Street Fighter is one of the most well-known fighting game series on the planet. Even if you’re not into the genre, you’ve heard of Ryu and Ken and probably know what a Hadouken is. From its quarter-munching, Arcade Cabinets in the 90s to the present, Street Fighter games have a legacy that few other franchises can match.
The previous entry, Street Fighter 5, is praised for its solid fighting mechanics but criticized for meager content offerings at launch. This lack of content hit casual players the hardest as notable features like a story mode were absent. It’s clear from the moment you boot up Street Fighter 6 that Capcom isn’t about to let history repeat itself.
Street Fighter 6 Review
Muscles have never looked so good
There are 18 fighters in Street Fighter 6‘s roster. Series staples like Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li make triumphant returns, and the newcomers all bring something unique to the table. I’d have preferred the roster to be a little larger, as it pales compared to other titles in the genre. Still, four additional fighters have already been announced and are scheduled to drop across the next 12 months. These DLC Fighters are confirmed to have some presence in the World Tour single-player mode, which is a nice touch. I’ll go into more detail on that a little later.
Naturally, Street Fighter 6 looks better than ever on new hardware. Every fighter is beautifully detailed, and many are notably more rugged than their previous iterations. Special moves are lavishly colorful, and movements look wonderfully smooth.
The game runs flawlessly on my RTX 3070 with zero slowdowns, even with the settings turned up. I can’t comment on the performance for consoles, but it’s nice to be able to say the game feels optimized from day one on PC.
Accessibility is key
Street Fighter 6 offers three distinct control styles: Classic, Modern, and Dynamic. Classic is the tried and true 6-button layout of light, medium, and heavy punches and kicks. If you’ve played Street Fighter for any length of time, you’ll immediately feel at home with this setting.
Modern is a simplified control scheme that removes many fiddly direction inputs from attacks. It feels like you have less direct control, but after trying both extensively, I’m shocked at how intuitive the Modern layout feels. I can easily pull off impressive combos, and my messy inputs are rarely punished.
This could become a point of contention for some users as it’s so easy to use. I never felt outclassed by anyone because of their online control scheme, but that may change when players master it. I’ve grown up with Classic controls, but Modern feels like a viable option instead of a ‘tacked on’ beginner mode.
Dynamic is clearly meant for a party setting or an audience that’s never played fighting games before. It doesn’t do much for me, but I’m not the target audience. In a casual setting where you just want to pass a controller around with friends and enjoy it, Dynamic is fine.
With each new Street Fighter, there’s a new gimmick; this time, it’s the Drive system. The Drive Gauge can be spent on powerful offensive/defensive options. It’s an easy system to understand but tricky to utilize until the inputs are muscle memory. I got blown up by Drive Rushes and Reversals online until I committed the system to memory. If anything in Street Fighter 6 will frustrate newcomers, it’s this.
Are you ready to take the World?
Street Fighter 6‘s single-player mode takes center stage this time around in the form of the World Tour. This game mode is a full-blown campaign with an open world, character creation, and RPG elements. It seems that Capcom has taken a few cues from the Yakuza games, goofiness included.
You play as your own unique Fighter in World Tour on a quest to become strong. It’s cliche, but as a silent protagonist, the characters around you pull the story along. The Fighter creator is incredible. I’m bereft of creativity with these things, but I could easily make a character so hideous that even Frankenstein’s monster would wince. The World Tour mode starts in Metro City (yes, that Metro City from Final Fight), and one of my first quests is to pick fights with random strangers. This quickly set the tone for what was to come.
Combat is the same as in the main game, and you’ll usually face more than one opponent at a time. Fighting multiple foes is awkward as I never had an answer to attackers behind me besides just jumping over them. Fortunately, standout fights in World Tour are traditional 1v1 brawls the series is known for.
Enjoy a ‘meet and greet’ with the Masters
World Tour doesn’t take itself seriously, and it’s charming because of it. For me, the standout feature is meeting Fighters from the main game and training under them, which unlocks new moves. I wish this was a little more fleshed out, but getting crushed by DeeJay only to dance with him and learn his attacks is a big highlight. Creating my own fighting style is addictive, and I spent ages tinkering and putting together a moveset that matched my play style.
There are plenty of sidequests, even if they get a little monotonous. Most activities end in a fight, but there are fun exceptions, like a pizza-making mini-game. The World felt flat until I realized I could use attacks to traverse the area. Flying around using Chun Li’s Spinning Bird Kick is incredible and ridiculous in equal measure.
