You'll love it if:
- You enjoy fast-paced combat and in-depth mechanics
- You want a fighting game that's easy to learn for newcomers
Not for you if:
- You need a compelling story and complex plot
- Fighting games aren't in your wheelhouse
2023 is already turning into a standout year for Capcom, with their Resident Evil 4 Remake and the release of Megaman Battle Network Legacy Collection. Now they’ve scored yet another knockout with their latest installment of the hit fighting game series. Street Fighter 6 is an outstanding continuation of the iconic 2D fighter series. One common sentiment that I find quite funny among other players is that “Street Fighter 6 is Capcom’s apology for Street Fighter 5.”
The game innovates on the fighter genre formula and incorporates its plethora of new features seamlessly with the old. While not every new addition hits the mark, those that do leave quite the impact. This review for Street Fighter 6 was done using the PC version of the game, but the game is also available on PlayStation 4 and 5 as well as Xbox.
Street Fighter 6 is a visually stunning, high-paced fighter with an amazing integrated online hub. While the World Tour mode has an underwhelming story and graphics that leave something to be desired, the creativity it enables for custom characters and ability to use them in online play makes the mode an overall win. The Net Code is excellent and where the World Tour falls short, the main fighting grounds make up for it immensely. The New Drive System and all the new characters make for an engaging and enjoyable experience.
The World Tour of Street Fighter 6
Probably the most innovative part of Street Fighter 6 is the World Tour game mode. Replacing the cinematic story experience of Street Fighter 5, World Tour mode is a unique take on an open-world RPG-like story mode. This game mode has you running around a large open world with your own player-created avatar, doing missions, and customizing your character with items, and unique move sets. We will get to that in a moment.
You fully jump into the world of Street Fighter 6, interacting with the cast of the game, and have the option to become their students. It is a great way the game fleshes out the main cast and gives them all personality and backstory, expresses the story of the world, and still lets you play as whoever and however you want.
The main weakness of the game mode is the quite lackluster story writing itself, and the role you play, with the player character acting as a glorified errand boy. But the story is not why we’re playing fighting games if I’m being honest. While not the most engaging, it serves as a vehicle to meet and interact with the all-star line-up and traverse the world.
Street Fighter 6’s World Tour mode includes several side missions and mini-games that really help newer players get into the franchise. These entirely optional quests act as guides for some of the more in-depth mechanics, guard crushing, grabbing, and playing around projectiles among many others. One funny Street Fighter 6 mini-game has you making pizzas by inputting common button combos such as quarter circles and certain attack buttons, earning the fun steam achievement “Ha-Dough-Ken”. The game is not afraid to have spots of humor, and these little moments really make the story mode fun and enjoyable.
While the story may be dull, the overworld and the game have quite a bit of charm. You can interact and even challenge almost everyone you see to a fight. The enemy variety also helps teach players how to deal with certain obstacles. Enemies that spam projectiles will have you learning how to close gaps. Some enemies guard high or low quite a bit and force you to mix up your attacks.
Some will even rush you down, forcing you to learn how to play defensively. The Street Fighter 6 story mode doesn’t take itself too seriously and, in the end, makes for an enjoyable character-building experience, with missions and roadblocks to advance to find new content. Overall World Tour is an excellent inclusion that while veteran players of the series may not enjoy, is an amazing experience for anyone looking to get up to speed in the fighting game genre.
Throughout the game mode, you can equip stat-altering gear, level up a personal skill tree, and customize your player character’s move list by mixing and matching from all the various characters. This makes for a fun adaptable character with unexpected move combinations. The one issue I have with this however is that to learn new moves, you have to level up your connection to the associated master.
After finishing the Street Fighter 6 story mode and some short grinding, I was just barely able to max out Luke and have significant progress toward Zangief. Those who enjoy a good grind may enjoy this, but I wished that the rewards for leveling up would have come at a quicker pace. The result however makes for some hilarious characters you can use offline, and even online at the Battle Hub.
The Battle Hub
All the effort put into your player character in World Tour mode is made much more enjoyable with the ability to bring them online in the all-new Street Fighter 6 Battle Hub. The Battle Hub is exactly what the name implies. It is a large lobby where you can interact and play with other players. Virtual arcade booths are open to sit down at with your avatar and other players can sit down and face off against you. Other players can spectate and even line up for games.
From the hub, you can queue for ranked games which happens via a menu you can pull up, or you can also queue for casual matches. On the other side of the massive arena are the various arcade cabinets. I enjoyed the ability to play on arcade mode with weird and crazy rules additions, for more of a party game feel. You’re also able to play a rotating variety of retro games like Street Fighter 2.
The best thing about the Battle Hub is that this is entirely optional. If you don’t want to go to the physical space, you can access the online ranked and casual matchmaking via the fighting ground menu. I’ve put in easily over 60 hours of game time as of writing this review, and with the majority of that spent in the online lobbies, I can say that the net code is flawless.
Rematches in Street Fighter 6 are nearly instantaneous, and matchmaking flows seamlessly. There is hardly any lag, only coming from when I try to create custom rooms with players from across three continents. Poor net code can be the downfall of any fighting game, and I’m happy to say that is not the case in Street Fighter 6.
The standout of the Battle Hub is at its center, a large ring where you can pit your own player avatar against those of other players. Here, you can showcase your coolest, or goofiest, custom characters and put on display your most insane move combos. Like the World Tour mode, there is something here for everyone.
The Fighting Grounds
Now for the real meat and potatoes of Street Fighter 6. The release of a new Street Fighter is often a benchmark moment in the fighting game genre. With new mechanics and stylistic elements forming a baseline for the genre in the coming years. The question on everyone’s mind is, “Is the combat any good?”
