Archives by Day

Street Fighter 6

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: June 2, 2023


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PC Review - 'Street Fighter 6'

by Cody Medellin on May 30, 2023 @ 12:01 a.m. PDT

With more ways than ever to play, Street Fighter 6 represents the next evolution of the Street Fighter series.

Buy Street Fighter 6

Fighting game fans are having a good year. Guilty Gear Strive announced that it has another set of DLC fighters coming soon. Mortal Kombat 1 is official and has a release date of Sept. 19, 2023. While Tekken 8's release date hasn't been announced yet, the character reveals make it feel like it'll be out in 2023. Street Fighter 6 has had very good press with to various online tests and public demos where players praised its mechanics. Now that the game has been released, it's easy to say that Street Fighter 6 is anything but a run-of-the-mill sequel.

Starting things off with the roster before DLC, there's a selection of 18 fighters. That ends up being bigger than the default one for Street Fighter V by two fighters, making it the second biggest default roster of the mainline series behind Street Fighter IV, which started off with 25 combatants. Just like SF4, all eight of the famous World Warriors from Street Fighter II are present from the beginning, but the four bosses are absent; this hasn't happened since the original Street Fighter III. Dee Jay and Cammy from Super Street Fighter II are back as well as Juri from Super Street Fighter IV.

Even though he's the cover boy for this game, Luke isn't a new fighter, since he was the final DLC character presented for SF5, leaving the rest of the slots to be filled by six new fighters. That's an interesting coincidence, as that's the same number of debuts in SF4. It also means that fans of Street Fighter III have to hope that this game's year two DLC makes some effort to bring back some characters. Just like before, all of the returning fighters retain their same moves, but some of them have had their controls changed a bit to avoid button-mashing into something. They also have a few tweaks to their arsenal, such as Blanka having electrified Blanka-chan dolls to throw around.

The six new additions to the roster either bring something new to the series or act as tweaked stand-ins for fighters from the past. JP is the game's new big bad and is all about using his Psycho power and normal moves to keep opponents at a distance. Lily may hail from the same tribe as T. Hawk, but she boasts more agility with rushing moves that mimic her tribesman and extended reach with her clubs. Marisa may look like a female Zangief, but she's more about hard strikes than throws and grabs.

Jamie is perhaps the first time the series has featured the drunken boxing style, and the addition of breakdancing to that style gives him enough flash to make things look more exciting. Manon also employs dance to her judo style, where players want to use their normal moves to break down defenses for a bevy of graceful throws. Finally, Kimberly is somewhat like Lily as far as being agile enough to zoom across the stage, but she is a little tricker to read based on her ninja abilities. It'll take some time for the community to weed out their overall ranking among the roster, but for the time being, the six characters are all very fun to play.

As far as the basic fighting mechanics go, there are some tweaks to the formula from prior games. Amplification of special moves is still present, and players can spend some of the drive meter to perform a stronger reversal attack. That reversal move damage can't end a round, and it's recoverable, so getting hit with it results in no real damage if one can avoid getting hit for long enough.

One of the more interesting mechanical changes comes from the use of different control schemes. The classic six-button setup remains and is the preferred method for those who are already set in their ways from decades of Street Fighter — and those who want more granular detail about what their character does. Modern is there for those who are used to the last two Marvel vs. Capcom titles, as the games had a three-buttons setup for light, medium, and heavy attacks. Most of the big moves — like special attacks and drive impacts — are given their own buttons, and while this seems like a button-masher's dream, you can be wide open to attacks. For real beginners, Dynamic modes devolves into button-mashing, as you can spam any button while the game decides which moves and combos to use for the situation, including Super Arts. It's a bridge for someone who wants to play but hasn't put in the work to avoid getting trounced.

The series has always been solid from a presentation standpoint, and while this iteration is no exception, it is also an entry that has very noticeable changes. Graphically, the backdrops still look gorgeous, and the ability to control how much detail is in the options means that you can have big crowds watching the fight. While only a few of the crowd members may exhibit frame rate animations, all of them are well detailed. The big change is in the overall look of the fighters, which leans toward realism. Skin and material textures look hyper-realistic, while reactions to hits aren't exaggerated. Dhalsim is still unrealistic, but Zangief won't bulge his eyes when hit, for example. The move to realism doesn't rob the characters of their style, as they're all still instantly recognizable in their new outfits, even if the cut scene illustrations are less angular.

