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Spark Comic 86
April 6th, 2016
Spark Comic #86 - Launch Fighter

I'm going to get a lot of flak for this comic, aren't I? Well, here's my rant.

After months of betas, previews, and announcements, Street Fighter V officially released on February 16th, 2016... And it was pretty bad.

I love fighting games and will openly admit that I am not a great player. That being said, Street Fighter V (SFV) has had problems over the past few months that go beyond its mechanics and is inexcusable for such a big budget title. There is barely a single player component and what there is in offline mode can feel insultingly unsatisfying. There was no arcade mode, only story mode (which is remarkably bad, though I'll at least give them credit for making none of the character stories contradict each other), training mode, and an inconsistent survival mode. Additionally, the game didn't even teach you how to play. It gives you a ‘tutorial’, which is an insult to actual tutorials, which shows button configuration but nothing about how the game actually works. If a game cannot explain itself, it fails from a user design perspective. I understood most of the mechanics because I'm used to conventional fighting games, but there are nuances that I either don't understand or had to figure out through trial and error. Fighting games are already notorious for being inaccessible to newcomers and this does not help. After several months of betas, presumably to balance gameplay and prepare the online components for the full release, SFV launched with completely broken online system that made matchmaking next to impossible or with constant disconnects. While this improved over time, these problems persisted for at least a month. Additionally, because the online system is tied to much of the game's inner workings, SFV basically died with the server. SFV was a $70 incomplete game that really dropped the ball and it astonishes me how many people defended it on launch despite it having little content for its price point.

This comic was meant to be published later, but I bring it up now because I will admit that SFV has gotten somewhat better very recently. They added tutorials, a new character, and fixed most of its online issues, but my complaints still stand. Adding a tutorial almost 2 months later is pointless when new players who wanted to learn how to play the game have likely abandoned it. The signature arcade mode is still non-existant, though an actual story mode is expected to become DLC over the summer. One of the main points people make to defend SFV is that DLC will make it better over time which I don't really accept. Other games have used this model to enhance content overtime, but this adds to adequate games. Take Splatoon, for example. The DLC adds a lot of new content to the game, but is technically unnecessary because it was a full game to begin with. While multiplayer is the main feature, you can always play Splatoon offline by yourself and have a relatively satisfying time beating story mode. SFV still can't attest to that and the DLC is playing catch up with a lot of basic features. People who disregard these faults not only ignore that this game has less content than its predecessors, but that seasoned tournament veterans are not the only audience that matters.

Ignoring these issues, I just don't find SFV as good as other fighting games over the past few years which not only have more content but are more exciting and accessible (eg. Marvel Vs Capcom 3, Guilty Gear Xrd, BlazBlue, Killer Instinct, Skullgirls, Pokkén Tournament). I will admit that SFV is mechanically sound. Its fighting system is really good for what it is, but it's badly wrapped inside the currently incomplete game around it. I had fun for a while and loved using new character Rashid as my main character, but it was still less interesting than most modern fighting games. For everything I liked about SFV I couldn't ignore all my issues with the game itself. I don't think Street Fighter V deserves to be forgiven at this point. Being fair, it's still not worth the money and it doesn't live up the standards of its predecessors or other modern games of its genre. Until the DLC eventually compensates for it, I'll likely be playing other fighting games instead.

See you next comic! :)