Capcom’s North American “stress test” of the Street Fighter V Beta is in the books and I’ve got some good news: It worked!
After a disastrous attempt at a worldwide Beta launch failed to produce even a semi-playable version of Street Fighter V at the end of July, Capcom wisely went back to the drawing board, opting to perform a series of individual stress tests across the various territories the game is set to launch in around the globe. Players would be matched up against competitors from within their territory, and Capcom would have a better idea of how to manage things on a more global scale for the future. It’s a strategy that seems to have paid off because, after a successful stint in Europe, the Beta has made its way over to our shores without a hitch. I’ve spent several hours with the Beta over the last few days, and I’ve got a few takeaways.
First of all, I am terrible at this game, and I mean that in the worst possible way. I mean I am just horrendously bad right now. My son is four, and he could probably button mash his way to more success that my attempt at a cunning and calculating strategy has produced over the last few days. Watching me play a match of Street Fighter V, you’d have no idea I’ve been playing the series since way back in 1991 with Street Fighter II. Even early on — this is a beta test for crying out loud — the skill level on display by many of the game’s players is impressive. While it shares a similar aesthetic with Street Fighter IV, Street Fighter V feels like a much different game. It’s going to take some time to get accustomed to the game’s new systems, characters, combos, and counters, and the limited nature of the Beta prevents any meaningful development as a player.
That’s usually my main problem with these beta tests; if you’re not already intimately familiar with the game being tested, you typically have no clue what you’re supposed to be doing. While I appreciate that the pre-fight lobby is actually a modified version of the training mode you can use to test your fighter out with before stepping into the real ring — which I think is a great idea and I hope that this makes it into the final version of the game — Street Fighter V is an extremely complex fighter that takes more than a pre-match sparring session with an A.I. character to properly learn. I understand this is a multiplayer beta test and a proper training mode will be in the final version of the game, but it still would have been nice to have some kind of practice mode I could join in order to hone my skills without some pending real-life opponent waiting in the metaphorical wings. This is a brand new iteration of Street Fighter after all, and there is much to learn.
I like what I’ve seen of the game’s new systems so far and, as I alluded to earlier, these help to differentiate this iteration from Street Fighter IV. V-Triggers, V-Reversals, and V-Skills bring a whole new level of strategy to the Street Fighter V proceedings, and mastering the V-Gauge and all of its options is key to becoming a top tier player. Your character has access to two gauges in Street Fighter V: the aforementioned V-Gauge, and the classic EX Gauge. The EX Gauge works like it always has, granting access to souped up super moves that do extra hits and damage. A fully charged EX Gauge allows you to unleash your character’s Critical Art, a big flashy super move akin to Ultra Combos from Street Fighter IV (Ultra Combos are not a part of Street Fighter V).
The V-Gauge is new and allows players to access V-Reversals — counter moves which allow your character to break combos or get out of a bad situation — and V-Triggers — unique, character-specific skills that add offensive or defensive buffs to your fighter — which add a whole new layer of tactical strategy and planning to the Street Fighter universe. Ryu’s V-Trigger, for instance, sends a shot of electricity coursing through his fists, imbuing his dragon punch and fireballs with increased damage and speed. It also allows Ryu’s fireballs to be charged, allowing him to guard break an opponent’s block, opening up a variety of combo possibilities. Nash’s V-Trigger is more defensive in nature, allowing him the chance to teleport to one of several locations around his opponent should he find himself in danger. Cagey players will be able to use this ability offensively as well; the teleport dash can be a setup for a devastating combo. Learning how to use each character’s V-Trigger properly is going to be a big part of mastering Street Fighter V, and it really adds a nice strategic element to the game.
Technically speaking, the game is running great. Street Fighter V supports a native resolution of 1080p and a framerate of 60 frames per second, and that’s exactly how it should be. Fighting games demand precise timing and smooth animation, and that’s what’s on display here. Speaking of animation, I love the way the characters animate here. This game is bit of a slower, more tactical affair when compared to Street Fighter IV, and this demands an animation system that moves flawlessly between frames. Everything has a natural flow and movement to it, and that’s what allows the game to feel so good, even at this early stage. The netcode has obviously been significantly improved, too, as obviously I can actually join a match now. Lag occasionally reared its ugly head in a match or two here and there, but the online experience was good for the most part. In a competitive fighter, this is one of the most important aspects of the game, and it’s one of the reasons there are so many beta tests scheduled to take place prior to launch. Let’s hope Capcom can utilize the data from these pre-release beta tests to deliver a lag-free online experience come launch day.
A few other things to note:
- Chun-Li’s breast physics are absurd. She apparently doesn’t wear a bra when fighting, and Capcom’s borrowed a page out of Dead or Alive’s book when it comes to jiggle effects and gravity defying woman parts.
- Cammy’s bathing suit/dental floss thong battle attire? Also a tad bit incredulous.
- Nash is a completely different character. Charge moves and flash kicks are replaced by almost blasphemous quarter-circle sonic boom motions and a variety of deadly offensive kicks. Playing as Nash is going to require a great deal of adjustment, and hopefully I can find more success with the character during the upcoming global Beta test.
- I should never play as Birdie. Ever.
- M. Bison will pummel you into a bloody pulp should you allow him to trap you in a corner. Don’t let him trap you in a corner.
- Ryu’s my go-to character, and I like the way he’s been implemented into this game so far. His V-Trigger opens up a wealth of strategic options.
- “You’ve managed to become an idiotic pig. What’s the point of you staying alive.” This is an actual post-match quote from Nash.
- I like that the stun meter is visible here. It’s nice to know how close you are to being stunned and/or stunning someone else, and it’s another subtle change that really affects the moment-to-moment strategy in a given match.
- Backgrounds appear to have a degree of interaction associated with them, especially in the Bustling Side Street stage set in China. I’ll need more time to explore how this works.
That about does it for now. R. Mika, of Street Fighter Alpha 3 fame, was recently revealed as the latest addition to the character roster, and the official global Street Fighter V beta test should be live right now! I’m pumped to get some more time in with the game over the weekend, how about you? Have you given the Street Fighter V beta a whirl? Let us know in the comments, and I’ll see you online!