The standout part of each installment is the unique universal mechanics in each game. Where Street Fighter 4 gave us Focus Attacks. Street Fighter 5 utilized the V-system. In Street Fighter 6, we have the new “Drive System”, and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite unique mechanics in fighting games period.
The Drive System utilizes a new resource, the Drive Bar located underneath the health bar, and its placement is a hit at just how important this resource is. This Drive Bar gives each character five bonus abilities to hedge the fight in their favor. Using your Drive Bar, you can use Overdrive attacks akin to EX specials in previous games.
You can Drive Parry and Drive Reversal to negate attacks and swing back with tempo. You can Drive Rush to extend your combos and cancel out of attacks to keep the onslaught going, and the most impactful of the abilities yet, you can Drive Impact. The Drive Impact is very much a love it or hate it among the players I have interacted with.
These new Street Fighter 6 mechanics give so much diversity and combo potential to each character. As a Zangief player, I loved being able to punish a greedy opponent with a jab into an Overdrive Screw Pile Driver, increasing its range and damage to guarantee the hit. Or being able to Drive Parry incoming projectiles as I slowly make my way toward the opponent.
Characters can use these diverse mechanics to make up for weaknesses in their game plan. Zoner-type characters like JP for instance can Drive Parry to push rush-down characters off them while slower characters can Drive Rush to close gaps and get in their opponents’ faces.
The most divisive of the new Street Fighter 6 mechanics will have to be the Drive Impact. The Drive Impact is a dangerous attack that functions much like a much stronger focus attack. For a single bar of your Drive Meter, you may perform a powerful attack that blows back your opponent or leaves them in a crumpled state like hitting a focus attack in Street Fighter 4.
The Drive Impact is an attack that has super armor for up to two hits and can be used offensively or defensively. On hit, if your opponent was in the middle of an attack animation, you can follow up with a full combo for maximum damage. On block, it even blows the opponent back, leaving you safe, and drains half a bar of your opponent’s meter.
This is fine until you find yourself in the corner and even a blocked Drive Impact wall splats with no damage but leaves you open to eating a combo. This move is not without its weaknesses though. It leaves you very open on a whiff, and more importantly, it can be countered. A Drive Impact can be responded to with a Drive Impact of your own, absorbing the opponent’s hit, and counter-hitting. The animation time is just fast enough to catch opponents by surprise, yet still slow enough to be reacted to.
The best thing about the Street Fighter 6 Drive System for me is that you begin each round with a full gauge and the freedom to use all its abilities right from the start. Emptying your Drive Meter will put you in an Empty state where you lose access to all Drive-related features. Additionally, in previous installments chip damage was present on blocked attacks, this is only active in Street Fighter 6 when emptied of Drive Meter.
While the meter slowly replenishes, you maintain the same movement speed and attack power, but your moves have slightly longer recovery frames and can leave you disadvantaged on blocks. These all-new mechanics make for quite an enjoyable fighting system and are very well utilized by the cast of fighters, giving new game plans and interactivity to heighten the mind games between you and your opponent.
The Street Fighter Six
With any new installment, players want to see what new characters are joining the series. This is not meant to downplay the original World Warriors, however. Each character feels fully revitalized and revamped, maintaining their original moves but with more personality.
Before we go into the brand-new contenders of Street Fighter 6, I feel I owe Dee Jay and Ken an honorable mention. These characters maintain their classic fighting styles but have been given more unique mechanics that differentiate them from other existing fighters. Their re-designs in my opinion are top-notch and worthy of mention.
Street Fighter 6 brings in six entirely new characters and excellently adds to the cast while bringing diversity to the usual fighting archetypes. “The Street Fighter Six”, as I’ve dubbed them, are Jamie, Manon, Marisa, Kimberly, JP, and Lily.
As a grappler player myself, I’ve grown to really enjoy Manon as an addition to the archetype. She carries the imposing presence of Zangief but has more elegance in her grapples. She is a good contrast to Zangief’s raw power. While able to string together good block strings and maintain a good neutral game, her command grabs are really something to look out for.
Kimberly, Jamie, and to an extent Lily, represent the rush-down characters very well and add some interesting variety to the ranks of Cammy, Ken, and Luke. Jamie’s drunken fist pairs with a personal effect of getting stronger and more moves as he drinks. This makes even some zoners want to approach and has his opponents wanting to get in close to him before he powers up too much.
Kimberly’s ninja abilities lead to full-screen gap closers and unique mix-ups to keep on the pressure in some crazy combos. Lily has inherited the Thunderfoot legacy and is the successor to T. Hawk, a series favorite. Even adopting nearly, the same stance and overlapping moves, she packs quite a punch while also being quick to engage and command throw her opponents into the corner.
Marisa represents the juggernaut bruiser characters. Her devastating hits that break super armor and a vast array of knock-down abilities leave little to be desired. A Marisa in capable hands can carry opponents into the corner and keep them there, as well as power through a barrage of hits to break out of block strings.
Lastly, rounding out the Street Fighter 6 cast, JP is the distinguished zoner character and one of the scariest I’ve encountered in this series. With ranged command throws, a melee special that knockbacks to mid-screen, counters, high and low projectiles, and even teleports, a competent JP may be one of the most intimidating opponents you will face in this game.
Street Fighter 6 is an amazing new installment to the series with content for players of all walks of life. The World Tour mode while being lackluster story-wise, is a fun way to engage with the cast, and make custom characters for the Battle Hub as well as learn new game mechanics. The Battle Hub itself is a great social hub to meet players and play with friends online.
The combat mechanics are all there and are finely tuned. This review was made possible because of CD Media and we want to thank them for providing us the opportunity to review Street Fighter 6. This new installment is an absolute knockout for newcomers and veterans, and I can’t recommend it enough.