Non-reactable 'just do it' moves might be the most hated gameplay aspect of Street Fighter 5 right now, let's take a closer look at why

An easy way into a guessing situation is not a good look

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • September 7, 2018 at 8:05 p.m. PDT | Comments: 80

Street Fighter 5 differs from previous entries in its franchise in that it carries more input lag, as well as input lag fluctuation, than any other title that has come before it.

One of the major results of said delay is a natural shift toward predictive and away from reactionary play. The risk for tossing out moves is relatively muted and players can ultimately be a little more cavalier about when they choose to go in on their foes.

A Twitter user by the name of Frankie Nunez recently made a statement regarding this that's been getting a bit of attention from the SF5 community: "A problem with SF5 is bad move design. There're a lot of "I ran out of ideas in neutral" moves that lead to 50/50's."

This sentiment was expanded on by Street Fighter tech scientist Javits Arias as he responded, "In some cases, it’s not that they ran out of ideas. That’s their ONLY idea, lol. Those moves are simply way too strong. I was talking to @AutoMattock about these recently and @SanfordKelly has always been vocal about them. It’s one of the things people hate the most about SF5.

He went on to specify a handful of these moves by name.

"Un-reactable, super fast, long range EX moves that are safe or + on block and lead to extra damage and/or mixups on hit: - Ibuki EX Kunai (ground and air,) Bison EX Scissor Kick (knee press,) Urien EX Chariot Tackle, Balrog EX Dash Straight just to name a few," added Javits.

I personally would like to add Birdie's infamous EX Bull Head to this list. Though it's -5 on block it spaces Birdie far enough back that most characters can't punish it via conventional means. Some are forced to simply retreat after blocking and others enter into a guessing game that may or may not work out in their favor.

None of this is really news to anyone that's been playing Street Fighter 5 for almost any amount of time over these last two and a half years, but if we can get specific in our articulation of what it is that seems to sap at the game's enjoyment levels then we may wind up seeing a positive adjustment in future patches.

Indeed players were vocal about more obvious issues that hurt the game during earlier chapters, namely things like throw loops, V-Trigger cancel damage and anti-air jabs. Capcom heard and attended to each of these and ultimately made their product more competitively enjoyable as a result.

Back to these "just do it" moves, why is it that they specifically sap the fun out of head to head Street Fighter action? I feel the answer lies in the fact that player to player mind game manipulation is relatively muted because of the way these techniques are used.

The satisfaction that comes out of fighting games (or any competitive puzzle solving contest for that matter) stems from recognizing and outfoxing an opponent as they try to the same to you in real time.

While it's erroneous to say that the aforementioned moves have no counter to them, they tend to be used with little caution or thought and still net results, the least of which being non-punishment. A player may very well work each and every one of these techniques into a well thought out gameplan, but it's very difficult to discern when that's happening vs. when someone is just tossing them out with a prayer attached.

When "just do it" moves result in your getting hit or losing momentum the feelings of frustration that come with such scenarios are amplified heavily. You still get the salt of losing (points, pride and/or tournament placement) but it's accompanied by a feeling of injustice.

You weren't outfoxed, your opponent just did a move that they were going to do no matter what and it happened to work. You even knew it was coming but still you came up short.

It's important to point out that having one of these moves doesn't make a character amazingly good, as you need more than a single "just do it" move to be top tier. It surely helps but Ibuki is the only fighter off the above list that's prominently argued to be in the game's top five.

The main takeaway here is that these kinds of moves take away from the fun of playing. They lower feelings of accomplishment in winning and heightened feelings of frustration in losing. It's impossible to consistently react to them, and thus they give players an easy way into a guessing situation that may or may not pan out for them.

An input lag reduction so reactions become possible would probably be the most obvious help here though such a change doesn't seem likely given that it's been the number one complaint over the game's entire lifespan.

Perhaps Capcom will look specifically at these types of moves and change each one individually to give them more specific purpose or to increase the risk in using them liberally.

As stated above they've shown acknowledgement for this kind of thing before, and hopefully SF5 grows to be an even better game in 2019.

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