Street Fighter V PC Review: Tournament-Ready, And Not Much Else

Street Fighter V is a great foundation, but Capcom needs to build some more atop that foundation.

Review by Mike Williams, .

Street Fighter V is the latest title in the marquee fighting game series that made fireballs, six-button layouts, and quarter-circle motions a thing. It's a reset of the franchise, with Capcom going back to the drawing board and crafting a title that still retains its high-level play, but allows new players even greater entry into the world of Street Fighter.

Simplicity and Variety

The starting roster is comprised of 16 fighters; series mainstays Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li are joined by returning challengers like Birdie, Karin, and R. Mika, and all-new fighters like Laura and Rashid. It's a solid roster and Capcom has worked hard to make each character unique in their own right. Laura for example, feels like she should be a kick-based character, but is actually a mobile grappler. Another new entry, F.A.N.G., adds a poison effect on certain attacks, which is a first for the series as far as I can tell. Vega is still an acrobat, flying across the screen every which way, but his charge moves have been changed to quarter-circle motions and the like, making him a more aggressive fighter now.

This commitment to uniqueness extends to the all-new V-System, spread across a few different concepts. First up, there's the V-Skill, a unique ability every fighter can access simply by pressing Medium Punch and Kick at the same time. Ryu's V-Skill acts as a parry, consuming a single hit if well-timed. Zangief's Iron Muscle is similar, but holding it down causes Zangief to walk towards his opponent. Ken's is dash, allowing him to quickly close gaps. R.Mika's V-Skill increases the strength of her throws the longer she's allowed to use it. The two-button activation means these special skills are available to all players regardless of skill level. Some are easier to use, but all V-Skills fit the character.

Good to see you back, Ryu. [All screenshots direct capture for Steam.]

Next is the V-Gauge, which fills as your fighter takes damage and underpins the rest of the V-System. Fighters have either 2 or 3 bars of the V-Gauge and like Street Fighter V's Ultra gauge, the idea here is that players can turn the tide of battle if they're taking a pounding. A V-Reversal, activated by all three punches or all three kicks during a guard, counter-attacks and pushes an opponent away. It's great for a brief respite from heavy pressure and only costs one bar on the V-Gauge.

Then there's the V-Trigger, which requires a full V-Gauge. You activate the V-Trigger by pressing Hard Punch and Kick at the same time. Every V-Trigger heightens your fighter's abilities, kicking them into overdrive for a single attack or short period of time. Cammy's Delta Drive increases her speed and special move recovery times, an upgrades her Spiral Arrow for one shot. New fighter Necalli's V-Trigger is infinite, giving him new combos and making him stronger until the match ends. Nash's Sonic Move lets him straight up teleport for a limited time. Rashid throws out a huge whirlwind that can damage opponents and pushes Rashid's speed on certain special moves.

The V-System as a whole makes every character play very different, while still occupying the same game. Despite the variance in V-Skills and V-Triggers, the game feels relatively balanced at this point. Capcom was able to draw upon two previous betas, so every character feels like they have a fighting chance. I'm sure character tiers will appear eventually, but I think we're starting on an even foot here.

Capcom has made a host of other gameplay and balance changes as well. Every character has a single Critical Art this time around, as opposed to the options found in Ultra Street Fighter, and you can land a Critical Art from a combo much easier this time around. Normal attacks no longer change based on proximity; a hard punch is always a hard punch regardless of distance. There's a new priority system where the stronger attack wins in a trade-off. You have to be standing to escape out of a throw.

All told, Street Fighter V is a bit simpler, but it's also tuned to be a more offensive game. Like the Vega changes above, most characters are built to push forward and be aggressive. The only real exceptions are Dhalsim and F.A.N.G., both of whom require more setups and mindgames to deal great damage.

The core of Street Fighter V is great. You can take this game from launch right into tournament play with no issues. The problem is in the bells-and-whistles.

Not The Final Round

This time around, Capcom is treating Street Fighter V as a service. You buy Street Fighter V and the developer just keeps adding on new content. Some of that comes as free updates, some as paid DLC. Capcom has a robust content update schedule already in place, but unfortunately what you're paying $60 for today is pretty barebones.

You get the Story Mode, which features 2-4 character battles mixed with static hand-drawn and voiced cutscenes. You get Versus mode, letting you set up a match between local players. You get Survival mode, allowing you to tackle matches in succession, and Training mode, where you can practice your moves. On the online side, there's Battle Lounges, which are Street Fighter V's version of multiplayer lobbies. Then there's Casual and Ranked matches.

