In 2008, Street Fighter made its comeback in the biggest way possible with Street Fighter IV. It was colorful, it incited nostalgic feelings, and it was simple yet deep to get into. Casual fans had fun mashing buttons and taking turns fighting each other at parties. Veterans reinvigorated the fighting game scene headlining the game.
Eight years and five iterations later, Capcom knew that it needed to count to number five. It needed to shake things up, go for broke, and up the ante.
Street Fighter V is going to “go back to the way things were” starting this February 16. What did the company mean by that? Stick around, and carry on reading.
Remember that time you played Super Street Fighter II Turbo, and the winners are determined by how well they play their spacing game? Remember how each bout goes by so fast after 2 to 3 combos? That’s how Street Fighter V feels like: faster and harder-hitting than its predecessor.
Long string combos are (almost) a thing of the past. In-game resources like your V-Gauge and your Critical Arts meters have to be managed properly to either pull off EX versions of special moves or devastating Critical Arts attacks. Speaking of meters, it’s now much faster for players to gather the resources needed to defeat their opponents.
To emphasize the offense-heavy mechanics of the game, players have a visible stun meter just below their lifebar. If you keep getting hit, it’ll fill up. When it’s full, you’ll be stunned and be vulnerable to more attacks. Fortunately for defensive players, there are V-Reversal moves that let you counterattack opponent’s barrages. Crush Counters, which are counterattacks using a specific Heavy Punch or Kick, punishes an opponent’s missed attack or button press by placing him or her in a crumpled state, allowing for further damage-dealing opportunities.
These are skills each individual street fighter has to complement with their playing style. Ryu parries as he does in Street Fighter III, Chun-Li does a diagonal air dash, and M.Bison parries and chucks fireballs back at his opponent.
Just think of V-Skills as extra special moves you can pull off by pressing medium punch and medium kick together. V-Skills are meant to be used frequently and as part of a player’s arsenal. There is no limit to using them and it also helps with building up the V-Gauge bit by bit, so go nuts with it. Ken is a character who is always in your face, so having his V-Skill be a run that you can cancel into some attacks bolsters his aggressive trait.
V-Triggers are character-specific special moves that consume the V-Gauge, either gradually or instantaneously. These special moves are tools for attack and defensive setups, a one-way ticket out of a sticky situation, or atemporary power-up.
For example, Ken’s V-Trigger makes his hands and feet burn an orange fire, making his attacks deal more hits and damage for a short bit. R.Mika summons her tag team partner Nadeshiko to knock down an opponent from either the front, back, or above. Zangief, a slow grappler who usually has trouble getting close, can use his V-Trigger Cyclone Lariat to pull an opponent off-guard to him.
While you’re blocking, you can interrupt an opponent’s offense or attempt to sidestep it by pressing forward and three punch buttons (varies with different characters) to perform a counter. Some characters such as Zangief just pushes them back a fair bit to give him neutral space, while others like Rashid just rolls out of the way.
Veteran players will recognize this move as the Alpha Counters back in the Street Fighter Alpha/Zero series, though each character’s V-Reversal move is different from one another. The principle is the same: use parts of your meter to give yourself breathing room, or reposition yourself for another attack/defensive opportunity.
What would a fighting game be without diverse characters? Here’s a lowdown on who is available at launch and whether they’re tailored to your fighting style.
THE OLD GUARD
Who: The mascot of Street Fighter, or Capcom in general. Wears a white gi, an honorable Shotokan fighter guy, wanders around the world like a well-built hobo.
Playstyle: He’s the original Shotokan warrior, which means he has all the tools needed to start off strong in the game. He has got fireballs for zoning, a hurricane kick for covering distance, a flying uppercut/Shoryuken for anti-air. He can up his defensive game with his V-Skill parry move, countering an opponent’s attack mid-way.
His V-Trigger makes his fireballs a force to be reckoned with. A fully-charged fireball can crush an opponent’s guard.
Use Him If: This is your first time playing Street Fighter. Ryu is the Adam of all fighting games. His moveset and in-game stats are tailored so that new players can adjust to the nuances and systems of SFV.
Who: Supposedly the first female participant in 2D fighting game history. Wears blue and has thighs that may look unhealthy in real life.
Playstyle: Fast-paced footsies and rushdown. Chun-Li’s normals have good poking range and she has decent tools to go back and forth in the zoning and rushdown game. She has got a quarter circle motion lightning legs move to put pressure on her opponents and get more damage (which she can do in the air now!), and has a good set of normals and unique moves.
Her damage output isn’t so hot, which is why she must rely on her V-Skill air dash for mixups and V-Trigger for additional hits from her pokes and rushdown clobbering.
