With Arcade Edition, Street Fighter 5 finally feels like a complete game, and one that lives up to its legacy.
The fundamental fighting of Street Fighter 5 has been strong since it came out in 2016, but everything around it felt like the skeleton of a great fighting game. With the new Arcade Edition, substantial new modes and game-changing V-trigger moves finally give it the meat on its bones it needs to live up to its legendary name.
The most important thing to know about Arcade Edition is that if you already own Street Fighter 5, it’s a free update that adds a ton of new content and a sleek UI overhaul. But if you don’t already own it, buying Arcade Edition gets you all of that plus all 12 DLC characters from seasons 1 and 2.
The most meaningful addition to Arcade Edition is one of the most-requested features from Street Fighter 5: the traditional Arcade Mode. While its gameplay is not significantly different from what we saw in previous Street Fighters, its presentation, at least, is fantastic.
Each path has a number of really neat nostalgic touches.
There are six paths to choose from, each limited to characters from a different era of Street Fighter, from 1 to 5, with some Street Fighter Alpha mixed in. They’re even decked out in costumes resembling their original looks. Each path has a number of really neat nostalgic touches, from bonus stages involving breaking barrels, to remixes of classic songs, and even incredibly tough secret boss fights if you perform particularly well.
Completing a path unlocks a cool piece of artwork that sums up what happened to your character in that game. Since each character has a different piece of art for each path, it’s a great incentive to go through arcade mode with multiple characters.
Team Battle mode isn’t as exciting, but it does support play for a crowd by pitting teams of up to five players against each other in a series of one-on-one matches. You can tweak a number of rules, including the amount of health that gets restored to the winning player in the next match, and whether you win by eliminating all opposing players or simply winning a “Best of” series of matches.
The rest of the new modes are ongoing services that will start after launch. There’s Extra Battle, which lets you use fight money to buy into a special limited-time challenge where you can earn rewards like experience, fight money, and unique costumes; and Special Challenges that will offer unique titles as rewards. It’s a good idea that could help keep me coming back.
Aside from the new modes, the most exciting additions to the actual fighting of Street Fighter 5 are the new V-Triggers that become usable when your character takes significant damage in a round. V-Triggers have always been a great comeback mechanic, and the new ones allow you to turn a losing fight around in outstanding ways.
Ryu’s V-Trigger gives him a super parry that will make any opponent think twice about a predictable jump in attack, lest they want to lose half their life; Cammy’s gives her even more mobility and a absolutely deadly throw attack that can be comboed into a critical art for huge damage; and Zangief’s powers up his signature Screw Piledriver and even allows him to combo into it.
Every new V-Trigger dramatically changes how a character is played once their V-Gauge is full, and how you must play against other characters as well. That’s exactly what Street Fighter 5 needed to make the fighting feel fresh again without a complete overhaul.
One very important, but perhaps overlooked improvement in Arcade Edition hides in the training mode, which now allows you to view the frame data of each move. It even color-coordinates to let you know when your character is at an advantage or disadvantage after an attack. This is incredibly helpful when learning a new character, or learning how to fight against characters that give you trouble.