As part of getting ready to write this review, I went back and re-read what I’d had to say about the original Street Fighter V—and it’s almost crazy to think about how much has changed in those two years. When the latest chapter of Capcom’s legendary fighting franchise launched back in 2016, it had a roster of just 16 characters, was missing numerous chunks of the content that had been promised for the game, and had omissions that many found unbelievable for a modern release in the genre.
While the story of Street Fighter V is far from over, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition feels like a culmination of sorts of those first two years, the moment when those efforts have finally resulted in a game that feels “complete” sans-roster (which obviously will be ever-evolving).
The argument, however, is if those first two years were “wasted” time for the game—and I’ll still fight tooth and nail to say that they weren’t. Street Fighter V captured my heart when it was first revealed, and it felt to me like the game I’d always wanted Street Fighter IV to be but always kind of knew deep down that it couldn’t become. While SFIV was a sort of “best of” look at the series at it had existed up until that point, SFV has more of that “let’s do something new” flair that Street Fighter III had once given us—just in a safer and less controversial package. It didn’t take long for SFV to ruin a good chunk of the fun I could have with SFIV, which now seems more like a knock-off Street Fighter project to me than the real deal.
Still, I’m not delusional: Street Fighter V was greatly lacking in its early days, especially if you’re someone who cares greatly about single-player content (which, admittedly, I don’t). While I’ve enjoyed the game the entire time, I knew that it could and should be better, and that bringing more players into the fold would benefit everyone by helping to secure Capcom’s support going forward.
So, unlike the upgraded versions that Street Fighter IV received, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition feels more like a repackaging and relaunch than it does a simple expansion. It points to the interesting time we’re in with video games, one where online connectivity and upgradability means that a release that disappointed at launch isn’t necessarily doomed to stay failed. We’ve seen plenty of examples of that in recent years—from Final Fantasy XIV to Diablo III to The Division—and one can only assume Capcom’s hope with Arcade Edition is that it’ll serve as a “please come give us another try” olive branch extended to those who wrote off SFV and never looked back.
That group of players are going to really find a lot to see and do in Arcade Edition, which combines all of those things that have been added over the past two years with some new inclusions coming along with this release. Given the name of the game itself, probably the biggest to point out is the new Arcade mode, the single loudest area of argument for the “there’s not enough to do” solo-skewed crowd up until now. Yes, Arcade mode is finally here, and with a twist: it’s broken down into six unique paths, each of which is based around one of the major chapters of Street Fighter. As opposed to the “pick a character and go through a singular linear set of opponents” type of setup that’s common in fighting games, this is a fun way to mix things up while celebrating the history of Street Fighter—even if there are a few “that character wasn’t in that game” or “these stages don’t belong here” moments us longtime fans can get super nit picky about. Arcade mode offers an impressive 85 paths to take if you’re just looking to beat each era with each character, but if you really want to dedicate time to the mode, there are a number of challenges that’ll give you some pretty cool artwork in the new Gallery once completed. With Arcade mode alone, those who prefer to go solo will have way, way more to do here than they ever did in vanilla Street Fighter V.
Capcom’s efforts to boost that single-player side of the game have included some more dynamic options such as Missions, and now, adding to that, is what I think is one of the more interesting arrivals in Arcade Edition: Extra Battle. In exchange for gambling a small portion of your Fight Money, you can try your hand at special fights that will net you prizes such as extra XP or even pieces of exclusive new outfits. I can be a sucker for that kind of risk-vs.-reward type of scenario, so I’m really curious to see where Capcom is going to take Extra Battles in the coming months. There is one downside to risking your FM, however: the fact that earning that virtual currency is now harder due to it no longer being rewarded in some of the modes where it previously was.
Not all of the new options are only for solo players, of course. Another great addition is Team Battle, where you can set up two teams of 2 to 5 fighters and then battle it out elimination style a la The King of Fighters. Sadly, Team Battles aren’t playable online—which is a huge shame—but it’s a nice new option to have when playing locally, especially given the selection of settings that can mix up how each match plays out.
All of these additions will of course be welcome for longtime Street Fighter V players as well, but there are then some other changes that those new to the game won’t appreciate as much. The game’s overall look and user interface has gone through a serious overhaul, which has been liberally plated in gold and given a bit more of a “TV Pay-Per-View” kind of feel. At the end of the day, these changes don’t drastically change the game, but they do give Arcade Edition a freshening up, and some of the little tweaks delight my visual designer side (such as the revised infobar that now shows what stage you’ll be playing on the versus screen).
