Street Fighter 6 Review

Driven by excellence

By Paul Hunter

Fresh off the success of Capcom's phenomenal Resident Evil 4 Remake comes the most fully realized, feature-rich Street Fighter game in series history. After the botched launch of Street Fighter 5, Capcom has taken all the learnings to deliver the ultimate fighting game experience—for newcomers and veterans like—with Street Fighter 6 on PlayStation, Xbox and PC.

For this newest Street Fighter iteration, Capcom has taken a literal approach to 'street fighting' with its new Yakuza-style RPG World Tour mode where you can take to the street and challenge almost anyone to an impromptu brawl. Those who thrive on competitive online match-ups can venture into the Battle Hub offering faux arcade machines to set up a match or two. On top of that, Fighting Ground is a robust suite uniting core fighting modes like Arcade Mode, Training Mode, Combo Trials, Extreme Battles, local versus and online matches. Across the board, Street Fighter 6 hits hard with a barrage of content so engaging that I can confidently say it's hand down the best fighting game I've ever played.

Let's lace up our boots and head into the battle area, here are four things I liked about the game...and one I didn't.

Liked: World Tour is an RPG Dream Come True

I've been playing fighting games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat for over 30 years now and while I still enjoy competitive online match-ups, more and more I've been craving meaty single-player stories that totally immerse me in the game's world. Recent Mortal Kombat games have really excelled in this area with their highly cinematic story modes, and Street Fighter 5 finally introduced a proper story mode to Capcom's legendary series.

I can totally appreciate why Capcom chose a serious tone for SF5's story, given that the franchise has always centred around martial art masters and heroes beating the heck out of each other while trying to put an end to a dictator regime fuelled by evil psycho power. But for Street Fighter 6, the development team has taken a sharp U-turn by creating a wacky, silly story that is supremely awesome and an utter delight to play.

Its 15 chapters can take dozens of hours to complete, especially if you're like me and take on all of the side quests and mini-games. The adventure begins with you becoming the newest student in MMA fighter Luke's training program along with your rival Bosch, who can't help getting himself into dangerous affairs much larger than he can handle. Along your journey, you'll encounter many legendary masters, who just happen to be the game's main roster including returning heroes Blanka, Chun-Li and Dhalsim, along with newcomers Lily, Marisa, Manon and many more. Each master you befriend allows you to enrol under their tutelage, which effectively means you can use their attack style and slowly learn all their special moves.

You have the choice of focusing your training on a single master and deeply learning all of their specials or hopping between masters to grab bits and pieces of their special move repertoire. Imagine your created Avatar having Chun-Li's Hundred Lightning Kicks, Blanka's Electric Thunder, Zangief's Screw Piledriver and Lily's Tomahawk Buster—and you'll get a sense of just how wild your Avatar's moveset can be. You can even take your Avatar online to battle other players' Avatars from around the world.

On the topic of your personalized hero, the character creation suite is very robust and allows you to customize everything from their gender to their height and weight to their hairstyle, skin tone, muscle mass and more. There are going to be a lot of funny and imaginative creations made by other players and I can't wait to see them all in the online Avatar battle mode.

World Tour starts you out in Metro City, the famous Final Fight city controlled by mayor Mike Haggar, who has now built an elaborate fighting arena on the west side of town. The entire city has major Yakuza vibes from the many thugs walking around eager to dropkick you into next week, along with the many noodle and fast-food shops where you can refill your health. It's so inspired by Yakuza that you brawl with hilariously-named enemies like Killer Car Salesman, Corner Cutters, Angry Accountants and my personal favourite, the Indignant Interns. You'll also find cosplayers on street corners with silly names like Chuli and Kenny ready to unleash a Kikoken fireball or Dragon Punch should you challenge them to a fight.

In addition to the main missions filled with great-looking cutscenes and dramatic character introductions, there are a number of lowkey mini-games you can play to score big money fast. These include the Hado Pizza game where you perform quarter-circle, half-circle or forward, quarter-circle stick rotations to put toppings on your pizza. There's also a Scrap Heap mini-game that has you bust up a truck and a Ball Block Blitz game where you need to Drive Parry incoming thrown basketballs. The games are super silly but a lot of fun and easily the best way to score major coin in the shortest time possible.

World Tour mode is fairly simple to beat since you acquire continues over time that you can cash in whenever you lose a battle. Even if you're challenging an over-levelled Juri who busts your chops, you can use up one of your continues to jump right back into the fight with full health. Similar to Yakuza, you can also eat food during battle to replenish your health, and certain food has limited-duration perks like increasing your attack power or boosting acquired XP.

I wish it were possible in World Tour mode to adjust the difficulty to your liking, but there's a reason I suspect you can't: the 40-hour mode is secretly a slow and steady training mode designed to teach newcomers all the skills they need to succeed in Street Fighter 6. As you play, side quest challenges will test your ability to use the new Drive Gauge, including Drive Impacts, Drive Parries, Drive Rush and Overdrive Specials. You'll also learn about combos, air juggling, burnout state and many other skills you can add to your toolkit.

When you factor in everything that World Tour has to offer, it's an incredible starting point that can easily keep you entertained for weeks—and that's before even checking out the expansive Battle Hub and Fighter Ground modes.