Use Her If: You’re done with Ryu and want a speedy character with decent poking tools.
Who: The other shoto warrior. While Ryu is sturdy, Ken is flashy and faster. His haircut is terrible in SFV though.
Playstyle: Rushdown guy with limited zoning options. Anything Ryu can do, Ken can do faster. Fireballs, shoryukens, hurricane kicks; all have combo potential when used right. His Heavy Hurricane Kick goes diagonally, so uneducated opponents can be caught off-guard.
His V-Skill allows him to get up-close with his opponents faster than usual and can be cancelled into some of his kick attacks. His V-Trigger adds more hits to his attacks, and is best triggered mid-combo.
Use Him If: You want to end fights hard and fast. Ken burns meter really fast, but it’s worth it to see the big damage he can pull off. If his opponent is heavy on defensive tools, Ken players may be in a tight spot.
Who: A British army girl who does not come in standard army gear and clothing; she opts for a one piece, big boots, and red gloves. Relies on speed to overwhelm her foes.
Playstyle: Rushdown all the way. If you thought Chun-Li wasn’t fast enough and would rather she traded her footsies game with more “in your face” fighting, Cammy has got you covered.
Her Spiral Arrow is a good combo finisher and a decent spacing tool if unblocked. Her Cannon Spike is one of the more dangerous fast-acting anti-airs in the game. Most importantly of all, her Hooligan Combination and air-to-ground Cannon Strike can keep opponents guessing with blazing fast mixups.
Her V-Skill is her projectile-invincible Spin Knuckle that can also cross up. If you feel that her damage is lacking, her V-Trigger can solve that; it also adds in new properties to her rushdown moves. Her Spiral Arrow will actually launch her through to the other side of the screen, making it safe and allows her to get back to more rushdown tactics.
Use Her If: You want to not think too much, go with the flow, and keep attacking like no tomorrow. Cammy’s tools and moveset relies on her to just not let up, period. Once she starts thinking defensively, the game is already not in her favor.
Who: The sole Indian mystic in the franchise. Half-naked, stretchy limbs, and breathes fire. He has an awesome beard in this version of the game.
Playstyle: With long limbs comes long reaches. Dhalsim’s the original zoning king: he will hit you from afar as many times as possible until you’re exhausted. His fireballs now travel in an upward arc; it’s meant to keep opponents from jumping too much.
If Dhalsim is in a tight spot, his teleport will get him out of it. His V-Skill makes him float, enabling him to catch opponents off guard from the air or just cover distance bit by bit while his fireballs and V-Trigger flame carpet protect him. Oh yes, he can use up his entire V-Trigger to set up a fiery ground trap to drain an opponent’s life slowly.
Use Him If: You like to poke people to death from afar. The trick to playing Dhalsim is to lay out his arcing fireballs and V-Trigger ground flame to cover his vulnerable areas, then either keep his opponents out with his limbs or teleport in for a quick hit-and-run. Just be careful of knockdowns; his wakeup options aren’t that good.
Who: A big guy from Russia who likes wrestling people and bears bigger than him. As if he didn’t look stiff and big enough, SFV’s Zangief looks more like a walking caricature of his past muscular incarnations.
Playstyle: Grapplers take the fight up-close and personal, and Zangief is an ace in that area. His command grabs hit really, REALLY hard, and he has good footsies from his normals. He has an air grab that is invincible in an EX state, and his V-Skill and V-Trigger Cyclone Lariat closes his distance to his opponent in various ways.
Veterans might grumble that he does not have his Banishing Flat move from previous games, but they can adjust by using his Forward + Medium Kick “hop step kick” as one way to inch closer to hands-on territory. And surprise surprise, his Light Spinning Pile Driver has a ridiculous grabbing range for a command grab.
Use Him If: You don’t mind working extra hard to get in and go grab-heavy on opponents. His damage output is arguably second to Birdie and R.Mika, and his air command grab and Light Spinning Pile Driver can surprise even the toughest of veterans when timed correctly.
VEGA AKA BALROG AKA CLAW
Who: He is a narcissistic Spanish ninja most Street Fighter girl fans secretly fall for. He now has actual Spanish attire covering up his half-naked body. He has got a mask and a single claw glove for stabbing people with.
Playstyle: Rush down with a smattering of hit-and-run. Vega is now a character with quarter circle motion attacks, meaning that his horizontal and vertical acrobatic barrages can come out faster than before. His new SFV feature is his ability to fight without his claw, opening up a new set of moves and properties to his existing moves. He’s much faster without his claw; do switch back and forth depending on the situation.
