street fighter 6 review
need to know
what is it? Sweaty, muscular 2D fighters come in a variety of colors.
release date: June 2, 2023
expect to pay: $60/£50
commented on: Nvidia GeForce RTX3070, AMD Ryzen 7 2700X, 16GB RAM
Steam deck: playable
Association: Official website
To be honest, I’ve played quite a few 2D fighting games in my life. I’m a 3D warrior girl at heart, and losing a dimension seriously messed my mind. What do you mean I can’t avoid it?I have to jump around? Unheard of. Still, I’ve made up my mind to finally get over my fear of having only 2D in Street Fighter 6, and God forbid, Capcom did a fantastic job of welcoming me in, making me a good cup of tea, and giving me a pat on the back Show up and try.
It’s a far cry from the release of the much-maligned Street Fighter V, a critical bug that’s plagued Capcom for the past seven years like a questionable fart. The developers slowly fixed the bugs, but they certainly won’t be repeated this time around. It succeeded: Street Fighter VI is an over-the-top, colorful, well-rounded package that’s ready to cater to every playstyle and skill level, and with a level of finesse that really sets the bar high for the next generation of fighting. Standard game.
(Image source: Capcom)
It’s hard not to fall in love with Street Fighter VI because of how much content it offers and how easy it is to jump straight into any of its modes. I decided to start with World Tour, whose single-player mode blends its core combat gameplay with an open RPG world, upgrade system, and story.
Fighting games have never been known for their exciting single-player modes (unless you’re Mortal Kombat), but playing World Tour is a joy. Instead of playing as one of the game’s classic fighters, I was free to create my own abominable avatar. The character creator is very powerful, with a surprising number of sliders and adjustment options. Want huge forearms and twig-like biceps? Street Fighter VI has your back. Want to look like a cat while standing on its hind legs? You can do that too. I got bored and chose a relatively normal looking approximation of my Final Fantasy 14 character, just with more muscle and a bigger dump truck. Factors like limb length and body shape also actually affect my throwing ability and ability to take damage, something I had to keep in mind when designing my Beefcake OC.
I’m embarrassed to admit how much of my game time I’ve spent on Hado-Pizza, a little game designed to practice input execution.
Then I sat down as a brand new student under somewhat new, somewhat not new Luke, in a brightly saturated metropolis—yes, from Capcom’s beat-to-beat series Final Fight. I got a part of his moveset and sent me on a mission to find more warriors, travel the world, solve mysteries, and provoke battles against almost every citizen I encountered. As I meet more of the Street Fighter VI cast members, like the thick-legged Chun-Li or the burly muscular fighter Marisa, I can join their fighting styles and learn their little tricks.
I switch between “Masters,” which grant me that fighter’s normals and combos, but mix in special and super moves I’ve learned from other members of the roster, like throwing Manon’s command grab and Dhalsim’s Smooth delivery. I’ve had so much fun Frankensteining my own movesets, seeing how silly or weird optimizations I can make of combinations of different fighting styles. I was able to unlock more moves by playing with each fighter’s style and leveling it up, as well as giving each character gifts to pick up from merchants, and dealing with random pedestrians and cops. I can even take these moves and use them as platforming tools, like floating on two platforms with Chun-Li’s Spinning Bird Kick, throwing myself onto a ledge with Luke’s Rising Uppercut or Blanka’s Electric Thunder punching open Barrels and crates for loot.
(Image source: Capcom)
World Tour is also subtly disguised as a great mode for teaching core fundamentals. Many of the side quests focus on putting the game’s various mechanics into practice–such as hitting parries, triggering pressure times, and executing hard knockdowns–exploring ways to play defensively and find gaps in your opponent’s offense. It’s a great way to subtly learn how Street Fighter 6’s many mechanics work, when it’s best to use them, and just remind me that they’re all there.
There are even part-time jobs, mini-games that allow me to spend precious currency to equip my avatar or buy gifts for my friends, but again disguised as a fun way to teach fighting game lovers. I’m ashamed to admit how much of my game time I’ve spent on Hado-Pizza, a little game dedicated to practicing input execution that screams “Buono! Buono! Buono!” every time I get it right. Other minigames focus on spacing and footsies, or dealing lots of damage and combos all at once.
My biggest gripe is that World Tour can be a little overwhelming, despite how well-optimized the rest of Street Fighter VI is. It is especially prevalent in the pattern’s two large open positions. I was constantly dropping frames while running around, and getting stuck in combat slowed down the entire game considerably, causing my character to fly around the screen in slow motion. Turning on shader precaching in the settings helps with my open world traversal, but I still often suffer from combat slowdowns. It makes the moments when everything works well — often in smaller, more isolated areas designed around game stages — that feel uncannily fast and often trip me up.
