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Street Fighter 5 has changed immensely since its launch three years ago

Remember SF5? Here's what it looks like now...

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • March 5, 2019 at 7:49 p.m. PST • Comments: 97

When you regularly see someone on a daily or weekly basis, you don't really notice much in the way of changes. Seeing a picture of that same person three years prior, however, is often surprising to the point of slight alarm as all the minute alterations that have snuck their way in are summoned to the forefront of perception.

Street Fighter 5 recently celebrated its third birthday, (and now that we've more or less dealt with the existential dread that inevitably comes with such reminders of just how quickly time has passed without our realizing it) we'd like to take a cheery look back at how the game has evolved.

In this modern chapter of video gaming widely defined by downloadable content, it's almost unheard of to see a title remain in the same form as when it was released for very long.

This rings even more true for fighting games than in some other genres, as DLC development is a track that runs simultaneously with basic balance updates and game play evolution. That goes doubly for a title like Street Fighter 5, which many argue was rushed out the door as an unfinished product.

Here we'll try to offer a snapshot image of what Street Fighter 5 was back in 2016 so we can side by side it with what the game is now.

We'll kick this process off by giving you a simple side by side of what the game's main menu screen looked like in its Vanilla days, before the Arcade Edition update gave it new modes and a fancy new look. Note the inclusion of the ill-fated Zenny counter in the Vanilla image:

Vanilla vs. AE image #1
Click images for larger versions

Launch and Year One

When Street Fighter 5 was first launched back on February 16th of 2016, it was widely panned for its lack of content. Where the competitive crowd could spend ample time in training and versus modes, there was very little for casual and single players to explore.

Single player launch options included mindlessly easy story snippets for each character and Survival Mode. Unlike the story snippets, Survival was frustrating to the point of demoralization, arduous, and mandatory for anyone that wanted to access all costume colors.

The game's shop was not yet ready, the Cinematic Story Mode was not yet included, and the general consensus was that Street Fighter 5 was a widely incomplete title. (There were other issues with the modes that did exist at the time, but we'll cover that a bit later.)

Fast forward to July of 2016. The in-game store had been implemented, weekly challenges were brought on board, a few DLC characters further broadened the roster, and A Shadow Falls Cinematic Story Mode was released.

This led to the first (of a few) moments wherein we started hearing players say things to the sentiment of "We're finally at a point where SF5 is a full game." This subjective statement was countered often by the fact that we were playing a Street Fighter game with no arcade ladder, but it was certainly a benchmark of progress from SF5's status at launch just four months prior.

The remainder of 2016 and the year of 2017 welcomed new DLC fighters that brought the roster up from 16 to an eventual 28, saw a few big balance patches that altered tier lists and the general flow of game play, and introduced a plethora of alternate Chun-Li costumes (as well as threads for a few other fighters).

It was at the start of 2018, however, that Street Fighter 5 took on a whole new identity with the overhaul update that was Arcade Edition.

Arcade Edition

Anyone holding out from that initial "it's finally a full game" sentiment was about ready to concede when Arcade Edition dropped on January 16th of 2018.

This update gave the game a golden visual overhaul that did wonders in the way of making it feel like SF5's official "Grand Opening." Along with that fresh coat of paint came a ton of new content on top of the regular balancing and DLC character additions.

Arcade Mode - The most discussed of these was probably Arcade Mode, which came as a fix to one of the most glaring issues since launch. Players were finally able to battle through six differently themed paths that represented the main titles in the Street Fighter franchise: Street Fighter, Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter 3, Street Fighter 4, and Street Fighter 5.

AE also brought about an all new gallery of unlockable images featuring art, early concepts and more, which players were rewarded with if they garnered high enough scores in Arcade Mode. Thus the single player experience was finally fleshed out to an acceptable extent.

Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition launch images image #1 Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition launch images image #2 Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition launch images image #3

Extra Battle - This update also brought all new bells and whistles to the weekly challenge front as all new Extra Battle brawls offered a chance at big Fight Money rewards.

New ways to spend this FM were also implemented, as Capcom kicked off their crossover costume series at this time as well. For 10,000 FM and four weeks worth of Extra Battles, players could earn special outfits that referenced other popular titles in the Capcom game library.

Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition launch images image #4 Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition launch images image #5 Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition launch images image #6 Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition launch images image #7 Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition launch images image #8 Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition launch images image #9

Team Battle - Perhaps the least discussed new mode in AE was Team Battle, which encouraged players to form groups of up to five and face off in elimination bouts.

Team Battle offered a wealth of options to keep things interesting. Players could opt to have special meters and V-Trigger bars carry over from defeated teammates, gain varying amounts of health back and alter lineup preferences.

Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition launch images image #10

Second V-Triggers - Arcade Edition also gave every character in SF5 a second V-Trigger option to augment their battle plans with. This led to greater variety and further personal expression during game play.

Other Notable Mentions

Fighting Chance - It wasn't until the late June, Cody update that saw the introduction of Fighting Chance, SF5's take on a loot box system.

Along with an updated Survival Mode, which made it more bearable to play and put it in tandem with the all new FC mode, Fighting Chance gave players yet another way to spend their Fight Money in hopes of accessing even more new colors and costumes.

This mode felt like an attempt to turn Street Fighter toward more modern practices, but has not been the most well received in its implementation.

Devil May Cry, Air Man costumes, Survival mode changes in Street Fighter 5 image #5 Devil May Cry, Air Man costumes, Survival mode changes in Street Fighter 5 image #6 Devil May Cry, Air Man costumes, Survival mode changes in Street Fighter 5 image #10 Devil May Cry, Air Man costumes, Survival mode changes in Street Fighter 5 image #13 Devil May Cry, Air Man costumes, Survival mode changes in Street Fighter 5 image #14

Rage Quitting Penalties - Street Fighter 5's earliest days actually saw no penalty for players that decided to skip out of online matches early to avoid losing League Points. This was addressed in August of 2016 and then again in early 2017 to further ensure people would finish their matches.

Input lag - Once it was public knowledge a few months after release, you could not have a conversation about Street Fighter 5 without someone bringing up the game's eight frames of input lag. Capcom reduced this a bit to 6.2 frames in late 2016 and then down to around 4 frames with much less variation in October of 2018.

Dojo Mode - In September of 2018 Capcom implemented the all new Dojo Mode which allowed players to form online clans and work toward mutual objectives.

Fans were encouraged to create and/or join SF5 online dojos where their personal play time accomplishments would contribute to a group score highlighted on a public leaderboard. Dojo leaders could customize the look of their personalized stages with various items obtained via FM purchases and Fighting Chance.

Similar to Fighting Chance, this move served as a clear acknowledgement of the times and offered further motivation for players to seek out community and get in contact with one another. You'll see the trailer for DM here:

Capcom has continued to develop their game with the aforementioned standard practices of new characters, stages, balance patches and costume updates, and even dabbled with a sponsored content trial run that may be indicative of future endeavors.

Though we have our hunches that Street Fighter 5 may be entering its final chapters, ("final" implying we have maybe a year or two left) the ride doesn't seem to be over yet. We're expecting something of a new update when the "Type Arcade" version releases later this year, and wouldn't be overly surprised to see new and unsuspected developments come about thereafter.

This three year journey started off abysmally, but never did SF5 fall beyond the point of no return on a widespread level. Brick by brick, the structure was assembled and built into what it is today, and stands as a fine example of how much Capcom can grow and evolve a game.

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