So, I’m currently living in Japan, which means I have access to Ultra Street Fighter 4 in the arcades here. I want to talk a little bit about my experience so far after playing a little 100 games now. In case you’re wondering I currently play Yang, but I’ve played against a multitude of the cast at a huge variety of player skills, from the highest level players. In this post I’m going to talk mainly about one of the new mechanics: Red focus. So let’s get right into it.
Red focus serves a couple of different purposes. First, yes, for two meters you can do a red focus raw and just start absorbing attacks like a black hole, which is cool because you gain hella revenge meter. This honestly is not used much. It has application, but the 2 meter cost really deters many people, unless they are very desperate. Let it be known, if you release early, the attacking animation has no hit absorption. At neutral, honestly, you are not going to see this very much.
Offensively, you can cancel moves that are normally focus cancelable into red focus, which does 1.5 times the damage and also gives a crumple at even Lvl. 1 . This opens up the possibilities to get really hard hitting combos from a red focus combo. It also sets up a situation where characters in the past who normally could not land ultra, like Dictator, have this option now to do lots of damage. It does come at the cost of 3 meters however, so the player really has to do a risk/reward analysis of burning that many resources. I’ve seen it a couple of times and serves as a really interesting comeback mechanic if you need to get off big damage [even without ultra], and you get the initial hit to red focus.
Defensively, red focus serves a punishment to high level players who would typically do a four button tech on to get out of pressure at any time. If you were getting pressured in Super, you could just press LP+LK+MP+MK and backdash to cover pretty much every option your opponent could throw at you and get away scot-free. Because red focus overlaps with that [LP+MP+MK] Now, you only have that option if you have less than 2 meters. If you have more than 2 meters and do this, you get a stronger version of what was available in super [because of red focus infinite hit absorption] but you lose 2 meters. This means that in pressure, if you have resources, you’re expected to spend them if you want to get out. Occasionally I will still see people doing this in the arcade, but it’s hard to guess if they are doing it to escape pressure consciously or just unconsciously do the 4-button tech to escape pressure, and haven’t changed the habit from Super.
All in all, red focus I think was a really smart mechanic to introduce into the game. Both it’s offensive and defensive application have good use, but have a pretty fair cost. Though I do wish red focus did not have the same scaling as a regular focus attack, even with the damage scaling, it’s offensive use is still warranted. I will note that some characters do have trouble taking advantage of red focus, most notably Yang, however it’s still useful offensively and defensively.
Stay tuned next time where I’ll be talking about some of the new characters!