Street Fighter 6 review - The World Warriors are back, and stronger than ever
Street Fighter 6 has held my attention for months, and it’s finally here. Though I have had a few extended sessions in the various beta tests, that wasn’t enough for me. Over the past few weeks, I’ve played through quite a few of the game’s modes and against other combatants online. I was worried that somehow my levels of excitement would diminish, but thankfully that’s not the case. The gameplay is solid, all of the characters are fun to play, and perhaps best of all, the netcode felt great.
There are some minor complaints, but on the whole, it’s the most accessible and satisfying Street Fighter experience I’ve had in years. With how rough SF5 was at launch, it was important to get this one right, and it sure did deliver.
The real question - How is the online experience of Street Fighter 6?
We already knew Street Fighter 6 had Rollback Netcode, which is important. Not only that, but the game's director at Capcom, Takayuki Nakayama, stated that it had been created from scratch. I had one online match that felt like I was playing underwater, but that was due to someone’s internet connection more than anything else.
Nearly all of my battles in Street Fighter 6 felt like the other player was in the same room as me. That meant my victory or defeat came down to my own skill - or lack thereof, sometimes. It felt so good to go to the Battle Hub and put my proverbial quarter down on a cabinet.
I didn’t grow up around a fun arcade scene, so this is the next best thing. Street Fighter 6’s Battle Hub lets players find matchups by sitting down at an arcade cabinet. You can call next if two people are already fighting, or simply go play some classic Capcom games. I adore this feature, and it really felt good to chat with other players while waiting on matches.
You can see which control type gamers use in Street Fighter 6. Regardless, I didn’t feel bad when I lost, no matter what someone used. I’d spend my afternoons after I was done working on other articles, chatting with people, and playing SF6, and everything just felt right.
Street Fighter 6 is here, and it’s more accessible than ever
Capcom really hit the ball out of the park with Street Fighter 6. I was so excited to get hands-on with it again - this time with the entire cast. The roster is solid, the controls are good, and best of all, it has Rollback Netcode. However, before I get too deep into anything else about the game, I want to highlight one of my favorite things - accessibility.
Previous Street Fighter games only featured one control style - Classic. You have six buttons - three punches, three kicks. You don’t get any assistance, and simply have to understand how specials and combos work.
I foresee some people on the internet being furious about the new control scheme options. That’s just how the fighting game community is sometimes. Frankly, I love this change, and so I spent some time using both Dynamic controls and Modern controls. I already understand the game at a fundamental level with the Classic set, but what about the other options?
- Dynamic: Automatically selects moves based on your proximity to the opponent.
- Modern: Allows one-button special moves.
Street Fighter 6’s Modern controls remind me a great deal of your average 2D anime fighter. It has easy-to-do simple combos and gives you access to the character’s special attacks. It’s great for people that aren’t amazing at long combos, but it’s not great for all characters.
More technical characters like Chun-li do not feel good in Modern. I enjoyed grappling this way though, and also playing shotos - Ryu and Ken - in Street Fighter 6. I see the appeal, but it still requires you to understand the game to some degree.
You also have the ability to do Character Guides that show how every character plays in Street Fighter 6. From there, you can move on to Tutorials, and Combo Guides. No matter who you want to play, the game can help you learn the basics. I love that, and it’s just one more way any-skill-level player can access the game.
This is one of my favorite things about Street Fighter 6 - the title itself helps prevent gatekeeping. You still have to put in effort to get good, but Capcom has given you all the tools necessary to get there.
Having access to all these training systems is important because the game features new mechanics to keep an eye on. Street Fighter 5's V-Gauge is replaced by the Drive Meter. Featured in a multi-segmented yellow bar under the health bar, it's the meter that you use for several in-game skills.
- Drive Impact: A powerful, charged strike to absorb an incoming attack - can lead to a wall splat. Similar to FADC of SF4.
- Drive Parry: Parry an attack and refill some Drive Gauge.
- Drive Rush: Use to quickly close in on an opponent. Can be canceled into from a Drive Parry or Normal Attack.
Players also have access to Overdrive Arts - basically, EX Moves from the past - and Drive Reversal. The latter allows you to counterattack and get out of a bad spot, potentially. All of this can sound very overwhelming, and that's fair. I love these mechanics though. It feels like the game has plenty of options to come back and overcome negative situations in a match.
Street Fighter 6 is more than online matches
We had access to all modes and systems in Street Fighter 6, which means we also got hands-on with World Tour. It felt like a vast city where I could pick fights with people, and there were no consequences - other than being beat up.
You create an avatar, and while you can make ridiculous monstrosities, those body types matter. If you’re too big, you’re easy to hit, but if you’re too small, it’s hard to land blows safely. The World Tour mode allows you to make the Street Fighter OC of your dreams, and mix-and-match the perfect moveset.
Do you want Zangief’s powerful throws, combined with Ryu or Ken’s fireball game? You can absolutely do that. I loved being able to figure out what combos I thought would be the most powerful, as I leveled up in World Tour. It starts slow, but it really opens up once you start meeting the other Masters - the main characters of Street Fighter 6.
You can also go through a more standard arcade-mode story if you prefer - including a fun bonus stage like Street Fighter 2. This felt more like the classic Street Fighter stories, where each character has a particular goal and battles their way through others. I won’t spoil any of these, but I did want to show you more or less what they look like through Zangief’s eyes.
Street Fighter 6 does feature a Battle Pass
I expected to see some form of Premium Currency or extra content. Street Fighter 6 will have a Fighting Pass (Battle Pass), that has a variety of rewards in it. There will be a free and premium track, but the actual rewards in it aren’t known at this time.
The Fighter Coins can be used to unlock new characters, alternate colors, avatars, and things of that nature. It’s a real-money currency, but it’s not known at this time if you will have a free currency to farm up characters with.
Alongside these, there will also be Drive Tickets, which can be used to unlock various in-game items. These are acquired by completing certain challenges in-game. We do know that some can only only be purchased with Fighter Coins, while others will be able to use either.
Another thing that Capcom made sure to point out is that gear unlocked for your Avatar, whether through the Battle Pass or Fighter Coins, do not affect their stats in battles. It’s purely cosmetic, and nothing else.
The music and visuals of Street Fighter 6 are exceptional
All of SF6's characters look incredible. Everyone has a distinct style, and the more damage they take in a fight, the more visual bruises you see in the post-match. It’s the little touches for me. The stages are also visually striking. Admittedly, the majority of the characters in World Tour mode look generic and unappealing, but that’s the nature of the beast.
They’re mostly regular people trying to fight, so they, of course, don’t look as amazing as Chun-Li or JP. I’m a fan of the soundtrack, but I can see it not being to everyone’s taste.
Some people just aren’t a fan of the hip-hop tracks in Street Fighter games, but I dig them. Each character also has a theme that feels distinct from everyone else.
Street Fighter 6 feels incredible, whether I used my EVO Panthera Pro, PS5 controller, or my Hit Box controllers. I’m not as crazy about a Battle Pass, but mostly because I worry that characters will be in it. Then you’ll need to grind like crazy to get someone for free, or with real money.
However, the most important thing is the gameplay - it feels remarkable. Online play feels smooth and enjoyable, which is the big thing. You don’t have to use the Battle Hub to get matches, but it is a really nice, casual way to do so.
I look forward to see what will be added in the months and years to come, but Street Fighter 6 definitely started off on the right foot.
Street Fighter 6
Reviewed On: PC (Steam) (Code provided by Capcom)
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC, Arcades
Publishers: Capcom, Taito, Capcom USA
Release Date: June 2, 2023