A new year. A new season of Street Fighter V. At the end of Capcom Cup, Yoshinori Ono took the stage to announce that, not only was Street Fighter V’s Season 4 was incoming, it was already available. It was unfortunate that the engineers kinda bungled the reveal since they made the Season 4 patch available right in the middle of Capcom Cup. The reveal was still enticing thanks to the introduction of Evil Ryu, I mean Kage. Oh, and the new characters had a few new tricks up their sleeve.
While the new gimmicks the current roster had was definitely overshadowed by Kage’s introduction, I did notice that Capcom did show Vega (AKA Claw in Street Fighter parlance), the character I use, had a new move of sorts in that very short clip reveal of Season 4. Capcom has made some changes to Street Fighter’s Spanish Ninja. Some good, some bad and some even a little of both. I looked at the official balance changes for the character and hunkered down to check how Capcom changed Claw… until Season 4.5 comes out anyway.
The most obvious new tool Vega/Claw has in Season 4 is what they did to the EX version of Crimson Terror. Initially, there was nothing really special about the EX version other than it went through projectiles and did slightly more damage than the heavy version. While it does less damage on its own in Season 4, Capcom revised it so that it now ends with Vega doing a flip kick (think his Scarlett Terror from older Street Fighter games) if it connects. This launches his opponent into the air in a juggle state, allowing Vega to notch in some more damage afterwards.
This is a really good change as it give Claw more combo routes than before. The safest bet is to tack on a crouching heavy kick to knock down the opponent. But there are other things you can do from it! You can also use either the medium or EX Aurora Spin Edge (the backwards claw swipe) to do more damage than the sweep. If you’re willing to spend the meter, you can tack on an EX Flying Barcelona Attack and go from there.
You can also throw out V-Trigger 1, the one where he throws a rose at his foe, and do damage that way. If you’re rocking V-Trigger 2, you can use that first then execute the EX Crimson Terror and still continue the combo afterwards! Or, if you’re feeling really sneaky, just jump up in the air with a light kick to do a reset. Basically, the damage you get from just the EX Crimson Terror may not be that great, but the options you do get if it does connect can be enormous! Also, it’s safe on block and more reliable than EX Flying Barcelona Attack as it hits crouching opponents. Oh, and it does a hefty amount of stun. Really good buff.
The second biggest change Vega got is he can now cancel into his Switch Claw from any punch attacks on hit or block. This, for me, is both a good thing and a bad thing. Mostly good, though but there are some stuff that kinda irks me about this change.
The most glaring problem is that you’re negative on both hit or block for most attacks after the Switch Claw. This means you don’t really get any new combo routes nor any new frame traps with this change. Also, while you can do some clever mixups and resets if you do this mid-combo, a wise Street Fighter competitor will get wise to this tactic and punish you during the Switch Stance if you get too obvious with it. Another thing is that my execution is lousy and I’ll inadvertently execute the Switch Claw move by accident. That’s my problem but, hey! These are my thoughts on the changes so they’re valid!
Even with my complaints, this ability to do the Switch Claw after all punches is good because there are a few mixups available now. One thing that I noticed is that, if you do cancel the Switch Claw, your opponent isn’t pushed out as far as they should normally. This does mean you can reset the entire thing with a throw or, if you’re switching from Claw stance to Clawless, his command throw. I really have to find new setups for this new change as it’ll be probably terrifying online!
The third biggest change was done to Vega’s Clawless crouching heavy punch. Capcom removed the Crush Counter properties of the move, which I’ll miss since used to use it as a meaty Crush Counter into a sweep and do it all over again. But I’ll quickly get over it since they buffed it in much better ways.
Vega’s crouching heavy punch in Clawless stance now has massive frame advantage on both hit or block, making it on par with the Claw version of his crouching heavy punch. This is now an excellent tool for framtrapping opponents, especially when used in conjunction with the Switch Claw. He could do the Switch Claw with this before but now, since all other punch buttons can cancel into it, it just adds another layer of Vega’s opponents to think about.
However, despite it being a better move, there are a few issues I have with the changes. It removes Vega’s fastest and most reliable Crush Counter; the standing heavy kick is duckable and the Buster Claw is super slow. You also don’t get any major new combos from it outside from a counter hit.
Vega also got some other changes that are less noticeable and, in all honesty, nothing that great.
His air throw now has better range, which is great as it’s Vega’s most damaging and reliable anti-air. But good luck using that against G’s jumping V-Skill, Akuma’s air fireballs or any crossup attack! His standing medium punch with Claw does 70 damage from 60, making it a better poke but it’s still slow. EX Aurora Spin Edge doesn’t push the opponent out as far, which is good if you want some meaty option but not good if you used it as a way to get some space. His sliding sweep is supposed to have more juggle potential but it only works if you manage to anti-air with the heavy Aurora Spin Edge, which is a rare sight in itself!
The light and medium Crimson Terrors got buffed slightly. The former is now +2 on hit, making it more difficult to punish while the latter has less pushback, which leave Vega at advantage if it connects. Capcom also modified the EX Flying Barcelona Attack in a way that you can actually combo into the slash if you’re close to the wall. This is great because there were so many times when I would whiff this as the arc was too low before. There’s now less pushback on block from Vega’s V-Skill, making this already seldom used poke even less rewarding.
Overall, I think Vega’s in a better place in Season 4 as they gave him more offensive options and mixups as well as additional ways to extend combos. But he’s still going to be low-tier as Capcom didn’t address what makes Vega weak in the first place. His defensive and wakeup options still suck. He also still lacks a good grounded anti-air attack to keep opponents away. Even with these buffs, it will take more effort to actually win against guys like Guile, who have superior defensive options and can play keepaway.
I will say that this is a good start and Vega does feel a little better. It’s just not the vast improvement the character needed to be more competitive. Maybe in the Season 4.5 patch?
What do you think of Vega’s changes in Street Fighter V’s Season 4? Let me know in the comments section below!
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