Liked: Battle Hub Netcode is Near Flawless

If you've played in any of the Street Fighter 6 betas then you'll already know how fantastic the game's netcode is in the Battle Hub's online matches, no matter who you're fighting against or which server you log into. Before each match, you can see the signal strength of your opponent and can even see if they have a wired or WiFi connection. Every battle I had felt so smooth that I'd swear the person is right next to me playing locally: it's really that good.

Your created Avatar once again takes centre stage in the Battle Hub, where players congregate to challenge one another and compete in tournaments. The Hub features a large central theatre screen where you can sit back and spectate matches, or join in and show off your skills if that's your thing. Nestled in the corner is an old-school arcade where you can play Capcom classics in the Street Fighter and Final Fight franchises.

All considered, the Battle Hub gives social and competitive gamers exactly what they'd want: an easy-to-access and well-designed area to quickly jump into online matches, spectate top players worldwide or unwind and play Capcom classics.

Liked: Fighting Ground Has Limitless Replayability

The final mode included in Street Fighter 6 is Fighting Ground, a robust suite offering everything from detailed training to mastering every character and battle system to the traditional Arcade Mode complete with individual stories for all 16 characters. It even has wacky Extreme Battles, a party mode that lets you have bulls run across the screen or bombs explode everywhere. My personal favourite is the tetter-totter option where both players share a single health bar with a sliding damage meter you need to swing fully to your opponent's side to win.

Fighting Ground has something for everyone, whether you're wanting to hone your skills, see great artwork in the character stories, or battle other players locally or online. I was particularly impressed with the Arcade Mode that helps flesh out the general story of Ken who has been tricked into becoming a fall guy following an incident in Nayshall. Of course, there are also plenty of silly, self-contained stories that are good for a laugh. It was cool, too, to get introduced to the new big bad guy in SF6, namely Johann Petrovich a.k.a. JP, who heads up a shady NGO that may just be covering up for all the illegal activities going on behind the scenes.

Liked: Excellent New Battle Mechanics

I could really go on and on about how amazing World Tour mode is or how much I enjoyed exploring everything Fighting Ground has to offer, but considering this is a fighting game we're talking about—it's necessary to discuss how excellent the central battle mechanics are.

At the core is the new Drive Gauge system that will be immediately familiar to those used to Street Fighter 4's Focus Attacks or Street Fighter 5's V-Reversals. Each player begins the match with a full Drive Gauge that can be used offensively to pressure opponents or defensively to get you out of tricky situations. Your main go-to uses of the gauge include Drive Impacts that can break the other player's block, and Drive Parries that can counter everything except throws.

More advanced uses of the Drive Guage include Drive Rushes that let you close gaps quickly and cancel attacks for higher combos. You can also unleash Overdrive Specials (formerly known as EX) which are powered-up versions of your character's special moves that deal more damage and can have different properties, such as a two-hit fireball that can go right through an opponent's counter projectile. It's fairly easy to master the basics of the Drive system, making it great for beginners, while also having advanced systems that seasoned veterans can master for higher level competitive play.

Should you deplete your Drive Gauge in a match, your character will enter a dangerous Burnout state where your Drive Impacts and Drive Parries will be unusable for a period of time. Not only that but you'll also start taking chip damage and an opponent's Drive Impact will knock you into a stun leaving you completely vulnerable to massive multi-hit combos.

Your character also has a Super Gauge that's completely independent of the Drive system, effectively letting you chain Drive and Overdrive attacks right into a Super Art to slice off a ridiculous amount of your opponent's health.

Continuing with the game's trend of being simultaneously more accessible to newcomers while providing deep mechanics for pros, are the new control types. Kicking things off is the new Modern controls that allow you to perform special moves and Super Arts with a single button and a direction input. Naturally, using this control scheme means you won't need to master challenging charges or circular command motions, but the downside is your character will lose access to some attacks and you won't be able to choose the strength of special moves.

The other new control type is Dynamic which lets you unleash special moves and combos with a single button press. This control option is mainly targeted at button mashers and is ideal for your friends that may be new to Street Fighter or fighting games in general. They'll be able to throw out wicked combos without bothering with the intricacies of learning half-circles or 360-degree inputs. Of course, for longtime Street Fighter veterans, the Classic six-button control option replicating the arcade experience is also available.

Didn't Like: Frame Loss in World Tour Battles

Street Fighter 6 is so close to being a flawless package, but there is one tiny blemish worth pointing out. And that is, often during World Tour battles you'll notice slight frame drops. There are plenty of 1v3 battles where you'll face off against a trio of baddies at once, which could help explain the frame drops. However, just as often the dips would occur during 1v1 battles leaving me to believe this mode still needs some optimization. The frame drops are not a huge issue (I still had a blast in World Tour) but they do stand out considering just how polished the rest of the game is.

The Verdict

Street Fighter 6 has completely reinvigorated my interest in the Street Fighter series and fighting games in general. I can easily see myself hitting 60 or 70 hours in the World Tour mode alone, and that's on top of already putting dozens of hours into Fighting Ground and Battle Hub. This is the most feature-complete fighting game I've ever played and sets a new high bar for Capcom's legendary series.

Final Score: 10/10 - Masterpiece

Street Fighter 6 details

Platform: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Genre: Fighting
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

A key was provided by the publisher.