Street Fighter 4 first hit Japanese arcades in 2008, and has since reinvigorated the fighting game scene. In many ways it was similar to the introduction of Street Fighter 2 back in 1991. Over seven years after the release of Street Fighter 4, Capcom is on the verge of releasing the next major installment in the series, Street Fighter 5. If you haven’t been keeping up with the changes between Street Fighter 4 and Street Fighter 5, fear not, as we have all the info you need to determine if SF4 fans will like SF5, or if the new title appeals to an entirely different audience.
While the next Street Fighter 5 Beta will include a new roster of characters and extend to the PC, it’s only a glimpse of the full picture. There have been changes made that extend into the competitive scene and effect casual players as well. Let’s take a look at how Street Fighter 5 compares to the World Warrior from 2008.
Ease of Play
One of the reasons for Street Fighter’s immense success across the world is that it’s one of the easiest fighting games to pick up and play. Almost anyone can pick up the controller, perform a fireball motion and watch Ken chuck a Hadouken across the screen. Character move lists are only a few dozen attacks at most compared to the likes of Tekken or Virtua Fighter, with character move lists exceeding 100 attacks and combos.
This ease of play was found in Street Fighter 4 and will continue into Street Fighter 5. In fact, on the surface Street Fighter 5 is easier to play. Characters like Nash who have historically been charge characters dropped the charge moves in favor of fireball motions. Players also won’t have to worry about Focus Attack Dash Cancels (FADCs) or any of the more arduous attacks and combos. It’s safe to say the entry level of Street Fighter is lower with SF5 than it was with SF4, which is a good thing all around.
While SF5 is easy to pick up and play, it won’t be as easy to master. You may be the best on your block, but there’s a good chance if you travel to a tournament you’ll get stomped by the high-level players. This was evident with Street Fighter 4, but the lines are blurred a bit when it comes to Street Fighter 5.
One of the biggest issues with Street Fighter 4 when it comes to new players was the fact that many of the best combos required extremely tight timing. There are plenty of 1-frame links in SF4 combos, which means you had one frame (1/60th of a second) to hit the next attack in your combo. If your timing was off by even a single frame, you would drop the combo.
In Street Fighter 5, the hardest combos will only require three-frame links with many combos being far more lenient. However, while combos will be easier to perform, everything else seems to be more difficult. The invincibility in the SF4 back dash is gone in SF5, which means players won’t have an easy out of tight situations.
This makes the neutral game and “footsies” far more important compared to SF4. Generally speaking, this aspect of SF4 is difficult for new and novice players to comprehend. They want to jump and throw out Dragon Punches instead of staying grounded and walking back and forth to gain spacing control. Suffice to say, Street Fighter 5 has a considerably higher learning curve compared to SF4.
You might think that a higher learning curve would automatically mean Street Fighter 5 is deeper than Street Fighter 4, but at the moment this doesn’t seem to be the case. Street Fighter 5 has the V-Trigger system as well as a Super Meter, but that’s about it aside from the specific differences between each character. Street Fighter 4 had the Ultra and Super Meters, plus you had to know when to back dash, crouch tech to avoid throws and the risk/reward system was considerably more intricate.
Every game grows over time, especially when a competitive scene is involved. It’s likely we don’t yet know everything there is to learn about Street Fighter 5, so the depth could easily grow as the game matures. However, at this point in time it certainly seems as though SF4 is the deeper of the two games.
Adding to the depth conversation, SF4 had seven years to add characters to the roster, with a final roster count of 44. Street Fighter 5 will likely launch with around 16 characters andexpand over time. It will take awhile for Street Fighter 5 to get anywhere near the roster count of SF4. The more characters you have in a game, the deeper the game is simply because you need to know every character match-up to become the best of the best.
In addition to adding characters over the seven year run of SF4, the game has been adjusted and refined with each new update. It’s very difficult to balance a fighting game in-house. Once the public gets their hands on the title they’ll break it wide open and discover strategies and glitches that the development team may never have found. This gives SF4 the upper hand in polish.
Street Fighter 5 is going through an extensive Beta period, but that’s more to test the online functionality of the title rather than offer character balancing. We have seen some character adjustments between Beta builds, and the game will continue to evolve even after the official release, but it will take some time before it reaches the level of polish found in the seven year old SF4.
We’ll have more on Street Fighter 5 as the October 22, 2015 Beta period swiftly approaches. For now, be sure to check out our coverage of Karin, Rashid and the other new and returning characters in Street Fighter 5!