The problem is, there's a ton of details that are missing from that list above. The Story Mode is painfully short and there's no difficulty settings; veteran players will breeze through most stories in 10-15 minutes tops. Capcom has a full-fledged Story Mode planned for release this Summer, but that doesn't help you right now. Playing Story Mode wins you Fight Money and the ability to unlock an alternate character costume, but you can't actually acquire the costumes because the in-game Store won't be live until March. There's a block for a Challenge Mode on the menu screen, allowing you to pick a character and complete certain tasks, but it also won't be live until the March update.

Survival Mode has four difficulty settings - Easy, Normal, Hard, and Nightmare - but at no point does the game give you any indication as to how long your Survival run is. I started on Normal and finished 30 matches before I paused and decided to check when Survival ends. It's 10 matches for Easy and 100 matches for the other difficulty modes, but there's no counter or anything in-game to let you know when you stand.

The game includes a basic Tutorial at the beginning, but if you wanted to learn a character, there's no mode like that in Street Fighter V. You just have to go into Training Mode with a guess-and-test mentality.

Online works most of time, but the options available are equally spartan. You choose your fighter for online play ahead of time, so there's no ability to counter-pick. Matchmaking takes 1-2 minutes and you're shuffled into the match immediately. If you want to rematch the same player, no dice, there's no option to do that. The Battle Lounges will eventually allow you to invite up to eight people, but currently, you can only invite one.

There's also weird login issues. I created a Capcom ID in my first playthrough and finished a few Stories, racking up some solid Fight Money. When I started up the game later, I had to recreate my Capcom ID, but my Fight Money was gone. The Stories were still completed, but the in-game currency I gained is just dust in the wind. [Note: I've been told this was apparently working as intended, with Capcom resetting the servers each day.]

Street Fighter V isn't bad, but it's missing so many quality of life features. Put this in an arcade cabinet and I'd say it's amazing. In a retail release, it feels lacking. There's so many features that other fighting games have nailed that are just gone here. If SFV was a car, the vehicle would sport a powerful engine with great handling, but it'd be missing air conditioning, heat, and windshield wipers. Street Fighter V is a Steam Early Access game without the label.

There's two types of players who should buy this game. Those who want to play competitively, or those who believe in the eventual scope of Capcom's vision. I think Street Fighter V will be an amazing game when it's done, but it's nowhere near done yet. As it stands, for a fighting game fan, it's just great. For everyone else, wait a few months.

The Nitty Gritty

  • Lasting appeal: It's a fighting game. As long as you're good with online, it'll last forever. If you're playing alone, this is a short fight.
  • Visuals: Street Fighter V is a subtle, but amazing upgrade to Street Fighter IV.

Street Fighter V is a great core for the next generation of Street Fighter. The roster of 16 characters is varied, the game has been tuned to be easier for new players, and everything feels relatively balanced. Unfortunately, SFV is missing most of the bells-and-whistles we've come to expect from a retail fighting game. Capcom is updating the game, so it'll reach greatness eventually, but it's not quite there yet.

3.5 /5

Street Fighter V PC Review: Tournament-Ready, And Not Much Else Mike Williams Street Fighter V is a great foundation, but Capcom needs to build some more atop that foundation. 2016-02-15T20:01:00-05:00 3.5 5

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Comments 19

  • Avatar for changk3 #1 changk3 2 years ago
    The "strange login issues" were intended. They do daily wipes of fight money before the game releases to prevent people who get it early from gaining more fight money than people who get it on release. They even put out a notice on in the in-game menu.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #2 MHWilliams 2 years ago
    @changk3 Ah! That would explain it! I'll add a note in the review.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #3 Kuni-Nino 2 years ago
    I don't really care for single player modes in fighting games. This is an instant buy for me because I care about getting better and kicking ass online.

    That said, I think it's entirely fair to judge the retail release for being light on so many other features. Mortal Kombat X released completely finished with a whole load of features. Maybe the netcode was garbage, but you also had a ton of other modes to keep you occupied. SFV could have been like that.

