Going Hands-On with Street Fighter V: Versatility Has Its (V-)Benefits

By on June 11, 2015 at 8:00 am
sfv-ryu-criticalart-denjinhadoken-622

sfv-ryu-criticalart-denjinhadoken-crop

One of the things they don’t tell you about E3 is that it’s a pretty terrible event to try new titles at. It’s crowded, it’s noisy, and the time you spend actually playing games will be eclipsed by the time you spend waiting to play games. This is why, increasingly, you’ll find companies giving media time outside of E3 to play the games they’ll be showing, which is just what Capcom did with select members of the press and Street Fighter V. It’s a wise move on their part–Street Fighter V is the sort of game that you’d want to sit down with for a good length of time and really get a feel for.

I was one of several games media folks invited to Capcom’s pre-E3 2015 hands-on with Street Fighter V, and I came away intrigued, amused, but most importantly…hyped. And thankfully, Shoryuken has provided an outlet through which I can share my hands-on impressions with other like-minded folks who love fighting games.

Before I start, I’ll be upfront: I’m pretty hot garbage at this series. Sure, I have a lot of experience with fighting games, but odds are you’d body me pretty hard if you played me in Street Fighter right now. This means that while this report will hopefully be a bit more in-depth with gameplay stuff than other articles coming out around this time, it won’t be quite as technical as some of you might like it to be. My apologies in advance.

Also, keep in mind that the game is still in very early development, and there’s room for significant alterations between the time this is published and the game’s eventual release.

A new game brings new mechanics

So here’s what folks are most curious about…just what was that weird magical energy stuff we saw Ryu and Chun-Li tossing around at Capcom Cup? The answer: it’s a special skill that utilizes something called the Variable Meter.

Remember the Revenge meter? It’s gone. No more Ultras. Focus Attacks? No longer a thing. Those are systems specific to Street Fighter IV and are done and buried in V. It’s all about the Variables now.

Variables are the new core mechanic that Street Fighter V is built around (and also a neat play on the prominent “V” roman numeral in the title). Every character now comes equipped with a V-meter as well as a Super meter. The length of the former varies from character to character; the standard seems to be two, but I also saw characters with three stocks. The V-meter, which rests above the super meter on the HUD, fills up similarly to the old Revenge meter–by taking damage– and resets after each round. But rather than allowing access to a single attack, it opens up new mechanics called V-Reversals and V-Triggers.

V-Reversals use one stock of V-meter and function like Alpha Counters; the command varies slightly from character to character but generally involves pressing forward and either three punches or three kicks while in blockstun. V-Triggers, on the other hand, have a universal activation of HP+HK, but the function varies. That energy you saw Ryu and Chun summoning months ago were their respective V-Triggers. The effects these activations have vary dramatically, and I’ll go into more detail when I talk about individual characters.

While they have a similar name, V-Skills actually don’t use the V-meter at all. They are, however, character-specific skills with a unique function accessed by pressing MP+MK. Again, I’ll go into more specifics when I get into character details.

Replacing the Ultras are “Critical Arts,” which make use of a fighter’s entire super bar. This makes for an interesting twist in strategy: if you use EX moves, you make it harder to access your Critical Art. It’s a big change from Street Fighter IV, where you had both Supers and Ultras; now you only have a Critical Art, and you’re really going to have to be careful with meter management to utilize it.

Other bits of note:

  • Damage, in general, seems a fair bit higher than Ultra Street Fighter IV.
  • Chip damage cannot kill unless from a Critical Arts attack.
  • No 360 moves were in the game.
  • The character select screen shows stats for each character, ranking them on things like strength, technique, etc.
  • I asked if one-frame links were still a thing. The answer was, “Yes, but the execution is more lenient so they’re easier to pull off.”
  • There are more special stage finishes than what we saw at Capcom Cup. One match I played ended with my Bison being shoved into a Hong Kong tour bus that then drove off.
  • Only one Critical Art for each character though, in some cases, it can be altered…I’ll go into that shortly.

Capcom also spoke a bit about the online play. The team has developed their own proprietary netcode, called “Kagemusha,” based on GGPO-style rollbacks. The studio is promising a smooth, lag-free online experience. Perhaps even more excitingly, this will–in a series first–allow cross-platform play between PlayStation 4 and PC. Can’t convince your PC-owning buddies to spring for a console to play with you? No problem, you’ll still be able to battle them online!

Now, let’s have a bit of a look at the individual characters along with their current movesets. While I spent a fair deal of time with everyone and tried to be fairly thorough, I definitely wasn’t able to test every single variation and situation. In particular, I didn’t really have a chance to play around much with the V-Reversals, so I don’t really have much info to give on them. Sorry!

