Street Fighter V PC Version Impressions

Street Fighter V PC Version Impressions

I think I start basically every single article I write about fighting games with some variation of this disclaimer, but: I am bad at fighting games. I love fighting games, mind you; I can spend an hour extolling the virtues of BlazBlue or debating whether you’re more likely to enjoy Virtua Fighter or Tekken depending on your preferences. I’m just very, very shit at them.

I’m basically two steps above people who mash buttons. I recognise that a good fighting game is essentially high-speed chess, disguised by terminology, button combination memorisations, and precision input requirements. None of which, I’m afraid, I’m particularly good at.

Still, the fact that I actually play fighting games puts me ahead of Peter and Paul, so covering Street Fighter V has fallen to me. Sorry about that, people who actually count frames and debate untechable knockdowns, although this isn’t really the article for that anyway. This is the article for discussing whether or not the PC version is any good. Right now, my answer is a firm “Hmm”, but mostly in the sense that I’m not sure the PC-specific problems actually matter.

Street Fighter V - actual street fighting
A few of the arenas are actual streets, which is nice.

First things first: it’s surprisingly small, clocking in at a a svelte 7GB. That’s right: despite receiving review code only a few hours before the game officially released in the UK, I actually managed to get it downloaded and spend an hour with it before the game officially released in the UK, and my internet connection is basically powered by smoke signals.

Second things second: the game runs like an absolute dream on my i7-3820, GeForce GTX 970, and 16GB of RAM. That shouldn’t be particularly surprising, but it flowed at a constant 60FPS with pretty much every graphical setting set to maximum. It also doesn’t suffer from any of the absurdly lengthy loading times that I had with Ultra Street Fighter IV.

That said, as you can see below, there really aren’t many graphical settings. You’ve got a grand total of seven to play with, and that’s including the resolution (which seems to go up to 3840×2160 for me, and I’m assuming it was downscaling that to my 1920×1080 monitor). Each of these has four settings, ranging from Low to Max.

Street Fighter V - settings
Not a lot of tweakables, but it runs so smoothly that may not matter.

I should note that resolution was, in fact, the only thing I left at 1920×1080. I didn’t fancy trying the game out at 3840×2160. Sorry.

Anyway: most of the options are pretty self-explanatory, which is good, because the descriptions at the bottom of the screen are amusingly unhelpful. Apparently, the Resolution Scaling setting lets you “adjust the resolution scaling settings.” Thanks, game!

For the curious, here are a trio of screenshots showing things off at different settings, all at 1920×1080. You’ve got everything at bare minimum (with resolution scaling at 1), everything at bare minimum (with resolution scaling at 100), and everything at maximum. As you would expect, it looks like total ass on the former, but it’s nice to have the option to make it look like total ass.

Street Fighter V - low noscaling2 Street Fighter V - low scaling Street Fighter V - max

Those are in full-screen clickable format, but here’s a slider comparison between the worst and the best:

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Street Fighter V also offers a “low-spec” mode on start-up, but I didn’t notice any appreciable difference with this except that it defaulted all of the graphics to Low. I’m going to guess that this is Street Fighter V‘s equivalent of a safe mode startup.

Finally, there are also loads of other customisation options. English and Japanese voices for each character, HUD setups, etc. In terms of setting up the screen the way you like it, Street Fighter V does a pretty admirable job.

Street Fighter V - HUD
You can disable stuff like the Rank and Player Names and so on, or even disable the HUD entirely… which I can only assume would be because you want to take screenshots, because it’s generally useful information.

So yeah, not many graphical settings, but it runs stupidly fast and looks absolutely stunning when it’s fully unleashed. I have a computer on the mid-to-high end of things, but I suspect it’ll scale pretty well on lower-spec machines, considering how jaw-droppingly terrible you can make it look. That’s the first side of the “Hmm.” No, it doesn’t have 50 tweakables… but it looks great and seems to be well optimised, so I don’t know if I care.

The next traditional stopping point for ports is the control setup, and this earns the game a second indecisive “Hmm.”

It works perfectly with my Steam Controller, so that’s nice. I imagine it’ll work fine with a 360 controller too, and while I can’t test it with a proper USB fightstick because I can’t afford one, I suspect it would support it natively. If not, I’m fairly certain the internet will quickly find a way to make that work, even if through third-party programs that remap button inputs. Still, I can’t be sure because I can’t test it myself.

Street Fighter V -Cammy
As a Cammy player, I’m happy to see Cammy back. I have a nasty feeling her Hooligan Combination mixup might be a bit too easily punished to use regularly, but with the right timing and heavy pressure…

The “Hmm” comes from the fact that the keyboard and mouse setup is shit. This is another game that has no idea that the mouse exists, which is a shame, because it’d be nice to navigate the menus with that.

It does support the keyboard, but I can’t find any way to remap the keys, which are bound to the vaguely tolerable WASD/arrow keys for movement, and VBNFGH (I think) for the various punches and kicks. Messing with the .ini files might fix this, or maybe I missed something in the myriad option menus. As the more cynical would expect, these are direct bindings from controller to keyboard: all of the in-game inputs will still show that you should press X or Y or whatever on your controller.

