You're not logged in | Login / Register | News Filter | Submit News

What actually changed with Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition's recent netcode update? Here's what we found so far

Posted by Steven 'Dreamking23' Chavez • October 15, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. PDT • Comments: 35

Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition saw an update this week that paved the way for some new alternate outfits. Much to the surprise of the fighting game community, though, this patch also put into place a handful of netcode improvements, according to Capcom.

The patch notes released make mention of a handful of tweaks that seem to be raising more questions than they are providing answers. Here's what we found after digging deeper into the latest Street Fighter 5 update and testing the online experience ourselves.

One of the major takeaways of this netcode update comes in the reversion of a previous change made to the game. Back in February, Capcom made it so that the ping between two players was being charted every second instead of tracking the average response time every eight seconds.

The closer monitoring of player ping times, in addition to a handful of other things, was a means for Capcom to reduce the one-sided rollback players could end up feeling when the game fell out of sync.

This week's update reverted the February change making it so the average ping is now charted every eight seconds.

As stated in this update's patch notes, the February update synched the game lag between the two players — so that the latency wasn't piled onto only one competitor. As a result, when the connection between two players was particularly bad it caused frequent in-game pauses while the game attempted to sync up again.

Capcom also noted that one-sided rollback is allowed to happen once again, but only during "temporary fluctuations" — which essentially sounds like the restrictions on one-sided rollback have been lifted just a little bit. Other adjustments have also been made in this area to help further reduce in-game pausing, though we weren't given specifics on what they were in the patch notes.

On top of the ping charting change, an attempt to squash early lag at the start of matches has been made with this update. Bouts are now synched at the beginning to keep things running smoothly.

Upon hopping into ranked mode, we did notice that there seemed to be longer pauses than we noticed previously right before certain matches started. I believe this might be a direct result of the aforementioned change as Street Fighter 5 looks to be taking some time to sync up matches with more questionable connections.

Capcom also reduced the processing load during matches, which we believe is a change that will directly benefit PlayStation 4 users. With how much the console tends to struggle with handling all of the action going on during battle, this adjustment is likely reducing the amount of things needed to be processed at any given time.

When a fighting game is operating with rollback netcode online, various states of moments in the match are being saved so that when things fall out of sync, it can "roll back" to a point where things were still in line. We believe that when too much overhead is created from these saved states and the PS4 doesn't have enough of its own overhead to work with, it causes performance issues.

Layman's terms: Based on what I'm seeing from the information Capcom has released on this year's netcode updates, I believe that this week's update was essentially a loosening of the grip on how lag was previously being handled. It does appear that there actually was a change, and while the February update more closely examined response times and looked to do away with one-sided rollback, this update widened the time between ping checks and let in some one-sided rollbacking (if that's actually a word).

With how closely pings were being charted and the adjustments that came from that during a match, it seems that frequent pauses were occurring in-game as things tried to sync back up. Now that these restrictions have been loosened a bit, the goal appears to be more fluidity and a broader, smoother handling of latency.

Does it feel like anything actually changed? From the sets I've played so far, things feel a bit better. It's hard to say for sure, though.

The matches I've run into felt smooth and slightly better than what I have been experiencing lately. One of the major tests came in the form of a Chun-Li player from Mexico who was lagging hard.

We had a 3-bar connection and I could visually see slowdowns on-screen, but I didn't see any bad in-game pauses. When rollback did actually happen — which was only a handful of times, as far as I could tell — it didn't seem quite as severe as I've seen in the past.

Granted, we're talking about a single encounter with specific variables, so this isn't conclusive. However, it is a lead on what we could be looking out for to determine if the netcode has truly improved since the patch.

One of the more concrete differences I did notice, though, was the wait time before a match actually begins. It did feel like some matches saw me sitting there for longer than usual, which could be linked directly to the "no lag at the beginning of matches" change. There's a good chance that matches are taking longer to begin now as the game works to sync things up, especially when the connections aren't as strong.

As it stands right now, the community is wondering whether or not we saw legitimate improvements to Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition's netcode. Claims have been made in both directions, with some saying it feels better and others wanting another reversion as the experience is far worse.

We have reached out to Capcom for clarification on the netcode changes, but have not yet gotten a response. We will be updating this story when we do hear back.

Load comments (35)