Ultra Theory Fighter IV: JWong Edition

Posted November 26th 2013

Since its release, Street Fighter IV has received three big updates: Super, AE, and AE2012. It was recently announced that there would be yet another system update in Ultra Street Fighter IV. Ultra will include five new characters as well as a handful of new mechanics.

These new mechanics have the potential to completely change the way the game is played. Firstly, W-Ultra will give players the opportunity to take both of their Ultras into a match. Next up is the Red Focus, a nigh-unbreakable Focus Attack. The final new mechanic we know of is Delayed Standing. This will allow a player to do exactly as the name implies after being knocked down. Expect this to drastically change wake-up gameplay between players and characters. In addition to the mechanics changes, we're also hopefully getting a full removal of unblockables! Ultra is shaping up to be a big shift for the game.

I decided to get an expert's opinion on these additions and interviewed Justin Wong. His Twitter was full of theorycrafting the moment he heard the changes, but below you can find some of his ideas when they're not limited to 140 characters.

W-Ultra

Blake "Slackaholicus" Cory: Let's start off talking about the addition of being able to take both Ultras into a match. How is this mechanic going to effect Rufus? Will you always take both Ultras into every match, or is it not worth losing damage for the classic combo into Ultra 1? Are there specific matchups where you'll want both Ultras?

  • JWong

    Having the choice of both Ultras does definitely changes the match-ups quite a bit. For Rufus, I think right now Ultra 1 is still my best friend. Ultra 2 still doesn't benefit people if you can catch the opponent in the air, and I feel like the amount of ways to combo Ultra 1 is so much more important!

Slackaholicus: The new W-Ultra mechanic sounds like it will be a baseline 60% damage for each Ultra. Luckily, this number won't be consistent throughout the cast. Even still, this seems to be on the low side. That's nearly half damage lost for the tools a character might gain from having access to both ultras. Is there any character where the tools gained by having both ultras makes up for this extreme damage loss? Zangief and Dhalsim both seem to be characters that could benefit from this, but is the damage loss still too much?

  • JWong

    I think the damage loss is not bad. The purpose of having two Ultras is to help your bad match-ups. Not every character can use two Ultras effectively because damage is still very important.  Zangief, Sim, Makoto, Rose, Hakan, and T. Hawk having two Ultras will help their overall gameplay because they are not characters who need the ultra for damage. They use it to help their overall gameplay. Some characters don't need both Ultras because they need the damage, like Ryu or Rufus.

Red Focus

Slackaholicus: Red Focus is going to use two meters to activate. You can also cancel out of a normal or special move into an EX Red Focus to get a crumple even from Level 1. The idea sounds great, but that requires an entire Super meter. That's a huge investment to save up for and use all at once.  Do you expect this mechanic to see much use the way it is currently implemented, or is Red Focus a tool that will be limited but important for specific situations?

  • JWong

    Red focus will definitely be a situational thing to use. It will also help you as a player to become better because now it's about decision making.  Do I save my meter or do I use it?  Meter is super important, and, no matter what, it will be a hard decision to make at times. Now there is a new element to think about with using your meter!

Slackaholicus: On Twitter, you already mentioned some of the more in-depth ideas you've had for the new focus attack. You talked about Red Focus's strength against some characters like Cammy, and its weakness to charge characters. Could you elaborate on how you think the new mechanic will work for and against these characters?

  • JWong

    So in the AE2012, regular focusing against Cammy, Bison, Yang and many more are not as good because they can break your armor with their go-to string like cr.MK Spiral Arrow for Cammy or cr.LK into Scissor Kicks for Bison. With this new feature, they will have to think twice before auto-piloting that sequence!

Slackaholicus: The game's producers said they wanted Red Focus to help charge characters like Bison (Dictator), someone you've been known to use. How do you feel this is going to change his gameplay, if at all? What about other charge characters like Guile?

  • JWong

    I mean, it will help every character, but I think Red Focus will hurt Bison because he uses all his meter for his EX Psycho Crusher, EX Scissor Kick, EX Devil Reverse and EX Headstomp. He doesn't have time for that! Also, Red focus will beat him because you normally can't focus a Scissor Kick. Now you can with Red Focus. This will hurt his game as a primarily defensive character.  But Guile will benefit because he only uses his meter for Flash Kick FADC, and he can counter certain strings to make his match-ups better.

Delayed Standing

Slackaholicus: Ultra will also introduce another new mechanic, Delayed Standing. This option will help defensive options for players, allowing them to get up at different times after a knockdown. This helps to avoid the mixups we see from the vortex characters like Akuma and Ibuki. Will these characters need other changes to make them viable now that they won't be able to rely on vortex mechanics?

  • JWong

    Delayed stand is very cheap. It will hurt the current flowchart of knockdown, whiff a button, jump, 50/50. Many characters rely on this because not every character has good normals.  Now this definitely helps charge characters because they are obviously the more defensive characters while the offensive characters strive for a knockdown.  It might just turn into a super defensive game and the vortex characters might have to play more footsie based.

Unblockables

Slackaholicus: Lastly, Combofiend has said they are working hard to remove unblockables. Let's be blunt about this one: anyone who thinks this is a bad thing is wrong. How excited are you about this? Do you think this is the best possible change for Ultra?

  • JWong

    I am very excited about this because if unblockables are gone then the game doesn't turn into a desperate case of trying to land a knockdown. But, that doesnt change the fact that 50/50s are still in the game. Just because unblockables are gone does not mean the opponent will block your 50/50 mix ups.

Final Words

Slackaholicus: From the way you've talked about Ultra a few times, it sounds like you already have a lot of ideas and have put a lot of thought into the game. Do you have some thoughts we haven't touched on yet?

  • JWong

    I just want to be positive about Ultra. I'm really excited to see the new characters and the new revamped characters of the current game! Who doesn't like to see new match-ups and new combos and new setups? And I really hope Elena is godlike!

There you have it. So far, all of these changes seem to be at least interesting and will serve a purprose. Of course, keep in mind this is all early hands-off theorycraft. There's no telling what the future of Ultra will bring to the game.

If you'd like to hear more of JWong's great insight, be sure to follow him on Twitter. Chances are, he'll have thoughts on any future Ultra changes. Also be sure to watch his stream later tonight for SoCal Hunger Games, where he plays Marvel with other SoCal players!

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