Street Fighter V’s debut year was supposed to be a triumphant step forward for Capcom’s iconic fighting game series, but instead of an easy win, it’s proven to be one hell of an uphill battle.
While the core gameplay is fantastic, it’s has met more than it’s fair share of criticisms. Casual players feel ignored by the lack of single player gameplay modes and avid online warriors are frustrated with frequent disconnections and matchmaking issues.
Aware of these frustrations, Capcom spent much of the year working to improve the state of Street Fighter V with gameplay fixes. Content updates, new characters and a single player story mode fleshed out the experience and by September, it finally felt like a full package.
It has been a year of playing catch-up for Street Fighter V and while it maintains a dedicated fanbase, Capcom has a lot of work ahead of them to win back disgruntled players in time for the series’ 30th anniversary in 2017.
That work has already begun with Street Fighter V’s second season. It looks like this could be just what the game needs to draw new and old players back in.
The biggest drawcard for SFV’s season two so far is the release of the fan-favourite fighter Akuma. Capcom’s iconic Master of the Fist comes to season 2 with a fresh redesign in both appearance and playstyle. While this is an obvious move by Capcom to keep the fans happy, it’s a good sign that it is listening and willing to give the people what they want.
However, in a surprising move, Akuma will be the only fan favourite coming to SFV in 2017, with the rest of season two’s fighters to be brand new to the series. While some may consider this a risky move, it’s a bold choice that has the potential to breathe new life into the game, because with new characters come new play styles and archetypes to learn, and if the game keeps people learning it keeps people playing.
As well as the promise of new characters, season 2 brings many changes to the core game. The implementation of enhanced anti-ragequit measures, to significant balance changes rolled out across the board, encouraging players to work to their character’s strengths rather than rely on common tools such as anti-air jabs.
Even as I write this players are already pouring over the Season 2 balance changes to see what new techniques they can use, but these changes not only affect players, but spectators of the Capcom’s official SFV tournament, the Capcom Pro Tour, will also benefit as professional fighting game players learn the new balance to the game and a new meta will emerge, making for a fresh new experience for competitors and tournament fans alike.
While these changes aim to breathe new life into Street Fighter V’s casual and competitive play, it’s ultimately up to the fighting game fan base to decide whether it’s enough to keep Street Fighter alive and kicking in 2017.
With heavyweights such as Tekken 7: Fated Retribution and Marvel vs Capcom Infinite threatening to steal the fighting game limelight next year, the answer to Street Fighter V’s survival lies… in the heart of battle.
James is PowerUp!’s resident fighting game expert. Follow him on Twitter or challenge him to a battle.