|Developer||Capcom Co. Ltd.|
|Publisher||Capcom Co. Ltd.|
|Platforms||PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC|
|Release Date||June 2nd, 2023|
Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat were two of the first games I remember playing with my brother at a very young age. Since then, my love for the genre never faded as I grew from button-mashing to learning how to do combos and special moves. The same can’t be said for many video game fans around the world, as the genre can be very intimidating; so many different inputs can be difficult to remember. The storied franchise of Street Fighter has never held back, as many characters’ skill sets come in varying difficulty. Thankfully, Street Fighter 6, the latest entry to the series, drops its guard quite generously and opens the door for players of all skill levels to jump in.
Long-time fans of the franchise have something to celebrate as well, as Street Fighter V was a disappointment to many during its initial release. Instead of being geared toward an exclusively online experience, Street Fighter 6 comes packed with content for players to enjoy. It seems that Capcom has taken the feedback that we had to offer because Street Fighter 6 is a complete package right out of the box. If you’ve been away for all these years, I hope you didn’t forget how to do those quarter-circle motions and are willing to maybe welcome some new players into the fold.
Street Fighter 6 is rated T for Teen. The game is in the fighting genre; a player’s goal is to execute button inputs to punch, kick, and shoot elemental projectiles at enemies to deplete their life bar. Mild blood spatter appears on screen on varying occasions, while some characters have blood on them during loss animations. Some female characters wear revealing outfits and the camera will sometimes focus on specific body parts. In the background in some locations, characters are seen smoking cigarettes. Players will interact with street gangs and be required to form temporary alliances with them at certain points in the story. Lastly, Jamie has a fighting style that is a blend of drunken kung fu and breakdancing, which means he drinks during each of his fights.
As I said in the intro, Street Fighter 6 has something for everyone. The game is split into three categories: World Tour, Battle Hub, and Fighting Ground. World Tour is a meaty fighting RPG in which players take a created character into the world of Street Fighter. Battle Hub is a social lobby environment in which you can make friends or rivals, which aims to emulate the arcade setting. Fighting Ground is where you’ll find the arcade mode and local battle options, along with matchmaking if you don’t care for the social setting of Battle Hub. You’ll have the option to choose either of these as soon as you boot up the game.
The most prominent change is that the game was built into the RE Engine—first seen in the recent Resident Evil games. This engine is fully utilized in both character models and stage designs with dynamic backgrounds. It lends itself well to Street Fighter 6’s urban style as players use drive impact that creates vivid graffiti-like effects on screen as each fight rages on. I believe the engine also helps the world tour mode exponentially; it’s easy for players to challenge NPCs on any part of the map and have the overworld seamlessly transition to a 2D plane on which fights take place.
The other major change is the new drive mechanic. The new drive meter located under your health bar houses the energy for the new “Drive Parry” and “Drive Impact” abilities now at each player’s disposal. Overusing these new skills or doing too many EX special moves can burn you out and leave you vulnerable to being stunned. Drive Parry is the classic parry mechanic, but streamlined for new players; you can either hit the assigned button at the right time for a perfect parry or hold it down and live your fantasy of wishing you were at Daigo’s skill level. Drive Impact is basically the Focus attack from Street Fighter IV but looks much more flashy with graffiti effects instead of the black ink. The drive system is a welcome addition and helps make fights more of a tug of war as the tide of battle can change at any moment within a round.
The initial roster includes 18 fighters, with four more to come along within the first year. A handful of fan favorites return, such as Ryu, Ken, Chun Li, Guile, and more. When Capcom added Luke to Street Fighter V, they made it clear that he was the new face of the franchise, and that rings true here with a new generation of fighters introduced. Two of my favorites are Kimberly and Marisa, one a ninja who bares similarities to Guy and the other a hulk of a woman who practices the gladiatorial art of Pankration. Others to make note of are Jamie and Lily, a drunken B-Boy and a young girl from the Thunderfoot clan. I have yet to spend much time with Manon and JP, but these new fighters breathe some new life and entertainment into the long-running franchise.
