Suggestions for: Street Fighter V

Originally, the next Suggestions post I had planned was going to be for Sony’s future in the console market, but I didn’t exactly want to get to that so soon. So I decided to do another article in the interim – don’t worry, I’m still planning on doing the Sony one before the end of the month. While I was racking my brain for a new topic, I remembered my dissatisfaction with Capcom’s premier fighter Street Fighter V.  I originally came up with some of these suggestions for a YouTube video way back in March – unfortunately my video guy was busy and by the time his schedule cleared up, it was no longer relevant.

Capcom recently released the reveal trailer for the second character of Season 2, Kolin. Likewise, the game is approaching its first anniversary, so what better time to do a little retrospective? Considering that the game’s roughly a year old, I feel like it’s a good time to take a look and ramble about some of the things I think Capcom should have done to improve the game overall. After all, they did claim that they would be using their off-time between seasons to improve the game’s overall performance and stability. While that technically wasn’t a lie, what they did accomplish was underwhelming to an insane degree.

Starting Off of the Right Foot

Before I go on a long delusional rant about impossible things that I want that Capcom will never do in a million years, I’ve got to give the developers at least a little bit of credit. They actually managed to achieve some of the things that I mentioned on my original list.

  • They did improve load times in Battle Lounge. This was mainly a big problem before the first big update last March. Trust me though, it was abysmal. On that note, the netcode itself has also slightly improved.
  • They also added Vs. CPU mode, which I personally think is more important at this point than the oft-requested Arcade Mode. I can at least understand why a game that skipped the arcades would lack such a mode – regardless of how flimsy a premise that is – but lacking the ability to duke it out with the game’s AI outside of story modes (including one that’s so easy, a baby can beat it) and survival mode, which might as well only have two settings: mind-numbingly easy and unfair.

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    It took me so long to beat Normal with Ibuki. I still need to beat it with Bison. Seriously, fuck Survival Mode.
  •  They also heard my plea for an alternate method to unlock character colors. Sure, it just ended up being a choice between paying Fight Money or actual money to unlock all of the colors for a specific batch of characters’ specific batch of costumes, but somehow, that managed to be far less painful than actually trying to beat survival mode on the higher difficulty settings.
  • A PC-only fix: they added support for DirectInput controllers. Sure, this happened soon after Valve added DirectInput support to Steam itself. Not to mention Capcom’s earlier “workaround” was effectively a slap in the face. I’m still technically going to give this to them, considering it was a huge complaint.
  • They also added more stage transitions, specifically to every stage that was available in the game from launch. The fact that they did this while they were adding both entirely new stages and other variants of existing ones was actually fairly impressive. Admittedly, I am bummed out that Union Station didn’t get a bathroom sub-area (as a reference to Birdie’s SFA2 stage), but aside from that, I’m happy with that we’ve got and hope to see more on the various stages that were added post-launch.
  • They also gave us the ability to set music for the various versus modes. This was a big sticking point with me for awhile – and yet, to be honest, I almost forgot to include it on this list. Still, it is a nice addition and I thank Capcom for its inclusion.
  • While writing this piece, I also found out that Capcom has started a website exclusively dedicated to reporting issues, which is honestly really cool. It looks like the site isn’t entirely live yet, but I’m liking how it’s shaping up. Hopefully, this thing gets some major use.

On the surface, this should seem like an insane improvement. I guess to some extent, it kind of is. Unfortunately, this definitely doesn’t take into account even what little I had on my original list, especially compared to the complaints I’ve added since then. It doesn’t really help that Capcom’s “maintenance period”between Season 1 and 2 – where they claimed they would be working on various fixes for the game – yielded very little fruit.

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Here’s an odd little glitch I found on my end back in July. Still have no idea what caused it.

It seems like the best way to deal with all of my suggestions on how to improve Street Fighter V would be separating them into various categories. That way, it’ll probably be a lot easier to digest, compared to just clumping the list together.

The Little Things

First, let’s start with what I consider “the small things”: fixes that would either take Capcom a really short amount of time to implement or ones that probably only matter to either a small subsection of the audience or in some cases, maybe even just little ol’ me.