He doesn’t have much of a wake-up game though. His V-Trigger solves that problem; he lunges at his opponent with three hits that sends his opponent in the air, ripe for combs and a Critical Art.
When getting pressured himself, his V-Skill lets him do a Matador twirl to avoid any form of damage for a brief second. Time it wrong, however, and you’ll be prone for a beating.
Use Him If: You like jump-happy rushdown-able fast characters, but also want to switch halfway to a fast fighter with good poking tools. If there’s one thing this version of Vega has now, it’s versatility.
M.BISON AKA VEGA AKA DICTATOR
Who: The main antagonist for most of the Street Fighter entries. This version of the dictator looks old but a little more dignified with his new overcoat and shoulder pads
Playstyle: Slow but steady. This version of M.Bison is a little more defensive than usual, but that doesn’t mean he can’t keep the pressure with his Double Knee Press, Psycho Inferno, and Psycho Blast attacks. He can get across the playing field with his crouching Heavy Kick slide, Devil Reverse, and Head Press. True to his past incarnations, his moves require charge motions (hold back 2 seconds, then press forward plus a button input).
His V-Trigger makes him teleport dash across the screen, making him avoid projectiles and even go behind opponents for a surprise offense. It also gives his trickier special moves more “teleporty” properties and make him cancel special moves into EX special moves without charging.
When he’s getting swarmed by fireballs, M.Bison can use his V-Skill to absorb and reflect them back.
Use Him If: You want a character that’s good at both defense and offense. M.Bison has good defense and pressure-inducing offensive. While not as fast as his past versions sans V-Trigger mode, he can at least play keep away even for just a short while.
Who: She is a Zangief fangirl who wants to be the best wrestler ever in the Street Fighter universe. Apparently a fan-favorite in the game’s universe because of her cheery disposition, and has nothing to do with her attire, or lack thereof. Nothing whatsoever.
Playstyle: Footsies-heavy grappler; R.Mika is not just about going in and doing as much damage with command grabs and simple combos, but also to space her opponent out with high priority medium punches and kicks. She’s got a Medium Kick special that moves forward, a crouching Heavy Punch tackle, and her special Flying Peach (which is a GREAT wakeup move in EX form).
Her V-Skill taunt not only adds more damage to her throws (normal AND command ones), but can also absorb one hit from an opponent. When timed right, the mic she throws after her V-Skill move can stun an opponent, leaving you with a good opportunity to get in close and do mixups.
Best of all, her mixups can be amplified by calling her tag team partner Nadeshiko (via V-Trigger) to knock down an opponent either from the back, to the front, or from the top.
Use Her If: You like big damage and better mobility as a grappler-type character. R.Mika’s mobility is good, she has got a lovely anti-air, and she has good mixups thanks to her V-Trigger among other moves.
Who: Some big British bloke who used to be in the very first (and crappy) Street Fighter game. He is portly but muscular at where it counts. Also has a funky hairdo and has grappling chains.
Playstyle: A grappler with some seriously good but risky zoning tools. He still retains his charging bull move and his one command grab from his Street Fighter Alpha days, but now he has one neat zoning tool (his long-reaching Chain Grab) and his “blink and you’ll eat it” Lunging Chain attack.
To fit in with his ever-hungry personality, his V-Skill lets him pull out food to give him V-Gauge meter; some of them can even be used as zoning traps that can trip up opponents. It recovers long, so think hard before you whip out that energy drink. His Enjoy Time V-Trigger makes him do more damage with his bull horn charges while imbibing it with armor.
Use Him If: You want to hit hard and if you’re confident with gauging your distance. Birdie is the only grappler who punishes really hard if your opponent’s footsies and zoning aren’t up to snuff.
Who: Rich blonde schoolgirl with the infamous Ojou laugh. Sakura’s rival. Now she owns a company and seeks to perfect her Kanzuki fighting style.
Playstyle: Rushdown, but with some opportunities for getting in reversals. Her normal are good for comboing and getting in an opponent’s personal space, while a few of her special moves can help put a stop to rushdown opponents planning to do the same.
Karin’s V-Skill Meioken help fends away projectiles and knocks down her opponents, setting them up for more mixups courtesy of the Kanzuki family. To accentuate her gameplan, her V-Trigger activates a new set of moves for her for a limited time called the Kanzuki-Ryu Guren No Kata. From her initial Guren Kata attack, she can follow up with a quick overhead, a low sweep, a throw, or even a backdash to bait opponents who want to mash uppercuts and unsafe reversals.
She’s not exactly the best stamina-wise: a few hits from Zangief can throw her off. But if you act fast with Karin and can keep the mixups and offensive, she’s a tidal wave to be reckoned with.
