Street Fighter V was an odd beast when it launched two years ago. The fighting itself was fantastic and the multiplayer infrastructure was good, but there was precious little on offer for people uninterested in duking it out with other players. A few extra game features and game modes have trickled out since launch, but it still always felt like something was missing.
Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is Capcom’s effort to remedy that, and to the developer’s credit, they released all the new game modes and features as a free update to the base game. The new characters will cost extra, either with real money or in-game currency (as was the case with the first two waves of DLC characters), but everything else comes free.
The most significant addition is a new Arcade Mode (hence the name), a fighting game staple that was curiously absent from the initial release. For the most part, Arcade Mode works the same as in any other game: you pick your character, fight your way through an increasingly difficult series of battles, take on a boss character, and then enjoy a little cutscene if you’re victorious.
However, this time around there are six different paths in Arcade Mode—one for each major Street Fighter game—and the number of matches and available characters vary between them. The Street Fighter III path, for instance, lets you pick Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Akuma, Urien, Alex, Ibuki, Laura, and Kolin (Laura takes the place of Street Fighter III‘s Sean, and Kolin was an NPC in Street Fighter III: Third Strike). Naturally, the Street Fighter V path has every character available.
Upon completion of Arcade Mode, you’ll get an ending illustration that sums up your chosen character’s story from the relevant game—for example, Ryu’s ending on the Street Fighter path recounts his victory over Sagat in the first World Warrior tournament. There are also a few extra endings with special unlock conditions, such as getting a perfect score on a bonus stage. Speaking of which, the barrel-breaking bonus stage also makes a comeback, though the famous car-breaking minigame isn’t present, sadly. (Neither is Sean’s basketball parry practice from Street Fighter III, but that makes sense, given it’s built around a mechanic not present in Street Fighter V.)
With that setup, you could possibly spend a lot of time in Arcade Mode, fighting your way through each path with each character until you unlock every ending. It goes without saying that that can get repetitive and tiresome, especially if you’re trying to do them all back to back, but it’s nice to have something to unlock and some small sense of progress each time you jump in. On top of that, there are monthly leaderboards for Arcade Mode, with special titles available for the people with the highest scores each month.
Though Arcade Mode is obviously the marquee mode, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition introduces a couple of other new ones, too. One of those is Team Battle Mode, which pits teams of up to three characters against one another—think Elimination mode from Ultra Street Fighter IV.
Extra Battle lets players engage in special, time-limited event battles, with rare and exclusive rewards for those who can overcome the challenges. This is a neat idea, although the time-limited nature of the events can be frustrating—for example, with the current event you can earn a special Viewtiful Joe costume for Rashid, but to do so you have to complete four different Extra Battles, each of which is available for just a week. I was out of town last week and unable to play, so I missed the first of the battle; as a result, it looks like I can’t get the costume, even if I take part in the rest of the event over the next few weeks. Here’s hoping that future events are a bit more respective of people’s schedules, otherwise Extra Battle is quickly going to turn into a source of annoyance rather than fun.
Between the new Arcade Mode and the handful of other modes added over the last two years, Street Fighter V finally has what feels like a complete set of play options. There’s the usual array of online modes (ranked, casual, and lobbies), but a much broader range of things for casual and solo players than was the case when the game launched. For some, the multiplayer component is all that matters in a fighting game, but plenty of people are more interested in the single-player stuff, or at least want something to do in the downtime between multiplayer matches. Finally, Street Fighter V has that on offer.
Another big change in Arcade Edition is a second V-Trigger for each character, adding more variety and different strategic options to the whole roster. Your mileage will vary depending on your character and play-style preferences, though I have to say I’m very pleased with Laura’s new Shock Stance—it’s an evasive maneuver, adding a welcome new defensive tool to her bag of tricks. As with Street Fighter III‘s Super Arts and Street Fighter IV‘s Ultras, V-Triggers can be selected and changed between matches, even at times when you aren’t able to switch characters, so you can select the most useful one for a particular matchup.
Which brings me to my one concern with Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition: there are too many characters. I suspect there aren’t many who share this view, in a world where more characters = more “content” and is therefore always seen as a good thing, but a large roster in fighting games just complicates things. Every new character is a new matchup to learn for whichever characters you play, and that’s something that can be particularly daunting for a new player just getting started. It also gets harder to balance, and you always reach a point where you start having multiple characters filling a similar archetype or role.
At 28 characters, Street Fighter V is already pushing the limit, and Season 3 will add another six, bringing the total to a very unwieldy 34. Character creep has taken the fun out of a great many fighting games in recent years, and while I appreciate that Capcom’s hands are somewhat tied—DLC characters are pretty much a requirement these days, it seems—it’s sad to see another game going down that route.
I’d much prefer to see the roster kept manageable, while using things like alternate V-Triggers and different skins to keep things fresh. Instead of having Nash and Guile as separate characters with very similar movesets, why not have a Guile skin for Nash (and a Remy skin too, while we’re at it)? We’ve already seen a little bit of this with Karin’s Ingrid costume. You could even go as far as giving them relatively unique animations for attacks that are the same under the hood, to give the feel of a unique character without blowing out the roster in the process.
Having said that, the character choices themselves are generally quite good. There’s a good mix of old favourites from the full span of Street Fighter history, as well as some great newcomers like Laura and Kolin. Whatever your preferred playstyle, you’ll probably find someone who’s a good fit, and there’s some great variety in the visual design of the roster. It just needs some of the chaff cut out.
If you’ve been on the fence about Street Fighter V, or you played a bit at launch but quickly grew bored due to a lack of game modes (like I did), then Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is a great chance to jump back in.
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Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is developed and published by Capcom. It’s available now for PS4 (reviewed) and PC.
A press copy was supplied by the publisher for this review.