While I am personally not a fan of social lobbies in fighting games, the Battle Hub is a streamlined experience that brought little confusion. Specific kiosks in the room offer a clothing shop, an avatar editor, and special events. Arcade machines littered throughout the room are meant for players to sit at with the ability to train while they wait for a new challenger, with some in one corner for the room being dedicated to a rotation of classic Capcom games such as Final Fight and Super Street Fighter II Turbo. At the center of the room, players have the option to engage in battles as their created avatars—the very same we build up in World Tour mode. Matchmaking is an available option as well if you’re like me and would rather not sit at a machine. I’m happy to report that I had no connection issues when facing off against other people around the world during the open beta and the few days we had to connect to servers the week prior to release.
NOTE: Capcom has made us aware that optional microtransactions and a battle pass are on the way—leaving me unable to factor that into my coverage.
Fighting Ground is where I will be spending most of my time with the game. This particular section includes the practice mode, combo challenges, and character guides along with the arcade and local options. The character guides and challenges are going to be the ultimate tools for players to learn the game and for recurring players to pick up a new character. Fighting Ground is the area in which I experiment with the new fighters and learned how some old favorites worked with the arcade mode being the perfect experience to do so before I could think about taking what I learned to the online arenas.
Lastly, World Tour is a creative and bold move to add content to the Street Fighter experience. I spent dozens of hours engaging in fights with random people right off the street to level up my character. The story begins in Metro City of Final Fight fame and takes players to both real and fictional countries across the world. You’ll walk the streets picking up quests, buying gear to raise your stats, and buying consumable items to heal or buff your fighter and debuff your opponents. If you find yourself short on cash, various mini-games around the world are a great and easy way for you to earn money. Most importantly, you’ll meet some of your favorite fighters and learn their moves to develop your own unique fighting style. World Tour successfully embodies the spirit of the franchises and places your character right into the thick of it all.
My one worry with the World Tour experience is that at some point it may not feel like a welcoming experience to new players. A few sections of the story act as skill-check points that challenged even me, an experienced player. During these instances, opponent levels don’t seem to matter as they do three times the damage I can do to them. Much of my frustration seemed to only be remedied by me grinding the job mini-games for money to buy a ton of items that kept me alive through these fights. I found myself questioning whether I did something wrong in the process of learning new perks and making my character stronger but didn’t seem to find a solution on that front. While those moments were frustrating, I don’t want to discourage players from what has been otherwise the most immersive experience we’ve had in the entire franchise.
For veteran players, you have some hoops to jump through when playing for the first time. The controls are set to a new modern format for the first chapter of World Tour and when you enter the other modes in the game. You’ll need to go into your character settings and hit the apply to all button—then feel right at home once it’s done. Though many will likely want to turn those settings off right away, those modern control settings are going to make it easier for a new player’s onboarding experience. Therefore, I’d like to take this time to remind returning players that we can’t afford to gatekeep when we want more people to play with us. If a friend of mine decides this is the right time for them to check out a Street Fighter game, I’d happily introduce them via this control scheme.
My gripes with Street Fighter 6 are minor and don’t hold the game back from being a superb experience; the only unknown factors are the microtransactions and battle pass features that I have yet to see. The presentation and new engine create a next-gen experience for the franchise to find new life. The roster backs up Capcom’s goal to bring players of all skill levels together by bringing a new generation of fighters to go up against seasoned favorites. The most important factor is that the new drive system makes fights more intense than ever with its risk/reward gameplay. I encourage players who may have left the franchise with Street Fighter V to come on back, and veterans to be kind and helpful to the new players that might be entering the ring. The spirit of the franchise surges throughout Street Fighter 6 and reminds us where the “Street” in Street Fighter comes from.
The Bottom Line
Street Fighter 6 has a bright future ahead of itself, as Capcom has created an entry that could bring players to the legendary franchise for years to come.