Street Fighter 6 review for PlayStation, Xbox, PC

Platform: PS5
Also On: PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

Street Fighter IV was a renaissance, a return to form for a series who many thought its prime had come and gone. With it, the world warriors had returned to reclaim their stake at the top of the fighting game mountain. The ubiquity of online play and the increased visibility of fighting game tournaments enticed a new generation of players to show the world their strength. The title went on to be the closer of many tournaments and yielded many memorable moments. Yet, when Capcom decided to move on and release a new entry, many of these combatants didn’t follow and the company’s decisions didn’t help endear themselves with the playerbase. While Street Fighter V eventually became a solid title through years of updates both free and paid, I can say I was one of those players who rebounded to the series with IV, only to become a mere spectator with V. However when the details of Street Fighter 6 came to light, I saw it as a chance to become cannon fodder on the online scene once again.

Street Fighter 6 feels like a complete rehaul of the series, but storywise the game is only building a foundation in this entry. The world warriors who return have aged and progressed with their lives. Shadowloo, the villainous organization had seemingly been toppled in the previous game (I had to look it up on a wiki, that’s how hard I fell off with SFV). However there’s no such thing as static endings as a new threat has arisen and it is convalescing in a small nation in Asia called Nayshall. The biggest victim of this growing threat amongst the cast is Ken Master, whose name and reputation has been thoroughly dragged through the mud. Otherwise only a handful of other characters are tied to this story beat.

The most exposure you will get to this storyline takes place in the World Tour mode. Playing as a user generated character, you are unleashed into the world to answer the philosophical question ‘What is Strength’. Along the way you will meet and train under the roster of the game, eventually becoming some sort of chimeric fighting phenom. During my 40+ hour playthrough of the World Tour I have developed a love hate relationship with the mode.

I loved that I was able to run around in pretty well realized Metro City, it is filled with a lot of call backs to Street Fighter and oddly enough Final Fight. Opportunities to throwdown are plentiful, from the guy running the hot dog stand to the surreal gangs of people with cardboard boxes/TV on their heads roaming the streets. Transitions between the open world and fights are pretty snappy most of the time. The Masters are a nice touch although I did have some disconnect pledging fealty to someone as young as Lily or someone who is still seemingly training themselves in the form of Kimberly (Feel free to leverage any -ism accusation’). Capcom also managed to sneak in some great quality of life features such as being able to share style exp from a maxed out master to another (honestly it was the only way I would get any progress on Dhalsim’s mastery track).

What I loathed was some of the difficulty spikes of later encounters and the numerous fights with non-human combatants and multi-combatant skirmishes. The game stymied my understanding of it’s mechanics by spreading tutorial missions throughout the game rather than front load them (This could’ve been mitigated if I played the tutorial under Fighting Ground). Also nearly all the fights have additional bonus missions and some require a different fighting style that you are not equipping, so you’re either going to do a lot of shuffling in menus or risk missing out on a lot of items and clothing. I’m fully aware that they needed to emphasize the ‘World’ aspect of World Tour. Unlike Metro City and another region that will be unlocked late game, a majority of the places you visit are just slightly expanded versions of the stages you’ll fight in, with a master hanging out. It just adds unnecessary load times and a lot of needless back and forth (Don’t get me started on the Flight Tickets… what was the point of them when they get handed out more than all the items in the game combined). Also verisimilitude be damned, make switching between the day and night cycle a button on your phone — you already have me fighting rack servers, Roombas and fridges, why do I have to run back to an apartment to idle time.

With the World Tour out of the way, Fighting Ground is the other pillar of the game I was able to spend time with. This is where the breadth of your standard fighting game modes are, Arcade, Versus, Training, Tutorial etc. What I found confusing is that Fighting Ground also had a ranked and unranked mode, which made me question their inclusion since the company heavily promoted the Battle Hub to being your online’er hub. Extreme mode introduces gimmicks to bouts, be it adding a charging bull, bombs or changing the win conditions to first to get five knockdowns. I can see this mode being busted out for casual play, but I can’t foresee it used for any competitive play.

So all this talk about modes, but how does the title play’ Honestly a lot like Street Fighter IV. The things that took me out of SFV was the V Trigger system and the removal of the Focus Attacks. Better players adapted to the change and for me I wasn’t since I don’t believe in ‘maining’ a character. SFVI’s Drive Bar brings back Focus Attacks in a roundabout way and fundamentally changes other long running mechanics. The six segment bar is situated under the health bar much like the guard bar of old. Using drive techniques will drain a stock of the bar, if you over extend yourself and remove all your stocks, you will enter burnout mode where you are more susceptible to being stunned. Drive techniques include (get ready for the word Drive to show up a lot) Drive Impact aka Focus Attacks, Drive Parry, Drive Rush and interestingly Overdrive moves which most players know as EX moves. Proper Drive Bar management will mean the difference between getting out of a sticky situation or taking the loss.

During the game’s first Beta, I found my controls to be simplified and it turns out Capcom defaulted all players to a new control scheme dubbed ‘Modern’. This scheme’s intent is to ease new players into the game and for a regular player of the series I was somewhat off put by its selection as a default. I wished the company players the options to choose the control choice via an unskippable prompt, but switching the control scheme isn’t a monumental task. What also made it into the final version of the game was a 3rd style, called ‘Dynamic’ which makes playing even more simplified. It will be interesting to see if these two styles will help raise any fighting game champions.

The roster additions are pretty diverse and bring several obscure fighting styles never seen in fighting games, Pankration (Marisa) and Bartitsu (JP) specifically. Character designs wise Capcom knocked it out of the part. Jamie, the drunken fighter oozes swagger as he sports a high end monogram print in his uniform, Manon’s toned body and hypnotically bright pink hair makes her someone you stare at in awe. Marisa and JP both strike an imposing figure and the latter’s voice convinces me it’s Christopher Lee reincarnated in the Street Fighter Universe. I’m not completely enthralled by Kimberly as she seems very Iron Heart (from Marvel Comics), but after spending some time playing as her has certainly warmed me up to her.

Like most fighting games of the modern era, Street Fighter 6 will be supported with season passes and even a battle pass. As someone who literally bought all the passes and even the DLC which contributes to the pot of the Capcom Cup, I have little objection to this form of monetization. My only hope is that this content is more than just basic cosmetics and that non-base game characters can be integrated into the World Tour mode. The characters of the first season pass were revealed well before the title’s release and it would be a crying shame if you can’t have a fateful showdown with Akuma as your created character.

Street Fighter 6 undoes a mechanic removal which left me sitting out during most of the SFV era. It also fixes another glaring offense in the form of removing Ken’s ‘Banana Hair’ even if storyline wise his life gets turned upside down. The game also extends an olive branch to new and casual players with its revised control schemes and better tutorials for those who want to improve as a combatant. SFVI is certainly starting off miles ahead of its last iteration and while you certainly won’t see me in the Top 8 of Capcom Cup I can definitely see myself throwing Drive Impacts wildly online. Hope to see everyone there and please enjoy the easy wins!

Capcom provided us with a Street Fighter 6 PS4/PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: A-