Home Editorial Balance Ultra Street Fighter 4 adds Red Focus, removes unblockables, and doubles up...

Following rumors that Capcom would be adding Red Focus and allowing double Ultra Combos in its upcoming Street Fighter 4 revision, the company announced this week that it would be adding Red Focus and allowing double Ultra Combos, among other things.

Red Focus is a new type of focus attack (also known as a saving attack) that costs super meter (the amount isn’t final yet). In exchange, you’ll be able to absorb an unlimited number of hits – in stark contrast to the paltry one you get with regular focus attacks. As for the name? Well, this attack makes your character glow red. Ingenious.

If it all sounds overpowered, keep in mind that armor breaking moves and throws will still beat red focus attacks. And since red focus will cost at least some meter, it can’t be spammed, either.

My first thought is that red focus is going to give certain characters a new tool for getting around certain, guessing game setups. Players who rely on autopilot option select sequences are going to find themselves eating nasty combos in retaliation. On the other hand, red focus could shut down the offense of characters who don’t have reliable armor breaking attacks. Absorbing their offense will become trivial unless Capcom gives them more options for applying pressure.

Another big reveal is the addition of the Ultra Combo Double. After players select their characters, they’ll now have the option of bringing both their Ultra Combos into the match. In exchange for this huge utility, their Ultra damage will be greatly reduced, thus trading one deadly finisher into a pair of less impressive assaults.

This change shouldn’t surprise too many people, since Capcom always kept Ultra Combo inputs distinct (hinting they might one day be inputted interchangeably), plus… the game is named Ultra Street Fighter 4 after all.

For characters like Zangief and Hakan, this will undoubtedly be huge. With both Ultra Combos available, they can apply ambiguous offensive pressure and have swift punishment for foes on the ground or in the air. For characters like Cammy and Fei Long, we might see more use of their counter-based Ultras, since they’re usually too situational to be worth taking solo. Then you’ve got characters like E. Honda who really doesn’t benefit at all from this change.

Of course, every character will still have the option to stick with a single, powerful Ultra Combo. As it’s been previously, we’ll probably see a lot of variation for specific match-ups, especially when gamers feel uncertain about what tools they’ll need to beat out their rivals.

The final major change announced in today’s video is the removal of unblockable setups. If you weren’t familiar with these, they’re basically attack sequences (usually performed on an opponent during wake-up) which simply cannot be blocked due to game system mechanics, even if that opponent knows exactly what’s coming. Capcom claims to have fixed every last one of these, but they’ve also invited pro Street Fighters to prove them wrong.

The impact of these changes is admittedly huge, and who knows what else will be updated, upgraded, or swapped in for Ultra Street Fighter 4? If the next batch of announcements has anything near the gravity of this set, it appears Ultra is poised to shake up the series a lot more than fans may have initially expected.

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