On the audio side, there's more of a mix of different genres, with more vocal hip-hop tracks being played in both the pre-fight and character selection screens. Some of the characters have different voice actors playing them, but they still fit overall. The soundscape for effects has widened greatly, with a good sound system yielding cheers and hits; other effects come from the back and sides rather than just the front. The most noticeable addition is optional commentary during the fights. You have two main commentators for each language, and two for each language for color commentary, and the team picked a good mix of notable personalities from both inside and outside of the fighting game community. There are rarely moments when they call out specific fighters, but you can turn on the option to have them cheer certain players during the fight, but the commentary is insightful enough in giving tips and reacting to big moves. It doesn't come close to the dynamism you'd see in a stream, but it adds enough to the big fight feel of every bout that you may not want to turn it off.

The addition of commentators also highlights the game's move to add more flash to the proceedings. The transition from character select to face off includes a walk to the arena from both combatants, while the face-off screen gives you the chance to let each person make goofy faces before the fight begins. It's both a more polished and grimy take on what SF5 did during its last few phases, and it's an awesome addition to the game, especially since it doesn't have the "Sponsored By" portion … yet.

There are three game areas, and Fighting Ground will get the most playtime since it is essentially where all of the expected fighting game modes are housed. For online versus modes, there are your standard ranked and unranked matches as well as the ability to create your own room for private matches. Although we had a limited pool of online players to play against, the online performance was good. We didn't feel any dropped inputs or any noticeable lag, but that can change once more people join.

Just like SF5, there's cross-play, so there should always be players to fight against. Offline versus modes include the standard one-on-one match as well as team battles, where you can have two teams of up to five players each battle it out. Practice mode contains the usual tutorial and training modes and a place to learn combos for each character. Story mode is also available from the beginning, something that was a big omission when the previous game launched with only offline and online versus modes.

Arcade mode can be played in either a five-fight or 12-fight version, and while the storylines don't change no matter which version you choose, the minigames that occur in some rounds do. The five-fight iteration only has you destroying a big rig, while the 12-fight iteration includes the infamous basketball parrying game from SF3. The stories are decent enough, but the various illustration rewards that span every iteration of the series are well worth the effort to play through this part multiple times.

There are two new things in this section. The first is Extreme Battle, which acts more like an experimental party game for fighting fans. You choose one of six rules to engage in. Aside from a plain normal battle, you can race to get five knockdowns or reach a specific point threshold. The energy meter can be replaced by one meter that the fighters race to fill up for their side. You can choose to hit specific targets being called out, or you can have random effects happen for each fighter at timed intervals, like the inability to jump or damage only inflicted by throws.

Once you select a rule, you can select a gimmick to work with. Certain zones of the stage can be electrified. There might be drones littering the field that give bonuses when destroyed. A bull can rampage the field, or a Met from the Mega Man series can drop by, and the first player to hit it will send it toward the opponent to deliver more damage. Finally, there can be a bomb that drops on the field and can be bounced around until it explodes. You can work with just about any combination of these rules and gimmicks, and they are a fun break if you tire of the standard fighting rules.

The second new thing is the Character Guides, which work as great guides if you want to drill into specific characters. After choosing a character, you'll get an overview on the recommended method of playing them before getting specifics on their strategies, special moves and super arts. You can watch the game play out, or you can take control to try it yourself. It works very well as hyper-specific tutorials for certain characters, and it's a great addition that we'd like to see more of in other fighting games.

World Tour is perhaps the most curious area, as it attempts to do something the franchise has never done before: an adventure RPG. It also has a narrative where the created character is on a quest to discover what true strength means. That journey starts at Luke's dojo, part of the security company he works for in Metro City. After a tutorial where you learn the basics of fighting, you're introduced to your rival before you go into the world to become better and try to figure out what troubles your rival, Bosch.