[hr]

Ryu

sfv-ryu-art-tall-3
Click for full artwork

Capcom generally takes the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to Ryu, and his Street Fighter V incarnation is no exception. His fundamentals are largely the same across every game he shows up in, and if the powers that be ever want to make major changes, they just make a new character like Evil Ryu. (No, that’s not a confirmation of Evil Ryu being in the game. Don’t read too much into this!)

Everything you know and love/hate/are mostly ambivalent towards concerning Ryu is still here, with a few new elements that don’t really alter what makes him the iconic fighting game character.

Current Movelist

  • V-Skill: Mind’s Eye (MP+MK)

Ryu’s V-Skill is pretty easy to grasp…it’s a Street Fighter III parry! The command might be different, but the timing’s still pretty strict. (Yes, it’s possible to recreate Evo Moment #37 in Street Fighter V. Yes, I specifically asked about it.)

  • V-Trigger: Denjin Renki (HP+HK)

This is what we’ve been seeing in so much of the Ryu footage released thus far. The wandering warrior’s V-meter transforms into a countdown (think Alpha 2 custom combo meter) that adds additional properties to several of his special moves, which I’ll expand on further down.

  • V-Reversal: Hashogeki (During guard, towards+PPP)

Special Moves

  • Hadoken (QCF+P)
  • Shoryuken (DP+P)
  • Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku (QCB+K)
  • Air Tatsumaki (QCB+K in air)

Not much to say about Ryu’s moveset, you know it like the back of your hand at this point. The big alterations happen when Denjin Renki is active, as Ryu can hold down the punch button to charge the Hadoken’s strength. At max charge, the projectile gains guard break capabilities. Shoryukens also gain an electrifying property when in this mode.

Critical Arts

  • Shinkuu Hadoken (2xQCF+P)

Ahhh, the old classic! Unless Denjin Renki is active, because then you get…

  • Denjin Hadoken (2xQCF+P)

It’s a Shinkuu Hadoken, but far more electrifying! Slightly different animation, more damage.

[hr]

Chun-Li

sfv-chunli-art-tall-3
Click for full artwork

Though almost as iconic as Ryu, Chun-Li’s has had some more significant alterations from her previous appearances in Street Fighter V. Her moveset is now a mix of charged attacks and quarter-circle motions, with some new Variable abilities to augment her pressure game.

Current Movelist

  • V-Skill: Rankyaku (MP+MK)

You know those trademark, kinda-floaty, vertical Chun jumps? Well, now she has a skill that gives her a nice, short 45-degree angle leap where she spins in the air like a graceful…something. I’m strapped for metaphors. Anyway, it’s good for dodging and getting in close with less risk than a normal jump.

  • V-Trigger: Renkiko (HP+HK)

Activating Renkiko turns Chun-Li’s V-meter into a timer, like Ryu’s Denjin Renki. But where Denjin Renki affects Ryu’s specials, Renkiko gives the world’s strongest woman multi-hit normals, increasing damage and blockstun and making her rushdown game much fiercer.

  • V-Reversal: Sohatsukei (during guard, towards+PPP)

Special Moves

  • Kikouken (Hold back, towards+P)

I predicted that they’d make this a standard quarter-circle forward motion, but I was wrong! Instead…

  • Hyakuretsukyaku (QCF+K)
  • Air Hyakuretsukyaku (QCF+K in air)

It’s the ol’ Lightning Legs, only with motion inputs instead. No more mashing! She also gains the mid-air Hyakuretsukyaku from the Marvel series.

  • Spinning Bird Kick (Hold down, up+K)

Critical Arts

  • Hoyokusen (2xQCF+K)

Straight from Street Fighter III. Don’t know what this looks like? Well, there’s this video

[hr]

Nash

Click for full artwork
Click for full artwork

Capcom seems to be standardizing Charlie’s name as “Nash” across all territories this time around. Fine by me! Perhaps it’s because this isn’t the Charlie you remember from the Alpha series. No, Nash is a very different beast from his former Guile-clone self. Gone are his charge moves, replaced with shoryuken and half-circle commands. Also absent is his formerly pleasant “too easy!” demeanor: Nash is physically altered and filled with vengeful rage, and it’s reflected in his attacks, which feel far more vicious.

Current Movelist

  • V-Skill: Bullet Clear (MP+MK)

Absorbs a projectile and gains V-meter–with proper timing, of course. It doesn’t seem to work against EX or charged projectiles, though I admittedly didn’t test every variation.

