Street Fighter 5 got off to a pretty good start. After showcasing Ryu and Chun Li there have been steady character reveals leading up to today's announcement of Vega. The title hit a rough patch when the closed beta was suspended indefinitely, but Capcom has three beta periods planned and we're likely to get even more characters in the first beta now that the company has pushed it back to an unknown date.
While we still have quite some time before the currently planned March 2016 release date, fans of the series have been offering speculation as to which characters will be released. Capcom's plan is to create a release schedule somewhat similar to that of Killer Instinct on the Xbox One. The game will ship in March with an initial roster (probably somewhere between 16 and 20 characters), then release new characters periodically. Sony and Capcom have also stated that there will be no charge for content downloads.
If Street Fighter 5 has a life cycle as long as Street Fighter 4 has had, there's a good chance we'll have a lot of characters by the time everything is said and done. So while almost any character you can imagine has a decent chance of making it in at some, let's take a look at who is leading the pack to be included when the game is released early next year.
The confirmed characters as of the publication of this article are: Ryu, Chun-Li, Charlie Nash, Birdie, Cammy, M. Bison, Ken, Necalli and Vega. With Ryu and Ken both included, you can expect to see Akuma at some point. It's unlikely Oni, Gouken or Evil Ryu will make the launch cut, but expect at least one or two of them down the line at some point.
If we assume the game will launch with 16-20 characters, that leaves another 7-11. We'll go ahead and assume Akuma will take one of those spots, so that leaves 6-10 more characters. On the short end, that doesn't leave a lot of characters, especially when you factor in new characters that have never been in a Street Fighter game before.
Capcom has confirmed that Street Fighter 5 will launch with four brand new characters. We already know one of those characters is Necalli. Looking at a roster of 16-20 characters at launch, that leaves three more new characters to fill in the last 6-10 spots. There's no telling where these characters will come from or what kind of inspiration will be used. Necalli was completely out of left field, and it's unlikely anyone would've guessed his inclusion. We'll just have to wait and see what we get from Capcom on the new character front.
Generally speaking, having Nash in a game rules out Guile. However, Nash plays very different from the Guile we know and love, and it's hard to imagine a Street Fighter game without the classic American hero (or Charlie playing with his fighting style), so expect Guile to be announced before March.
So far there have not been any characters from Third Strike announced, and the few we got in Street Fighter 4 came very late in the life of the game. Alex has been heavily rumored and we expect to see him pop up before March as well. It would be nice to see a few more obscure characters from Third Strike such as Oro or Twelve, but that might be pushing our luck. Ibuki, Sean or Dudley are more likely to make it in by launch. Even Yun and Yang will likely take priority over the likes of Oro or Twelve.
Birdie and Nash were both previously seen in the Alpha series of games. We'd love to see the return of Adon or Guy, but it's unlikely either would make the launch lineup. Sodom is a more obscure character, but we haven't seen him in awhile aside from a few random appearances in backgrounds. Sakura is a safe bet, but given the fact we already have Ken and Ryu with Akuma heavily rumored, Sakura may be too many similar characters for the limited launch lineup. R. Mika and Karin both have a decent chance of making it into the launch lineup to add more female characters and because they've been absent for some time.
There's also the potential return of the characters that were introduced in Street Fighter 4. That list includes Seth, Abel, El Fuerte, C. Viper, Hakan, Juri and Decapre. You can also include Oni and Gouken depending on your take on the characters. Of that list, Abel and Juri are probably the most logical choices, but C. Viper was included in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and is also a fan favorite.
We may not know the entire roster before launch, but we'll probably get at least a few more before the end of the year, including a rumored announcement at the Capcom Cup Finals. In the meantime, check out our articles on the current roster of Street Fighter 5!