Before you get here, you must create a character, and this is where the game shows some versatility in its character creation system. There's a wealth of options for basic cosmetics, like scars or haircuts or even eye color, so you can look like a demon or cyborg. General body type can be modified, so you can make yourself short and lanky or tall and wide, and everything in between. Limb length can also be changed, and all of these alterations aren't permanent, as you can modify them later as long as you have the Zenny, the game's earnable currency. One thing to note is that body modifications also affect hitboxes, so while having a tall person with short arms might look funny, it also means you'll need to get in much closer than you'd like if you want to hit someone.

There are also two other things to keep in mind. First, SF6 only allows one save slot for World Tour, so starting the journey from the beginning means having to delete your character and start a new one from scratch. Second, the Settings section turns on the 30fps cap for World Tour by default, so unless you have a low-spec machine, you'll want to turn this off to get your fights matching up with the rest of the game.

The best way to describe World Tour is that it feels like Konquest mode from Mortal Kombat: Deception, but with more of an action RPG feel. Your character gets to roam around in a 3D world talking to several different NPC to gather information or perform a variety of side-quests for items or Zenny. You can also go shopping for gear that can augment your stats. Talk with the major characters of the Street Fighter universe, and you get the chance to be their student. This comes with the ability to take on their fighting style at will and learn their special moves. Get into a fight with a major character or NPC, and the game switches to the traditional 2D viewpoint, where the standard Street Fighter rules apply. All of this is governed by an XP system for your overall character, which opens up move slots and increases your overall stats. There's also a separate XP system to use the styles and moves from your martial arts masters; that unlocks more special and super moves that you can mix and match for your own character; it's not just for combat purposes, as it can also help you traverse the world.

There is an inherent silliness to SF6. Some of it comes through with the quests, which ask you to beat up people for materials to make a counterfeit bag or beat up people for a new bus stop. Some of it comes from the gear, like a Roman gladiator helmet or demon wings that yield some big stat boosts. The masked civilians with cardboard boxes for  helmets will always come after you, and you can pick fights with just about anyone with a number over their heads.

Despite this, the breezy nature of each fight doesn't make the grinding feel bad, especially since leveling up happens quickly. Loading between world spots is fast, and going from day to night for specific quests doesn't feel long. Item prices aren't so expensive that it's necessary to grind for Zenny. There's also the matter of reverence that the game has for its iconic fighters. Some are downright goofy, like Blanka trying to lure in people to visit the jungle via his Blanka-chan mascot, but the dance session for Dee Jay or Chun-Li training the residents of Chinatown is mesmerizing. These elements keep World Tour addictive, and it is conceivable that even those who aren't into the online fighting scene will spend more time here than expected.

There are only a few things from a gameplay standpoint that temper the experience. First, you've got a silent protagonist. Not every line from every character is spoken, but it's annoying that your character can only elicit an ellipsis when speaking. Second, while you get to travel the world, most of the places you go are very small areas that feel like slightly extended versions of the environments from Fighting Ground. Metro City is the only fleshed-out area, with different portions of the city to explore. It would've been nice to see other areas get the same level of attention, and there is some hope of that happening with the news that the DLC fighters would also be available in World Tour.

Compared to Fighting Ground, there are some issues with the presentation in World Tour. The world may look gorgeous, but it suffers from some brief texture load when transitioning from one screen to another. That texture load also occurs when traversing the world, as you start to see things pop at a distance. Objects at a certain distance start to animate at half of the screen's own frame rate, something that's more noticeable when people come into view. There are moments when some pre-emptive attacks don't connect, letting your potential opponent sneak in a hit before the fight begins. Nothing greatly diminishes the enjoyment of the mode, but they are things to be aware of.

Battle Hub is the last major area in SF6, and it is fascinating. Set up like a futuristic arcade, it houses a good deal of activities that are meant to evoke a sense of community and the classic arcade vibe. Just like in Japan, the arcades set up for online SF6 matches are set back to back, so you need to sit at a machine and your opponent must sit in the opposite machine before a match can start. People around the machine can spectate your match, and you can do the same, but the game starts at the beginning and fast-forwards to the live spot if you aren't there when a match begins. For those not wanting to play a regular match, there are a bunch of machines in one corner where you can play special rules matches. The opposite side has a cache of machines that let you play some classic games from the series for a high score competition. At the time of this review, that means Final Fight, Street Fighter II, and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, but we've been told that the games will rotate out every so often.