Use Her If: You think you know fighting games and want the equivalent of a technical rushdown character like Fei Long and Yun. Karin is not an easy character to use due to her specific moveset, but the thrill of getting in your opponent’s face and turning on V-Trigger to put on the pressure is enticing on its own merit.
Who: Remember Guile’s army buddy from Street Fighter Alpha? Yeah, he’s back as a possible clone of something or other.
Playstyle: Definitely not a turtler like his old pal. This version of Nash is rushdown all the way. Throw his Sonic Boom to see what your opponent will do, then go in and do combos and juggles aplenty. Opponent tries to zone you out with fireballs? Just use his V-Skill to absorb it, then close the gap with his forward somersault. Want to surprise your opponent with something game-ending? Just use your V-Trigger to teleport to your opponent with your own cross-up barrage
And forget about using his “Flash Kick” as an anti-air and wake-up attack; you actually go forward slightly when doing it, which means it’s more a combo ender than anything.
Use Him If: Mixups and rushdowns are your top priority, and if you’re a bad enough dude at Street Fighter. Nash has a higher learning curve compared to the rest of the characters due to his not-so-hot wakeup game and his V-Trigger being a “Hail Mary” sort of power-up to catch unwary opponents.
Who: An Arabian rich guy who wants to be a world warrior. Can chuck tornados and do high-flying attacks with the power of wind.
Playstyle: High-flyer hit-and-run acrobat. He floats like a butterfly thanks to his wall jumps, his rolling/special jump V-Skill, and his special dive-kicks and running flying kick. Use his V-Skill (both his forward jump roll and his low roll) to either close in on his opponent or get out of the way. His upwards projectile is part zoning and part baiting: you want to use it once or twice to see how your opponent goes around it first.
His V-Trigger, where he summons a giant slow-moving sand tornado that can also boost his jumping height & trajectory, is one of the best mix-up tools in the game. Trigger it as soon as you notice your opponent hesitating and if they are up-close. When they are knocked down, even better.
Use Him If: You like jumping around the screen a lot to infuriate your opponent. Rashid is all about testing your opponent’s patience. When they slip up and leave themselves open, that is when you strike back.
Who: The possible successor of the Satsui no Hado power. Has insanely wild savage attacks.
Playstyle: Rushdown in-your-face character, with limited zoning tools via his V-Skill ground-pound attack. As a wildman with charge moves and decent-if-short-ranged normals, Necalli needs to get to his opponent close-up while also requiring players to store a down-back/back charge to end a combo with one of his specials.
His V-Trigger makes his hair all red and evolve; he also gets new move properties, hits harder, and new combos at the cost of not being able to pull off V-Reversals. Think of it as a permanent power-up if you want to go all or nothing on an opponent.
Use Him If: You want an incredible technical offensive character who has game-ending combos. He is the equivalent of Yun and Yang.
Who: She’s a Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner. Loves green and yellow. Also the sister to Street Fighter III’s fighter Sean.
Playstyle: She’s a speedy grappler who can get in and out quickly thanks to her V-Skill. Her shoulder tackle has a follow-up jiu jitsu throw that can place her in a favorable position, and her anti-air Heavy Punch tackle recovers pretty fast so you can get back on the ground for more shenanigans.
She’s also got a slow-moving projectile that can be applied two-folds: a slow-moving zoning tool for her to use as cover, and a pressuring tool after you knocked down your opponent. Throw it out and see what your opponent does, then you can proceed to command throw them or do an overhead, or other tricks.
Her V-Trigger just amplifies her lightning-filled moves, which also means that her projectile hits more times and adds way more pressure on opponents when they’re knocked down and in the corner.
Use Her If: This Brazilian brawler is about getting in your opponent’s face, but with decent pressure options and a quick anti-air.
Who: Imagine if Lo Pan wasn’t an undead sorceror and now works as an extra special soldier in Shadaloo. That’s F.A.N.G in a nutshell.
Playstyle: He is a trickster to the fullest. His V-Skill poison attacks does not hurt opponents directly, but they add a lot of pressure to his footsie and long reach game. He has got so many good-ranged pokes and footsie tools to make sure that his opponents stay away long enough for the poison to course through. That, and his arcing projectiles also help in keeping your opponent grounded.
His V-Trigger makes him emit poison air around him and that’s where F.A.N.G players can make their opponent worry even further. But don’t think you can rush down with him as he doesn’t have that many high-priority normals that can beat even the simplest of rushdown and mixup maneuvers. Patience is key when using F.A.N.G.
Use Him If: You love shenanigans. Lots and LOTS of shenanigans. F.A.N.G is for the level-headed player who doesn’t mind short term loss for long term gain.