The first Street Fighter V post-launch character release is here, with Alex joining the roster as part of the launch of the fighting game’s in-game shop.
Street Fighter V marks a paradigm shift for the Street Fighter franchise in so many ways. Recall that Street Fighter IV‘s final iteration held a staggering total of 44 playable fighter. Each expansion was packed with 4-6 new fighters, forcing an instant and dramatic meta and balance shift. It would take months, if not until the release of the next expansion, for Capcom (and players) to acclimate. Street Fighter V is trying something difference, and it starts with today’s release of the in-game store and the first post-launch fighter — Alex.
Rather than release a pack of characters that’s only been balanced internally, Capcom will be releasing one fighter at a time. This allows players of Street Fighter V to get used to each fighter at their own pace, allowing Capcom to balance the single character around the current meta rather than the meta around a group of new fighters. It’s a practice that’s worked particularly well for MOBAs, and with Street Fighter V‘s improved online capabilities (no longer limited by PS3/360 tech) there’s no excuse not to follow suit.
The biggest piece of the puzzle is Street Fighter V‘s online store, which is also launching today. With Street Fighter IV, players could only purchase out-of-game DLC packs to unlock content. The in-game store allows players a new way to access content, specifically with regards to using in-game earned currency. Yes, all players will be able to buy Alex with in-game currency or real money. This type of system also ensures that Alex won’t shake things up dramatically all by himself — it will take a while for the userbase to unlock Alex.
Street Fighter V‘s real money shop, called the Zenny Shop, has yet to be launched. Some datamined info from today’s content drop shows that a round of premium skins will likely be available as soon as the shop goes live, but players will have to wait for that. Since that means that players can’t buy Alex for real money yet, Capcom’s decided to temporarily unlock him for all players. It’s just for a short window, so give Alex a try before Fight Money is required to unlock him entirely.
While the Zeny Shop isn’t out, and likely won’t be for a while yet, the Fight Money Shop should be good to go. It’s a bit lacking in content for now, but consistent players should find a few interesting things available. Alex is a given, of course, costing 100,000 Fight Money. That will also be the price of every character going forward. Then there’s each character’s Story Mode skin. These skins will cost 40,000 and will only become available after a player has unlocked a character. So Alex’s Story Mode skin won’t be available until you purchase him, for instance.
It’s perhaps odd to describe today’s update like this, but this is just another step by Capcom to make Street Fighter V the game it should have been at launch. Having to add its storefront be added in a post-launch content patch is on the list of bits of Street Fighter V that should have just been there day one. It’s on there with a full cinematic story mode, a simple arcade mode, and various other features fans expect from a fighting game in 2015.
With that said, you’ve also got to give Capcom credit where it’s due. Street Fighter V is without a doubt one of the most impress fighting games released in recent memory and may very well be comparable to the genre’s greatest titles. There’s an impressive balance already, with the Top 8 in Capcom’s most recent premiere tournament featuring players maining seven different characters. Street Fighter V may not have been what it deserved to be at launch, but the fighting itself, as well as the online play, may have made the early release worth it.
Street Fighter V is available now on PlayStation 4 and PC. Alex, the first post-launch DLC character, is now available, but only for in-game Fight Money currency. He’ll be available to all for free for a limited time.