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Buffed defense, less set play and look out for zoners; early predictions for Street Fighter 5 Season 3 based on patch notes

In what direction is Capcom trying to take Arcade Edition?

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • January 4, 2018 at 7:40 p.m. PST • Comments: 106

Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition patch notes dropped early this morning, and the community has been excitedly examining each and every bullet point to try to conceive an accurate image of what Season 3 will be like.

Nothing will compare to actually getting the update and playing, but dealing with what we have to work with, there are a few big takeaways I'd like to discuss.

First and foremost, it's incredibly important to acknowledge that these changes are going to be applied in a revamped Street Fighter 5 environment. Try as hard as you can not to envision these alterations in the Season 2 environment, as what's good in the game now may or may not be as grave come Season 3.

The real question we should be asking ourselves right now is probably better to be along the lines of, "What general direction is Capcom trying to take SF5?"

I think I've come up with a few pieces to this puzzle, but unfortunately one of the most important of said pieces widely remains an utter mystery: hurtbox and hitbox changes.

If you've looked through the change log, by far the most prominent phrase you'll see is "hurtbox/hitbox has been changed." This is a bit frustrating considering virtually every character is receiving box changes, yet we don't have any idea of how so.

When we finally do find out the how of this avenue, we'll be able to analyze a whole lot more. Until then, we shrug our shoulders and move forward with the knowledge that change is coming, we just don't know specifics of what it'll be.

On to what we do know...

Frame Traps Likely Less Prominent

Another very common phrase you'll notice in the patch notes: "pushback on block/hit has been increased." Once you get up into someone's face in Season 3, your offensive turn is going to be shorter than it is now.

The degree to which this happens will depend on just how much increase there is in pushback, but we'll likely no longer see characters like Karin, Necalli or Laura be able to pressure with normal after normal as they try to catch a foe pushing buttons.

Once on offense, players will need to commit to whichever avenue they choose as they attempt to open up their opponents. You want to try to frame trap? It may be that you get one shot at it, then your turn is over.

Throw Loops No More

You may have heard one of the best policies in Street Fighter 5 is to "take the throw," and that's probably going to remain true in this next season since characters that could follow their throws with more throws widely no longer seem to be able to do so.

The patch notes don't directly reflect this as the changes to throws are vaguely labeled as "circumstances/situation after landing throw has changed" but we know from playing the game at Capcom Cup that most all characters that had throw loops have lost them.

Capcom has given slight damage (and in some cases, stun) buffs to throws that previously looped, but the overall utility of these moves has been reduced.

Command Grab Nerfs

Command grabs across the board now have eight to ten additional frames of recovery, making already very punishable moves even more punishable.

This global change perplexes me a bit, as we rarely saw any kind of complaint or dissatisfaction with the way command grabs worked in previous seasons.

It does continue the theme of commitment to offensive options, though, and perhaps the emerging meta will reveal that command grabs are particularly strong, and therefore in need of this nerf for balance.

Could it be that the changes in hit/hurt boxes make overall approach a bit easier? If so, then maybe the idea is that it's not all that difficult to get in someone's face, but it is harder to make something happen once you're there.

General Takeaways

So we can only see bits and pieces of the whole picture, but if I were to guess as to what Capcom's central initiative was, I'd say it was to strengthen defense by nerfing offense.

I remember listening to Combofiend (SF5 developer at the time) paint a picture of Street Fighter 5's general gameplay flow before it actually was released in 2016. The image I gathered was a strict departure from the vortex/set play heavy years we saw throughout Street Fighter 4.

The idea would be two fighters that had to commit to decisions in the neutral, someone would score a hit, and then this would usually lead to a resetting and both players would return to the neutral.

From what we see now, it feels like that's the direction we're headed with Season 3. Those that want to win will have to master the neutral even further, as close quarters interactions will be a little less prominent.

If this is indeed the case, then my attention turns to zoners as the characters we'll need to watch out for most. F.A.N.G and Menat are a bit of a toss up in my mind, but Guile is easily the character I'm most afraid of.

He's clearly the best zoner in the game right now, and if getting in means less and ultimately leads to a reset back to the neutral, then Guile will be at a big time advantage. Blocking will be much more of a thing now too, as you'll be better rewarded for doing so (due to push back) and taking the throw is still a great option.

This is all speculation given only a few select bits of the puzzle, and things can (and probably will) come to fruition differently than we might expect right now. I'd like to hear your opinions given what we know at this point, so please sound off in the comments with your predictions for Season 3 in light of these patch notes.

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