Street Fighter 6 has arrived with much fanfare, in what appears to be the polar opposite launch of Street Fighter 5. We have a large roster of characters with a good mix of old and new, an online Battle Hub, training modes plus the new World Tour mode. Fighting fans have been excited for a long time about this one, and it’s here. Today I’m going to dive into my review of Street Fighter 6.
I’ve been playing Street FIghter since the arcades in the 90s, but my memories go to the early SNES era where Street Fighter 2 was bundled with consoles. We had tournaments in a local town, where us kids would gather at the weekends. I mained Chun Li back then and distinctly remember taking out a Ryu player, much to their shock at the time. Fast forward to university I bonded with a now good friend of mine, Rob, over games of Street Fighter 2. There’s nothing like local co-op when making new friends, or catching up after a few years apart.
Gameplay has evolved in Street Fighter’s over the years and Street Fighter 6 introduces the Drive system. This includes a new Drive meter that can be powered up through matches, Drive Rush, Drive Parry, Drive Reversals and Drive Impact. Overdrives are similar to EX Special Moves and cost 2 bars, Drive Rush allows you to close the gap on your opponent very quickly at the cost of a single bar, Drive Reversals allow you to throw an opponent off while blocking at the cost of 2 bars and Drive Impacts.
The Drive system adds a lot of versatility into Street Fighter. You don’t have to build up the meter either, both players start the match with full bars, so you can run in there and attack aggresively if you want to, or you could save it for later in the match. It adds another layer of tactics onto the already rich fighting experience. Running out of Drive meter energy is also handled well in the game, your opponents attacks are stronger, harder to block, and their Drive Impacts are lethal.
Drive Impacts are a key part of Street Fighter 6 and theres potential here to be divisive. While performing a Drive Impact move you have a shield, which absorbs upto 2 hits from your opponents, making Drive Impact attacks hard to stop. You can take out your opponent mid-move, plus you’ll drain their drive meter by half a bar if they manage to time it right and get a block in. Plus if you perform a Drive Impact when your opponent is in a Burnout state you will absolutely crush them into a broken heap on the floor. Drive Impacts are great as they are fast enough to tale opponents by surprise, but if you have your wits about you there’s still time to get that block in, plus they are strong enough to turn the tables in a match.
Street Fighter 6 has 18 characters from the start, with 12 returning characters and 6 brand new fighters. Classic fighters have had their moved tweaked and mostly improved, for example Ken’s command run allow him to charge up special moves. Cammy can also charge up attacks, plus Dee Jay has loads of new fake outs that make him even more difficult to play against. The new characters are a fantastic addition to the roster, with some characters instantly going into my main rotation. Kimberly does a good job from standing out from the rest; she’s fast, has tricky teleports, plus can throw and drive you into the ground at a moments notice. Jamie, whom many will be familiar with from the betas, he’s a drunken master, who takes shots between his hard-hitting melee attacks. There are characters in all archetypes here with grapplers like Zangief and Manon, rushdown fighters like Ken, Jamie and Cammy plus zone players like Guile, Dhalsim and JP. The roster is full, balanced and has a great mix of new and classic fighters to keep you ertertained.
World Tour is the new single-player addtion to Street Fighter 6, and it’s a full fledged RPG, where you can literally fight everyone in the streets (finally). While its grand in ambition, it’s poor in execution, with a lucklustre story that doesn’t hold the attention. The scale is impressive, it’s a fully fledged RPG, where you create a character and meet other fighters from the main roster in all kinds of mad scenarios, which even takes you across the globe on various adventures. You can see and feel the Yakuza influence here, plus the story is pretty weak, having you go on a globe trotting adventure where you have to suspend any notion of a coherent story. I think it’s a good effort, and it’s certainly better that Street Fighter 5, but it does feel like the weakest part of Street Fighter 6.
The Battle Hub is a social space inside Street Fighter 6 where you can challenge other players in ranked and unranked matches. While you are waiting you can even check out some classic Capcom arcades like Final Fight and Street Fighter 2. Online lobbies have been implemented with a range of quality over the years, but Street Fighter 6 is one of the best I have seen. Players can create an avatar to hang out in the social space, and the creations can get a little crazy, which makes it infinitely more interesting than selecting a cookie cutter character. Together with ranked and unranked matches, players can also compete in Extreme Challenges, you can customise your character with items from the store, plus take on other avatars in battle. It’s all there if you want to engage with it, if not, it’s no problem, you can simply queue for matches.
It feels like Capcom have learnt from their Street Fighter 5 fumble. Netcode is high-quality, training modes are fully featured allowing for beginner all the way up to pro training, character guides are there if you need tutorials and the character roster is a good mix of classic and new. Capcom have nailed the one on one fighting in Street Fighter 6, and there’s a lot of supporting modes if you want to vere off into another direction. While World Tour was disappointing for me personally, it’s not what I come to Street Fighter for. But it’s there, and Capcom have given it a shot. I imagine in a couple of iterations it’ll feel even closer to a fully fledged Yakuza game, but we’re not quite there yet.
One of the pieces of feedback I hear about Street Fighter is it can be overwhelming for new players. Capcom are doing their very best here to make it feel welcoming to all; we have the nostalgia characters in there for players who have been playing since Street Fighter 2, plus we have a whole bunch of new characters and features to ease players into the franchise. The Modern control system is comparable to Smash Brothers control scheme, where a simple button press can result in a special move. The moveset that’s engrained into many players minds with dragon punch, fireball and spinning bird kick may seem natural to some players, but the complex button combinations can put off new players, especially when other fighting games have made efforts to remove the layers of complexity for their players. Street Fighter 6 has done a good job in this regard. While I will always prefer classic controls, I can appreciate the addition of moden controls into the game.
Overall, Capcom have played a blinder with Street Fighter 6. The character roster has something for everyone, and the addition of the Modern Controls opens the game up to new audiences. The Drive System is a great addition to the gameplay, and if you want a full on RPG single player storymode then World Tour is there for you. Personally, I prefer hanging out in the Online Battle Hub and training modes, this is where I get my kicks from Street Fighter. Street Fighter 6 looks to have corrected many of the missteps of Street Fighter 5, and has gone even further to create not only the best fighting game of 2023, but one of the best games overall. Definitely check it out.
Platforms: Xbox Series/One, PlayStation 5/4, PC
Release Date: 2nd June 2023