There are other things to do aside from play in the virtual arcade. There are various shops to redesign your character (from World Tour mode) and outfit them with new clothes. The silly stuff you can do includes dancing, mixing some of the game's included instrumental songs, and taking pictures with Street Fighter-related dioramas. One of the more intriguing parts is in the middle of the Hub, where you can challenge another person to a fight — with your own avatars.

Like World Tour, it's all a touch silly, but it adds some charm since it isn't just a glorified lobby for online fights. Things like club creation are nice thanks to private message boards and uniforms, and the same goes for the constant leaderboards for that hub.

There are a few things that we're not sure of, though. There was a low population during the review period, so we don't know how the hubs are going to handle machine availability and performance when the population increases. Classic arcade games are nice, but without a two-player mode, there's not much incentive to drop by unless you want to go solo for the high score leaderboard chase. The shop wasn't open, so we don't know how the economy will perform or how a microtransaction system will play out. Avatar fights are great, but they're tied to World Tour, so there's a good chance that you'll meet a ton of people playing with Luke's fighting style until the majority go through that lengthy area. These aren't major issues, but they need time to settle down.

The presentation is more in line with Fighting Ground, as you have some of the same things, like optional commentary for matches. The graphics fall more toward that area, as it runs at a constant 60fps with no hints of texture pop-in. The only issue occurs when you're standing on reflective surfaces, as the screen reflections tend to wipe out reflections from opposing areas, creating a big square where none of the finer reflective details appear. There aren't too many of these surfaces, but they can be distracting.

If you're planning to play SF6 on the Steam Deck, you'll get two different experiences depending on the mode(s). Before you start, you're greeted with some shader compilation. This isn't a first-time thing, as the shader compilation happens every time you boot the game, and while it is annoying to see, at least the process is quick enough that the extra wait to get into gameplay isn't significant. It doesn't fix the issue of texture quality pop-up experienced in World Tour mode, though.

If you're playing Battle Hub or Fighting Ground, then you have a good mix of low-to-medium settings for all sliders, so don't expect every stage to be littered with detail. You also have the resolution scaling slider set to three, which is fine for the Deck but gives the game a dream-like, painterly look when hooked up to a bigger screen; the blurry look makes the pixels dance around. The game hits 60fps easily, and the battery life gets a little over three-and-a-half hours of time on a full charge. The interesting thing is that if you max out everything, the game stills maintains 60fps with all of the details, so it matches the PS5 and Xbox Series X in everything but resolution. The penalty is battery life, which drastically reduces to around 90 minutes of playtime. It is amazing to see Capcom's commitment to ensuring that fights always hit 60 fps both online and offline.

The World Tour on the Steam Deck is where things start to tarnish. At the default settings, the open world proves to be too much for the Steam Deck, as frame rates fluctuate quite wildly when roaming around. It never becomes unplayable, but slowdown does occur. When entering a fight, your environment can get busy enough to turn every fight into a slow-motion affair. Dropping the settings does help, but turning on the frame rate cap to 30 for this mode makes things feel more solid during fights. The open-world sections still experience lots of frame rate fluctuation. Like the Battle Hub and Fighting Ground areas, battery life is affected by the settings greatly, but you'll get an average of two hours on a full charge with default settings — if you can deal with the fan kicking in.

Street Fighter 6 succeeds in its ambition to cram some big things into one fighting game. Battle Hub may be silly, but it has a lot more personality and more to do than most other titles with their own online lobbies. Fighting Ground does a great job of showing off the new roster and improvements to the fighting engine, while placing an equal amount of attention on both offline and online players. World Tour makes for a somewhat nonsensical yet addictive adventure that can serve as a good basis for a full-fledged Street Fighter RPG. All of this is tied together with a presentation that does well in improving what came before it, only with more fidelity and flash. As stated at the beginning of this review, fighting game fans are going to have a good year, and Street Fighter 6 is an excellent component of that.

Score: 9.0/10

More articles about Street Fighter 6
blog comments powered by Disqus