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V-Shift isn't looking like the get out of jail free card we feared it might be here in Street Fighter 5's Season 5

It's early, but things are looking promising thus far

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • February 22, 2021 at 1:30 p.m. PST • Comments: 40

The day of reckoning has finally arrived as the Street Fighter 5 community now officially has its hands on the first Season 5 content drop, and is excitedly excavating away at the balance update, newcomer Dan Hibiki, and perhaps the most intriguing of all new additions: the new V-Shift mechanic.

We got our first sighting of V-Shift just under two weeks ago and have been speculating at the fresh defensive tool ever since, developing a somewhat anxious combination of excitement and trepidation while considering its potential. We took straight to training with V-Shift to get an early idea of how it might affect the meta, and are happy to report it looks to be a useful, but relatively tame, new mechanic.

Is V-Shift a Get Out of Jail Free Card?

When V-Shift was initially showcased it looked like it might be an incredibly efficient escape tool that came with little to no risk beyond the cost of V-Gauge to the user, (especially if it wound up being a frame 1-invincible maneuver, which it is) but we've found this very much not to be the case.

First of all, the back dash motion is not invincible unless the slow motion parry effect is triggered, meaning that incoming attacks that are a tad early or late can still counter hit in this situation.

The window to get the parry slow down to activate is relatively strict, meaning that players are going to have to sniff out incoming attacks with a good bit of nuance and intent to use this mechanic effectively.

It also carries more recovery than a normal back dash does, which technically means it can be called out and punished. If an aggressor suspects a V-Shift attempt is about to happen, they have time to either dash or take a small step forward and perform a full counter hit combo (including Crush Counters) on their foe.

Players will no doubt be using V-Shift between common block strings and frame traps, but the meta may evolve to see those on offense drop block strings early to bait out obvious Shifts for some gnarly punishes.

This does seem to be something of a universal nerf to command grab reset situations, however, as V-Shifting here will escape both the threat of command grab as well as the threat of a strike. It can also be used as an effective wake up option against meaty attacks, which may alter okizeme approaches a good bit.

Going for command grabs and heavier attacks on opponents' wake up is now more risky, so we imagine there will be a shift more toward meaty light attacks and regular throws as they're safer offensive options.

How Much Utility Does it Pose on Offense?

Street Fighter 5's turn-based meta seems to set up for some low hanging V-Shift fruit in terms of baiting someone into taking their turn and stealing it back away with a sneaky V-Shift.

Putting yourself in a -2 situation and then immediately V-Shifting your foe's attempt to take their turn has some utility, but from what we've seen thus far, V-Shift really does not seem to be intended for offense.

The mechanic doesn't give you more frames to punish, it merely allows you to see the situation more clearly and gives you more time to react. This is nice, but it doesn't mean you can just do whatever you want. You're relatively far away from your foe, and your options are reasonably limited.

V-Shift Break is a go-to here, but it doesn't net you all that much benefit as it knocks down for gray damage and essentially resets the game to neutral. We saw some characters punish with forward-moving attacks and Nash punish with his Critical Art in the initial showcase, but such happenings look like they'll require some very specific move call outs as most attacks recover too quickly to be punished.

I was unable, for example, to V-Shift and Super punish any of Karin's medium attacks with Necalli's Critical Art, which as a mere 7 frames of start up. I could, however, punish her heavy buttons with CA upon a successful V-Shift. I will say that Cammy's three frame Critical Art might be a big exception here, but .

The early takeaway here is that, because V-Shift costs meter, requires fairly precise timing, and doesn't lead to guaranteed damage, you probably have better options to go to if you're able to call out what your opponent is doing. It's not to say that we won't see some incredibly hype "thread the needle" V-Shift moments, but it's probably going to be used to simply escape from pressure more than anything else.

A Tool in the Neutral?

We'll need to give our muscle memory some time to develop, but V-Shift feels like it will be more predictive than reactionary, for the most part. Close up situations where we have a good idea of exactly when certain moves are coming are a perfect scenario for using this maneuver, but we're not so sure we'll be seeing it a ton in the neutral.

V-Shift requires that the joystick be in the neutral position, which means you can't do it while blocking or crouching – two positions that Street Fighter players' hands tend to instinctively flock to.

To Shift incoming attacks, not only will you have to identify the assault and react in time, you'll have to also intentionally return to the neutral position thus making that much more a call out as opposed to a reaction. Even attacks like G's rush punches, Urien's shoulder tackles, or Bison's scissor kicks are difficult to react to if you're not looking directly for them.

If an opponent is being particularly obvious with repetitive heavy pokes, you may be able to take advantage with V-Shift, but other counters might be more efficient anyway here.

Final Thoughts

It's early, but it feels like V-Shift will serve as a primarily defensive mechanic that gives player's the ability to escape some of SF5's most traditionally dire situations.

That said, it requires a reasonably high level of intent and precision to use effectively, and that means it likely won't take over the game's entire meta.

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