With the upcoming arrival of Street Fighter V and Capcom’s new Pro Tour to create competition for their new fighter, there is going to be a large influx of new players into the game. These may be people who fell off the Street Fighter wagon years ago, players from other games like Guilty Gear or Smash but I imagine the majority will be brand new people. There will be a batch of fresh faced, eager world warriors who want to throw a fireball like the rest of them and one day, be the next Daigo Umehara.
It’s also clear that Capcom is targeting this market, as many of SFV’s systems have been made easier in order to attract a new crowd, by getting rid of one frame links, giving greater input leniency for certain specials and simplifying the barrier to entry to some degree. Personally, I’m in two minds about simplifying certain tougher aspects of fighting games in as much as there should be room to find super high execution combos for pro players to lab out and master, while giving low to medium level players options that do less damage but are easier to execute. It doesn’t seem that the exclusion of one frame links is going to drastically lower SFV’s skill ceiling but I can understand how removing high execution elements may put off pros for switching to a game that seems simpler.
The problem I have is that still, most modern fighting games do not have good tutorials. Most tutorial suites involve teaching you how to punch and kick (if it isn’t completely obvious), how to block a standing move and then maybe how to throw a fireball. With that incredibly base knowledge, you are then dropped into the badlands of online competitive play, where that little bit of information may stop you from getting perfected but that’s about it. You may get character trials too, which give you drills that teach you (usually obsolete and not at all optimal) combos. Great, you then know what to do off a jumping medium kick but if you cannot land the hit in the first place or deal with someone doing the same thing to you, you’re still as clueless as you were straight after the tutorial.
With fighting games, the way you learn is through losing unfortunately. Getting beat up, lamed out and destroyed by other players is how to properly learn, as you gradually learn what to do in certain situations or realise flaws in your game by having them continually beaten into you. More often than not though, players will not know what their flaws are or even understand what to do in a situation because they have not been given the knowledge to process it and improve. This is where in-game tutorials are vital, as giving the player the adequate information to work through their losses and actively learn from them is what would keep more players interested in a fighting game in the long run, rather than getting bodied and then never playing the game again. The lifeblood of a fighting game is competitive play against real people, not CPUs so you need a working knowledge of what actual players will do, rather than relying on single player to teach you the ropes.