A Quick Analysis of the Street Fighter V Winter Update

This is going to be the final season for new Street Fighter V content but I’m glad Capcom is trying to make it a super memorable one by adding some of the fighting game community’s most requested characters and even adding a brand new mechanic this late in the game’s lifespan. The game’s director and producer, Takayuki Nakayama and Shuhei Matsumoto, recently discussed what they’ve been doing and revealed some of the stuff they have in store for us for Street Fighter V’s fifth and final season.

Frankly, I’m both excited and also a bit wary. A lot of it is good but some aspects leave me cautiously optimistic. But let’s go look at some of the specific things they did talk about and let me give my non-professional thoughts on them.

Probably the biggest news that they did tackle was the implementation of the new gameplay mechanic of the V-Shift. As explained by the game’s battle director, Woshige, V-Shift is a new mechanic that should allow players on the defense to get out of pressure situations if they can read their opponent’s incoming attack. While this sounds similar to the other defensive system, the V-Reversal, the V-Shift is a much more dynamic way to get out of trouble. For one thing, you can only activate V-Reversal during the actual blocking animation when being hit. Afterwards, your character will perform whatever predetermined action he or she will do. This sucks for some characters, specifically Vega/Claw, as he does his backflip and doesn’t get him out of trouble if he’s in the corner.

The V-Shift, on the other hand, can be performed at any time, even if your opponent is not attacking. When you do so, your character will perform a very quick backdash that’s invincible to almost all attacks, even throws! However, the V-Shift does cost one whole V-Trigger bar so you can’t use it all the time. What makes the V-Shift much better than the old V-Reversal is the stuff you can do with it. If you successfully dodge an incoming attack, time will slow down, giving the player who activated the V-Shift a couple of options. They can do most normal attacks afterwards or transition to their character’s V-Shift-Break, a counterattack that will, from what I’ve seen, always cause a knockdown.

There are a few things that they didn’t explain, however. They say that, when in the V-Shift state, your character is “invincible to throws and also evades body blows and projectiles”. I’m not all that clear what they mean by “body blow.” Does this mean you can still be hit low as those are not “body blows”? Also, Capcom has yet to state how to actually do the V-Shift. There are some reports that it’s done by pressing medium kick and heavy punch but that’s yet to be confirmed. I’m also unsure of how “active” the V-Shift is. I couldn’t really see if the slo-mo is only activated at start up or throughout the entire backdash animation. Finally, as they disabled the life gauges, there’s no way to tell if the V-Shift-Break does regular damage or recoverable damage.

The V-Shift has the potential to be a huge game changer for Street Fighter V. Giving everyone a new universal defensive move will make it easier to get out of pressure. As Street Fighter V is a game wherein you have to “wait your turn”, the V-Shift will make it much easier to steal turns, switching you from playing defensive into pure offense. You can also bet there will be players who will be trying to bait out the V-Shift with light attacks and empty jumps. The V-Shift is a welcome addition overall but will change the meta of the game, which might turn off a few longtime players.

Capcom also gave us more details on two upcoming characters for the final season of Street Fighter V: Rose and Dan. Since they talked about Rose first, let me go give my first impressions on her. First, I do appreciate them showing off some of the design documents as well as the motion capture they did. It’s nice to get a peek behind the curtain. I didn’t even realized they performed motion capture for Street Fighter V! Rose retains most of her normal moves from the previous Street Fighter entries so there nothing much to talk about there. However, her special moves are kind of a different topic as they’ve modified a few of them.

Rose will now have an air projectile as she can do her Soul Spark while jumping. One neat little thing I noticed is that she stops moving forward when she does this. This means you can’t really do the same tricks as Akuma can with her jumping projectile. She also has a new move called Soul Punish. This plants a stationary projectile on the field that should be good for extending combos as well as controlling space. It’s not at threatening as Menat’s Soul Spark flying crystal ball explosion but there are going to be some creative uses for this move in the future. Rose lost her traditional Soul Throw but replaced it with Soul Vise. This time, Rose uses her scarf to wrap around a jumping opponent and zaps them with her Soul Power. As far as I can see, it works the same way as her Soul Throw but doesn’t switch sides and can only connect on jumping opponents. Not really sure how good this will be as it’s possible her scarf will have a hitbox. We’ll just have to wait and see. By the way, I’m not sure if those are the official names of the moves they introduced; I’m just going off what Rose says when she performs them.

