In 1991, Capcom released a little-known fighting game called Street Fighter 2. What happened to Street Fighter 1? No one talks about Street Fighter 1. This little-known fighter, however, was absolutely spell-binding. Two players, eight characters, first to two round wins – it sparked the fighting game genre as we know it. While that spark grew into a flame as more competitors, like Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Virtua Fighter, Killer Instinct, Guilty Gear, and Super Smash Bros entered the fray, Street Fighter was always there, reinventing itself in new ways and across multiple re-releases.
In 2016, something happened. Street Fighter 5 was released and should have been the start of a new era of fighting games for Capcom. It wasn’t. Network issues, no Arcade Mode, no Story Mode, network issues – it was one black mark after another. Even if you could forgive all that, Street Fighter 5 didn’t have a compelling enough fighting system to stand out amidst its contemporaries.
The molehill became a mountain, and suddenly, Street Fighter went from Capcom’s flagship, one of the franchises that put it on the map, to this pariah. Yes, subsequent updates improved it – the Champion Edition did a lot of good in that regard. But what this series needed was a new game. A reset, a brave new beginning.
"As the first Street Fighter game on RE Engine, Street Fighter 6 has an incredible aesthetic."
Street Fighter 6 is that new beginning, returning to its roots of fighting on the streets. You can never truly judge the life of a fighting game based on day one since it’s an ongoing journey of balance changes, optimization and new features. However, the first impression is the most important and Street Fighter 6 nails it.
As the first Street Fighter game on RE Engine, Street Fighter 6 has an incredible aesthetic. Its graffiti is most apparent when nailing foes with a Drive Impact or Reversal, elevating the hype of each blow. Characters are animated with expressive faces, backed by sleek animations and stellar particle effects on Super and Critical Arts.
Meanwhile, the backgrounds are packed with details, whether it’s a coliseum of gladiators in broad daylight or the streets of London with realistic shadows and moving trains with impressive smoke effects. It’s a lot to take in initially, but fortunately, the visuals never overpower the fighting and affect visibility.
The little details make it all the more incredible. Fighters striding towards their matches with purpose while on-lookers cheer them on, their stats, likes and dislikes showcased; the bruises and cuts accumulated in fights; even the victory poses – everything exudes this level of style and attitude that was missing in Street Fighter 5. The sound effects further add to it all, whether it’s the shouts and screams of competitors or the crunch and impact of each hit.
"There are 18 fighters available, including series regulars like Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Guile and Cammy, with move sets akin to their previous incarnations but still as compelling as ever."
Fighting Ground is where much of the de facto modes reside. It comprises Arcade Mode, Training, Character Guides, Trials, 1v1 matches, Team Battles, Casual and Ranked online matches, and the new Extreme Battle. Arcade Mode is your standard run through multiple stages with each character. You get some concept art telling a story, beat opponents to progress (as the CPU level increases with each fight), clear a Special Stage to utterly obliterate a vehicle, and then face a “final” opponent to clear that character’s arc.
There are options to adjust the number of stages, round times, etc. Very straightforward and a good introduction to each character, whether you want to catch up on what the veterans have been doing or learn more about the newcomers. Clearing Arcade Mode also unlocks concept art and high-quality illustrations from previous works, which is a nice reward. 1v1 and Team Battle are as you’d expect, while Casual and Ranked options in online play let you jump into matches through matchmaking instead of joining a lobby (more on that later).
Training is where you’ll pick up the basics for the mechanics, with every mechanic explained in detail. Tons of settings are available, from adjusting AI behavior and recording actions to setting up different kinds of practice. A frame counter on the side depicts the number of frames on each move (and it doesn’t cost extra – what a concept!). Character Guides, briefly showcased throughout all the videos released thus far, offer in-depth explanations of each character’s play style, their moves, how to best use them and much more. It’s a very welcome addition, especially when you’re trying to find the one best for you.
And what a diverse range of characters that Street Fighter 6 has to offer. There are 18 available, including series regulars like Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Guile and Cammy, with move sets akin to their previous incarnations but still as compelling as ever. Ryu and Ken offer two variations on the Shoto type, with projectiles, anti-airs, and hurricane kicks, though they each have their nuances (as seen in the latter’s emphasis on far-reaching kicks). Cammy moves as quickly as ever, but Hooligan Combination offers several different mix-ups, whether you’re striking an opponent, breaking their guard or transitioning into a grapple.
