Input Lag Reduction coming to #SFVAE in October 23rd Update
Since the release of the original Street Fighter V in February 2016, one of the chief complaints casting a shadow over the golden series was its input lag, which measures the amount of time it takes for the game to recognize when you press a button on your controller to perform an action.
As the gaming industry has advanced considerably in recent years, input lag has constantly varied among games due to a variety of factors, but perhaps none are more prominent than the engine on which the game is built. While it’s not typically considered as an issue of great importance, a certain genre of games demands incredible precision through a player’s inputs in order to maximize their results.
That genre is, of course, the fighting game genre, and the Street Fighter franchise is typically considered as its forerunner. Originating in 1987, it is credited for laying out the groundwork of the typical one-versus-one style of gameplay in fighting games. It currently remains Capcom’s third-most successful franchise behind Resident Evil and, most recently, Monster Hunter.
More to the point, precision with a player’s inputs is crucial to performing specific feats, such as the completion of combos, reacting to a hint of movement from the opponent, executing frame traps - the list goes on. As fighting games found their way into the realm of online play, however, it became harder for players accustomed to offline execution to adapt to the additional delay established by netplay. Thus began the constant debate over the benefits of playing offline versus playing online.
But as of the beginning of 2016, an additional obstacle would plague those wishing to practice Street Fighter V offline. When the game was first released, it was quickly discovered that button inputs were not recognized straightaway, and certainly not as fast as SFV’s predecessor, the Street Fighter 4 series, which topped off its lifespan on the PlayStation 4 platform with an input lag of 4.3 frames.
Street Fighter V, on the other hand, started with almost twice that amount of delay…eight frames of lag, to be precise. That delay was eventually reduced to around 6.5 frames in a future update, and no further changes were implemented when the game progressed to its Arcade Edition stage last January.
As consoles have become the popular choice of platform for FGC-related events, this discovery was also made on the PlayStation 4 version of the game, though it is also available on PC.
6.5 frames, which equals around a tenth of a second (each second adds up to sixty frames in total), do not appear to make a significant difference on paper, but players have constantly described the feeling of “being underwater” whenever they touch SFV. This problem is exacerbated online due to both the additional delay and, regrettably, another major issue plaguing the name of the franchise since SFV’s launch: the increasingly unstable netcode.
To give you an idea of this scenario, imagine facing another opponent locally. You expect them to perform an overhead attack that takes a considerable number of frames to become active (usually around 20 or so, which equals one-third of a second), so you are crouching to improvise for low-hitting attacks while waiting for the overhead to come. Then you take notice of the character’s animation changing in preparation for their overhead attack, so you wait until the last second to release the down button on your D-pad in order to block the overhead…yet in spite of doing so, the overhead still connects, inflicting damage to your character.
There are other scenarios that can be used to describe this phenomenon, such as timing your inputs to escape your opponent’s grab attacks and blocking at the last second while moving around the map. All of these are made harder to accomplish due to the game taking around a tenth of a second before it registers your inputs, thus making competitive play quite a chore.
Some have suspected that this delay was an intentional design choice on Capcom’s part in order to attempt to equalize the online and offline environments of SFV, although this was neither confirmed nor denied by the company. Since their previous reduction of the input delay in Season 1, Capcom has been close-mouthed on the subject for two years…until today, when they released a Twitter post confirming that the delay will be further reduced in an upcoming update on October 23rd, which is two weeks away from today.
This announcement has been greeted with an outstanding ovation by the Street Fighter community, as many believe that this statement heralds the beginning of an improvement in communication between both company and community. As well, the reduction in input lag is expected to provide a notable impact on the current shape the gameplay has taken on in Street Fighter V.
Some are disgruntled by the lack of attention to SFV’s netcode, as it has also been a chief complaint since launch, but given Capcom’s promise to update us on upcoming improvements to the product, hope is certainly not lost.
Street Fighter V Arcade Edition is available on both the PlayStation 4 and Steam (PC) platforms.
JagoBlake, the author of this article, is an esports enthusiast who just so happens to have a way with words. Whenever he is not scouring the Internet in pursuit of breaking news, he's investing time into his favorite fighting games so as not to appear inadequate in the face of competition. To support his work, follow him on Twitter - @xJagoBlake.
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