As most of you may already know, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition was announced this past Thursday confirming what has been rumored for some time now. The update contains a complete overhaul of base SFV’s UI, new V-Triggers, and the highly requested Arcade Mode among other features. While all of this is great and I’m happy they are doing this, I can’t help but wonder if fans are truly happy about the SFV: AE news. Does Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition resolve the lingering issues that surrounded SFV from launch day? I for one think that it partially answers the cries of some of the title’s disgruntled fans but still feel like there’s more that needs to be done.
Street Fighter V launched on February 16, 2016, and it was a highly anticipated title up to that point especially among fans in the Street Fighter community. Prior to launch, the beta received some generally positive praise with many pointing to the change in combat as an enjoyable and fun experience. So it was no surprise that SFV had high expectations from the start.
If you take a look at the overall reviews for SFV, you’ll see that the game scored some favorable scores on the PS4 earning scores in the high 70s to 80s. Its combat and graphics being the most notable aspects of the game and rightfully so. But among all of the positive reviews lied a constant mystery that prompted the question, “Where is all the traditional single-player Street Fighter content?” It was here where Capcom began to realize what it should have known when they first started production on SFV—Players want a single player experience.
Single player mode took a drastic backseat in SFV and it was obvious that not only was the game lacking in that content like the long-promised story mode but also in the marketing of Capcom’s latest installment. Talks of its casual match mode and major efforts to create a ranked mode that focused on competitiveness, it seems as if the folks behind SFV put all of their eggs in this one basket. Capcom was taking their franchise in a different direction and maybe unintentionally leaving some fans in the dust. Certainly, the rise of Esports attributed to this directly.
The story mode that was promised was nowhere to be found on launch and the shop that was supposed to offer us the ability to initially purchase costumes and characters were non-existent. It was easy for base SFV to feel like an incomplete game, teetering on the lines of feeling like a free-to-play fighting game like Dead or Alive 5: Last Round. Capcom extended the dates on the appearance of the shop to a month after launch and the requested cinematic story mode followed four months after. All fell to luke-warm responses that still made casual fans including myself question the intentions of Capcom.
Something was missing from this installment. On the outer layer, it felt like all the game needed was a stronger single-player presence that could be fixed with an Arcade mode. But now with the announcement of SFV: AE, I’m not sure that was my real issue with this game to begin with. Maybe it was this swan dive to a completely competitive Esports game that essentially made causals more reluctant to play online.
This move made a lot of sense considering where competitive gaming is going but it was difficult to understand why they tried to completely erase a core piece of the Street Fighter community in the process. It was harder to justify replay value when your only options were offline survival mode, online non-ranked casual match, and an online ranked match.
Although it appears that Capcom has heard the cries of the disgruntled, their resolution comes in the form of a complete overhaul of their UI, gallery mode, new V-Triggers, and an Arcade mode that focuses on six significant Street Fighter entries, each with their own individual character endings. All of this is free for players who purchased the base SFV game and will be available to newcomers who decide to purchase the SFV: Arcade Edition. All in all, this update sounds great and might even win back some of the disappointed fans that were lost during seasons 1 and 2.
Although Capcom will now provide the modes that were expected at launch, I’m not sure we can expect Capcom to step back on its true motives. The plan is still Esports and there’s no good reason for them to go back. SFV continues to headline every major fighting game tournament and shows no signs of being replaced. To me, this smells like a major PR move. A small effort to answer the cries of upset SFV fans and a way to draw in potential newcomers. While SFV: AE may be placing a band-aid on an old wound caused by the initial SFV launch, I’m not sure it will make everyone happy for very long.
Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition will be fun. The Arcade mode will bring forth a casual experience that’ll feel like previous installments in the SF series. The Extra battle mode will feel fresh and feature a reward system that may make you want to go back to playing for a little while. Capcom is really trying to reel in the players but their long-term goal is to get people to play competitively and that won’t change with SFV: AE. I know their efforts will always be focused on getting players to play online.
What I would have seen as a more genuine gesture to promote single-player content would’ve been something more along the lines of the multiverse in Injustice 2. In this Multiverse mode, there are universes that offer daily challenge ladders with different conditions and difficulty. Each challenge details a horrendous event or hints at a comic book story arc with the final boss being the villain of that arc. There is also a clan feature called Guilds in which players can join up and do weekly guild challenges to gain special loot boxes. It’s because of this mode that I didn’t play any online ranked matches in Injustice 2 and found myself going to town in the multiverse, simply enjoying the challenge it brings.
SFV could maybe do something along these lines where they create a clan feature that bridges the gap between online and single-player experiences. It could feature daily and weekly challenges that reward players with a special shader or fight money. I know weekly missions exist but they aren’t entertaining and some still force that online experience in order to get fight money.
In a Street Fighter V Multiverse game mode, I could see different scenarios where you would fight against Illuminati minions like Kolin and finish with bosses like Urien with a Gill costume. I would truly enjoy something more than just a simple Arcade mode that doesn’t offer much more once you’ve completed every path. I guess what I’m really saying is that although Capcom is giving us an Arcade mode among other features in the form of a free update, I still feel that more could have been done to improve casual player experiences.
In essence, SFV is a competitive game that should be viewed the same way people view games like Overwatch—A game with a main focus on online competitive play that forces single player experiences to take a backseat. It’s apparent that this is the direction Capcom is heavily leaning towards and although the details of Arcade mode sound great, I know it’s something that will be forgotten down the line. All that will remain is the game’s online and competitive nature, leaving casual SFV fans with the same Arcade mode, Survival mode, and Extra battle to play over and over again.
I do truly hope that I’m wrong about this. I hope that Capcom continues their efforts to balance the experiences to be had in Street Fighter V and that it becomes the complete fighting game we all originally anticipated it to be.