"It’s almost insane how much depth there is to the roster, and I’ve yet to touch some fighters like Blanka, Jamie and Zangief."
However, the newcomers are all incredibly endearing. Manon is a judoka who pulls in her opponent and uses grapples, raising her medal level for more devastating techniques. On the other hand, you have Marisa, a bruiser and powerhouse with attacks that can break through, despite having limited movement speed.
Kimberly, with her rush-down attacks and teleports, keeps opponents guessing, while JP is an excellent zoner who can also close the distance with his own style of teleports. It’s almost insane how much depth there is to the roster, and I’ve yet to touch some fighters like Blanka, Jamie and Zangief.
In addition to every fighter having multiple Super Arts (and Critical Arts when their HP drops dangerously low), they also have different Overdrives, which can change up the flow of a combo. This leads us to the Drive System, which files many mechanics – like parries and EX Moves – into a new system while introducing plenty of unique interactions. You have a Drive Gauge below your health bar, depleting with various Drive Moves.
The basic one is Drive Impact, an attack that can break through an enemy’s combo (assuming the damage doesn’t disrupt you) and briefly stun them. You can Drive Parry, which negates attacks, while Drive Reversal counter-attacks while blocking, providing an even better window to punish opponents. Drive Rush is a quick dash from a parry or a regular cancellable attack and is great for extending combos. When your Drive Gauge is depleted, you suffer Burnout, where you’re more liable to be stunned until the meter refills.
On top of incredibly hype moments during fights, like the explosion of colors from disrupting an opponent with Drive Impact or Drive Reversal, the system opens up many possibilities, depending on the situation and positioning of fighters. Using a Drive Impact on a blocking opponent will push them back slightly. If near the stage wall, they’ll be momentarily stunned, opening them up to further attacks.
"Battle Hub is an online virtual arcade where dozens of players congregate with their avatars and queue at arcade machines to fight."
There’s a good balance between offense and defense – sometimes, you don’t want to burn the entire gauge on EX Moves. However, Burnout may be beneficial, especially if your opponent is weak, and you can create an opening or use a strong combo to finish them off. Overall, I like the system and the risk and reward situations it brings.
While Training and Character Guides will help you with the basics, Trials are where you’ll get into the nitty gritty of their move sets. These present combos that you must successfully execute with each character. They start simple but become increasingly complex, even as the game shows you how to perform them. If you want to figure out some good combos to execute, especially when taking the new Drive mechanics into account or want to challenge yourself, Trials are the ticket.
Battle Hub is an online virtual arcade where dozens of players congregate with their avatars and queue at arcade machines to fight. You can adjust different settings for each character, switching on Modern Controls for some and Classic Controls for others, and sit in the lobby and match other players like in Fighting Ground. There are also machines for playing retro titles, including Street Fighter 2 Turbo and Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo.
Facing other players can be a rush, though it’s easy to get schooled by someone who executes an EX combo into a Drive Rush into another EX combo, completely draining their Drive Gauge to deal massive damage. It’s a legit strat, but you’ll discover various ways to get around opponents and hopefully come out on top.
"After playing several fighting games through the years, experiencing delay-based and rollback netcode, Street Fighter 6 feels very good."
One of my most memorable encounters was matching against a Juri player and going back and forth, adjusting to each other’s strategies with each match. It’s a testament to the new Drive System, how well-balanced most characters feel and the overall responsiveness and presentation of fights. Even after losing, I wanted to go back and try something different due to how exhilarating fights can feel.
How good is the netcode? The answer is: It depends. During the reviewers’ multiplayer period, player populations were low, and I had to go to the Europe server to find any matches. While some players’ ping wasn’t the best, most matches felt fast and fluid. Even at 200 ms, there was little slowdown.
It’s worth noting that during the recent open beta, servers were packed with players. While approaching a player at an arcade machine, you can see their network quality, how close they are in skill level and which control scheme they’re using. It’s a roll of the dice sometimes, as certain players will have two or three bars and appropriately poor connections. However, when the ping averaged 110 ms, the netcode felt smooth with no drops, disconnects, or lag.
