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Street Fighter V 2nd Beta Hands-On

"Plus Bonus Impressions on Laura & Zangief"
Street Fighter V's 2nd beta has been off and running for the past couple of days, but has been dealing with issues to no surprise. From servers crapping out at random times, matchmaking issues in terms of not finding matches at certain intervals, and rollback during laggy matches, this beta phase has been what Capcom needed just like the first phase to ensure the final game's online play will be smooth at launch. Cross platform play between the PS4 and PC versions have been working well for the most part along with more training mode options to keep players busy between matches. The playable characters this time around are also more fun and learn than what we got in the first phase, so let's go over my thoughts on them.

Out of the six playable characters in this beta, which are Ken, R. Mika, Vega, Necalli, Rashid and Karin, Ken is obviously the most popular character used because of familiarity for both newcomers and veterans. However, this ain't the Ken you're used to in past Street Fighter games. Sure he still has his fireball, dragon punch and hurricane kick special moves, but his playstyle for higher level players is the most "rushdown shoto" he has been despite the Street Fighter IV series being the start of that. The big reason is because of his run V-Skill where he runs close to opponents or step kicks them if the buttons are held. His run can be used as a mixup to keep opponents guessing as well as extend certain combos. While he's not as different at first glance, the changes made to Ken are worth exploring.
Rainbow Mika was the character I spent the least time with, but she has nasty mixups and setups with her Irish Whip move & V-Trigger. Her throws also do big damage after activating her mic V-Skill, where she can take one hit as armor and throw the mic at opponents. She is indeed still a grappler, but don't underestimate her normals as she is the most beginner friendly grappler in Street Fighter V thanks to her specials being easier to execute than Zangief's currently.
The character I spent the most time with is Vega to the point he is my favorite of this bunch. Vega not being a charge character is really a game changer as I can wall dive with dragon punch motions as well as roll with fireball motions. It also makes facing Vega like a completely different matchup than you're used to in past games because if you're not seeing him in a charge state that much. He is indeed more mobile thanks to this big change, but still can be an annoyance with his good normals. The stance change to clawless is also big because he has better combos and a command grab. Many thought Vega's inclusion was lackluster, but he definitely surprised me when I actually messed around with him as this is his best incarnation of the series.

Newcomer Rashid is quite an interesting fellow. He can play in your face rushdown with his tornado special move that can be extended by mashing the punch buttons, zone opponents with his projectiles that are more anti-air, or be hard to catch because of his V-Skill where he flips around or rolls close to opponents as either of them can follow up with a kick. His shenanigans come from his V-Trigger where he uses a big tornado projectile that can be used for crazy mixups and setups when combined with his mobile options.
The other newcomer in this beta Necalli is not a complete charge character compared to Street Fighter V's later builds, so I didn't want to spend too much time with him. His stomp pressure is pretty good along with his dragon punch-esque special. His V-Skill, the ground pounds, can surprise folks when he's not close. Necalli does look cool in his V-Trigger state, where he looks like someone from Dragon Ball Z. Out of the newcomers announced so far, Necalli seems the less exciting of the three especially with his changes in later builds, but I personally like my charge characters so we'll see if I flip my stance on him when the final game is out.

Capcom was still testing out the character rollout system in this beta with Rashid and just yesterday with Karin. Just like R. Mika, Karin is definitely worth the wait in Street Fighter V. Some stuff from her Alpha 3 incarnation is gone, but she still has the tools to close the gap to opponents and maintain pressure. She also has lots of juggle potential with her combos for big damage, but not as crazy as other fighting games. Her palm strike V-Skill can absorb fireballs, but you gotta be at the right distance for that to happen so you rather use it for offense. Along with her V-Trigger game, Karin is another fun character to play as and arguably one of the best of the current roster so far.
I also did spend some time with Street Fighter V's two recently announced announcers, Zangief and Laura at SoCal Regionals earlier this month. Well not as much as the characters in the second beta, but at least played a few matches. Zangief is pretty different from his Street Fighter IV incarnation because of no green hand, but this time he's all about maintaining that command grab range especially with his V-Trigger where he can suck opponents in with his lariats. Being able to do his spinning pile driver in the air and getting the perfect read against your opponent is one of the most satisfying things to do in this game. Laura is not your everyday Street Fighter grappler because she has a fireball to protect herself and use for tricky mixups or setups. It's definitely refreshing for the archetype in this series and potentially better for players that don't like using grapplers that much in past games.
With so much more to be said about Street Fighter V, it's pretty telling that I'm having a blast with the current beta phase and still want to play more of it before it ends. I'm been streaming the game the past couple of days, so if you wanted to check out more footage of the characters in action, they're on my Twitch channel or clicking on the YouTube videos above. The online play is still shaky at certain times of the day, but these beta phases have been helping out Capcom so we'll see if things are more smooth for the last beta phase and the final game.


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