Earlier in December 2015 Street Fighter V Beta 3 went live for beta test participants. It contained a number of familiar faces from the original beta, but as the beta continued three more characters made their SFV debut…
Street Fighter V Beta 3 Phase 1 – Laura debuts
A few minutes with Brazilian fighter Laura will quickly show you that this is a character who has a bunch of abilities focused on making sure that her opponent isn’t able to pile on the pressure and give her no room to breathe. The most useful special moves and V-gauge abilities are all focused on keeping the other player out of Laura’s personal space.
The Split River move, for example, is a snappy shoulder barge that pushes opponents back slightly and leaves them reeling momentarily, potentially disrupting players who want to pile on the attacks.
Laura also has a slightly limited – but still effective – projectile attack. The Thunder Clap special move sends a wave of electricity across the screen towards the opponent. If the Thunder Clap is used with a light attack button, the wave will move slowly and disappear after travelling a few feet. That move duration can be changed with the use of stronger special move attacks that result in the waves staying on-screen for longer.
All of this is great if you want players to stay away from you, but for the opponent that have closed the distance, Laura has a command grab – Sunset Wheel. This move sees Laura grab her foe, jump in the air and bring herself down on them. The command grab has to be performed at quite a close distance for it to work, making it another risky move; however, it could be useful for catching out players who aren’t expecting to get grabbed.
With all of this in mind, Laura might sound like a character who always fights at close range. Thankfully, the V.System also offers some fancy dashes and back-dashes, as well as a unique move akin to Abel’s Wheel Kick that covers good distance. Anyway, if you’re afraid of people playing pressure games and want to stop them from being all up in your business, Laura is worth a look.
Street Fighter V Beta 3 Phase 2 – Zangief and Dhalsim debut
The second phase of Street Fighter V Beta 3 brings with it an unusual sense of comfort and familiarity. Street Fighter IV was a game that was keen to show off the original World Warriors in a brand new 2009 fighter and Street Fighter V has begun by throwing in classic characters alongside the new arrivals.
Of those veteran fighters, Phase 2 of the beta introduced SFII favourites Zangief and Dhalsim. I was particularly fond of playing the Russian wrestler in SFIV so I was pleased to find that he became the first of the Phase 2 characters to be unlocked. Lariat moves, spinning piledrivers and those frightening running grabs are all present and correct, and whilst the spinning piledriver asks for a 360 motion in the command list (demanding that a player push forward and quickly rotate the stick or d-pad around in a clockwise motion before pressing a punch attack), those motions are just as lenient as they were in SFIV. Rather than make the full rotation, you can push forward and rotate around 225 degrees (to the up/back direction) and it will still count as a spinning piledriver when you push the attack button.
The V-System also offers some interesting options for Zangief – the V-Skill allows him to absorb one hit whilst the buttons are held and results in an attack when released. However, if this V-Skill is used during V-Trigger, Zangief will keep absorbing hits for a short duration. As useful as this can be from a defensive point of view, it’s still pretty risky because you aren’t able to do a whole lot else whilst you’re sitting there soaking up hits.
One thing that fans of the Street Fighter IV series will notice is that Zangief’s Banishing Flat (also known simply as ‘Green Hand’ due to Zangief’s appearance during the move) is absent in Street Fighter V. This was an incredibly useful move for Zangief players that wanted to pressure their opponents and it will be missed, but I think that the new V-System moves make up for its absence.
Dhalsim was unlocked for Street Fighter V Beta 3 players a few hours later on the same day and whilst I didn’t play him that much in Street Fighter IV, he still feels somewhat familiar.
Each Yoga Fire projectile is belched out in a mischievous arc, Yoga Flame attacks knock the player down and can be used in mid-air, and Yoga Teleports see Dhalsim vanish and reappear – either in the same spot or on the other side of the opponent.
The moves are familiar enough to avoid alienating fans of the older games, but the new animations and effects make everything feel fresh and new again. The stationary Yoga Teleport could have its uses when avoiding fast projectiles and a teleport that moves Dhalsim could be useful for escaping corner pressure.
Even without the special moves, Dhalsim still has great long-range normal attacks thanks to his stretchy arms, and the use of normal and special moves together can create some interesting traps. For instance, throwing out a Yoga Fire projectile that travels in a high arc might make an opponent block the high attack but Dhalsim’s arms are so long – and the projectile moves so slowly – that you could sneak in a low normal attack whilst the opponent is distracted by the fireball.
Dhalsim’s V-System abilities seem like some of the most gimmicky abilities we’ve seen so far in these beta tests. Despite this, they suit his character in Street Fighter V Beta 3 and may have some interesting applications in matches.
The Yoga Float V-Skill is almost exactly what it sounds like: Dhalsim floats in the air momentarily and during this time he can be moved freely left or right by the player. This means that if Dhalsim is floating towards a Rashid player looking to set up a dive-kick, Dhalsim can float out of the attack range to safety. Finally, the V-Trigger move Yoga Burner makes Dhalsim set the ground in front of him on fire, and anyone stood in the flames will see their health slowly drain (and converted to potential damage) until they escape the flames or the flames disappear. Since it’s potential damage, a good player could get that health back as long as they don’t take a hit, but this would be risky.
Street Fighter V Beta 3 Phase 3 – all previous Street Fighter V beta characters return!
There isn’t much to say about the final day of Street Fighter V Beta 3, but it was still a welcome surprise. Rather than giving players a new stage, feature or character, there was an update that unlocked all characters that have been available in the current and previous betas.
The update allowed players to select any character from the first beta (Ryu, Charlie, Chun-Li, Birdie, M. Bison, Cammy), second beta (Ken, Necalli, Vega, R.Mika, Rashid, Karin) and December’s beta (Laura, Zangief, Dhalsim). The only character who remained unavailable was Fang, who we have seen in trailers but haven’t had a chance to play in any beta release.
When Street Fighter V Beta 3 has all of these characters available at once, it reinforces the feeling that the game’s cast is diverse enough to keep everyone happy – maybe I don’t find Charlie too appealing, but it doesn’t matter because I can just play Rashid or Laura instead. Fans will have their favourites and these favourites will change over time as new strategies are discovered and balance patches are rolled out. In the meantime, Street Fighter V looks like it will be a solid addition to the series.
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