Street Fighter V Beta Vega Impressions
I’ve never been a Vega fan. Never liked his narcissistic attitude. Never liked playing as him. Definitely didn’t like fighting against him and his wall dive shenanigans. Going into the second beta knowing that my time with it would be short, I didn’t even have plans of using him.
But when the buzz started to build about how good Vega has become in the transition to Street Fighter V, I decided to try him out towards the end of my run. In hindsight, I should have placed him much higher on my priority list.
Ever since his debut in Street Fighter II, he’s been cursed with an inability to reliably keep his claw on for an entire round. Take enough hits and the claw will fly off of his hand. Without his claw, Vega has always been at a disadvantage in terms of reach and damage output.
That is, until now. Whether the claw is knocked off or he voluntarily takes it off, Vega gains some new attributes that are only accessible when he’s unarmed. For one, the frame data on his normals is changed in a way that gives him more combo options. Normal moves that normally wouldn’t link with the claw on actually connect when fighting with his bare hands. Second of all, he gains the ability to perform a brand new command grab special move. Vega’s foes may have gotten complacent with simply blocking Vega’s pokes, but now they have to worry about getting scooped as well.
Best of all, his swipe attack off of the Flying Barcelona becomes an effective tool in a different way. Normally, Vega’s claw attack would knock opponent’s down. Without the claw, the opponent stays standing, allowing Vega to perform a full combo.
If you want to get really fancy, Vega can switch stances mid-combo, allowing you to get the best of both worlds in one sequence. It remains to be seen if this will become a pivotal part of his offense, but the tangible differences between the two give Vega a lot of flexibility in his approach.
That is, until his claw gets knocked off. Unlike past games, Vega can’t pick up his claw. Once it’s off, you’re stuck fighting in the clawless stance. I actually prefer fighting this way as a means of having more combo options and a command grab, but the benefits that came with his armed stance can’t be ignored. Having to find the balance betweeen the two will be the key to success for any Vega player.
Let’s move onto his special moves. Actually, let’s start with the special moves he lost. As part of the transition to Street Fighter V, he no longer has his Scarlet Terror or air stab follow-up for the Flying Barcelona. The latter won’t be missed too much, as his clawless air dive and V-Trigger kind of compensate for its loss. Losing the flash kick may be more problematic. He doesn’t have any moves in his set that act as a wake up move or quick reversal so maintaining spaice becomes even more important.
For the moves he still has, he shockingly lost their charge inputs. Instead, his roll and wall dives are performed with circular inputs now. Purists may scoff, but I love the change. It gives him more immediate access to these tools which have been balanced in a way that don’t feel overpowered. Within the development process of this game, Capcom has shown that they’re willing to revert changes to command inputs. However, I really hope this stays. Having easier access to these moves allows the character to better fit his desired play style.
One of his returning special moves is the Crimson Terror. Rolling along the ground, he now finishes the attack with his feet. This move is performed with a quarter circle motion and kick. I like it as a combo ender, as it can be performed at any time and it keeps the opponent in a standing state when it’s over. The trade-off is that only the light version connects reliably to other moves. Unfortunately, I didn’t check to see if any version of the move passes through fireballs, as I’m pretty sure the EX version of the move could do so in Street Fighter IV.
Of course, Vega can still pounce off of the wall with his Flying Barcelona Attack. It’s general properties and follow-ups are the same as Street Fighter IV except for the loss of the air stab and the addition of keeping opponents standing when he hits them while clawless. On one hand, the move is more inherently dangerous here than it ever was in IV due to the game not having a universal Focus Attack. However, the consequences for getting blocked are higher than ever due to the game’s lower barrier to performing big combos. Even though he can now perform it instantly with its new motion command, you probably want to use this sparingly.
With the claw off, he has access to his Grand Izuna Drop. Snagging his opponent, he jumps off the wall with his opponent in tow before slamming them down. I love having this move in his arsenal, as Vega opponents of the past haven’t had much incentive to do anything but block the incoming stab attacks.
With the claw on, he has the ability to slash his opponents with a new move called the Aurora Spin Edge. Depending on the punch button you use, he’ll either swipe downward, straight ahead or upwards at a diagonal trajectory. Didn’t play as much Vega as I would have liked, but during the limited time I did play, I didn’t really see much use for this move outside of the EX, which does crazy damage. The angle and timing of the upward one make it an awkward anti-air, while the lower one doesn’t seem to help much in combos or as a footsies tool.
Vega’s V-Skill is a simple one, but effective in the right situations. By tapping the medium buttons, he performs the Matador Turn, allowing attacks or projectiles to fly by. If you hold the buttons down, he will finish with a forward stab attack. If you finish off his heavy punch target combo with the attack version of the Matador Turn, you will score a lot of damage relative to the level of effort required to pull it off.
By hitting the heavy attacks together, Vega performs his Bloody Kiss V-Trigger. Throwing a rose at his opponent, he follows it up with a powerful slash attack that goes through his opponent. The move does a lot of damage and has a number of different ways to combo into it. You can also trigger it in different ways. If you’re in the air, you throw the rose downward at an angle. From the ground, you can either throw it straight or upwards at a diagonal.
It’s not a bad party starter and it’s an excellent combo extender, as it connects from almost anything. Best of all, if you land the straight ground version, you can finish off the combo with his Bloody Rain Critical Art. Jumping towards the wall one more time, Vega finishes off his opponent with a huge attack. The V-Trigger doesn’t really juggle into anything else but the Bloody Rain Critical Art, but that in itself is a huge benefit.
Through a pretty significant overhaul, Vega has grown into a character I really like in Street Fighter V. Removing his charge commands adds a level of accessibility to his moves that hasn’t been present in the past, while the inclusion of stance switching makes him a threat at different ranges. Maybe his cocky attitude will still be a turn-off, but he has the tools and depth to really excite the competitive crowd.