  • V-Trigger: Sonic Move (HP+HK plus a direction)

This one actually has a few variants, effectively acting as a teleport. Remember seeing Nash warp behind Ryu in the character reveal trailer? That’s his V-Trigger. Pressing a direction (back, towards, or down) with the command determines where Nash appears in proximity to the opponent.

  • V-Reversal: Sonic Move – Avoid: (During Guard, towards+PPP)

Special Moves

  • Sonic Boom (QCF + P)

Sure feels weird launching Sonic Booms with a fireball motion…

  • Sonic Scythe (QCB+K)
  • Moonsault Slash (QCF+K)

You probably remember seeing two Flash Kick-style moves in Nash’s reveal trailer: these would be those skills. Old-school Marvel players might remember the Moonsault Slash, a skill Charlie had exclusively in that series. Sonic Scythe is the parallel to the old Somersault Shell, though with a a rolling leg kick rather than a backflip. It functions much like a typical uppercut/anti-air style move in this incarnation, though it still seems to have a fairly large hitbox.

  • Tragedy Assault (DP+P)

Here’s something a bit out of left field. This leap-lunging grab, when it connects with a foe, has Nash grabbing them by the face and slamming them to the ground, then charging a bolt of electricity into their body for good measure. Harsh!

Critical Arts

  • Judgement Saber (2xQCF+K)

But still not as harsh as this Critical Art. The trailer only showed half of this, the part where Nash does a short lunge towards the opponent and materializes behind them. What happens after that? Well, you see said opponent with a gigantic Sonic Boom energy blade vertically bisecting them from the head to chest. It looks incredibly painful–if this were Mortal Kombat, this would be a Fatality and various viscera would slide out of the corpse after the fact. But since this is Street Fighter, it just eats a ton of life and leaves the opponent mentally torn apart instead.

[hr]

M. Bison

Click for full artwork
Click for full artwork

I don’t know if it’s just me, but something about our beloved dictator felt a bit…off in this build. It primarily has to do with him being a charge character. I mean, yeah, he was always a charge character, but the new attacks he has don’t seem to gel with the mechanic.

When you hold back or down with a charger, you typically get some sort of “slingshot” effect upon pressing the next direction and your attack button, be it launching a projectile forward or your character shooting physically up into the air. This current incarnation of Bison doesn’t really follow those rules, which makes playing him feel a bit awkward. I’ll explain in more detail in the movelist–and again, keep in mind this is a very early version and changes are extremely likely.

Besides that, it’s noteworthy that Bison has a three-stock V-meter, where most of the other characters have two.

Current Movelist

Variable Skills

  • V-Skill: Psycho Reflect (MP+MK)

Executed properly, this sends a projectile bouncing back from whence it came.

  • V-Trigger: Psycho Power (HP+HK)

Transforms the V-meter into a depleting gauge, like Ryu and Chun-Li. This adds a teleport/momentary invulnerability property to Bison’s dashes. Think Demitri from the Darkstalkers series and his dashes.

  • V-Reversal: Psycho Burst (During guard, towards+PPP)

Special Moves

  • Psycho Blast (Hold back, towards+P)

Yup, no more Psycho Crusher! This is the replacement, and it’s one of the “doesn’’ feel right for a charger” moves I mentioned before. Instead of launching forward, Bison does a close-range strike with a psychic power orb. It looks like the Psycho Cannon projectiles he had in the Alpha series, only larger and stationary.

  • Double Knee Press (Hold back, towards+K)

Well, he’s still got the knee press at least. Not much new here.

  • Head Press (Hold down, up+K)
    • Somersault Skull Diver (P after Head Press hits)
    • Devil Reverse (P before Head Press hits)

He’s also capable of these two Head Press variants again!

  • Psycho Inferno (Hold down, up+P)

Another new skill that functions as an anti-air/uppercut. It feels somewhat more appropriate for a charger than the Psycho Blast, but still a little “off.”

Critical Arts

  • Ultimate Psycho Crusher (2xQCF+K)

This was shown in Bison’s reveal trailer last month. Despite being a “Psycho Crusher,” it actually needs to hit at close-range on startup in order for the full attack to execute.

[hr]

That wraps things up for now. Hopefully you enjoyed my hands-on impressions of Street Fighter V–I’m very excited to see where this game goes from here. I’m also eagerly awaiting the next round of community and industry events. Capcom’s always one to give us some additional teases at shows, and between E3 and Evo 2015, I get the feeling there’s more Street Fighter V surprises still waiting for us. Get hype!

[hr]

Interested in seeing these mechanics in motion? Check out the latest Street Fighter V trailer below.