Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5 (demoed), Xbox Series X/S
Release Date: June 2, 2023
I’m just going to say it upfront: Street Fighter 6 is one of the strongest entries in the popular franchise. Unlike the fighting game community-focused Street Fighter V, this installment has something for both casual and hardcore fighting fans. It has the deep gameplay and varied characters we’ve come to expect, along with a slew of new modes and mechanics that liven things up.
I’ve been a massive fan of the franchise since Street Fighter II and have stuck with it throughout all its various permutations. I was initially skeptical of Street Fighter 6 after the lackluster Street Fighter V, but after sinking considerable time into the game, I can say all my concerns were unfounded. If you’re like me, Street Fighter 6 will rekindle your love of fighting games.
Street Fighter 6 moves the franchise forward in a big way. Find out how in my review.
Street Fighter 6 review: Fighting Ground
Street Fighter 6 has a variety of different modes: World Tour mode, Battle Hub and Training Ground. Let’s kick things off with Fighting Ground, which is an all-encompassing mode containing the core modes the franchise is known for — including Arcade/Story mode, Versus, Extreme Battle, Training and Online modes.
Every character has their own story in Arcade mode. Like previous games, the stories are told through still frames in-between matches. These stories won’t win any awards but it’s nice seeing what motivates each of the fighters. I also appreciate the wonderful art seen in this mode — along with all the unlockable art you get after finishing a character’s story.
Extreme mode is by far the wildest mode in the game. Before a match, you can set modifiers such as no jumping or no special moves. You’ll also select quirky elements such as bombs randomly dropping from the sky or having a bull rush through the stage during matches.
Being unceremoniously knocked down by a charging bull is both frustrating and hilarious.
Versus, Training and Online are self-explanatory. Versus features one-on-one and team battles. Both modes are ideal for when friends are over but you also play against computer-controlled opponents. Team battle mode is especially fun since it's reminiscent of the old Tournament modes from some iterations of Street Fighter II. Training is essential for practicing your moves and learning new combos. The latter mode is especially useful for mastering the updated gameplay mechanics.
Online is where you’ll square up against other players from around the world — and across all platforms. Crossplay is a big deal since you’re no longer relegated to playing with others on your preferred platform. PC players can play against folks on PlayStation and Xbox, and so on.
Street Fighter 6 review: World Tour
World Tour mode is the most interesting new feature in Street Fighter 6. This is a full-on single-player story mode where you’ll travel to different locations around the world with a character you create. This mode is very reminiscent of the Yakuza series since you’re exploring 3D environments and getting into fights with random citizens, nefarious bosses and of course, the cast of Street Fighter 6.
The character creator is robust and it’s possible to spend countless hours creating the perfect avatar. It’s also easy to lose track of time exploring places like Metro City since it's filled with food trucks to buy health-boosting items and department stores to purchase clothing — and plenty of bad guys to beat up.
You’ll gain experience points and level up by winning battles and completing missions. Some enemies are tough so you’ll want your current level to either match or exceed theirs (as denoted in their respective health bars). As you gain levels, you can unlock perks like boosted attack strength, a longer health bar, additional super move slots and more.
While the story isn’t all that deep, I found it engaging. Meeting fighters like Chun-Li and Ryu and learning their respective super moves is a blast. I also enjoyed exploring the environments to search for hidden treasure chests or new enemies to fight. Taking to the streets at night is especially fun since you’re battling foes almost nonstop. This is the closest we’ll get to a 3D version of Final Fight — which is appropriate given you’re in that game’s Metro City.
Street Fighter 6 review: Battle hub
Where World Tour mode is a perfect mode for newcomers, Battle hub is the place for seasoned veterans to test their skills against other players worldwide. The hub itself is a 3D environment reminiscent of a real-world fighting game tournament, replete with arcade cabinets and shops.
As your avatar, you walk up to an arcade cabinet and either wait to get paired with another player or spectate an ongoing match. This does a great job of replicating the feel of going to an actual arcade, minus the chance to get into an actual fight with someone you defeated. There are even arcade cabinets for classic Capcom games like the original Street Fighter II, Final Fight and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo.
There weren’t many people to challenge in the Battle hub when I tested Street Fighter 6 but the few matches I participated in ran flawlessly. The same applies to the Online mode in Fighting Grounds. A stable connection is vital when playing fighting games so it’s good to see Capcom has once again delivered on this front.
Street Fighter 6 review: Gameplay
Street Fighter 6 retains the same basic gameplay seen in Street Fighter V and Street Fighter IV. Characters have a noticeable weight to them compared to older 2D installments, which makes their attacks feel more visceral and impactful. I’ve been playing these games for three decades so it was easy for me to acclimate to the controls in seconds. Capcom didn’t mess with what works, which is great.
The Drive gauge is new to the franchise but it has features seen in previous installments. For instance, you can use the Drive gauge to parry attacks like in Street Fighter III or unleash powerful versions of special attacks by pressing two of the same attack buttons as in Street Fighter IV. Using these moves uses up Drive gauge bars, which only refill when you land attacks. If you run out of Drive, you’ll enter Burnout mode and lose the ability to use Drive. Because of that, the game encourages you to play aggressively — which I personally like.
The game has three control types: Classic, Modern and Dynamic. Classic controls, as you can imagine, adhere to the original 6-button layout Street Fighter is known for (3 punch buttons and 3 kick buttons). Modern features a simplified 4-button scheme similar to the one seen in the recent Marvel vs Capcom titles. This control scheme is ideal for newcomers since you can do special moves with one button and there are only 3 attack buttons.
Dynamic simplifies things even further since you can automatically perform attacks and combos with the press of a button.
For standard battles, I stuck with the Classic control scheme I'm familiar with. For World Tour mode, I preferred Modern since your created character only has access to basic moves in the beginning. Of course, you can switch between control types at any time. These varied control schemes allow for a wider range of players to enjoy the game.
Street Fighter 6 review: Visuals and sound
Street Fighter 6 shares the same stylized art style as the previous two installments. While characters don’t appear realistic, they have a great amount of detail in their musculature and clothing. The various backgrounds look phenomenal and are almost characters in their own right. Cammy’s London stage has street lamps illuminating cobblestone streets while Alex’s Metro City stage has numerous characters from Final Fight.
The hip-hop-inspired soundtrack is very reminiscent of Street Fighter III. Though I’m more partial to the rock-inspired tracks from older Street Fighter games like Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter 6’s music fits well with the visuals and gets you pumped during battles.
Speaking of sound, you can enable real-time commentary during matches. It’s somewhat weird to hear people commenting on your match, especially if you’re not used to watching Esports. But if you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll appreciate that Capcom utilizes commentary from folks like Steve "TastySteve" Scott and Jeremy "Vicious" Lopez. I don't know who those folks are, but they do a nice job with their commentary... even if it becomes somewhat repetitive after a while.
Street Fighter 6: Verdict
Street Fighter 6 is a fighting game with something for everyone. The engaging World Tour mode is perfect for those who want to progress through a story and learn the game’s basic mechanics, while the Battle hub and Online mode are for seasoned players. There’s plenty of content here to keep you engaged, and with more on the horizon, this is a game you could be playing for months or even years.
As a long-time fan of the franchise, Street Fighter 6 is exactly what I wanted in a modern iteration. It looks great, plays flawlessly and has a ton of modes. If you’re a veteran SF player like me, buying this entry is mandatory. But even if you’ve never played a single fighting game before, you’ll have a great time. Street Fighter 6 is one of this console generation’s definitive fighting game experiences.