  • First and foremost, disconnect the single-player modes from the online servers. Listen, I get that there are rewards for completing certain objective in specific single-player modes and you don’t want people to exploit stuff. But considering the sheer number of horror stories I’ve heard about people almost beating Survival mode on the later difficulties before getting bumped back to start due to a server error, my sympathy lies elsewhere. There has to be some other way to check for legitimacy with regards to these modes and frankly, it seems a little like you care way too much about your fake in-game economy – especially considering how long you’ve let cheaters stay at the top of the in-game leaderboards.
  • Having said that, fix your fucking fake in-game economy. I understand that you’re trying to squeeze even the most hardcore of players into spending money, but the way you hand out fight money is just obscene. Here’s a few suggestions for how to fix it:
    • Allow for small increments of Fight Money (10FM) to be earned in Battle Lounges.
    • Revert back to the Beta victory amounts for Ranked and Casual Matches – 200FM for wins, 50FM for losses. Failing that, at least pay out a small amount for losses.
    • Allow a small amount of Fight Money (~500FM) to be earned daily via Vs. CPU matches.
    • Reward replays in already completed single-player modes with significantly reduced (i.e. 10% of the original amount) Fight Money payouts, again limited daily.
  • Next up, allow for full controller/keyboard rebinding. Seriously, it’s depressing to go back to Ultra Street Fighter IV and see what kind of options that game allowed you, compared to your “latest and greatest”. I’ve got one of those HORI Fighting Commander fightpad, that lets you set up to 10 buttons and I intend to use all of them. So make it happen.
  • On that note, allow players to set default costumes and colors for every character, not just your “favorite”. Again, USF4 had this, why not SF5? It makes no sense. On that note, save settings in training mode across sessions.
  •  Allow the option to select your character in casual matches. Again, this seems like an obvious fix, considering most people use casual matches to train with new characters and it gets kind of annoying switching them out in Battle Settings.
  • I’d say, improve the online functionality, but judging by the Kolin post, it looks like there’s a big update set for sometime next month. So I’m just going to leave this here and reserve judgment once the update drops.
  • Tighten up load times. Need I say more?
  • This complaint actually originates from a friend of mine, but I agree with it: allow characters to earn XP in Battle Lounges. This is another weird choice, especially considering that leveling up only grants small rewards anyway.
  • Another really tiny complaint – and better still, this one’s exclusive to PC – remove the Alt-Tab exploit. This is a pretty big part of the reason why console users hate playing against PC gamers. Besides, if a small indie team like Lab Zero can remove this from Skullgirls, why can’t a big multi-national company like Capcom do the same?
  • Conversely, here’s a big one: fix the character models. Seriously, the fact that I’ve seen clipping in this game during the beta was one thing, but then they never fixed it. What makes matters worse is that I’ve seen mods that avoid the same exact problems, so it’s clearly possible to avoid these weird geometry collisions and clipping fiascos – so maybe just focus on it. Worst case scenario, just hire a modder as a contractor to fix all these wacky glitches and call it a day.

    2016-02-16_00013
    Seriously, I can’t even name everything that’s wrong in this random screenshot I took.
  • Finally, and this is simultaneously my biggest and pettiest complaint: add Steam Workshop support to the PC version. The modding scene is pretty important to PC gamers and considering how difficult you’ve made modding, even compared to USF4, it’s no wonder that people who decided to mod their game also decided to use cheating software. Here are some advantages to setting up Steam Workshop support:
    1.  You’ll actually manage to beat someone to the punch – it’s been speculated that Tekken 7, the first entry in the series to get a PC release, will offer Steam Workshop support. Considering all the lumps SF5’s been taking lately (especially at the hands of Tekken 7) and the fact that T7’s been delayed to June, consider getting a punch in yourselves.
    2. When it comes to mods, most people go the path of least resistance – and Steam Workshop is nothing if not the path of least resistance. Likewise, you get to moderate what kind of mods are available to the general public. You probably think I’m getting at nude mods or other inappropriate ones, but I know something that’s even more willing to get your motor running: you get to bar people from hacking your premium costumes into the game for free. I’m almost certain that’s what’s causing your mod phobia and ironically enough, by giving in, you’re in a much better position to curb this kind of…I guess it would be “piracy” technically?
    3. Most importantly, you guys have taken a lot of hits to your customer reputation in this game and allowing PC mods would be a quick and easy way to get at least some part of the community back on your side.

Modes, Modes, Modes (How Do You Like It?)

