Throughout the development of Street Fighter V, Capcom has given fans an unprecedented amount of access through online beta tests. Most fighting games only give gamers a chance to try them out at conventions and loketests, but Capcom went a different route with Street Fighter V by allowing fans to try out the game during four online beta periods. After all those betas, no one expected a fifth beta, but Capcom surprised fans on February 16th by unveiling the biggest beta test so far. This beta brings with it several new features not seen in previous betas:
- All 16 characters
- Offline modes including Versus, Story, and Survival
- The ability to earn Fight Money (to later purchase DLC characters and costumes)
- Leagues in Ranked mode to separate pros and scrubs
- Online lobbies
Of course, as it is still a beta, the game does have some notable features missing or unfinished, as well as a few bugs. It's safe to assume that these missing features will be included when Street Fighter V launches, as Capcom is a veteran developer who would never rush out a half-baked game
- No Arcade mode. While Arcade mode isn't a big draw, especially for experienced players, I can't think of a fighting game that doesn't have an Arcade mode
- Incomplete stick support on both PS4 and PC. Only X-Input devices are supported currently on PC, which means even the official Street Fighter V arcade stick doesn't work without a third party program. On PS4, legacy support for PS3 sticks has been added, but is poorly implemented.
- Clipping issues on character models are still present, particularly noticeable during character selection.
- No store! You can earn Fight Money, but you can't spend it yet.
- Keys are not rebindable on PC
- Lack of a proper tutorial mode
- No Challenge mode
Of course, just because some new features were added to this Beta doesn't mean they're fully implemented. The online lobbies are the perfect example of this. Designed so that you can play against your friends, rather than random opponents in Casual or Ranked modes, Street Fighter V lobbies currently only allow you to play against your friend. Singular. As in, rather than the 8 person lobbies included in other recent fighting games such as Guilty Gear Xrd, the lobbies added in this Street Fighter V beta only allow for two people. To make matters worse, I've heard reports that lobbies aren't even fully working for everyone.
Much like one of the recent betas, this one does immediately open with a short tutorial, but it only covers the absolute basics. Fighting games are complex, so modern fighting games tend to have detailed tutorial modes designed to cover everything from the most basic commands to highly advanced techniques and strategies. As Capcom has worked hard to make Street Fighter V more accessible to new players, I look forward to seeing what sort of tutorial they include with the release.
It's also abundantly clear that Capcom wasn't quite prepared for how excited players are for this beta, as the servers have been frequently overloaded. The first couple of hours saw frequent server errors that prevented most players from being able to play at all. Later that day the servers even had to go offline for maintenance for 3 hours in the evening, limiting players to offline play. While the addition of offline modes makes these outages slightly easier to bear, players aren't able to earn Fight Money while they aren't connected to the servers. This doesn't affect the Training or Versus modes, but it does make playing Story or Survival modes less appealing.
Speaking of Survival mode, based on what we've seen so far I suspect Capcom is also using this beta to test out this mode. Similar to the Survival modes in other fighting games, you fight a steady stream of opponents without having your life reset inbetween. Along the way you can purchase upgrades for you character to give you an extra edge. While Survival mode is generally ignored by most experienced players, Capcom requires players to complete Survival to unlock additional outfit colors for characters in Street Fighter V. In its current state, Survival mode is a tedious grind, so Capcom will likely take information gleaned from this beta test to fine tune it before release.
All in all, this unexpected beta is certainly a step up from the previous ones. When the servers have been up, I've experienced less lag than I did in previous betas. Having access to offline Versus has been great too, as I'm fortunate to have plenty of local opponents. Getting a glimpse at the single player modes they're working on has been neat, and I can't wait to see how they shape up when Street Fighter V releases (whenever that is).