Video games are a great medium because they regularly find new ways to amaze and impress by delivering worlds and experiences you could’ve never imagined. And one thing I could never have imagined is the process of launching into Street Fighter 5 as a new player. What a nightmare!
I’m not talking about getting battered online by people who then send you messages telling you to ‘learn 2 block’; I’m talking about the simple process of booting the game for the first time after buying it and downloading it or popping the disc in. I mean, seriously, what a mess.I’ve had Street Fighter 5 installed on my PC pretty much constantly since before it was even released 6 years ago this month, back in 2016. As a result, I haven’t experienced the process of a fresh install too much aside from when I was fiddling with the installation that exists inside one of my arcade cabinets. But, this week, I was mucking about with a piece of new PC gaming hardware and had reason to perform a brand-new install of SF5 on that machine, and… what fresh hell is this?
Here’s the process when you boot that game:
- First you have to agree to the End User License Agreement. Fine.
- Then it tells you a title update is downloading. The download completes practically instantly.
- SF5 doesn’t ask you if you want to do a tutorial; it just dumps you straight into a story sequence.
- This story sequence is followed by a tutorial battle - though you can skip this by Pausing and pressing Skip Battle.
- …which leads to another Story Sequence. Okay.
- Then another battle, which again can be skipped in the same way.
Okay, that’s a pain, but if you’re a new player, all of this is important stuff. The tutorial teaches basic but vital Street Fighter concepts such as how to block, so it’s genuinely really quite important. Not everybody is a seasoned vet just installing on a new machine, and I get that.
So, not so bad, right? Right. But! This! Is! Just! The! Beginning! The game then throws up twenty full-screen explainers of various systems. TWENTY! Some of them are even have multiple pages.
Basically, these screens are designed to show up when new features are added to Street Fighter 5; they pop up once and explain something new to you. They never show up again. But, for some reason, Capcom has never reconsidered these - so when you boot Street Fighter 5 now, in 2022, you get explainers for five years of updates all in one go, and have to sit there for what feels like an age closing all these tabs.
Worse, some of these explainers contain overlapping content between one another, or are even irrelevant to the vast majority of players. You have to sit through the following endless screens, expression blank, stunlocked like you’re trapped in a glitched infinite, but worse:
- ‘Street Fighter V’s Network Battles’ - explaining how online works
- ‘Save Data Caution’ - don’t turn the game off when it’s saving, dumbass
- ‘About Missions’ - how to interact with the weekly challenge missions
- ‘Changing the Music’ - how to set your music settings
- ‘Disconnecting During a Network Match’ - what happens if you rage quit
- ‘New CFN Features’ - explaining friends, blacklist, timeline, and other features added to CFN years ago
- ‘About BGM Additions from the Shop’ - oh my god, a secondary explanation that you can now buy music to then change in the previous music related panel. This was added so long ago it may have been the 1980s
- ‘About Extra Battle’ - how extra battle, a limited rotating challenge battle, works
- ‘About Changes to the Fighters ID/Home’ - explaining that you can now change fighter ID and home region, a feature added one hundred years ago
- ‘About Arcade Mode’ - explaining arcade mode, a feature added in the 2018 version of the game that is basically a genre staple everybody understands or will immediately understand by simply booting into it oh god please STOP
- ‘About Grand Master League’ - literally informing players about a new top rank added to the game, which is irrelevant to 99% of players as if you make it up here you’re probably gunning for top 32 at a tournament
- ‘About Team Battle’ - how to play the team battle mode, which was added to the game when dinosaurs still roamed the earth
- ‘Battle Lounge Connection Restrictions’ - explaining how to stop people with crappy connections connecting to your online lobbies
- ‘About the New & Improved Survival Mode’ - survival mode was in SF5 at launch, but at some point Capcom significantly improved it. This explains the changes, which is literally irrelevant to anyone who didn’t play the game in like 2016 or 2017 or something
- ‘About Fighting Chance’ - an explainer of the Loot Box system that’s in SF5. Hooray!!
- ‘About Ultimate Grand Master and Warlord Leagues’ - if you’re gunning for EVO top 8, here’s some more top-flight online ranks the vast majority of players will never see. Cheers
- ‘Dojos’ - because SF5 tried a little bit of every service game idea its developers could muster, Dojos are a customizable stage that you can populate with items out of the loot boxes. They were added to the game before the Forbidden Fruit was consumed in the Garden of Eden
- ‘The Grid Stage BGM Additions’ - if you use training mode, happy days - you can now change the music in the training stage. Definitely worth flagging to new players. Definitely.
- ‘Sponsored Content’ - just in case you’re wondering, yes, that is an advertisement in the game you paid money for. Fuck you! (you can turn them off, though - but they increase rewards when they’re on)
- ‘HEALTH WARNING’ - please don’t die while playing our game
…and then when you load into the game, the title update finishes installing and it immediately reboots, which is hilarious. The title update is needed, but the way it dumps you to the menu then whips control away to reboot the game before you can select anything is the real ‘chefs kiss’ finisher at the end of this huge mess.
To be fair, the above is impressive in a sense. Not just in how dumb Capcom look for not trying to streamline and sort this out – but in terms of seeing how much has been added to Street Fighter 5. It launched as one of the most anemic fighting games I’ve ever seen, but over the years it’s experimented, expanded, and now honestly is one of the better-value fighting packages on the market. It’s hopefully been a vital learning experience for lessons and concepts to be taken into Street Fighter 6, which needs to be a massive banger if Street Fighter is to retain its genre primo status.
Looking at this list, you can see how hard Capcom worked throughout Street Fighter 5’s life. After the initial mocking, derisive reception the game got in many theaters, Capcom could’ve been forgiven for cutting losses and moving on, as they did with Street Fighter X Tekken and Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite - but with SF5 they kept at it, and redeemed the game. Just look at all those added features and tweaks - and that isn’t everything they changed over the years!
And yet… bloody hell, devs. Come on. Nobody who is installing this game for the first time wants or needs to see all this. They want to jump in and play arcade mode, or maybe that dumb-but-fun cinematic story. You could piecemeal these out a bit, flagging them up as people open the relevant menus. Or just get rid of some of them, ‘cos this is too much.
It’s astonishing to me that this information overload wasn’t reconsidered when Capcom put out the Champion Edition update just a few months ago. This is a little thing, but as the saying goes, the little things make up life. These are the things they’ll also need to address if Street Fighter is to keep up with Mortal Kombat and Riot’s fighting game ambitions. Here’s hoping this, and many other lessons from SF5, are taken to heart.