I think it’s fair to say that both in its current state and especially in its launch state, Street Fighter V has pretty much always been lacking in modes, specifically those meant to engage single players. The game’s launch state was an odd hodgepodge – intending to cater to both casual fans and the hardcore fighting game community – failing totally with the former, and winning very little favor with the latter. By comparison, it seems like many other fighting games these days have set the standard for the kind of thing one might expect. NetherRealm Studios and Arc System Works tend to include a plethora of extra modes that have set consumer expectations at an all-time high. On the other side of things, SNK – a company that went bankrupt once and just barely avoided it a second time – managed to match Capcom’s current offerings with The King of Fighters XIV when it launched in August. Couple this with the fact that Capcom’s constantly taking SFV’s servers down for maintenance and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

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Story Mode was good for what it was. I just wish it was there at launch.
  • I mean, there’s the obvious: Arcade Mode. I’ve seen enough mock-ups (and even an upcoming mod for the PC version), the demand’s clearly there. The fact that the prologues weren’t used as Arcade mode is actually kind of weird to me. Throw in some intros and endings and figure out the boss. I mean, personally, I’d like to see something like in Darkstalkers 3 or SFA2, where each character has a different character as their final boss. Otherwise, just slap permanent V-Trigger onto Bison, Necalli or Akuma and call it a day. Actually, if you do decide to use Necalli: what would be cool would be if you fight standard Necalli until you win your first round against him; then he goes into permanent V-Trigger mode for the rest of the match. Sort of like the Seth boss fight in SF4, only cooler.
  • My top choice for a new mode: bring back World Tour Mode from Street Fighter Alpha 3. World Tour is still among my favorite fighting game single-player modes of all-time and it’s a shame that it never really cropped into anything besides the various releases of SFA3. For those of you not familiar with World Tour, it involves numerous battles, sometimes with specific limitations – things like short survival chains with diminished health; opponents that can only be harmed with combos, special moves or super combos and even powered up versions of characters. Certain victories can nab you power-ups you can equip to power up your characters, which could be used in the various Versus modes. Imagine that kind of thing with online play – limited to Battle Lounge, of course – it would be amazing.
  • This isn’t exactly a single-player mode per se, but its omission is curious to say the least: bring back Online Training from Street Fighter x Tekken and Ultra Street Fighter IV. This should be mandatory in all modern fighting games, especially given their shift to online play. Just because two people aren’t sitting on the same couch doesn’t mean they shouldn’t the ability to git gud in practice mode, without worrying about things like win records or time outs. Get on this, Capcom.
  • There’s one case where I think Capcom’s and my wires got crossed: I wanted Capcom to add Dramatic Battle to SFV, and they ended up announcing it (albeit inexplicable renamed “Buddy Battle) for Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers. At least they still remember the concept – hopefully they also decide to add Reverse Dramatic Battle as well. Better still, if it’s at all possible, consider making it an option for Battle Lounges. Among my circle of friends, it’s not uncommon for there to be one dominant player, so it would be cool to test their skills with a 2-on-1 fight.
  • Then there’s Variable Battle, hailing from the SFA3 MAX on the PSP. Yes, it’s literally just a 2v2 tag mode. But damnit, I want a 2v2 tag mode – in my opinion, there can never be enough games that at least offer that subgenre as an option. Ideally, it’d be cool to see it done using the rules from SFxT – but I’m down with anything honestly.

Hype-Out

This next section is less of a criticism of the game itself and more about the way Capcom is advertising it. When it comes to fighting games, interest in the product (or “hype”) is paramount. Capcom has had a tendency to rest on their laurels, especially with some of their modern games, considering the fact that they kicked off both the original fighting game revolution as well as its recent mainstream revival. However, all things considered, Capcom is in a very precarious position right now: NetherRealm Studios (Mortal Kombat, Injustice) is whaling on them in terms of sales – and by extension, mainstream success – and the hardcore crowd almost seems to be attempting to rebel against Capcom’s dominance over the genre and are attempting to find replacement games, only failing due to a lack of consensus.

