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Why F.A.N.G could be a major threat to the delicate balance of Street Fighter 5

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • February 8, 2016 at 7:12 p.m. PST • Comments: 68

If you’ve been following our coverage of Street Fighter 5 over the past year, you’ve certainly picked up on the specific directions the dev team has intended for the game. Less gimmicks, more honesty and a higher rate of player vs. player decision battles.

The thing with the game's newest character, F.A.N.G, is that he doesn’t seem to really want to adhere to those rules.

For me personally, F.A.N.G's non-conformity has actually served as a spark for my interest in SF5, but this eccentricity could come at great cost for the game overall.

It's still very early, and I only had about an hour of investigatory time with the character, but I've developed a few fears for the well being of SF5 since using F.A.N.G.

Deviating from the Bell Curve

Capcom's decision to design F.A.N.G like they have is both exciting and bold. They're on a mission to create a fighting game with a roster that features all viable characters. To do that, they've set up some foundational parameters for said characters.

There's all this talk of F.A.N.G being different, but we need to identify exactly what that means in relation to the rest of the cast. More importantly, we need to decide whether or not this one character stays within the foundational parameters intended by developers.

Of the initial 16 characters, F.A.N.G’s set up is the least encouraging for forward movement. Two of his special moves, his arching fireballs and his poison gas bomb, are very defensive/zoning in nature.

We've seen that most charge techniques have been removed in SF5. We’ll see what happens with future DLC characters, but Capcom has come right out to say they’re shying away from charge moves because they tend to slow down the action a bit.

If you saw F.A.N.G’s move list, you surely noticed that his three main special attacks all in fact have charge inputs.

His game plan very obviously revolves around his unique ability to poison foes for a damage over time (DOT) effect, and the fact that said damage stops if the opponent lands a hit encourages the fight into a game of tag.

F.A.N.G wants to score a poison hit, then let the DOT do work for him as he stays at a safe distance. This style seems out of left field, not only in SF5, but in the SF universe in general.

It feels as though F.A.N.G isn’t as interested in the honest game of rock, paper, scissors that most other characters in SF5 are fundamentally based around. His unique style looks to potentially throw a wrench into the works, separating him from the majority. If this is indeed the case, I have a few fears about him.


First off, I trust that Capcom has taken all of what I’m about to say into account in their creative process for F.A.N.G. In a game where almost all characters adhere to a certain rubric, but one shies away, it’s incredibly easy for that one character to quickly become either dominant or irrelevant.

It’s pretty easy to see how F.A.N.G would be overpowered. This would be the case if his zoning tools were too strong, and/or his poison too effective. After playing him, that’s really not the direction I feel things would go, and that's a good thing as this would be a worst case scenario.

The other side of the coin would see his approach become nothing more than a gimmick. Of course being poisoned is going to urge people to anxiously try to get in, and make bad decisions, but what if they don’t?

If F.A.N.G’s DOT is actually negligible then a major part of his game plan will be dependent on an opponent’s psyche. At high level, I can’t imagine MCZ|Daigo or EG|Momochi freaking out about this and making poor decisions.

The actual damage sap is fairly slow, and the player still must land an actual hit to end a round. In short, poison will have to be a bonus, not a foundational pillar for F.A.N.G players.

If Capcom has indeed designed him as such, then perhaps his unconventional mechanic will find a happy medium within the game's tolerable spectrum. I think if F.A.N.G's design forces him to rely on poison as a crutch, he'll have big problems.

Final Thoughts

As a zoner in a not-too-zoney game, the potential for F.A.N.G to be a polarized character is daunting. He'll have to have a fighting chance against those who can rush him down, meaning he'll need decent offense to go with his zoning.

He seems to have this offense, but alas the pendulum swings back into overpowered territory, as most characters in this game don't have the leisure of being able to both go in or sit back.

If F.A.N.G brings a knife to a gunfight, he’s done. Inversely if he brings a gun to a knife fight, everyone else is done. In my opinion, it was an incredibly bold choice by Capcom to create such a unique fighter in a game with a central goal to make all characters valid. My fingers are crossed that he’ll simply be an odd, yet perfect fit.

We'd like to know your thoughts on F.A.N.G thus far. Do you think it's possible that his unique design will fit into the world of SF5? Or is it impossible to see him as anything beyond best or worst in the game?
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