Years After Launch, Am I Finally Happy With Street Fighter V?

Street Fighter IV still stands as not only my favourite fighting game of all-time, but favourite game across any genre. As we transitioned into Street Fighter V, I had high hopes that the game would match or exceed the heights of its predecessor. It did not.

A disastrous launch botched basically every aspect of the game, from no single-player content, to awful online, excessive button input delay, to fundamentally-flawed combat design. My fandom for the franchise still carried me quite far. I reached a pretty high ranking in online play and even won an IRL tournament before finishing 17th in the Cineplex WorldGaming Street Fighter V National Championships.

Not long after my most successful tournament run ever, I left the game behind. I found myself being overly-frustrated with the game’s faults, as well as my personal struggle to continually improve as a player. Though I’ve dabbled in other fighting games here-and-there, I never found a new game to call home.

Almost on a whim, I picked up Street Fighter V: Champion Edition on PC as a potential first step towards moving all of my future fighting game playing on the platform. Most of my time thus far has been reacquainting myself with the fighting game I left behind long ago. How are things nowadays?

To Capcom’s credit, they have worked tirelessly to shore up much of what was wrong. A single-player story mode was added a while back, albeit a cringe-inducing one that poorly attempts to follow the footsteps of the modern Mortal Kombat games. At the very least, a sorely-needed Arcade mode finally allows players to fight through a ladder of opponents.

Some of the game’s more degenerate stuff has also been ironed out. In the early days, anti-air jabs were an incredibly powerful tool to sway jumpers out of the sky with ease. Hitboxes have been adjusted so that moves that you’ll need to rely on true anti-air moves to stop jump-ins. Crush Counter combos have also seen a damage reduction, as a single counter hit could easily lead to a massive combo that can completely change the complexion of a match.

One of the game’s most glaring issues was its input delay. On PlayStation 4 in particular, the game launched with 8 frames of input delay in a realm where 3-4 frames is acceptable. Input delay of this magnitude made for a game that felt sluggish and inconsistent. Though it took way too long for Capcom to address the problem, they finally cut it down to about 4 frames on PS4 and 3 frames on PC.

I’m playing on PC now and the lower input delay does help reshape the game in a big way. In the old days, decisions had to be prediction-based by virtue of the delay being so long. With it being so low – particularly on PC – reaction time matters as much here as it does in any other fighting game. It’s easier to block frantic mix-ups and punished whiffed attacks. Having reactions matter more makes the game feel less like a robbery when you lose in a blink and don’t even understand what happened.

That said, the game’s frenetic pacing and aggressive play style largely still stands. Yes, certain characters such as Poison add a bit more variety to the mix, as she excels at ranged combat in a game where close-quarter combat rules supreme. Even so, the game skews in favour of the player rushing in and fighting in your face. Why settle on relying on projectiles, footsies, and anti-air attacks when one clean opening from point-blank oftentimes leads to a 30% combo and a nasty mix-up? Especially when much of the cast is given tools to work past a zoning defense? There’s a lot of ways that the franchise can work through this going forward and I hope it finds a more balanced approach to combat design in future entries.

One key factor that Street Fighter V dropped the ball on was its implementation of rollback netcode. Capcom’s poor implementation of the technology oftentimes led to a high frequency of unstable games and more glaringly, one-sided rollback. To the dismay of Capcom, a modder managed to address some of the netcode’s biggest issues in a matter of days, despite Capcom having years to do the same. Weeks later, Capcom would implement their version of an online fix that has improved stability. It’s still not as stable as other fighters using rollback, but the percentage of playable matches I get is higher than it was before.

Five years after launch, Street Fighter V is finally the game it should have been. It’s got a large roster, single-player content, good enough netcode, and combat that has largely found its footing. With at least one more season of DLC character, things should hopefully get even better from here. If you’ve had any interest in Street Fighter V but had concerns regarding its negative word-of-mouth, you’re clear to jump in. Especially on PC!

Oh, and one more thing about the PC version. I think it’s superior to the PS4 version in every way, but make sure you update the ini file if you’re going to set your graphics at High or Max settings. Capcom thought it would be a great idea to add motion blur to the game on higher graphical settings, which actually makes the game unplayable. Since the UI doesn’t actually have a setting just to remove the blur, you’ll have to make a manual adjustment in the code to remove it. Follow this guide and you’ll be good to go!

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