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Early in the game’s life, I had this weird habit of taking screenshots of my Critical Art Finishes and Perfects. Here’s my first twofer.
  • Make sure that all of your branches are all working from the same information. If there’s one thing I hope Capcom garners from this section, it would have to be this. Considering the fact that speculation has it that Capcom USA announced the “1 character per month” schedule for Season 1 without the Japanese branch’s input, I would have figured that they would have gotten that clamped down. But I’m not sure that’s the case. Community manager Haunts recently posted on Reddit that SFV news would be posted every other month. However, the Capcom-Unity blog post said that there would be information posted every month, albeit character reveals would be bimonthly, as Haunts said.
  • Release trailers earlier. It seems that Season 2 is definitely improving on this compared to Season 1, so I’m just going to leave this here as half as “congratulations, you stepped up your game” and half as “here’s how you can make this even better”. Ideally, if Capcom’s sticking to the “end of the month” release schedule we’ve seen form both Akuma and Kolin, this is how I want things to go down: character reveal trailer at the beginning of the month, character showcases videos and streams during the month, before the big release at the end of the month.
  • Reveal the two most-hyped characters first and last. Killer Instinct did it, Mortal Kombat X did it in both seasons, even you guys did it in Season 1 with Alex and Urien sandwiching four SF4 retreads. The first character being Akuma tells me that you’re keeping up the plan here – so just be sure to stick the landing. 
  • More teases. I’m sure Ono’s once bitten, twice shy about teasing after Laura got leaked, but the easiest way to maintain hype for new characters would be teasing the following character’s identity in the trailer for the latest character. The Killer Instinct revival handled this perfectly. Even if it’s just a super distorted close-up of concept art, this would add so much speculation – and by extension, hype – to these reveals.
  • Don’t bother with another road map unless you can stick to it. This is another “stay the course” recommendation, since it looks like we don’t have an announced set schedule for Season 2 content. I feel like the fact that the Season 1 road map eventually fell by the wayside hurt the game way more than anything else.
  • Give the game a “soft reboot”. Effectively, I think that at this point, you should consider doing what Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat X did and re-release a physical copy of the game with all of the Season 1 content included. Ideally, maybe wait until after Season 2 is done and include that content as well. To make peace with long-time customers who feel shafted – to be fair, I already know a couple of PS4 players that feel like they were cheated based on the current bundles on PSN – either pay out big-time fight money, or just give them a bunch of the existing premium costumes. Street Fighter V, as it exists now, is probably finally worth the $60 price you charged at the beginning of its lifespan and if you truly intend to support the game until 2020, you’re going to have to salvage its bungled launch – and unfortunately, free content to existing owners and expanded content for new buyers is probably the only way it’s going to flourish.

Out of Character

Of course, I had to save the best bit for last – discussion of future characters. This bit is always fun, at least from my perspective. I always have fun coming up with fake rosters, both realistic and ones that could only be made if I held the publisher and entire development team at gunpoint. Obviously, the smart way to do this would be to separate it based on both the remainder of the current season, before going into full-blown speculation mode for the third.

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Last night, I dreamed I held you in my arms. (from Twitter)

Season 2

Season 2 was announced with its first character, Akuma. I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of Akuma – especially given the fact that Street Fighter V initially sold me on the fact that it intended to showcase a roster with diverse playstyles, so exceeding 10% shoto saturation did not endear his announcement to my heart. Capcom managed to make up for it with the claim that the remaining 5 characters would be ones that had never been playable before in a Street Fighter game. Speculation and wishlists would run wild, aside from the first silhouette which everyone already knew was going to be Kolin (or Helen, as people referred to her). Unfortunately, since then, some eagle-eyed internet denizens have looked into the remaining silhouettes and believe that these four are the remaining characters, which has done a lot to kill my hype:

  • Goutetsu: Akuma and Gouken’s master who founded their discipline of Ansatsuken. His death at the hands of Akuma cements his focus on becoming the most powerful being in existence. If this ends up being true, then Akuma’s the most incompetent serial killer ever.
  • Matthey McCoy: A member of Delta Red alongside everyone’s second-favorite woman Street Fighter, Cammy White. Of the remaining shadows, this one is probably the closest. I’d like to say this is the one that broke me, but then I found out I could break even farther.
  • Satsuki: We’re pretty sure the fourth silhouette is definitely one of Shadoloo’s Dolls, based strictly on the hat which is clearly visible in the shadow. Of the four we’re not sure of, I’d have to say she’s my favorite. I’m still holding out hope that it’s März though.
  • Rook: This is the one that killed me. It’s bad enough that Ingrid’s been shoved into the Street Fighter canon, now the rest of her loser buddies who didn’t even show up in a game before get a free ride. I feel ill just thinking about it.

There’s been other speculation since then, including the idea that some of these characters may be crossover characters – Iori Yagami is one I heard pitched out. More realistically, I’ve also heard speculation that this could leave the door open to characters from Darkstalkers or Rival Schools – the latter getting cameos in the form of Hinata and Tiffany in the Kanzuki Beach stage.

