Street Fighter 5 is undoubtedly one of the biggest titles on the horizon for fighting game fans. With the franchise being comprehensively resurrected by the fourth mainline entry in the series, Capcom is set to build on that strong foundation with the latest iteration of its long-running brawler.
As ever, the advent of a new Street Fighter game means new combatants entering the fray. Just last month, the acrobatic Rashid and his mastery of the winds were revealed at an event in Dubai, and now Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu has unveiled yet another newcomer.
Brazilian fighter Laura has been revealed slightly earlier than intended — images of the character leaked via Famitsu accidentally, so there might be an accompanying trailer on the horizon imminently. However, for now there's plenty for fans to speculate about based on the glimpse of the character that's been made available.
The character is seen going one on one with Ryu, performing kicks and what seems to be multiple variants of an armbar. These techniques seem to suggest that Laura's speciality is Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a martial art that has become rather popular in recent years thanks to the Gracie family's efforts to integrate it into MMA.
Given Laura's chosen discipline — not to mention the palette of her attire — it seems that she'll be representing Brazil. This prompts a clear comparison to series stalwart and fellow resident of Brazil, Blanka. Laura also uses lightening in some of her attacks, another one of Blanka's trademarks.
Considering those two facts it might be safe to assume that Laura's purpose in Street Fighter 5 is to replace Blanka, but that would surely upset seasoned fans of the series. There's no confirmation that this is the case just yet, but the two characters seem rather too similar to both appear on the same roster.
Blanka is surely one of the most recognizable Street Fighter characters around, but we've seen in the past that the series loves to change things. Street Fighter III famously jettisoned every fighter aside from Ryu and Ken, although there's still debate as to whether this was a wise move on Capcom's part.
We already know that Street Fighter V isn't going to be quite as liberal with cutting tenured fighters — Russian wrestler Zangief was just confirmed to be in the game yesterday, and several more veterans have already been announced. And here's always a chance that fighters who don't make the cut for launch will arrive later on.
Whether she's replacing Blanka or otherwise, Laura certainly seems to be an intriguing addition to the cast of Street Fighter 5. That being said, her design is just part of the package — players will be looking forward to seeing her in action before they cast judgement.
Street Fighter 5 is set to release for PlayStation 4 and PC in 2016.