Her V-Skills are interesting. The first one has Rose pulling out a tarot card that will buff herself or debuff her opponent. From the video, it looks like the first time you activate it will cause the buff and you can afterwards use the V-Skill again to toss the card like a projectile and, if it connects, will implant the debuff. They don’t really mention what kind of buff/debuff it is nor if you can pick what it will enhance/diminish. Because of this, it’s hard to determine how good this will be in an actual match. Her second V-Skill will look very familiar as its her Soul Satellite move from Street Fighter IV. She can summon up to two energy orbs that will circle around her. They didn’t talk about this much but I’m assuming it will have the same properties as in the previous game. Each orb does fade away after a few seconds and they don’t come out instantaneously so Soul Satellite won’t be as useful as before.

Rose’s V-Trigger 1 enables her to teleport at various points of the screen. It kind of works like Nash’s Sonic Move V-Trigger but she has to activate it first before she can actually start teleporting. This will have some nice applications in combos as well as mixing up her opponents. But it looks weak when compared to her V-Trigger 2, Soul Illusion. This has her create a shadow that mimics whatever she does, leading to additional hits. She had this move in Street Fighter Alpha but, to those unfamiliar with that entry, it’s akin to Chun-Li’s V-Trigger 1. The scaling on this will be terrible but, as each attack tacks on another hit, activating this should enable Rose to perform combos that she normally couldn’t due to the increased hit stun and recovery.

Let’s not talk about Dan and, boy! Did Capcom really try to tailor fit his playstyle to his personality! They didn’t discuss his normals all that much but they focused a lot on his V-Skills and V-Triggers. They demonstrated his V-Skill 1 during the TGS show but they went into a little more detail her. Dan’s V-Skill 1 is basically a taunt but with a hitbox. He can cancel it from any of his special moves. This can make some of his moves, like his Gadoken projectile and Koryuken uppercut, somewhat safe and Dan can even combo after it if its done while airborne. I kind of wish they made it so you can also cancel into it on the ground but only on hit and, if it’s blocked, Dan is left wide open.

Dan’s V-Skill 2 is potentially a top-tier making move. Basically, you can activate it after every normal attack except his crouching heavy kick. No real mention if this is also available for jumping attacks. Anyway, if you let it rip, the taunt does do a quick attack. But what makes this a killer V-Skill is you can have Dan cancel the initial animation with any attack! This can potentially lead to some devastating combos as he’ll be the only one who can link two heavy attacks together! Imagine Dan doing a jumping heavy punch, landing with a standing heavy kick and then cancelling it using V-Skill 2 to a crouching heavy kick to, not only do a very nice 3-hit combo but also knock down your opponent! I do hope Capcom makes the cancel window very tight so as to make this a high risk but high reward decision.

Dan keeps his Haoh-Gadoken from Street Fighter IV as it’s now his V-Trigger 1. The weird thing it’s the only V-Trigger with 1-bar! It probably doesn’t do all that much damage so, to compensate, they made it so he can easily have it in stock multiple times in a round. It can actually guard crush if its fully charged up, making it a good pressure tool when you’re opponent is knocked down. His V-Trigger 2 is rather disappointing as it just buffs up his Gadoken and his Koryuken special moves. He can, however, make these moves even stronger by “pressing the final direction key and the attack button at the same time”, Dan can make those moves even stronger. I’m not sure what they mean with the instructions, though. I still figure most Dan players will be using the second versions of both V-Skills and V-Triggers as they have better applications.

Finally, we have to talk about the roadmap they have with the final season. They only really mentioned when Dan and the new balance update will be uploaded at that date is on the 22nd of February, which isn’t so long now. I’m hoping they do make Dan free for the first week so players can test him out without having to pay for anything. Speaking of paying for stuff, they’re now going for a couple of tiers when it comes to content. You can get the regular Character Pass for around $25 which only has the characters, the colors as well as Eleven, a “mimic” character. They didn’t talk about Eleven at all but he did get a character trailer of sorts and it shows him just changing shape into different Street Fighter characters. Basically, he’s Mokujin from Tekken. I seriously hope he changes shape for each round just to keep things interesting!

The Premium Pass, at a somewhat exorbitant price of $40 (almost the price of a new game!) has more stuff as it includes two new stages and a whopping 26 additional costumes! It’s pricey but, what the heck! I’m going to get the Premium Pass because I’m a sucker for new costumes. Besides, do I spy a new swimsuit for Lucia as well as a proper Killer Bee outfit for Cammy in the corner?

I did like what I saw during Capcom’s Street Fighter V Winter Update video. However, while they did show a whole lot of stuff, I was hoping for a bit more, such as revealing who the final character would be as well as when each character is slated to be released. The V-Shift mechanic has me excited and scared at the same time as it can make the game much better as it gives everyone a really good defensive option. But, at the same time, it has me worried as it can also make the meta change for the worse. Rose and Dan look sick but I’m looking forward to Dan more because I think he has more potential to be this really wacky character but can really put the hurt on his opponent. Can’t wait for the 22nd of February!

What do you think of the upcoming Street Fighter V update? Let me know in the comments section below!

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