I’m hoping the list I detailed about is wrong, but excepting crossover characters (man, Iori would be cool) – these are who I hope makes it into Season 2:

  • Azam: Rashid’s manservant and a former colleague of Zangief’s. Don’t ask me why, but his constant fatherly moans of “Master…” endeared this gentle giant to my heart.
  • Edi E.: We could use another Final Fight character, and why not draw from the Mad Gear Gang again? Edi’s probably my favorite of the remaining boss characters who have not previously appeared in a Street Fighter game. Like Poison, he did show up as a playable character in the critically-panned Final Fight Revenge, so he’s even got a similar basis for a new moveset.
  • März: Honestly, considering how complete Decapre was compared to the other Dolls, I was hoping that she’d make a comeback in Season 2. I liked using her in USF4, especially in Omega Mode. Of the remaining non-playable dolls, März is probably my favorite – and since the shadow clearly looks like a Doll, I’ll go with what I know.
  • Violent Ken: This one is a long-shot. Specifically based on the whole “not playable in a Street Fighter game before” statement – I originally figured they would’ve saved Kolin for later and release Violent Ken this month, prior to the release of USF2: the first Street Fighter game he would’ve appeared in. I just figured I’d add this in here, since I think Violent Ken’s got way more potential than Evil Ryu.
  • Ed: Okay, here’s my real final pick. Of the new unplayable OCs that made appearances in SF5’s various story modes, Ed – Balrog’s cocky little shit of a protégé – was my clear favorite. The little dude’s packing Psycho Power and with Balrog effectively taking him under his wing, he’s got to have some cool moves.

Season 3

Considering the fact that Season 1 focused on characters that also appeared in USF4 and Season 2 is focusing on brand new characters, I want Season 3 to be the season of big returns. Birdie, Nash, R. Mika and Karin were the characters I was most excited to use in SF5, so it kind of makes sense that I’d want them to reappear yet again. Here are my picks for Season 3:

  • Sodom: This is my white whale. They teased him in Street Fighter x Tekken, where he just ended up being the basis of Heihachi’s alternate “swap” costume and a background cameo. Ono even said they considered him for SFV’s base roster, but decided against it due to the fact that he needed “a reason to be there”. He didn’t show in Season 1 and Season 2 dismissed him as a contender the second it was fully revealed. The time is now. Pull the trigger, Capcom. I need this weeaboo linebacker back in my life.
  • Eagle: Another favorite of mine, Eagle last appeared in the later ports of SFA3 that decided that porting OCs from Capcom vs. SNK 2 was a good idea. Before that, he was in Street Fighter. Not Street Fighter II, not Street Fighter: The Movie: The Arcade Game, not even Street Fighter: The Movie: The Arcade Game for Consoles – the original Street Fighter, the grand-daddy of them all.
  • Necro: Probably my favorite character from SF3. Usually, I’d think it’d be impossible – as he “shouldn’t” exist yet, but he and his girlfriend Effie made a pretty blatant cameo in the Halloween stage, so I think he’s fair game. The funny part is, despite being called a Dhalsim clone, Necro’s style is totally different, relying on grapples of various ranges and quick attacks. He’s the only character from the SF3 trilogy that I really care about that hasn’t resurfaced in a 3D game, so make it so.
  • Maki: Because why not? She’s been requested a fair amount of times, and if they need another Final Fight character to shove Sodom into the roster, then Maki’s the girl for the job.

Aside from these four, I can’t really think of any long-time absent characters I’d really want – though Oro and Sean would be obvious picks, especially given their presence in the story. Q’s also got some significant fan demand. At this point, I’d also take some other returning characters from USF4: Sakura, Cody, Crimson Viper, Dan, Decapre and Blanka. If we were to go back to the “never appeared in a Street Fighter game before”, I’d go with Black Widow, another of the lady wrestlers from R. Mika’s wrestling federation, Mike Haggar (if they use his MvC3 moveset as a base, instead of just making him a Zangief clone) and – honestly, probably just some straight up original characters. Throw in some Rival Schools characters if you have to, otherwise I’m fine.

So that pretty much summarizes my thoughts on Street Fighter V. Fortunately, the base game is good enough that it can be easily tweaked into something truly fantastic. If Capcom manages to see this blog post (I think I’d be worried if they did) and takes even a fraction of this advice, I think that things will improve. The main things Capcom needs to do in order to make SFV successful is to regain the trust of the casual audience, improve overall functionality (especially the online features) and keep the hype train alive.

[Also, slightly off-topic: who do I have to blow to get more Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite news?]

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