Playing a fighting game for the first time is always a bit of a messy experience. You’re dealing with new characters and, as is often the case, whole new systems that underpin combat to give a game its distinct flavor – it can be a bit much to consider, let alone a real one to get a feel for what it’s actually like. But Street Fighter 6 is different. Capcom’s upcoming fighting game combines a ton of elements from the last 25 years of Street Fighter gaming into one melting pot, and the result is an experience that feels equal parts comfortable and familiar, but also fresh and exciting.
The first thing that strikes you about Street Fighter 6 is how difficult feel all the hits. Everything has a noticeable ‘hitstop’ to ensure the stunning animations really bring out the impact of all the kicks, punches and legendary special moves. The characters still have their super over-the-top characteristics, and Capcom’s proprietary RE engine shows itself to be extremely versatile, with Street Fighter 6 having a hyper-real look. The characters certainly look more realistic than ever – but they’re still in their cartoonish, unrealistic superhero proportion. Despite Street Fighter’s longstanding association with urban culture, Capcom really leans into it this time. It should reek of that “hello fellow kids” meme, but honestly, it really works. It goes perfectly with Street Fighter 6 which looks and sounds amazing.
Testing Street Fighter 6 List
Street Fighter 5 was heavily focused on its comeback mechanic – the V-trigger. Street Fighter 6 has you firing from the starting blocks. You don’t build your meter to make a big comeback and steal a round on the brink of defeat, you start each round with a fully loaded drive gauge. You’re ahead from the start, and Street Fighter 6 is designed around how you use that meter – not how you win it. The Drive system offers you five whole ways to spend that counter, all reminiscent of the core mechanics of previous Street Fighter games.
You’ll have access to moves similar to Street Fighter 5’s V-Reversal, Street Fighter 4’s Focus Attack and Dash Cancel, and of course Street Fighter 3’s memorable and exciting parry. There’s one Lots of freedom of speech, specifically how one might use these mechanics to affect a fight, and there’s a nice flow between them. For example, successful parries actually win the meter, which in turn allows you to burn more at other elements. You also now have a custom gauge for your super moves, which has three tiers and allows for two super moves that are less powerful but can also provide additional benefits like damage buffs and a big, cinematic, spectacular super that’s a full grip of health your opponent takes.
Series stars Ryu and Chun Li, along with Street Fighter 5 debutant Luke and brand new character Jamie, were up for grabs in this hands-on Street Fighter 6 demo. Ryu and Luke had the least work to do, and mostly played like their Street Fighter 5 equivalents – albeit with a few minor tweaks here and there, not to mention a few different combo routes and moves. But Chun Li is very different. Sure, all of her expected moves are in place, but she now has access to a stance that prepares her for six possible attacks, each associated with the standard three punches and kicks. These include her low-profile slide that goes under fireballs and a big kick that knocks the opponent into the air, allowing her to jump after them and follow with a flashy combo.
Jamie, perhaps because he’s brand new, was the most interesting. His mix of drunken boxing and capoeira attacks becomes more varied and deadly as you drink, leaving you vulnerable. He has four levels of drunkenness, earning him everything from a diving kick to a command grab that stuns the opponent and leaves them open for a full combo, as well as adding more hit and damage to his normal special moves. One of his main moves offers you the option to end his chain of hits with either extra damage or a free drink level. So there’s a lot of strategy to increasing the drink level whenever you can and being aware of what he can do per level. Carried over from Guilty Gear Strive, the character select screen now has an indicator of how difficult a character is to play – one of many ways Capcom has made Street Fighter 5 more welcoming to new players.
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The “modern” controls have been the talk of the town ever since they were announced. They seem to provide a nice entry point for a complete newbie or someone deeply interested in the single player content. Essentially, the way it works is that special moves can be performed by pushing in a single direction and with a single button press – reducing the classic Street Fighter six-button control scheme to three by using the remaining face buttons. Auto combos can be performed by holding R2 and pressing any of the Light, Medium, and Heavy damage attack buttons. Supers, throws and the rest of the systems are on the shoulder buttons. It certainly makes things a lot easier, and the auto combos can give new players a sense of what a character can do – but there are some big caveats.
For example, Chun Li simply cannot perform the legendary Spinning Bird Kick in this mode. There is no entrance for it. To be fair, it’s usually used in more complex combinations and not thrown away on its own, so its exclusion makes sense in that regard, but it’s clear that this mode is just there to bring people around the table and allow them to enjoy the game You’ve just lost £70, regardless of your skill level. How Street Fighter 6 encourages players to make the leap to the classic control scheme remains to be seen, and honestly, it might not even be part of Capcom’s plan. For some players, just being able to finally enjoy a Street Fighter game and feel like they’re involved in all the exciting moments that come with competitive fighting may be enough. Oh, and for anyone worried about the return of 3DS Street Fighter 4’s Guile with the one-button, no-charge Sonic Booms, fear not – Chun Li’s charge fireballs are performed by holding back and pressing the special button.
Street Fighter 6 certainly makes a great first impression. It feels instant (even more so when you use the modern controls) and satisfying from just a few games and already hints and some real depth and creativity for players to experiment with as they learn and improve the game. We’ll no doubt learn more about the characters, online play, and of course the World Tour single player mode in the coming months, but even in this extreme barebones state, Street Fighter 6 gets everything important right and wants as many people as possible around it to enjoy.
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