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Even for a franchise with a lot of highpoints, Street Fighter 6 is a new peak for Capcom’s fighting game series. Impressively, it comes with an incredible amount of polish and content right out of the box.
That stands in stark contrast to Street Fighter V, a game that eventually evolved into a great fighter but launched in a shabby state. In this sense, Street Fighter 6 feels like the antithesis to its predecessor.
Street Fighter 6 releases on June 2 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4 and PC.
For a fighter, most of its success is going to come down to mechanics and game feel. Street Fighter 6 plays immaculately. Every punch, kick and special move has impact.
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SF6 introduces the new Drive Gauge to play with. A second meter to go along with one for super moves is nothing new for the genre, but I’ve never seen a better implementation. You can use some of your Drive Gauge to parry, strengthen special attacks, quickly close some distance or extend combos. There’s also the Drive Impact ability, a move that can create distance or stun an opponent if used correctly.
The Drive Gauge has a ton of uses, but players will have to think carefully about how to use it. Emptying the meter leaves you in a vulnerable spot for awhile. Even when you defend, moves will chip away at your health and of course, you won’t have access to any Drive Gauge abilities. Mastering when and how to use this resource is key to success in Street Fighter 6.
Choose your character
The game also features a fantastic roster. Returning favorites like Ryu, Ken, Cammy and Zangief all feature their iconic gameplay with a few new tweaks. Drive Gauge abilities also help these fan favorites feel fresh by giving every character access to new combos and tools.
The new characters are also a lot of fun. Manon is a unique grappler that takes her cues from ballet, and her throws become more powerful each time she lands one. Marisa is a powerhouse who sacrifices speed for strength and her kit includes some of the hardest-hitting moves in the game.
I’ve actually gravitated toward Lily the most. She takes inspiration by old-new challenger T. Hawk and focuses on a combination of strong, far-reaching strikes and a good grapple game. She’s also something of a goofball. Her most powerful super attack actually has her mess up and land on her opponent as she flails about.
Street Fighter 6 makes it easy to pick a favorite character and learn how to fight with them. Along with a typical training room, other modes will teach fundamentals for each character. This isn’t a simple rundown of their special moves, but instead you get thoughtful explanations for how you should play each character. They explain strengths and weakness and tell you which situations certain abilities work best for. You can also learn combos for each character, starting from basic to advanced.
All of the characters have a ton of personality, thanks in part to Capcom employing an art style that features some more realistic flourishes and details while retaining some of the cartoony and over-the-top designs. The presentation in general is top-notch. Stage backgrounds are alive with lots of characters and details. The spray paint-style effects highlight many of the strongest abilities, making them even more satisfying to hit. In general, Street Fighter 6 looks fantastic.
Take it to the streets
So, we have great gameplay and a nice roster. That leaves game modes, and once again Street Fighter 6 delivers. You have standards, like an Arcade Mode that lets you play through a series of computer-controlled opponents and unlock a few story pieces for each character along the way.
But World Tour is the main solo mode, and it’s impressive. You create your own character and then explore open areas, completing quests, finding hidden items (including consumables that increase your stats or new clothes) and encountering the game’s cast of Street Fighters. You can become any character’s apprentice and learn their moves. This lets you customize your character and playstyle. You can have a fighter that uses Chun-Li’s standard moves but has access to newcomer Luke’s super attacks and special abilities.
Basically, World Tour takes Street Fighter 6’s mechanics and turns into a brawler-based RPG. It’s like a mini version of Yakuza. Now, don’t expect something as deep and expansive as a mainline Yakuza game. But all of this as the single-player mode for a fighting game is huge. Again, compared to Street Fighter V’s awkward and unimpressive Story Mode, this is a massive leap in quality.
A good time online
For multiplayer offerings, you head toward the Battle Hub. This is where you access online matches, but it’s much more than a simple queue. This is an social hub where you run around as your Street Fighter 6 avatar with a bunch of other players. You can access normal queues for Ranked or Casual matches, but you can also access arcade machines and challenge the other players in the hub directly. This system looks to replicate the classic arcade experience.
Even if you don’t actually want to play Street Fighter 6, you can have fun here. One corner of the hub hosts arcade machines that let you play classic Capcom titles like Street Fighter II and Final Fight. You can also just spectate other players’ matches. You can even play the part of a virtual DJ.
Also, online matches have felt great for me. I probably played over 100 rounds and only had one match with any noticeable lag. Oh, and if you’d rather skip the Battle Hub and just queue for online matches from the menus, you can do that too.
I feel it all around me
If I have anything negative to say about Street Fighter 6, its rather minor or nitpicky stuff. The menus aren’t great to navigate. They’re flashy and look nice, but it can be annoying to actually find and access the content that you’re looking for. I also wish we had a few characters from Street Fighter III in the starting roster, especially since this is the first entry in the series that takes place after that game in the timeline. But, hey, I’m something of a Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Mark devotee.
Those miniscule grips aside, this is a masterful fighting game experience that excels in all the ways you want it to. It’s another standout from Capcom, which has entered something of a new golden era thanks to its revitalization of Resident Evil and the broadening global appeal of Monster Hunter. Street Fighter 6 is further proof that Capcom is on top of the gaming world these days.
Street Fighter 6 is out on June 2 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4 and PC. Capcom gave us a PC code for this review.