Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is going to be heralded as the game Capcom should have released in 2016. It’s inevitable really – the added features and larger roster of characters give the game more weight than the more subdued, bare-bones release that happened. Capcom ironically tried to address the criticisms of multiple releases of Street Fighter IV by sticking to their guns with season passes, yet they went back to an older tactic with the Arcade Edition, one that will work will their favor for many a fan of the franchise.
I feel sympathetic to Capcom on this one, as they are stuck in an impossible catch – 22 with Street Fighter V, with that trend continuing with the Arcade Edition. Combining the two-previous season passes into one package, the Arcade Edition added features give it a lot of meat for sure, but the irony is most of it is ultimately filler to the core gameplay experience that was first available in 2016, leaving Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition in a curious middle ground of being an excellent niche product, but only a “good” video game.
The most touted feature from the Arcade Edition is, of course, the long-desired Arcade Mode. Capcom finally adds it to the franchise by providing six different Arcade Modes, each of them representing different games in the Street Fighter franchise. Capcom overdelivers in providing content here, allowing you to play through Street Fighter’s history with the closest representation to the rosters of each game, and a few bonus stages peppered in for good measure.
It is what people clamored for back when Street Fighter V launched, and now that it’s here arcade mode feels underwhelming when compared to the rest of the game’s features. Part of the problem lies in the in-game reward being a new piece of artwork to collect, which pales in comparison to the survival rushes for Fight Money or leveling up characters in online matches. Simply put, it is severely lacking in incentives to play more than a handful of times. The fights are also relatively easy on the normal difficulty, so a series of 4-11 matches is not truthfully worth the time sink that Capcom provided for players.
It is again that strange middle ground as to what Street Fighter V has been trying to be since day one; this is a game more for the eSports crowd at its core. The fundamentals of Street Fighter are intact but simplified enough to give new players a chance to learn them to succeed. This is also unlike Street Fighter IV, which suffered heavily from spam jabbing and light poke exploits that eliminated most of the complex strategies found in a typical Street Fighter game.
Street Fighter V has done many things to its core gameplay to curtail that playstyle, to the point of it being almost anti-Street Fighter IV. One example is how the game is unforgiving when it comes to the rock/paper/scissors sort of character reading. Each attack has a light, medium and heavy variant, and each has specific functions when setting up and executing combos against an opponent. Defensively, players have various degrees of blocks and counters that respond only to a specific variant of a move, while offensively the “crush counters” have heavier attacks stop light attacks dead in their tracks.
So, part of the balance in Street Fighter V compared to IV is reading an opponent, versus stopping a massive attack with a singular light punch. This is a major change to the core of the fighting system, and in turn makes the game, while simple to learn, perfect for hardcore fighting fans. Yet, this one example of many that can be pointed to is often lost on most players, because the loss of features such as Arcade mode, which doesn’t necessarily cater to the hardcore fighting fans, is too big to ignore despite being fairly superfluous to the design.
The other new modes are a bit more appealing, perhaps because of their focus on “eSport”-style fighting. Team battles can be set up as a local 5 on 5 fight that offer tons of option for Pokémon-style bouts, although the gimmick can wear quickly in the hands of an incredibly skilled player. It is also local only, so online team fighting is not a mode of play just yet. The new extra battles are an interesting addition, providing a sort of risk-reward system that can grant players experience, costume pieces or new titles every few days if they are able to beat the challenge. The catch is it costs Fight Money, so it becomes a “play at your own risk” sort of game that can be well worth the rewards, provided you have the bank account to play it.
These additions are nice little content changes but pale in comparison to the fighting mechanics already in place. It’s the smaller additions that have more significance in the Arcade Edition. The inclusion of a secondary V-trigger for each character opens new strategies and potential combos that players can master. The most helpful addition is actually a small one found in training mode; the ability to track frame data. Players now have a visual aid to show them how long a move is active, and even included a color-based safety setting to show when characters are safe or unsafe when a move is executed.
It is these little bits here that make Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition great as a fighting game; they are less concerned about being a back of the box feature to fatten out the game, but rather being features to master the gameplay itself. Combine this with the very smooth online experience and cross-play between the PlayStation 4 and the PC, for the more hardcore aficionados Street Fighter V is almost a must-have.
I say almost because one thing still holds it back; the wonky economy system. Fight Money is hard to come by after rushing through the story and survival modes, leading to a slow grind that is frankly daunting for the average player. The prices for extra characters, stages, color schemes and the other extras are often too high to really make headway quickly, so players will be forced to do a ton of grinding to get their desired items in time. Owners of Street Fighter V get the Arcade Edition update for free at least, but they lose out on the first two season passes being free as well, making the Arcade Edition almost tailor-made for new players to the game in terms of content overload. The third season pass is also already out, and with Capcom’s commitment to supporting Street Fighter V far into the future, it is likely that their current trend of content updates will continue – meaning more season passes, costume packs, stages and possibly even a second “Ultra” update in the future.
It does make one wary, perhaps because of Capcom’s past release history for the Street Fighter franchise; once again leading us to that catch – 22 they are stuck in. The only recourse for all the extra fighters, colors schemes, newly added BGM testing and character titles is grinding out for Fight Money and earning it the hard way, but the time sink is enormous, even more so than most fighting games in the past. Still, even with the rather poorly implemented in-game economy, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is the new definitive version of the title. The core experience has only been refined further, and while not every single new feature clicks in the end, the Arcade Edition is able to do what the original release couldn’t do, feel like a fully-fledged game for most of the audience watching the title closely.More About This Game
The Arcade Edition added features give it a lot of meat for sure, but the irony is most of it is ultimately filler to the core gameplay experience that was first available in 2016. This leaves Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition in a curious middle ground of being an excellent niche product, but only a “good” video game.
- Great Core Gameplay...
- New Gameplay Modes...
- Continued Support After Two Years...
- New Training Tools and V-Triggers.
- ...Really Wonky Game Economy.
- ...That Mostly Feel Like Filler.
- ...Need to Grind to Get Most of It For Free.