Street Fighter is an institution, having repeatedly revolutionized the fighting game genre, and after a few years of obligatory overhauls and re-releases for SF4, it’s finally time to see what the next chapter holds. Street Fighter 5 is coming to PC and PS4, and we’ve played it extensively. Fists were broken, teeth were knocked out, and many, many fireballs were thrown to bring you the information you’re about to read.
SF5 retains the core principles of the series: one-on-one 2D fighting, with only a joystick and six attack buttons to work with. But as with any new fighting game, there’s a lot you’ll need to learn on the path to greatness. To bring you up to speed, here’s everything we know so far about Street Fighter 5, from the comfortably familiar to the excitingly fresh.
If Sony’s trying to establish itself as the premier destination for console fighters, snagging exclusivity for a franchise as legendary as Street Fighter is a big win. Xbox One and Wii U owners hoping to duke it out in SF5 may want to invest in a PS4 or gaming PC now, because it looks like the next chapter in Capcom’s fighting franchise won’t be available anywhere else for some time. But there’s a silver lining: this is actually a great move for the game’s lifespan.
That’s because Capcom’s developing SF5 for cross-platform play – a monumental first for the series – in an effort to unite the community into a single centralized playerbase. Online bouts against friends or high-level competitors will no longer be restricted by whichever platform you own, and both versions are being built to maintain 1080p/60fps parity in Unreal Engine 4. Instead of fracturing the audience into isolated spaces, everyone’s invited to the same online party in SF5, which should greatly enhance matchmaking and the rate that new combos and tactics get shared around.
The Street Fighter cast is packed with fan favorites, and so far it seems like Capcom is leaning on nostalgia as the guiding force behind its character choices. You’ll want to check out our full breakdown of the Street Fighter 5 roster, but Ryu, Chun-Li, M. Bison, and Nash (who you may know as Guile’s counterpart Charlie) are all familiar faces that have made the return for SF5. It’s standard operating procedure for new Street Fighter games to mix a bunch of established characters in with some newcomers, but it’s still unclear what that balance will be in SF5’s final roster.
We also don’t exactly when SF5 takes place in the timeline, though visual details both small (Bison’s head of white hair) and large (Nash’s stapled-together zombie body) imply that these battles could be taking place long after the events of the Alpha series and SF2, but potentially before SF4 and SF3. If Capcom’s not careful, the Street Fighter timeline could end up being just as confusing as Legend of Zelda’s.
Focus Attacks are the central mechanic in Street Fighter 4: the ability to absorb a hit and unleash a devastating, inky-looking counterattack, or cancel a move to strengthen your offense or defense accordingly. Street Fighter 5 does away with Focus Attacks entirely. Instead, the focus (sorry) is all on the new V-Gauge, a small red meter just above your super bar. The length of the V-Gauge depends on your character, varying between two and three segments (from what we’ve seen so far). And managing this bar is key to victory in SF5’s fast-paced brawls.
All the core mechanics of SF5 (V-Triggers, V-Skills, and V-Reversals, but more on those in a minute) come back to the V-Gauge, as you build or deplete it over the course of a fight. In the simplest terms, a player with a full V-Gauge has far more options than one without. So what can you actually do with these precious ruby-colored bars? Well, for starters…
Having duked it out dozens of times in the two currently available stages, China and London, they’re not too different from what you get in SF4: vibrant, moving backdrops that are interesting to look at without being distracting. Goofy spectators have lined up for each bout, including a four piece band in the London train station and an alarmingly stereotypical shopkeeper in the neon-lit streets of China.
But the levels can shift this time around. While SF4 had shattering pots and detachable plane wings, SF5 will let you open up entirely new areas if you KO your opponent in a certain spot. In China, you can cause a nearby tour bus to speed away or bust into the aforementioned shopkeeper’s property. That said, the length of the stage will remain the same, and not every level has these transitions; what you see is what you get in the London level.
Depending on your expectations, Street Fighter 5’s release date in the middle of 2016 is either tantalizingly close or terribly far. No specific month or day is available just yet, but you can bet that Capcom will slowly tease it out (along with oodles of drip-fed roster reveals) in the months to come.
This release date should also give fightstick manufacturers the time they need to perfect a new wave of sticks, as it’s still unclear if your current peripherals will work with either version of SF5. In other words, start setting aside some cash now for the inevitable day when you pick up the newest MadCatz stick for your system of choice.