It was a huge flop, because technical issues aside, World Tour is a surprisingly addictive fighter-slash-RPG hybrid. I spent about 60% of my 50 hours of playtime there, and while the performance issues didn’t completely ruin my time with the mode, they did hinder it.
I spent most of World Tour playing Street Fighter’s new modern controls, a more streamlined version of its classic control scheme. It reduces six button inputs to just four face buttons, simplifies special moves and adds the ability to string together automated combos with a single button. On the surface, this is a relatively simple type of control, but packs a surprising amount of depth, with the option to manually input certain actions. It’s a great starting point for those unfamiliar with or easily overwhelmed by Street Fighter’s traditional inputs, and it makes up for its added simplicity by reducing damage to specials and offering less-than-ideal combo routes.
(Image source: Capcom)
Some people are unhappy with the inclusion of modern controls in the online mode and what it allows, but I think it’s a great way to introduce people to fighting games. Classic control users can still rely on modern controls to beat less skilled players, and those who decide to stick with it will eventually inevitably upgrade to the full-fledged classic control scheme.
Modern controls also help me master some of the more complex characters, like Sinister Zoner JP. He’s been one of my favorite fighting game newcomers for a while, but his high-level technique is an instant hindrance. Being able to pick him up quickly and feel him with modern controls made me want to explore his move list further in classic, and I think many others will too.
That’s what I do too. During the World Tour, I modified Chun-Li, Marisa, and Kimberly’s moves a lot, and I was really interested in learning more about their work and which of their moves worked best. That’s when I moved to the arena, which contains most of Street Fighter VI’s offline modes: arcade, tutorial, versus mode, and team battles.
Arcade mode is pretty straightforward since most of the game’s lore and story is hidden in World Tour. A small cutscene plays both ends of each character’s story, though it does have some flashy art–more are unlocked by playing the story multiple times. I love Versus mode’s bombastic music and short intros, which select characters to move through crowds and strike poses while their likes and dislikes flash across the screen. There’s also an option to turn on commentary, where FGC powerhouses like Tasty Steve and James Chen try to bring exciting tournament action from the stage to the couch via communications.
(Image source: Capcom)
Where Street Fighter 6’s offline option really shines is in its practice mode.
Unfortunately, the reviews are a bit repetitive. Hearing “Wow, what a decision!” for the thousandth time made me question my sanity at one point. It’s never going to perfectly mimic the live-hyped reviews, but it does feel rather sluggish when I’m whining at the CPU. However, I did find it very useful for understanding what I was doing right and wrong at the time. Instant feedback isn’t usually something you get from these games, so it’s surprising that fake reviews actually work.
Where Street Fighter 6’s offline option really shines is in its practice mode. It’s a game that expects newcomers to learn in a way that’s easy to understand and put into practice. The character guide provides a rough overview of what each can do and the best tools to use in certain situations. I learned how to keep my opponents on their toes with Dee Jay feints and the best way to use Kimberly’s spray can grenades. It’s not always easy to immediately tell when an action is useful just by staring at a list of actions, which makes the character guide an excellent starting point. Combination trials are also easy to understand, divided into three difficulties, with separate lists for each control scheme. That said, it sometimes tells me I can throw any punch or kick when in reality it requires a specific type of that combo, which occasionally leads to frustrating obstacles.
Otherwise, this is the best, most in-depth training mode I’ve seen in a fighting game. Everything you could possibly want is there – frame data, timing displays, virtual controllers for monitoring inputs. You can tune and record your training dummies for any setup you might want to practice with, or train the basics on one of the very useful presets. Whiff punishing, throw escape, anti-airs and combos can be experimented instantly without wasting time manually setting up training dummies to do what you love, feel great. Everything you could possibly want in training mode is here and I will no doubt spend hours in the lab once this review is done.
back to the lab again
I took the skills I learned during the world tour and the fight ring and jumped on the online game, which opened up to reviewers for a few days last week. I invited PCG writer Wes Fenlon to play some games with me. I live in the UK and Wes has been in the US, so this will be a test of Street Fighter 6’s network code. Wes didn’t actually make an avatar when we first entered, so we bypassed the Battle Hub and went straight from Fighting Ground into online mode to create a custom room.
(Image source: Capcom)
The online mode in Street Fighter 6 is really good, one of the smoothest online experiences I’ve had in a popular fighting game. Creating a custom room and inviting Wes is as easy as adding him as a friend with his Capcom ID or username and sending him an invite. Custom rooms can hold up to 16 players at once, and they can jump into four separate rooms. Rooms can be set up for confrontation fights or training, and those not in the game can quickly jump in and watch.
Everything about online gaming is fast and smooth. My game with Wes runs at about 190 ms ping and is still responsive with no annoying sync stutters…
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