The other downside to this is that all of those buttons are mapped to Player 1, and as far as I can tell, the controller is too. This might be an issue solely related to the Steam Controller, but if you only have one controller, it looks like you can’t play a two-player versus match with one player on keyboard and one player on gamepad. Sad.

Street Fighter V - Cammy's bum
Cammy’s bum is also back. Probably not quite as easy to punish, but with the right timing and heavy pressure…

The “Hmm” part of it is, again, because I don’t really know if this matters. If you’re playing Street Fighter V then you almost certainly have a controller. Sure, I’d definitely prefer it if there was proper mouse and keyboard support, but I don’t think many people are going to be picking this up with the intention of seriously playing on the keyboard. (Although I might give it a shot, if I can get quarter-circle motions down on the keyboard.)

I cannot speak to the netcode, at all, because all of my experience with the game were pre-launch. I’ll update this once I’ve had a chance to get destroyed online.

So yeah, the port is a firm “Hmm.” As far as I can tell it’s well-optimised, runs at a fluid 60FPS, and works swimmingly on the Steam Controller. On the other hand, the stuff we normally like to see in ports – loads of tweakable settings and full mouse/keyboard support – are really limited. On the mutant third hand, if it’s a fighting game and if it’s well-optimised, those two things are of pretty low importance.

Street Fighter V - Hadoken
QCF, for instance, is usually a pain in the arse to do on a keyboard.

Personally, I’m perfectly happy with how Street Fighter V functions on my PC, but hopefully I’ve given you enough info that you can figure out if these potential issues will cause you any problems. There’s one more thing I want to address, though, which is that I’m not actually convinced this release of Street Fighter V is a “full” game. It’s a platform.

There’s a huge wealth of content due to hit Street Fighter V over the coming year, and that means that this initial release feels a bit gimped. The important stuff is here – you’ve got 16 varied characters (only two Shotos!), casual and ranked online play, battle lounges, and a training mode that lets you practice your moves on either a training dummy or an active computer opponent.

Street Fighter V - Tutorial
The thing is, while this might actually be useful for completely new players, there’s no intermediate step. You go from “Here’s how you walk and jump and punch” to having no help figuring out combos or character basics.

But there’s basically sod all there for a solo, offline player. The full Story mode (described as a “true cinematic story experience”) isn’t due until June; what you have now are three matches for each character against computer opponents set to “how do I block” difficulty. There’s also a Survival Mode that challenges you to survive as long as you can with one health bar, and each round lets you exchange the points you’ve earned for buffs or health regeneration.

But! There’s no basic fight-eight-opponents Arcade Mode. There’s no Versus match against a designated AI fighter. The tutorial is so perfunctory it’s almost insulting, telling you how to walk backwards and forwards and make your improbably proportioned character kick someone in the face. Actual stuff that teaches you how to play individual characters and get to grips with their combos and moves is presumably “coming soon” as part of the Challenges, which are due in March, along with “improved online lobby support”, the in-game shop, and the first DLC character.

Street Fighter V - coming soon
Yeeeeup.

These omissions are somewhat mind-boggling, not least because the AI is clearly there. I mean, you can set up your training opponent to fight at a certain difficulty level, but this is basically the only place that difficulty level appears. As such, if you want to match your skills against the AI in a proper match, it looks like you basically have to go into Training mode, set up the AI, and disable health regeneration and so on.

It’s sort of a reverse of the Dead or Alive 5: Last Round situation, which had absolutely no online play at launch. This has online and local versus play… but that’s about it. That’s arguably the most important part of the game, particularly for fighting die-hards, but it’s kind of shitty for those who like to Hadoken the AI.

All of this stuff is coming, and it’s going to be free. Hell, you’ll even be able to earn the forthcoming DLC characters with in-game currency rather than paying real cash for them, which is a really nice touch. But as I said – right now, Street Fighter V feels like a platform that’s going to be expanded on, rather than a full, stand-alone title. I liken it to the initial arcade releases of fighting games, which tend to be perfunctory launches focused primarily on the actual multiplayer fighting, with all of the “fluff” added later for the home system releases.

Street Fighter V - pretty
When Street Fighter V looks good, it looks really good.

As with pretty much everything else in this Version Impressions piece, that may or may not bother you. If you pre-ordered the game and are staying up until it launches, then I’m fairly sure you’re the sort of player who’s not going to care overmuch. Hell, if that’s you, then you’re probably happy that you can play it now rather than waiting three more months for a version with Challenges and a Story Mode.

But if that’s not you, then you might want to wait a little while. What’s present appears to be really, really solid (based on an hour, that is, and watching people stream the beta) and what are arguably the important bits are there – but there’s quite a lot of stuff that’s Coming Soon, and that’s always a bit sad to see in a major release.

Street Fighter V - more Cammy
But on the plus side, Cammy! And motion blur that makes taking screenshots hard. And the general difficulty of taking screenshots mid-match without getting kicked in the face.

I’ll update you with some thoughts on the netcode and so on, and how an idiot like me feels about character balance and matchmaking and variety, but at this point I have no idea how or if we’re going to really review it. As I said, Street Fighter V currently feels like a platform that’s not yet a complete package, and that means that any sort of review I do now will become more and more irrelevant as more of the promised content is added. Would a review get hits? Probably! Would a review actually be of any use for a product with large amounts of content due over the next few months? Probably not.

We’ll see what happens.



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