World Tour is a mode I never knew I needed in a Street Fighter game, and it provides a welcome break from the Online and Training modes. However, it’s not without its problems.
A fun if flawed romp through Metro City
I praised the character creator, but the downgrade in quality between that and the actual gameplay is quite jarring. I opted for a premade character, added a few details, and was pretty happy with my Fighter’s appearance. In-game, she looked like she had two black eyes and lost a fight with the ugly tree. A far cry from the simple makeup I gave her. Adjusting to the downgrade took me a while.
These downgrades extend to some animations as well. While trying emotes, I realized half my character’s chest lifted when I waved. I had a good laugh, but I’m pretty sure that’s not intended.
I encountered the most frustrating issues when fighting drones, as there were multiple instances where my attacks didn’t register. This was annoying, but just like all of my problems with World Tour, it’s not game-breaking. The mode lacks polish, and there’s room for improvement, but I happily spent hours in Metro City.
World Tour slowly introduces fighting mechanics as you progress through the story. I always wanted to just get stuck in, but there’s no denying how ‘beginner friendly’ this approach is. For newcomers, Metro City is a decent place to learn the ropes, although it’s easy to pick up bad habits. Trust me, sweeping your opponents over and over does not work online!
Treading familiar ground
When you’ve had your fill of the World Tour, all the game modes you’d usually expect from Street Fighter are accessible in the Fighting Grounds. Arcade Mode is the standard affair, a series of fights broken up with Bonus Stages. The AI difficulty changes based on your performance. I’d like the option to turn this off, as I enjoy the challenge of overcoming a difficult opponent, but it does make the mode accessible.
Fighting Grounds has a small selection of traditional and nontraditional game modes. There’s nothing as unique as offshoots like Tekken Bowling, but there’s plenty to do here. If you’ve watched competitive Street Fighter, you’ll know how important the commentators are for explaining battles and generating hype. You can turn commentary on for your own battles, and there are several commentators, including well-known casters like James Chen and Tasty Steve. I’m sure many people will find this cheesy, but I love that it’s an option.
Training Gloves so comfortable you might never take them off
As a competitive player who’s enjoyed fighting games in Arcades for almost 20 years, the Training Mode is my favorite part of Street Fighter 6. It’s clear that Capcom has put a lot of care into this section of the game, and it’s never been easier to learn how to become a stronger player.
Each character has extensive guides explaining their play styles. Every move for each Fighter is described, including what they are best at and when to use them. These guides don’t shy away from fighting game lingo, either. I was quite surprised to see terms like ‘Normal Cancels’ thrown around so early, and I’m all for it.
Fundamentals have their own sections, and combo tutorials range from simple to pro-level advanced. I did find some of these menus a little confusing to navigate, but on the whole, this makes Street Fighter tech more accessible than it’s ever been.
These additions aren’t just for new players, either. Advanced tools like Frame Data are available, and having these right off the rip feels so refreshing. For the longest time, it felt like this sort of information was taboo, as you needed to dive into enthusiast forums if you wanted to learn. Frame Data is technical, no matter how it’s displayed, but I have no complaints about its presentation in Street Fighter 6.
Become a World Warrior
Another first for the series is the online Battle Hub. Just like World Tour, this is another open area you walk around, but this time, it’s a stadium full of Arcade Machines. You can sit at a screen and wait for an opponent or challenge someone yourself. You can even spectate, and I appreciate that my avatar starts cheering and fist-pumping while doing it.
There’s a shop for cosmetics in the Hub, and the area feels alive with so many real players populating it. I enjoy social spaces like these in games, so I can see myself spending a long time here on the full release.
If you prefer traditional menus for online, don’t fret, there are ranked and casual modes featuring that as well.
I played a ton of battles during the Open Beta in the Battle Hub, and the netcode feels great. My matches were only in Europe, but lag and input delay felt minimal to non-existent. I hope this level of match quality makes it into the full release.
While we’re on the topic of online features, Capcom has confirmed a Battle Pass and premium currency called Fight Coins. I couldn’t see these in action, but the pass has free and paid tracks. Capcom says Fight Coins can be spent on cosmetics and “new characters.”
I don’t like the idea of characters locked behind a premium currency, but it’s hard to comment until we see it in action. Paid DLC fighters are pretty common these days. I hope the fantastic base of Street Fighter 6 won’t be sullied by poor monetization in the future.