Street Fighter 5 (opens in new tab) is about to – almost – become the game it was supposed to be. Probably the most enjoyably accessible fighting game Capcom has ever produced, SF5 has, alas, so far failed to pick up the audience it deserves, as a result of severely lacking single-player and training content, its unfinished launch line-up appealing only to those with local fight buddies or the willingness to brave the online crucible. But now we have a release date for the first of two promised updates to fill out the game’s menus and deliver a much fuller, more welcoming game.
Landing on March 28, the first patch will deliver the all-important Challenge mode – which will provide deeper tutorials and intensive, character-by-character combo trials, as well as a new source of Street Fighter 5’s in-game Fight Money currency – and expand online lobbies to an eight-player capacity. That second factor should be a huge boon to the online game for players of every skill level, allowing a much more sociable experience, as well as the facility to spectate on friends’ matches while waiting your turn.
The first update will also bring instant rematch options online, and fix various unspecified bugs.
On March 30, a second update will bring us Alex, the first of SF5’s drip-fed roster additions. This is very exciting news indeed, but here’s also where things get a little complicated. Since Street Fighter 5’s announcement, the plan has always been to allow players to purchase new characters either for free – using the aforementioned Fight Money – or with real-money purchases, using a second currency called Zenny. However, it seems that there are still wrinkles to iron out in regard to the latter system, meaning that real-money purchases won’t be available at the time of Alex’s arrival.
To tackle this situation, Capcom is initially launching Alex as a free trial, available to all without purchase, until the Zenny shop launches and the original strategy kicks into action. There’s currently no projected date for when that will be, but – perhaps worryingly – Capcom has told us that any other characters released before the store’s arrival will get the same free trial treatment. Sounds like it may be a while before that particular element of the game gets sorted out, then.
In recompense for the troubles Street Fighter 5 has suffered since launch – unstable online performance being another issue – Capcom has pledged to gift Ryu and Chun-Li’s Story mode costumes to everyone for free on the 30th, a saving of 80,000 Fight Money.