Again, your experience at launch will depend on your region and connection. After playing several fighting games through the years, experiencing delay-based and rollback netcode, Street Fighter 6 feels very good. Now if only there was an option to change fighters when rematching players instead of having to leave a machine, switch fighters and then sit back down, potentially giving up your spot to someone else.
"The presentation, the visuals – just everything related to the aesthetic, are phenomenal. So what’s the catch?"
However, there is the question of the Fighter Pass and Fighter Coins. While not accessible during my playtime, the Fighter Pass seems to function like a Battle Pass, but it’s unknown what awards are available. Fighter Coins are premium currency, though the extent of their use – and whether you can earn any from playing – is also unknown.
Given the extensive amount of post-launch cosmetics that Street Fighter 5 had, I’m a little worried that Capcom will go the same route here. Completing daily and weekly tasks earns Drive Tickets, and while there was nothing to buy from the vendor during the reviewers’ multiplayer period, the open beta had some nice options. Time will tell if Drive Tickets can provide a solid alternative in which players can earn and splurge on cosmetics without spending any money in-game.
So the fighters and the balance between much of the roster feel pretty good. The Drive System is fun and interactive, presenting several options and counters without power-creeping too hard or feeling too limited. The netcode (barring some more testing at launch) feels great. The presentation, the visuals – just everything related to the aesthetic, are phenomenal. So what’s the catch?
It’s World Tour. Simply put, it’s not the worst thing about the game, but it’s easily the weakest.
"Unless you rush through the main story and meet other Masters, you’re going to be using the same moves for a while, and things can feel slow."
World Tour is your main single-player Story Mode this time around. You play as a custom avatar looking to become stronger, starting in Luke’s gym before being let loose in Metro City. After completing a few basic tasks, you can continue following the main plot or run around challenging anyone you feel like. There are some similarities to the Like a Dragon series. The city isn’t a massive open world, but sizable enough and packed with content.
The overall pacing is vastly different. In World Tour, you train under the legendary World Warriors (and Luke). Since Luke is your first Master, you get his Style first, which means access to his move set, from Special Moves to Supers. You can also use a Master’s Special Actions in the world to break objects for Miles, which grant continues when earning enough, Zenny for purchasing items and cosmetics, and other materials.
Styles aren’t necessarily the same as playing the character because, far from the presentation and mannerisms, you don’t even have a full Drive Gauge or Health Bar or access to all their Super Arts. World Tour follows a leveling system with Skill Trees providing more perks, like more Drive Gauge bars, higher damage on punches and kicks etc. Some skills are less imaginative than others, but I did appreciate the whole tournament bracket style of arranging them, forcing you to make some choices and specialize.
Higher-level enemies are supposed to be more threatening, but give more XP and better rewards (if you can complete certain objectives in a fight). Leveling up increases your HP and damage and ranks up the Style, unlocking more interactions with Luke and access to his Super Arts. You can also challenge him to a fight as revenge for that first encounter where he schooled you. However, unless you rush through the main story and meet other Masters, you’re going to be using the same moves for a while, and things can feel slow.
"Things are slightly better once you start fighting opponents that follow certain fighters’ Styles, but not by much. Sadly, poor AI even affects your Master."
When you do meet other Masters, you can only really mix different Special Moves rather than fully customize move sets. It does help to keep things accessible and encourages familiarity, helping you learn more about a character’s move set. Or at least it would if the AI put up much of a fight. Aside from some encounters which feel obscenely difficult because you’re supposed to lose, the AI isn’t that great. I love the idea of challenging just about anyone, whether it’s the food vendor who just healed me, the mime who looked at me funny or the Chun-Li cosplayer wearing her classic outfit.
What I don’t like is how unresponsive and overtly non-aggressive or just downright predictable they are, like unleashing one or two moves again and again. Completing objectives for additional items does spice things up, but more in giving you something to do instead of pummeling an opponent into submission.
So while some opponents may be higher level, it’s possible to defeat someone who’s several levels higher without breaking a sweat. They deal more damage, have much more health or rely on stage hazards, but their AI makes these fights feel more tedious than threatening. Perhaps the toughest encounters are in multi-man fights against Mad Gear Gang members since you’re attacked from both sides.
