Capcom’s Street Fighter 6 isn’t just another ho-hum entry in one of gaming’s powerhouse franchises.
Street Fighter 6 hasn’t shied away from anything, really, not with multiple betas and other events letting the game flex its versatility and depth for players far before launch.
That flexibility is Street Fighter 6’s defining trait—it expertly walks the tightrope between presenting an in-depth, skill-based fighter to feed the competitive scene for years while also opening its arms to players of all skill levels.
On paper, the game has a chance to be the biggest fighting game hit in a decade-plus. There’s a vast multiplayer suite, better-than-expected customization and a brilliant arcade-based solo mode with a Yakuza feel.
For fans well-versed in the series, it’s understood that the latest entry will fulfill that outlook.
Graphics and Gameplay
Street Fighter 6 takes the stellar stylized graphical approach of past games in the series and amplifies it.
The game is downright breathtaking in action, with the vibrant colors and effects jumping off the screen. Fighters don’t just look great with realistic fabric and hair physics, plus reactions to the on-screen action. Things like special moves still get that paint-style effect that is oh-so-captivating, too.
Beyond the fighters, stages themselves are characters in their own right. Each one is unique and flexes the true horsepower of next-generation consoles. They remain impressive in their attention to detail, but rarely actually distract from the bouts.
Sound design is again a feat for the series, with the attacks landing in emphatic fashion and providing nice feedback. A fun touch is how a character’s callout will get cut short by an attack. Those backgrounds again get unique noises to enhance immersion, be it snakes, onlookers and more in the jungle or the lights, rollercoaster and more in the theme park stage.
In a brilliant and fun twist, this release marks the debut of a commentary system. It’s meant to emulate the feel of a real competitive tournament and does so splendidly, in part because there are eight different voices calling the action.
Other sound design highlights include the refreshing decision to go with a hip-hop-based soundtrack for the first time in a long time, which fits the themes and locations quite well.
Perhaps more impressive than Street Fighter 6 sitting as one of the best-looking and immersive fighters ever is the careful balance the control system walks, fitting with the overall theme of the release.
Gameplay centers around the Drive Gauge, which is built up through attacks and permits the use of five different techniques such as Parry, Focus Attack, EX moves and more.
Playing the game and then sitting back for a while and thinking on it, the decision is a rather brilliant move. The result somehow manages to keep all of the major prior mechanics in the series and accessible to players of all skill levels, while upping the chess match feel to how players execute at the very highest levels of the competitive scene.
The big changeup is the pacing—the meter can be full at the start of a match, encouraging players to push the pace. But there’s a chess-like strategy behind actually deciding to unleash the big moves right away. And going too hard can result in Burnout.
Tucked under the same hood is the presence of multiple super combos, with certain moves available at Levels 1, 2 and 3. A character’s Level 3 super combo becomes a Critical Art when the player’s health is critical, again providing another detail that becomes all the more magnified the higher up the skill ladder one travels.
As expected, the depth of the systems and inevitable skill gaps are apparent from the jump. For example, the level gauge dictates cancellations. An overdrive special move, for example, can only be canceled to a higher level one, as one complex example.
Another accessibility-driver done right is the stellar control types. Classic is the usual six-button layout, while Modern puts special moves on a single button with modification from control sticks, chopping the layout down to four attack buttons. Dynamic is exclusive to Fighting Ground, non-online fights because it has a single-button layout based on range.
The result is an impressive wealth of options. As a whole, Street Fighter 6’s combo moves feel more forgiving than in year’s past. New players aren’t going to suffer an inability to execute combo moves because the middle input requires a quarter of a circle turn while modified with two other inputs.
These different schemes take things a step further beyond the simple-but-deep input requirements by opening things up even more to players of all skill ranges. It shouldn’t need said, but more new players learning to love the game will eventually equal a bigger playerbase and deeper online scenes.
Notice, of course, this hasn’t really emphasized feel. It’s a given with Street Fighter—the game is snappy with immediate response to inputs and generally feels great, as expected from the standard-bearer of fighting games. The series nailing that down with ease long ago enabled this entry to focus more on refining systems and opening itself up to more players and it shows from the first time players pick up the sticks.
World Tour and More
The theme of a robust, all-inclusive fighter extends to the game’s three main hubs.
Fighting Ground is the tried-and-true Street Fighter experience, boasting local and online battles, training and arcade modes. It’s where players will spend a big bulk of time while looking for online fights, deepening understanding of combos and fighters while training and experiencing stories.
Arcade, as players might expect, is as in-depth and replayable as always. Each character has their own story with scenes between matches. These are simply stills, not cutscenes, but the art is gorgeous and a little character development and context for each fighter is nice to have.
