Street Fighter V launched with an identity problem. When it came out in 2016, it felt unfinished; it had a relatively small pool of fighters, and lacked some of the basic options usually found in fighting games, including a story mode. The actual fighting was fine—although the new V-Gauge system felt a bit confused, as it tried to simplify some parts of the game in a way that’s a little complicated and confusing.
Its impact at the time was muted, and not just because it was exclusive to the PlayStation 4 and PC. It felt like a game that didn’t really have any reason to exist, outside of Capcom’s financial interest in continually making new Street Fighter games.
Much has changed in the last four years. Capcom released a full story mode within a few months of launch, and has added 24 more fighters, both new and familiar, through DLC. The Capcom release model for fighting games is simple. Release a game, then release a bigger version of it again and again until it’s time to move on.
This has been Street Fighter’s bread and butter since its iconic second installment, with half a dozen Street Fighter II games, three versions of Street Fighter III, three versions of Street Fighter Alpha, and four versions of Street Fighter IV. In the era of DLC, Capcom’s penchant for releasing updates or enhanced editions has only strengthened.
With Street Fighter V, Capcom is more invested in releasing DLC than ever, regularly building on the original, vanilla release. Over the past four years, various characters, costumes, backgrounds, and modes have been added. Needless to say, Capcom dealt with plenty of criticism for its initial Street Fighter V launch, and to the company’s credit, it’s tried over the last four years to right past wrongs. Capcom released a cinematic story mode for free.
The base game takes the tried and true Street Fighter gameplay and tacks on the V-Gauge. Not only do you have the meat-and-potatoes special bar that you need to fill to hit enhanced EX moves or maxed out to hit Critical Art supers, but there’s a second special bar for V-Skills and V-Triggers. V-Skills are minor abilities assigned to each character that make them unique. Once the V-Gauge is full (from either use of V-Skills or just taking damage), you can hit the V-Trigger, which temporarily enhances your character’s fighting ability in some way.