Thursday, March 17, 2016

Street Fighter V - What It Needs To Be Good

From the day I picked up SFV to this very day I have been one of the game's worst critics. I haven't really bashed it outside of the initial shock of feeling ripped off, but I have come up with a laundry list of valid complaints that desperately need to be addressed by the developers. The game, as it stands is functionally flawed. It's missing content, and it's missing features that it should have. Not only that, but it's server dependent, and it features two new layers of anonymity that the online community can, and does abuse. Let me not forget to mention the fact that Capcom also made it cross-platform with the PC. The one gaming platform from which all mods, and hacks originate. A platform that is not governed by Playstation moderation.

To start off with I said in all honesty that "Street Fighter V" deserved a "4 out of 10" rating. That's how I felt at first. The more I played it though the more I realized how far it has fallen from it's origin source, and in realizing this I ended up feeling that it warrants an even lower rating than that. I do realize that SFV is a completely different beast altogether, and that such a fact should be taken into consideration, but at this point I feel it's not even worth recommending regardless of it's new nature. Before you start defending the game like some butt hurt fanboy or fangirl allow me to explain what I mean.

Street fighter V is not what USF4 was, especially to people like me who relied upon the online for training. It is also not what any of the previous Street Fighter games were at base level. It branches off almost completely from that foundation formula, and in doing so forces the gamer to endure the eSports elements that the developer, and publisher are pushing. Capcom made it perfectly clear that they were making SFV eSports friendly. In doing so I fear they have compromised the integrity of the game, and the series by seeking an audience that is not the audience which made said series great, and widely recognized. This whole fantasy that is "eSports" has only caused more problems. It has effectively created scrub pros, and not scrubs turned pro. I can guarantee you that you won't find a lot of SFV's online top tier players going to tournaments, because they cheated their way to the top.

Without bantering on too much more allow me to talk about what the game is, and what new features it has in store for those willing to play it ...

The first thing I want to address is SFV's two new layers of player anonymity. New to the series is the freedom to basically create a different in-game PSN ID from the start as well as an option to choose any region that you wish to go along with your added in-game profile. This creates a problem in that it keeps you from properly identifying who you are playing against, and where they are really from. It negates the matchmaking options based around region, and forces you to play against players from regions that you know have connectivity issues. Along with this comes a sub-par matchmaking system with only two available base settings. This includes the options for console or platform of preference (PS4/PC), and the connection strength. Long gone are the previous region settings of USF4, and the ranked/casual listings that let you browse the players who are currently online. Two settings which I feel are vital to fair matchmaking. Something that USF4 had right.

The netcode in SFV is unfortunately problematic as well. It is far from being perfect. To limit a players' matchmaking settings to two options in a netcode environment that isn't perfect for everyone forces them to play against people with conflicting connection strengths whether they want to or not. As with USF4 the ping, or connection ratings also mean nothing in SFV. They mean diddly squat. I know this from experience, because I've been paired up with supposed 5 bar trolls who manipulate the lag. This brings me to a point I've repeated countless times before. Netcode is only half of the problem plaguing online gaming. The other half of the problem is the people playing it. Whether you choose to believe it, or not all gamers aren't saints. A majority of them do not carry the same mature values as the gamers seeking a legit match. That is why Playstation, and game developers need to stop reaching out to attract a community that does more harm than good. Promoting competitive gaming through eSports friendly features only causes more issues in that it makes the bad gamers want to win even more, and in any way possible. The introduction of video uploads via console, and gameplay streaming has only increased this negative side effect. People want to be eSports popular without earning it, or deserving it.

Another point I've tried desperately to make is that not everyone is meant for the eSports scene. Not everyone is going to be a Pro tournament player, nor is everyone willing to take the experience that far. For Capcom to force this upon players via SFV, and it's limited online only features only serves to crumble the foundation that the series' community was built upon. The complaints about the lack of an Arcade Mode is very warranted in those regards. Even for Pro players it gave them a way to practice offline without being forced to play against online randoms. It also offered some story elements that are lacking in SFV. The fact that offline is no longer a thing in the new generation of Street Fighter games is worrisome in itself. I can relate to the gamers crying out about the game's server dependent build, and the fact that it isn't offline like USF4 was. I could understand online only builds being a good thing if they were used for player monitoring, and banning, but SFV is without any in-game options that would help Capcom pinpoint the problem players. Not only that, I don't think Capcom, or Playstation moderators care enough to invest in such a monitoring program. I say this, because Capcom added two layers of anonymity, and that Playstation moderators have made it openly apparent that they are ill-equipped as a staff to handle the millions of problems facing the network. I heard this myself from a PSN moderator.

Getting back to eSports, and the crowd it attracts ... If you are not gaming, and are not knowledgeable of the state of online gaming then you'll be unaware that the online gaming community is made up of three core groups. You have legit gamers, gamers who cheat, and gamers who cause grief to others. I firmly believe that the percentage of negatively inclined players outweighs those who do nothing wrong. It's the society we live in, and the society we are breeding through things like social media, and online competition. Both things which are elements that make up gaming experiences like SFV. This is something I think the heads of Sony and Playstation do not understand. If they did understand, and did play online against random gamers they'd see what's going on first hand. Understanding the issues at hand requires on hand experience, and without that experience moderators will never know what they are dealing with, or how to deal with it. It's just the way it is.

You have to also understand that competitive gaming in online networks like the PSN is vastly different from someone playing competitively in an eSports event, or at a local tournament. Gamers playing on the online networks don't have to answer to rules, or regulations, and they realize this. The opposite goes for eSports events, and tournaments with prizes at stake. If SFV were truly eSports friendly as Capcom says the same rules and regulations that apply in such a tournament setting would apply in SFV's online as well. There would be monitoring, and moderation (beyond the ragequitting punishments), and there would be features in place to report misconduct. There aren't any in SFV though, and therein lies the problem. If you are going to push the eSports agenda, and mold SFV's online experience to match it you have to go all the way with it, or not at all. Simply adding competitive features that force players to improve or fail within an unfair environment isn't going to get anyone anywhere. It isn't going to turn a scrub into a pro, but it sure as hell might turn them into a cheating "scrub pro" who is so desperate to win that they'll do anything to achieve that victory.

I'm gonna close in saying that SFV is the worst modern-day Street fighter game yet. It needs a ton of work to even be considered worthy of my time, and attention. This is coming from one of Street Fighter's biggest fans. Street Fighter was what got me into fighting games in the first place which is why it hurts me to realize what I've said is the truth.

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