Another long-overdue change is the ability to bring up a 3D viewer in the Shop (in order to get a proper look at new costumes and color variants before purchasing them), combined with the option to filter certain purchasables (such as outfits) only for certain characters. In general, I still think the overall Shop interface is kind of terrible—especially given just how much DLC there now is for the game—but these additions make the browsing experience far more pleasant over what it was before.
The single-biggest shift that Arcade Edition brings, however, is the change to providing every single character two V-Triggers now instead of one. Street Fighter V’s V-Gauge, and the gameplay systems built around it, were one of the top things I pointed out in my original review in terms of what gave the game its personality. In SFV, Capcom has set out to build a game where every fighter has something truly unique to them, and V-Triggers (along with V-Skills) were the driving factor in that. So, giving the entire roster a second unique trait was no small task, and—I’d argue—harder in concept than the idea of characters having two different supers that’s been tried in the past.
Like the base Street Fighter V, Arcade Edition has both good and bad when it comes to the results of that effort. Two years ago, I worried that too many of the V-Triggers were simply “make moves more powerful,” which I find pretty boring; the game’s latest cast addition, Sakura, is still an example of that, where literally both of her V-Triggers are based around beefing up a different selection of her specials. On the other hand, with twice as many V-Triggers now existing in the game, there’s just naturally going to be a larger amount of ones that are creative and potentially character-defining. Some, like my main Karin, regain yet another piece of their previous selves, as she can now break out her counters from Alpha 3 while triggered; others gain absolutely crazy new techniques, such as Juri’s ability to drain her opponent’s Critical Gauge in order to feed her own. (Although, the actual effectiveness of Juri’s V-Trigger II remains to be seen.) Personally, I’m really happy that Capcom went this route—I think giving characters a second V-Trigger gives players more of that “customization” feel in a way that’s far more interesting than just tossing everyone a second super.
Reviewing Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is an interesting situation, because in a way, I’m not just reviewing what’s come in this release—I’m also considering the two years of work that were put in to get the game to this point. I fell in love with Street Fighter V when it first came out back in 2016, and yet, I both acknowledged that it definitely felt like a rushed release while also being nervous about what it would become as it got more years of updates and content under its belt. Now, two years later, I can honestly say that I’ve been almost totally happy with Capcom’s handling of the game—even though that handling has admittedly been a bit awkward, sloppy, or slow at times. Unlike Street Fighter IV, I’ve got almost no complaints about SFV’s roster as of now, as it has simultaneously: avoided becoming too bogged down with “classic” Street Fighter II characters; provided a really nice selection of totally new faces; tried to avoid adding new characters unless they offered something unique to the game; and truly given pre-existing fighters the freshening up that most were desperately in need of. (Seriously Capcom, thank you so much for finally putting Sakura in something other than her school uniform.) The core combat engine still feels so much better and more enjoyable than SFIV’s did to me, and the fleshing out of modes and options over time has reached a point where we’ve now got a fully-featured experience that should satisfy almost any type of player.
There’s still things that I’d like to see added to or changed about the overall game, but in Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, Capcom has given us a release that truly shows off the potential and promise of the latest chapter of the Street Fighter saga. If you’re someone who has avoided SFV due to what’s been missing or concerns over a lackluster set of options, this really is the time to finally jump in and give the game a go. Arcade Edition feels miles away from Street Fighter V in terms of the overall package, and for its $40 price tag (which includes the first two seasons of characters for free), you’re getting a game that’s made up for nearly all of the sins of that disappointing first release. If you’ve fallen off from playing at some point over the past two years, then the combination of what’s been added since you left plus what’s come along with AE should hopefully offer enough to re-ignite whatever passion you previously had for the game. And, if you’re someone who’s been here the entire time, then this free update (excluding the character and other DLC that comes bundled with the stand-alone SFV:AE release) feels like a welcome freshening up as we enter the game’s third year, with a nice mixture of a reworked UI, character rebalancing, and roster updates—at least until the next round of tier lists don’t go your way.
While it’s taken us nearly two years to get to the point where Street Fighter V probably should have been soon after it launched, in a way, seeing the game grow into what it’s become in Arcade Edition almost makes the experience just that much sweeter. The core of Capcom’s latest Street Fighter entry has always been great, but now, everything surrounding that core has finally reached an equal level of quality.
T – Teen
|Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is available on PlayStation 4 and PC. Primary version played was for PC. Product was provided by Capcom for the benefit of this coverage. EGM reviews on a scale of one to five stars.
Mollie got her start in games media via the crazy world of gaming fanzines, and now works at EGM with the goal of covering all of the weird Japanese and niche releases that nobody else on staff cares about. She’s active in the gaming community on a personal level, and an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming, consumer rights, and good UI. Check her out on Twitter and Mastodon.