I’m just going to come out and say it: the Street Fighter V beta was an unmitigated failure, so much so that Capcom has postponed it prematurely. Many (myself included) looked forward to it since it was announced and some even went as far as buying a PlayStation 4 in order to play it. However, for whatever reason, Capcom was unable to ensure that those who wanted to play the beta could; with most people completely not even even being to participate at all.
I was one of the few who was actually able to play, even though my total play time was less than an hour across two game sessions. That isn’t nearly as much time as I had wanted to play, especially for the purposes of this write-up, but it was enough for me to give you guys at least a basic understanding of what the game is trying to achieve.
After connecting to the server and scrolling through some text which explained how the beta works, I entered the training mode, which is more or less the hub players wait in until a match could be found. The beta had six characters to choose from. This is a lot considering the first iteration of the game will have 16 selectable fighters. After choosing my character and the dummy opponent, I was taken into the training mode proper.
As was the case when I played the game during E3, this game feels a lot tighter than Street Fighter IV. SFIV had tight controls already but SFV doesn’t feel as loose as SFIV could at times. All of my button presses and moves came out exactly when I wanted them to. If you’ve played Street Fighter games then this title will feel right to you. The big drawback as far as the controls are concerned was the fact that for this beta, third party controllers couldn’t be used. The DualShock 4 is (arguably) the best controller out there, but for a fighting game it leaves a lot to be desired despite its improved D-Pad.
I’ve been playing Street Fighter since the early 90’s with SFII. Since then, I’ve developed some, as I like to call them, ‘bread and butter’ combos which have worked throughout all of the various iterations of the series. However, almost none of the combos I’ve developed over the years seemed to work here. Even with a guy like Ryu, who is the most familiar playing character of this specific group, my usual “jump in with Fierce, standing Fierce, Hadoken” combo just didn’t work. This was understandably jarring but it just meant I had to learn new combos.
Having it so your (perhaps) decades old combos don’t work evens out the playing field somewhat. New players will learn combos which are unique to them while veterans have to master all new ones. At least initially, everyone will come into this game from the same starting point.
The other big change I noticed was with some of the characters’ special moves. Charlie Nash for example was traditionally a charge character but now his special moves are done by the down, down-forward, forward plus attack motion that characters like Ryu are known for. Even some characters like Chun-Li have old moves which are now done differently (her Lightning Legs is now D, DF, F+K instead of repeatedly pressing Kick). Just like with the new way to do combos however, this seems to be another attempt at making the game equal for all players.
One huge omission was a command list option in the menu. Actually, there is a command list option, but it was inaccessible for this beta. Considering how characters now have new special moves, super moves, and V-trigger attacks, having the command list be greyed out made absolutely no sense. I was able to figure things out by trying various traditional Street Fighter control imputs, but those who are playing the series for the first time would be out in the cold here.
Unfortunately, I don’t have much to say about facing actual opponents online. In my entire time playing the beta, I was only able to get into four matches. Two matches lasted for less than 30 seconds before being disconnected, but I was able to complete two others. One of those matches was flawless as far as the connection went, and I was able to feel the thrill of playing against another person and seeing how the game felt in that regard. The other match was a lag fest which was more annoying than exciting. I should note how fortunate I felt to even have those two matches to play considering how few people were actually online to play the game with.
From the little I played of this game, I can tell that Capcom potentially has another winner on their hands. However, the way this beta was executed left a bad taste in people’s mouths and has given birth to doubts of how the final game will be. This is only the first beta test for Street Fighter V so I’m hoping that the next one will actually allow players to actually participate in it. I’m sure Capcom is trying their best to ensure this won’t happen again but we’ll just have to wait and see how things go next time.