Last summer, I had the awesome opportunity to spend some hands-on time with an early demo of Street Fighter 6. While my play session was brief, I stated in my preview that I was already fully convinced that this highly anticipated next installment in the popular fighting game franchise would kick major ass in 2023.
Now after spending countless days and hours in this imaginative world of fighters, I’m pleased to say that Capcom has done an overall outstanding job on this entry. Street Fighter 6 isn’t just a step forward for the franchise, but it also rightfully belongs in the conversation as one of the best fighting games of the year. Here are more of my thoughts on the brawler and why you should consider becoming a new challenger.
A Fresh Perspective
Street Fighter 6 takes place chronologically after the events of M. Bison’s death. With growing suspicion that the Shadaloo organization is in the midst of a revival, several key characters find themselves at a crossroads. Newly introduced main antagonist JP has aspirations of taking over while series favorite Ken shares a connection with JP and aims to take him out. This is just a sample of some of the narratives that you’ll encounter in the Arcade mode as each character has personalized stories worth diving into.
You can choose between playing through 5 or 12 stages and each story has a beginning and ending beautifully illustrated cutscene with voiceover. It’s worth noting that some of these stories are open-ended which means we definitely will see these characters again in a future Street Fighter game. Below is a quick picture of all 18 characters featured in the game now while more are scheduled to arrive as DLC at a later date.
The other unique story offering in this game comes courtesy of a new mode titled World Tour where you can create your own character and become fully immersed in the world of Street Fighter 6. The avatar creation tools are very straightforward and offer more than enough options to craft your dream fighter. You are then paired with Luke who trains you and another fellow student named Bosch before setting you both loose in Metro City.
At this point in your character’s journey, this is where things get very interesting. In order to level up and equip skills, you’ll have to initiate mini-battles with random strangers on the streets. You have access to a phone where Luke will text you story missions/side missions and encourage you to seek out the aid of other legendary fighters such as Chun-Li and others. Every time you meet a new legendary fighter, you acquire their fighting style and can switch between different styles. In addition to all this, you’ll also have to eat, buy clothes, and earn miles and tickets to travel throughout various parts of the world.
While there is a lot to do and see in World Tour, there are a few things that keep the mode from being perfect. For starters, the mode is quite lengthy and the formula gets quite repetitive as you dive deeper into the story. Once you start leveling up your characters, gangs will begin randomly attacking you more frequently.
While you do have the option to flee a battle once it gets going, it is quite annoying as it easily disrupts a story mission that you might currently be on. It does make sense that as your status grows so does the amount of danger around you, but the frequency of these attacks was definitely annoying and I think others will feel the same too after spending enough time in this mode.
The only other issue I had with World Tour lies in how inconsistent some of the presentation aspects are. There are healthy doses of cutscenes at key points within the story but once you begin exploring the world in real-time, every conversation is text-based with minor voicework to emphasize sounds and expression. I fully understand that it takes a great deal of animation work to make every character talk so I’m not going to critique this aspect too harshly. I just wanted to point out that this is what players can expect should they decide to play this mode.
One of the single best features of Street Fighter 6 lies in its masterful approach to gameplay and controls. The three control types are Classic, Modern, and Dynamic. Classic controls are best suited for veteran fighting game fans and revolve around using the full 6 button layout commands. Modern controls are ideal for players who want to perform special attacks easier with fewer buttons. Dynamic controls are recommended for casual fans who want to perform special attacks with just the press of a button.
These control types coupled with the Drive gauge system that I mentioned previously in my preview, make you rethink your strategy and add a ton of excitement to every encounter. Having all of these options at your disposal really opens up the floodgates to various types of gamers and makes Street Fighter 6 the most accessible entry in the series to date.
After checking out all that World Tour has to offer, the other two ways to play are Battle Hub and Fighting Grounds. Battle Hub is essentially the central place for players to interact with each other through various match types and tournaments. You also can customize your avatar even further by visiting other specialty goods shops. It’s worth mentioning that this particular mode is online only so make sure that you’re logged into your Capcom ID in order to enter.
Fighting Grounds features practice, local and online versus, an extreme battle mode, and the arcade single-player mode that I mentioned above. Unlike Battle Hub, you don’t have to be logged into your Capcom ID unless you choose to participate in online matches. Likewise, World Tour can also be played when offline. Lastly, it is worth mentioning that you unlock more cutscenes and key art after completing each Arcade story mode which further adds to the replayability factor.
In closing, Street Fighter 6 is an incredibly strong entry in the series and successfully continues Capcom’s story of making outstanding games. From the old school vs new school roster to the fully accessible fighting mechanics and modes, it’s evident that they honored the legacy of this genre with grace and poise.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Street Fighter 6 for the Xbox Series X provided by Capcom.