Extreme mode is another unserious mode certainly worth a look for all kinds of players. Being able to set “extreme” modifying rules to match, such as no jumping, makes for an interesting time. So does say, hitting the toggle that makes the next battlefield subjected to bombing runs.
But the mode players will find themselves in more than they might have predicted—and the mode that makes this entry a smash hit sure to bring in droves of new players—is World Tour.
A singleplayer story mode players tackle with a customizable character, World Tour quickly feels like a hybrid between Street Fighter and Yakuza. Sounds too good to be true, yet there it is.
It’s funny because, the mode is blatantly built for new players and serves as an excellent tutorial. It strips the fighting mechanics down to barebones stuff for the sake of story purposes, then layers atop it often in a way that is effectively a strong tutorial.
But at the same time, it’s so much more than that.
In a fun nod to longtime players, their journey actually starts in Metro City from the Final Fight series. And in an impressive flex from the developers, the character creator is actually a really robust system that players could lose hours in while seeking out the right look.
Truthfully, the entire mode feels better than it might have any right to. Running around and challenging citizens to fights is funny. And the actual story stays nicely grounded in the world—players get lessons from the big-time Street Fighters that they must then use to combat local gangs from the Final Fight series.
There’s a steady heaping of customization throughout the experience, letting players put together wacky creations that fit the not-serious tone of the mode.
Exploring the city is a sheer joy. It’s not the biggest map ever, but it is dense. Exploring deep or high will help players encounter super-leveled fighters for big rewards, etc. Again, it has more depth to it than one would ever expect from a fighting game, which is going to leave competitors trying to do the same thing in a rough spot in the expectations department.
It has to be said that there’s just something fun and nostalgic (for older types, anyway) that the game emulates walking around a real-life arcade looking for someone to battle at one of the machines.
Written another way, fans of the Yakzua series will feel right at home, if not fall in love right away.
Then there’s Battle Hub, an online lobby featuring created characters that lets players partake in ranked or regular battles, special events and emulated arcade games. It does its job, which is to function as another fun piece of a robust offering.
The game launches with 18 fighters, plus four more already planned as part of DLC packs. Given the depth to each, that’s a very healthy number out of the gates. And what’s impressive about the initial 18 is that they aren’t just cut-paste jobs from the prior game, as almost every fighter feels re-tooled in small ways, which has a big impact on overall feel within the new systems and even smoother gameplay.
Helping players explore those depths is the Character Guide, which is exactly what it sounds like and a healthy resource that will prove critical for new players and even help veterans brush up on their skills. It goes beyond just showing button inputs for combos and attempts to explain context like when to deploy those moves.
Beyond the three important control schemes, the game offers a strong suite of options. There’s the normal expected stuff, even for details while exploring the overworld. More technical things like modifying button mapping and controller deadzones highlights a robust list.
Fighting games are dead-on-arrival with bad performance, so it’s no shocker to find out Street Fighter 6 runs well, holding good framerates and seemingly strong netcode for online battles on both review consoles, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
Like near-countless past iterations, Street Fighter 6 won’t have any issues dominating the esports scene.
Even beyond the super-obvious stuff on the gameplay side, the technical aspect is again money. Performance is great and the smooth lobby systems make for an easy online experience.
Beyond that, the base game’s list of characters certainly has esports written all over it. There are characters with endless poke options and/or zoning styles for that sort of player. Others boast almost too-powerful overheads that can partake in wicked combos.
Even the different level of super moves can vary up the strategies and entertainment values for onlookers. Look at the musical Dee Jay—his super moves require some actual rhythm to the button inputs to get them right.
Street Fighter 6 also just feels built from the ground up for esports longevity. One of the big problems other fighters end up having in this area is variety at the very top of the ladder. This game’s major emphasis on attracting new players, then helping them along should keep things fresh at most levels of the scene—planned long-term support for the game doesn’t hurt, either.
Of course, this is a game benefitting from decades of polishing and evolving with the times, if not trendsetting. The Capcom Pro Tour’s launch prizing will start things off with a bang and surely keep that level of excitement around the competitive scene going for as long as possible.
Street Fighter 6 is going to catch a lot of people off guard this year, especially when it flirts with being a Game of the Year contender.
Generally, fighting game releases like this that aren’t named Super Smash Bros. get a reputation as something for the hardcore players only. They’re respected as something with major legs for the niche and quality, but not for everyone.
That’s different now. The careful approach to player onboarding with a surprisingly deep and fun campaign mode, savvy tutorials and multiple control schemes makes this the friendliest release in the series to the broadest audience.
Yes, the usual Street Fighter excellence in depth, complexity and more is here as usual. But other captivating features show a true evolution for the series, easily helping Street Fighter 6 become the best entry in the series and the best game in its genre out there right now.