The thing is every version had something to keep you interested and keep the gameplay somewhat exciting.
Vanilla was brand new and everyone did stupid damage.
Super added new characters, and even though damage was nerfed they added really scary Ultras like Fuerte U2, Abel U2, Guile U2 (if you were a zoner), Rose U2, Rufus U2. The oki game was starting to get fleshed out and people could see how strong Cammy, Seth and Ibuki really were. Unblockables were starting to get discovered. Charge characters were solid (outside Dee Jay and Blanka) even though they still got beaten by the top tier.
AE was trash, but there were arguably 3 S tier characters in that game. The most in the series so far. Offensive mixups were really strong.
AE2012 saw most of the BS removed, and reasonable balance ideas were applied. By this version nearly everyone in the cast had an unblockable or 50/50 x-up of some sort. Getting knocked down was scary, and outside a few cases (and the unblockables) it was GOOD for the game.
Now we have Ultra. It basically has nothing really scary outside a few chars’ combo potential, and maybe dying of old age during some matchups. Characters have been nerfed to the point where even Capcom’s PR Reps admit on video that they still suck (Dee Jay), or in private correspondence (Sagat). Half the new characters are centered around defense or keep/run-away tactics. There’s nothing wrong with this inherently, but the least they could have done was to give them legit strengths instead of the ability to roll for 90 seconds, or tickle your toes 50 times into overhead until time runs out.
When I look at Elena, Rolento, Poison and Hugo’s design it just screams to me that Capcom wants to slow the game down to a snails pace. Elena can’t jump, many moves just don’t hit her at all (not to mention that hers don’t hit in many cases either), and one of her main strategies is to build meter and to regain the 200 health back that the opponent drained from her over 50 seconds. Poison’s mobility sucks, her normals don’t work properly and like the other chars some of her most interesting things were nerfed from the arcade version. Hugo might as well have just been a giant pink blob that loses health over time till he either smothers you, you manage to whittle him down into nothing, or you manage to keep him away for 99 seconds. Rolento is very much a hit and run character. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s just more evidence about what Capcom’s current view of what this game should be is. Decapre is fairly interesting, but that’s not nearly enough to make up for the rest. DWU slows the pace of the game down in very obvious ways, but other system changes have the same effect. In the past where an opponent could apply pressure with reversal FADC and keep the action going (whether they get punished or not). In the new version players do exactly the same thing, except this time they backdash. Another mechanic that needlessly slows down the game (note: I am in favour of unsafe reversals, but not the way it’s implemented in Ultra).
At first I thought maybe I was just bored with the series, but last night I played over 100 matches (random select) of AE and I enjoyed it. I don’t think I can stomach 20 matches of Ultra (the game’s many bugs also play a role in this).