2023 has quickly become the year of the fighting game. Mortal Kombat 1 and Tekken 8 are fast approaching, while Dragon Ball FighterZ, Guilty Gear Strive and The King of Fighters XV maintain a strong presence in the tournament scene. Fighting game fans are going to eat well in 2023, and that year is now kicking off with the granddaddy of them all: Street Fighter 6.
To call Street Fighter a legendary franchise would be an understatement. In that same vein, though, referring to Street Fighter V‘s 2015 launch as underwhelming would be an injustice. With a thin launch roster, grueling unlockable scheme and barebones game modes, Street Fighter V was notable for all the wrong reasons. Though a series of strong DLC releases swayed the overall opinion, Capcom had an uphill battle to earn back the goodwill of fans who first played Street Fighter on pressure-sensitive pads in dingy arcades. The legendary developer swung big with Street Fighter 6 and, in doing so, has set an impossibly high bar for their competitors to reach. Street Fighter 6 isn’t just the win Capcom needed after SFV – it’s the best Street Fighter game in decades.
The Perfect Evolution of the Street Fighter Franchise
Street Fighter 6 isn’t just an engaging entry, though – it’s the most accessible the franchise has ever been. The game positions itself as a technical marvel for longtime fans and a learning experience for newcomers. With a plethora of game modes, an exciting roster and a multitude of control schemes, Street Fighter 6 does something very few fighting games do: it invests time into teaching players who want to learn how the game’s meta works.
Plenty of games have training modes, but few are as robust as the efforts SF6 makes. Street Fighter 6 does an admirable job of holding the player’s hand through tutorials, character guides, and the RPG-lite World Tour. Players who want to learn can pick up everything from basic mechanics to advanced techniques. Skilled players can often skip these and get straight to it, though. The result is a more memorable, rewarding and fun experience.
Street Fighter‘s trademark gameplay is here – fast and fluid, it feels incredibly tight and fun, and mistakes feel like yours, not the game’s. The Classic control scheme is as solid as ever, but the new Modern control scheme shines. The simple inputs and single-button specials allow even the greenest players to do cool stuff immediately. It also proved a great tool for experimenting with new characters. We still found the traditional, six-button Classic control scheme better in the long run, but personal preference will dictate which you choose.
That’s not to say the game is easy, but it’s rarely punishing. Drive Parry and Drive Reversal give the player an incredible toolset for breaking even the most impenetrable of guards, even if they aren’t free. You’ll still have to learn when and how to use them appropriately, or else your character will spend entire rounds in Burnout. Managing your Drive Bar can result in a devastating smackdown against even the most skilled opponents.
Getting beaten down is never treated as a negative, either. In many ways, Street Fighter 6 encourages you to learn by losing. World Tour mode uses items, buffs and a Continue system to give players opportunities to try again and again against even the toughest foes. The Battle Hub and Fighting Ground make Continues and rematches easy to jump into. The game presents these more as learning opportunities for players, encouraging them not to get frustrated. Instead, it wants you to learn from the encounters and either try again or regroup and develop a new strategy.
Finally, Fighting In The Streets In a Street Fighter Game
Street Fighter 6‘s World Tour mode is so good that the FGC will be talking about it for decades. Kicking off in Final Fight‘s embattled Metro City, players are thrust into the shoes of a custom character (with a character creator that may be too in-depth). From there, an epic journey through the world begins. Players will meet various Street Fighter and Final Fight characters. They’ll sign up to learn from classic Street Fighter characters, including Ryu, Chun-Li and Guile, or newcomers like Luke and Manon. With each new master comes new devastating specials and super moves, allowing players to create their perfect moveset.
If the basic premise sounds familiar, it should – it’s almost verbatim what Mortal Kombat Deception did with Konquest Mode in 2004. But where Mortal Kombat explored the franchise through the eyes of a new protagonist, Street Fighter uses it to examine the depths of its world and characters on a more personal level.
World Tour mode makes exploring that world cool, full stop. There is so much to do beyond talking to classic fighters. The world is bustling with Final Fight characters like the Mad Gear gang, Thrasher Damnd and Carlos Miyamoto. There are also classic Street Fighter mini-games presented as part-time jobs, letting you destroy cars or break boards for a quick buck. It never feels stale or overwhelming. World Tour drip-feeds new interactions, locations and story beats in a way that keeps the player engaged. It also has a rewarding RPG-lite gameplay loop. The player will accumulate new skills, abilities, equipment and items along the journey. We spent as much time working out our character’s perfect fashion as we did leveling up style points for our master.
