Street Fighter V is finally here, and we think that the game's easier to learn than ever. This is great news for those who've always wanted to leap into the genre, but it can still be daunting, and sometimes, asking for advice – even with the best will in the world – can simply make things more confusing.
The best fighting games have incredible depth, and the below pointers are only a starter. There are caveats and disclaimers galore for most of the following, but information overload helps nobody – particularly those people picking up something quite competitive for the first time.
So then, here's our absolute beginner's guide to Street Fighter V. We'll assume that you know what a fighting game is, have been through the game's short introductory tutorial, and that you just can't wait to batter your friends.
When knocked down or under attack, simply hold down-back to defend, or "block". If the opponent is airborne and attacking, just keep back held on your d-pad or stick. New players really need to get into this habit. It's not infallible, and gets more complex, but worry about that later.
Throws are powerful, and can't be blocked. If an opponent is defending particularly well, stop attacking for a split second and try to throw them instead – get in close and tap light punch and light kick together to do so.
Likewise, if you're blocking all your opponent's hurls, be wary of throws. If the opponent lets up their attack and moves into range, try to throw them – you'll may well land some nice damage, or counter their throw attempt. There are circumstances when fighters can't be thrown, but again, worry about that later.
Get a rival
Those new to the genre should recruit friends of similar skill. Learning the game in the context of a friendly rivalry is a fantastic way to push each other to learn and adapt, without being overly frustrated – though, of course, we suppose that depends on your choice of friends. This is simply how the game's meant to be played, and is enormously entertaining with the right company.
What's a combo?
When an attack hits, the recipient is staggered from this attack. While reeling, they can't block, so any subsequent attacks you land while the opponent is in this state are free damage – and, of course, they set them reeling again. A series of attacks that can't be blocked once the first hit lands is a combo.
Generally, you have to time attacks quite well – but some characters have predefined attack patterns that are far easier to perform. Ryu can land medium punch to heavy punch to heavy kick very easily, for example, and Laura can hit medium punch to medium kick with minimal effort. These are sometimes called target combos, and are listed under the 'Unique Attack' tab of the command list in-game. Looking up and practising these in training mode is a good way to get cracking.
Special moves aren't as difficult as many may imagine. The timing in Street Fighter V is generous, and the game gives you plenty of time to hit the buttons after inputting the motion – many newcomers hit buttons far too early while entering a special move's command. Those having trouble with special moves should go to the game's training mode and slowly practice the move.
It's not just about special moves
Once you've played a few characters and have an idea who you prefer, nip into training mode with them to check out their standard attacks. First, there are a couple of go-to attacks you need to look out for.
Notice that some attacks – mostly heavy – seem to take longer. Usually this corresponds to their power and range, but there are exceptions. Look for a punch or kick that seems to have the best balance between speed, power, and range, and abuse this move while fighting your nearest and dearest. Often, crouching medium attacks are a good place to start your investigation, but if you find something else that works for you, all the better.
Next, look for a fast move that looks like it would do well hitting an opponent jumping at you – this may well be your normal anti-air attack. Whenever you see someone leaping at you, try to hit them with this. You can pause the game in training mode, and, on the second page of options, set the training dummy to repeatedly jump. This can help you test out your anti-air candidates, as well as practise any timing and positioning quirks that may appear.
Given a short period of practice, and a bit of focus, something will click and the above points will become second nature – muscle memory will take over. When this happens, it's absolutely one of the most rewarding experiences in gaming, and worth anybody and everybody's time.
If you've any questions, we'll do our best to answer them in the comments section below. No query's too basic, and we won't judge you. Much.