    Anyhow, I hope reviewers come back to the game in a few months to reassess it. The information here will be outdated in half a year. Give SFV the Splatoon treatment.
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  • Avatar for Matieo #4 Matieo 2 years ago
    I'm not getting my TE2+ until March, so, this works. SFIV benefited from it's later releases, and I think SFV following suit (hopefully) without having to purchase newer iterations < free patches and updates, we'll see an even better fighting game than SFIV, which was already pretty legendary. One can hope, at least; I'm not too worried right now about what's currently left out, however, if I was a newer player I'd be a bit intimidated, but if you want to embrace Street Fighter, I mean, you have to not fear getting your butt kicked (online) at some point, and it might as well be right away so at least you have a chance of improving before the meta really thickens later on.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #5 MetManMas 2 years ago
    Really, I kinda expected Street Fighter V to be a work in progress even at release. More power to the people who buy it Day One, but I have absolutely no problem with waiting until it's had a few patches and some new characters and features added before I bite. There's lots of other PS4 games I wanna buy, anyway.
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #6 touchofkiel 2 years ago
    Vega's moves now half-circles?! That's going to be a BIG adjustment. I tried playing with Ken the other day in USFIV, and I just couldn't stop myself from the golden rule for charge fighters (Always Be Charging).
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #7 MHWilliams 2 years ago
    @touchofkiel Quarter-circles and dragon punches!
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #8 touchofkiel 2 years ago
    @MHWilliams That's going to take some getting used to (Vega for life). I'm not sure how that will affect your ability to choose which wall you're jumping towards, though - a key part in my Vega strategy (seriously though, I'm a scrub) is keeping the opponent off balance with that aspect. I guess I'll find out later this week.
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  • Avatar for nilcam #9 nilcam 2 years ago
    I'm not a fan of these full-priced barebones releases; it's ridiculous for a modern fighting game to launch without a challenge mode. Luckily, I am not interested at all if SFV, so I've got that going for me.
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  • Avatar for ojinnvoltz #10 ojinnvoltz 2 years ago
    SFV is an Early Access release in all but name. My group of friends are all waiting to get it for different reasons. One buddy has no free time, another is waiting for challenges to launch, and I'm waiting for my buddies to get it. I've always been a Guilty Gear guy, but the V systems have me excited as they further differentiate characters.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #11 VotesForCows 2 years ago
    Great, balanced review there Mike. The game has everything I want from it, but I can see that for others it mightn't be ideal.

    Anyway, I'm just waiting for my download to activate in about half an hour!
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #12 SatelliteOfLove 2 years ago

    If VF4-level single player was in the wings, I would be waiting much less elegantly, but now it's only extra characters and more robust H2H options.

    God, VF4 was exemplary.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #13 Kuni-Nino 2 years ago
    @SatelliteOfLove Quest mode was great in VF4 and better in VF4:Evo. VF5 Vanilla had a watered down version of it, but it was still fun.

    If we're talking about single player modes, I'll raise up the Soul Calibur games as the gold standard before Mortal Kombat got its act together. SC1, SC2, and SC3 were full of fun shit to play. SC1 had all those awesome artworks to unlock too. Brilliant stuff.
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  • Avatar for edviges01 #14 edviges01 2 years ago
    Ok guys. Need an explation here.. maybe it's bug.. a big bug btw. In the first gallery of four pictures we can see the Kanzuki Estate level in daylight.. With no table or NPC's. Bug?Edited February 2016 by edviges01
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  • Avatar for Mooglepies #15 Mooglepies 2 years ago
    I'm away on a work training course this week but I'm itching to play this. So long as there are ranked and casual online matches and the netcode is okay, that's enough for me in the initial release.

    While standards certainly do change over time, it is worth noting just how hideously expensive SF2 was on release for the SNES, particularly if you decided to import. I know plenty of people slightly older than I was at the time who paid £70-80 (check that put in today's money - ouch) for what was essentially the same barebones arcade port experience. While games like Injustice and MKX bucked the trend with more in-depth singleplayer content, what's presented here is still arguably about the average.

    Is there any information available on whether arcade sticks and controllers are being properly recognised on PC yet? The beta refused to recognise my Hori PS4 stick despite it being a fairly well established and popular piece of kit and I want to know if that's fixed yet.
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  • Avatar for Avante #16 Avante 2 years ago
    "Put this in an arcade cabinet and I'd say it's amazing."

    It would have been even better if they had taken the time to tack on an actual arcade mode. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there is any way to even have a standard single player offline match? Honestly, I sometimes think the big game companies these days are just testing the waters to see what they can get away with in the future.
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  • Avatar for Frosty840 #17 Frosty840 2 years ago
    Hey, Mike, genuinely well done on this review. Fighting games escaped from me a few years ago and have been an opaque mystery ever since. Your section about the V-system was the first description of any fighting game's mechanics that's made any sense to me since the GameCube.
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  • Avatar for Katon2099 #18 Katon2099 2 years ago
    I picked up my PS4 copy this morning, but I won't be able to play it until tonight. Everything I hear about the gameplay is encouraging, and while the lack of content is disappointing, I can live with it as long as Capcom makes good with its promises for more to come. I especially hope they took inspiration from Mortal Kombat for that upcoming story mode. Until then, I'll settle for playing online.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #19 MHWilliams 2 years ago
    @tomjones83 Solid 60 FPS for me on my rig. Runs great. I have heard that if your PC isn't up to the task, the game runs poorly. (
    @Avante Nope, no basic Arcade Mode. Survival is the closest you get.
    @Frosty840 Glad I could be of help!
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