Players who finish World Tour or are looking for a more community-focused experience will love the Battle Hub. The online mode takes cues from Guilty Gear Strive and Dragon Ball FighterZ, creating a large, inviting area for a social experience rather than a static menu. The lobby area, styled after an arcade, also allows players to wage Avatar Fights with their World Tour custom characters. If PVP isn’t for you, classic arcade games like Street Fighter II and Final Fight feel like solid recreations of the original experience. These classic games make for a hell of a value add, giving players new and old an opportunity to revisit the glory days of Capcom’s arcade dominance.
It’s disappointing that the tower-mode-focused Fighting Ground is where SF6 is its weakest. It’s not bad, but the story mode towers feel almost dated in comparison, consisting of a handful of fights with merely some art and a voiceover as your reward. The other towers are fun but not enough to sell the whole package. Extreme Battle mode uses modifiers for more chaotic experiences like Mortal Kombat X‘s Test Your Luck. A team battle mode & online lobbies for those not interested in Battle Hub round out the offerings, but Story Mode is the meat and potatoes here. The story is engaging, especially as you dig into a conspiracy that sees Ken Masters framed for terrorism. Still, it’s a shame that for a game so built around the notion of innovation, the classic arcade towers feel so basic.
Style On Par With Substance
After the underwhelming fifth entry, it’s exciting to have a new Street Fighter dripping with style. The game has a bright, vibrant color palette, and the aesthetics of the game work to draw a player in. There are no drab colors or muddied style choices here. Characters pop off the screen, and the color splashes during moves such as the Drive Reversal create a dynamic spectacle.
The character designs are some of the best the series has ever seen, too. The anime style of Street Fighter kicked off in earnest with 1995’s Street Fighter Alpha, which took cues from Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie. That aesthetic has continued ever since, even into crossover appearances like Marvel vs. Capcom, Super Smash Bros and more. Street Fighter 6 embraces that style, but there’s no denying there’s a touch more realism this time. The classic fighters have aged up looks to represent the placement of SF6 on the timeline. The roster of new fighters have great, unique designs. No one seems out of place; you could envision characters like Luke or Manon showing up in the likes of Alpha 3 or 3rd Strike and fitting in fine.
The music also stands out, though not as much as one would hope. The game has some incredible tracks (and we would be lying if we said World Tour’s World Map theme hadn’t been stuck in our heads for weeks now). The music doesn’t immediately feel as iconic as past titles, but it still screams Street Fighter with every beat. This could be a soundtrack that only gets better with age.
Street Fighter 6 is The Best Fighting Game Since Alpha 3
There’s a lot of stiff competition, and Street Fighter 6 has a hell of a brawl for superiority, even among its own franchise. Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike has been the obvious go-to comparison, and it’s easy to see why. The parry system, a roster of new, unique fighters, and stunning, updated graphics make this feel more like a true successor to 3rd Strike than to Street Fighter V.
Unlike 3rd Strike, though, Street Fighter 6 sticks its landing right out the gate, and it’s been a long time since any fighting game had us this engrossed. We enjoyed playing this, whether touring Metro City, fighting through a story tower, or getting our butts kicked in the Battle Hub. Street Fighter 6 is gorgeous, plays well, and, most importantly, is accessible. The strides it takes to make sure any player of any skill level can jump in and have fun is such a huge deal and all but guarantees a long, healthy shelf life.
2023 is shaping up to be the year of the fighting game, but the battle may already be over. Other competitors will put their best foot forward, but Street Fighter reinvented itself. And unlike the last time Capcom’s legendary series aimed for a new generation, this one hits harder than ever. Whether you’re looking to fight in tournaments or relive the glory days of Super Turbo, this is the game you’re looking for. Street Fighter 6 is the best Street Fighter of the modern era, the best fighting game since Street Fighter Alpha 3 – and a must-have for any fighting game fan’s library.
Developed and published by Capcom, Street Fighter 6 releases June 2, 2023, for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S and PC. CBR was provided with a copy of this game by the publisher for review purposes.
Street Fighter 6
- Street Fighter
- Xbox Series X (1), Xbox Series S, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
- Local Multiplayer, Online Multiplayer
- RE Engine
- The latest in Capcom’s monumental Street Fighter series, Street Fighter 6, sees newcomers Luke, Jamie, and Kimberly cross paths with iconic fighters Ryu, Chun-Li and Zangief. Releasing on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC, Street Fighter 6 includes the franchise’s iconic arcade towers and one-on-one action, as well as a brand new open world to explore and tons of classic Capcom games to revisit.
- Accessible, responsive controlers make fights white-knuckle exciting
- The RE Engine lends itself to a colorful, eye-popping entry
- The massive World Tour & Battle Hub will keep players engaged for hours
- Arcade Mode is a little archaic for what it is