The Dead or Alive series has always gotten a hearty share of critique for its presentation of idealistically gorgeous women who fight in a crazy tournament. Much of the outcry comes from the ladies being scantily clad and the outlandish goofy breast physics, which often ignores many of the good gameplay elements present throughout the whole series. Dead or Alive 6 is the next mainline entry of the franchise that continues the fighting between the DOA ladies, albeit tamer this time around. However, that doesn’t stop the game from proudly displaying how beautiful each fighter can look in motion when in the heat of battle. Its visuals are great and have a polish that is on par and goes beyond the rest of the series. Aside from this, Dead or Alive 6 offers some interesting ideas with its gameplay, but not everything is always as good as it could be.
The story of Dead or Alive has always been something that was wacky and almost never made sense. The DOATEC company, the organization responsible for many of the tournaments held throughout the series, continues its trend with bringing together fighters from all over the world under the umbrella of Helena. While this tournament is going on, many familiar faces from throughout the DOA series cross paths and unfold their various storylines that have been going on for a while. Kasumi continues her ongoing ninja feud with Ayane and Hayate, Tina and Bass try to mix things up with their wrestling reputation, Christie is once again up to no good, and the rest of the cast continue their tales in relation to the Dead or Alive tournament. It can get a little crazy to follow, especially if you skipped out on playing some of the previous games.
The Story mode itself in-game isn’t presented too well, despite the cutscenes looking great since many events seem to jump between time and have little to no concrete explanations. Not every event in the story will consist of a battle to play through, which can be a little disappointing in some cases. Events in the plot just happen the way they do and you’re expected to accept that, which may or may not be good for some. Is it worth seeing through to the end? Not entirely unless you have enjoyed the series up to this point.
The fighting offline and online are the real highlights. Dead or Alive 6 has a lot of polish and balancing changes from previous games, which makes for a more solid fighting game. Every character has a large arsenal of attacks and special moves that make everyone’s fighting styles flashy and unique. If you wanted variety between the roster, Dead or Alive 6 accomplishes this very well. A few notable things that stand out are the unique attacks from characters like Ryu Hayabusa, who brings his signature ninja style from the Ninja Gaiden series here in full force.
Brand new mechanics like the Break Attacks and Break Counters mix things up further than the standard throws and counter holds the Dead or Alive series is known for. Your attacks and damage build up a meter which can be spent to unleash a big attack on your opponent or parry an incoming one.
This is great for fights where things might be a little one-sided for certain characters, allowing them to still have some tools to shift the momentum at the right time. DOA veterans are going to have fun playing around with this and discovering new combos, while newcomers can ease their way into these new mechanics and have fun seeing how crazy their effects can be. There can always be more balancing with the fights themselves over time with patches and updates, but what’s here already is very solid and very good.
Online play is where things start to break apart for Dead or Alive 6. At the time of launch, you can only dive into Ranked Matches, with no option for Player Matches or Lobbies. That can be a bummer for those that want to get together with other friends into private matches, especially when this is something standard for most fighting games at launch. Outside of being able to play Ranked matches against random people, there’s hardly anything else beyond that. The options for matchmaking are disappointing, with no region selection or other options for online play. This might come in later updates, but it should have been available at launch for everyone.
But what about some of the extra content offline? Dead or Alive 6 has a quest mode called DOA Quest, which is a compilation of fights with mission objectives to complete. These can have a wide range of difficulties, especially when it’s not always clear what needs to be done. Completing objectives for each quest yields rewards like money to spend on unlockables, new titles for online, as well as bonus database info about the DOA universe within the game’s extras. The majority of unlockables will come from DOA Quest, but it can be an overly repetitive and boring task to finish them all. Many will do so regardless because of the unlockable outfits for each character, but you’ll be spending a very long time doing so. There’s a total of 104 quests to complete, and not all of them are fun to dive into.
Which leads to the most annoying aspect of Dead or Alive 6, unlocking outfits and other bonus items. To get most of the outfits for every fighter on the roster, you need to collect Costume Pattern parts by completing objectives in DOA Quest or receive some via online play and Story Mode. It can get very tedious and over-extend the time playing in order to unlock just one outfit, since getting the necessary parts isn’t always immediate. Parts are given at random, instead of allowing you to choose which outfit to spend them on.
This was a very poor choice to have since it doesn’t allow the player to pick the outfits they want to unlock but instead makes them swim through the entirety of the game until they get an outfit they were aiming for. It also doesn’t help that the number of parts received from other modes outside of DOA Quest is minuscule in comparison. You might get nearly 200 or 300 parts for costumes in DOA Quest, but only receive 20 or even 10 parts for finishing a section of Story Mode or completing a match online. This feels very unbalanced and needs to be adjusted in future updates, as it will be very annoying for most people.
This being said, the number of customization items for the roster is disappointing as well. Even after unlocking outfits through DOA Quest or elsewhere, you only have so many options available to customize any character. There are not many exclusive items to equip, let alone varying outfits that won’t be available as downloadable content. Things like glasses are available to the whole roster, but there’s nothing along the lines of hats or other items that would be fun to add onto characters taken online. Other fighting games have done much better with the amount of leeway they allow players to customize characters, so it’s disappointing a game like Dead or Alive 6 (which prides itself on looks) can be severely lacking with this.
If you love fast-paced fighting games with great visuals, you’ll still enjoy what Dead or Alive 6 is bringing to the table. Beyond the pretty ladies and boob physics is a game that is a solid contender with other 3D fighting game franchises. However, there’s still plenty of room for improvement on things that would definitely make the total package better. More online options for those looking to take the fight to the world, more customization for the roster, and better handling with DOA Quest mode is a necessary step in making Dead or Alive 6 an even better fighting game. It definitely has the look and style we can appreciate, but now let’s work more on what’s on the inside.
This review was based on a digital review code for Dead or Alive 6 on the PlayStation 4, provided by Koei Tecmo.