balance patch, and in a pretty decisive manner. Let’s take a look at how all this worked and what the patch is most likely to change for players currently using this technique.

For as long as breakable throws have existed, defensive throw option selects have thrived alongside them. Option selects themselves are usually considered as one of the more advanced techniques in fighting games, but in this case they’re actually pretty simple. I mean, who wasn’t using crouch teching in Street Fighter IV?

The way they work remains consistent throughout numerous franchises. When a character is thrown, they enter a state where they can do nothing but tech the throw or be thrown; let’s call this a throw tech state. During this throw tech state, players can input whatever inputs they want, but as long as the throw tech input is present during that state they will tech the grab. Since they can input whatever they want, players will typically input throw tech combined with another input that will come out instead should they not enter the throw tech state.

Returning to Street Fighter IV, you’ll see two specific outcomes by inputting LP+LK (throw) while crouching: either a crouching LK or a throw tech. Players took this to the extreme by hiding this input behind blockstun, by inputting larger buttons along with the tech, or even inputting dragon punch and throw tech at the same time.

Capcom intended to address these techniques with the release of Street Fighter V, designing the game in such a way that they would be difficult to utilize and not have a strong impact. They made the throw buffer large and the input’s priority extremely high so it’s hard to hide the input behind something. They made the throw tech window rather small in order to limit the time in which these option selects could be used. They introduced Crush Counters to add another layer of risk to option select attempts.

Still, at the end of the day, these techniques remain and are still fairly strong, perhaps most apparent in the recent discovery of the Ino tech. The throw input’s priority can be circumvented by delaying the tech by a couple frames. Players are still capable of inputting special moves and normals during throw tech state, and they’ve even gone so far as to start jumping in the same time frame.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at how Capcom plans to rectify the situation.

“If you push buttons during the normal throw delayed tech window you are unable to escape throws after 2 frames.”

Remember when I said you can input whatever you want during throw tech state and still get a throw tech as long that specific input existed? This new rule completely changes that. Capcom expanded on the bullet point by saying “this removes teching using lights,” but it also restricts a player from option selecting with stronger buttons.

Throw teching with mediums is a strong tactic; a tech with crouching medium kick can call out an opponent baiting by walking backwards, and a crouching medium punch can lead to a combo if it pokes out, but it’s no longer a viable tactic. With these restrictions in place, it has been removed from the game entirely.

“If you execute specific special moves during the normal throw delayed tech window you are unable to immediately escape throws. Each character’s V-Skills, V-Triggers, V-Reversals, Critical Arts, and moves have been set individually.”

In addition to the two-frame throw tech lockout, Capcom wants to completely erase the ability to incorporate special moves as well. Momochi’s uppercut tech? Gone. Teching throws with Chun-Li’s EX Spinning Bird Kick? Probably gone. Players were also option selecting using V-Reversal so that if they were thrown, they’d tech, and if they blocked, they’d V Reversal out to safety. I’m going to assume that is mostly gone as well. This is the most aggressive change to the throw teching state itself, and one that completely and utterly blocks players from option selecting using certain special moves. As it is adjusted on a per move basis, we don’t know the full extent of this change, but we can safely assume invincible reversals are affected across the board. This is clearly something Capcom did not want to exist in this state, and it seems as if they will get their wish

While both of these adjustments address the throw tech state specifically, there was one more aspect Capcom wasn’t happy about, and it caused them to invoke what could possibly be the most puzzling change in this patch.

“Vertical and back jump frames for all characters except Birdie and Zangief have changed from 3f to 4f.”

This is aimed towards a more specific throw option select, one that involves (you guessed it) jumping. It works so that, in throw tech state, a player can input a jump and tech at the same time and tech the throw. They time it so that if they were to be in blockstun, they just block, and if they are in neither blockstun or throw tech state, they jump.

Changing throw tech state to cause a lockout from a jump input is too extreme, so they didn’t touch that. As such, this option select will still work with the same input post-patch. What they did was add another pre-jump frame across the board to make it riskier. Previously, players could get hit out of the pre-jump frames on the ground and be open to a full combo for their troubles. But if they got hit while already airborne, they would flip out and take much less damage, and in some cases even score a punish on a canceled move.

By adding one frame to jump startup, it’s more likely for somebody to get caught on the ground and take a lot of damage versus the silly flip out situation described above. That’s really the best change Capcom can make here; altering jump startup even further is a huge balance issue waiting to happen, and making directional inputs cause a lockout on throw teching is absolutely ludicrous.

So, in the grand scheme of things, what do these changes mean? Well, throws just got a very significant buff and throw tech option selects have been liberally trimmed to a smaller pool of techniques. Although Capcom didn’t provide any additional reasoning for these changes, they were likely made as to reaffirm a commitment to options and preserve gameflow.

At the same time, defensive throw option selects were already weaker than in previous installments and carried a lot of risk. But Capcom obviously didn’t want to have that element in Street Fighter V, and as such put their foot down really hard to stomp out what they didn’t like. This matches many of the game’s other design choices, and gives players a precedent to look back on while moving forward. That said, they haven’t addressed other silly options like mashed button timings and other fun hidden defensive techniques, showing that their priorities were on throws.

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In closing, I want to make it clear that Street Fighter V’s throw teching system will be fundamentally changed with this patch. The printed guide will not list this information (though the eGuide will likely be updated), and we don’t know if the game itself will relay these details. That would, of course, be a huge oversight, as a system like this should be explained so that players don’t get confused as to whether or not their techs are working. This could be especially frustrating for players new to the Street Fighter series who may not know this change was applied. A new tutorial is being added with this patch as well, so it is possible this information can be found there, but I remain skeptical.

Furthermore, I’m assuming there will be no in-game indicator signaling that a player has triggered the new throw tech lockout. This could lead to players unjustly blaming the game for their own missed throw techs, or could leave players wondering if they were unable to tech. You don’t want somebody accidentally getting a special move input out of the buffer while teching without understanding what happened to them. Street Fighter V already features cross-up indicators, so having one for these situations might not be such a stretch. All in all, I think we can all agree that depriving players of critical information is something they should avoid.

On the flipside, seeing a lockout indicator could let the other player know the person being thrown was mashing, which might be more information than Capcom believes you should receive. It’s an argument that I’m interested in seeing play out, and is a point worth addressing when looking at such a major change.

That’s pretty much the crux of what these Street Fighter V changes have to offer. Like always, there are other subtleties in play here, but that would move the discussion into more advanced territory. The major point to remember is that Capcom saw strong throw tech options and immediately shut them down with the first patch, which sets a precedent for future updates. While this could have been planned to some degree beforehand, these changes show that the developers were willing to change an entire game system to accomplish their goals.

Regardless, players should keep their eyes open to how this affects the game moving forward, as I’m sure Capcom will be in the weeks ahead.