Things are slightly better once you start fighting opponents that follow certain fighters’ Styles, but not by much. Sadly, poor AI even affects your Master. When you level up a Style and interact with a Master enough, you can call them in to fight with you. It sounds cool, but sometimes, like with Chun-Li, they’ll jump in, perform a Special Move, take a hit and then leave.
"The character creation system is extensive, with numerous options to customize your fighter. I would have preferred not to have a gear system, but it’s not overly intrusive."
The main story also feels like it falls into a narrative trap too early, where you go from discerning the concept of strength to getting overly involved with the shady activities of Bosch, your friendly “rival.” The cutscenes introducing each major Street Fighter character are great, but the actual story objectives don’t feel all that varied (expect a lot of running back and forth, talking to people).
Also, while I didn’t expect multiple different areas on the scale of Metro City to explore on the World Map, it would have been nice to explore more than just a character’s stage in the main story. Going to Italy to find out about a custom buckle for a bag or London to watch a cutscene and lose a fight feels underwhelming.
The side objectives, sadly, aren’t all that varied either, as you’re simply going somewhere and beating up some enemies (or doing a spot of training). Also, as good as the game looks, performance in World Tour, specifically in Metro City, leaves a bit to be desired. I didn’t face frame drops or anything – Performance Mode delivers a rock-solid 60 FPS throughout the game. However, you will notice some pop-in and lower frame rates for background characters in Metro City, even for some that aren’t that far away.
There are mini-games in World Tour which imbue some variety, like the board-breaking game teaching you to use different kinds of attacks – Low, Medium and High – to destroy boards or the pizza mini-game, which features Special Move button combinations for preparing orders.
The character creation system is extensive, with numerous options to customize your fighter. I would have preferred not to have a gear system, but it’s not overly intrusive. There’s also transmog, so you can keep the gear’s stats while prioritizing fashion. I would also be lying if I said running around with a gladiator helmet on top of contemporary clothing didn’t feel great. Not every cosmetic option is a winner, but you get some nice options, from accessories and jackets to full outfits and caps.
"Fans of the genre have been eating well for the past few years, but Capcom’s latest is both a return to form for the franchise and peak fighting game goodness."
Your enjoyment of Street Fighter 6 will most likely stem from the kind of fighting game fan you are. If you’re expecting a Story Mode like BlazBlue or recent Mortal Kombat titles, World Tour isn’t that. It’s not terrible if you pop in sometimes for some quick brawling, exploration and cosmetic purchases, but it’s far from an excellent campaign.
However, for someone focusing on the actual fighting systems and well-rounded cast, Street Fighter 6 is a revelation. The Drive System offers so much and leads to some excellent moments during combat, and delving deep into a character’s kit while learning the ins and outs of their combos feels rewarding and fun. Modes like Extreme Battle provide all kinds of random fun, though having an endless ladder of opponents and match types for single-player would have been nice.
Even the Modern and Dynamic control schemes help remove some of the barriers for casual players to dive in, though it’s best to use Classic controls if you want full control and damage in fights. The Real-Time Commentary is fantastic and provides some feedback on certain actions. However, as the same lines repeated over a longer period, I preferred to leave it off. Your mileage may vary, but the option is appreciated.
Even with a not-great-but-overall-okay World Tour mode, Street Fighter 6 is a worthwhile investment for fans. It’s everything that its predecessor should have been at launch and more, from its deep roster and excellent fighting system to the incredible presentation and features available. Fans of the genre have been eating well for the past few years, but Capcom’s latest is both a return to form for the franchise and peak fighting game goodness.
This game was reviewed on PS5.
Fantastic aesthetic that's brimming with colors and incredible effects. Diverse roster of fighters that cater to all kinds of play styles. Drive System is a worthwhile addition, bringing new strategies and combos without bogging down the pacing. Battle Hub is feature-packed and works well, backed by solid netcode, even at relatively higher pings. Modern Controls lower the barrier for first-time players, and Real-Time Commentary adds a bit more spice to matches. Character creation and cosmetic variety is also strong.
No "Change Character" option when rematching in Battle Hub. World Tour feels comparatively weaker than anything else, with lackluster story and side missions, not to mention the poor AI. Pop-in is also visible at certain points in Metro City.