The Street Fighter series has always been at the top of the heap when it comes to fighters.
Yes, Mortal Kombat was fresh, dared to be different and absolutely has a claim to stake. As does Tekken which has been unafraid to reinvent itself and even have fun at its own expense. And even King of Fighters which attacks its own niches incredibly well.
But it’s always been about Street Fighter, even right back as far as the SNES and in the arcades. This franchise has quality in abundance, style like no one else, and a roster of stars everyone knows. Even in this latest installment, Capcom are going out of their way to try and build up new faces when they could just as easily rest on the OG regulars.
This is an important distinction to make, because Street Fighter 6 – to me, at least – feels like the first true reboot of the franchise since SF2. Which makes it even more interesting why they haven’t gone the route of, say, Mortal Kombat 1, and played off as if this is a fresh start.
When you stick Luke, a relative unknown as the sole face on your box art, that’s a bold ass move. You’ve got Ryu, Guile, Chun-Li, even Cammy and DeeJay right there, yet you opt for a new guy. It makes sense once you played World Tour mode, of course. As we mentioned, Luke’s right there at the beginning and serves as your initial mentor.
But even in the Arcade Mode, other fighters end up bumping into him as he strives to prove himself as the best. He has a hunger like Ryu, a look that made Ken a star, but also he’s got a modern-day feel to him which suits the street-infused, colourful, graffiti-esque style that exudes throughout the game.
And as we already highlighted, World Tour is a must for all future Street Fighter games. In fact, I feel any fighter from this point forward will need to find a way to make their own variation of this because not only is it a natural compliment to the base game, it’s better than any tutorial I’ve ever seen and it’s actually a great standalone product that makes for a decent timesink.
But as we also eluded to in that piece, that’s just the beginning of Street Fighter. It’s where a lot of people will get there start, but it’s unlikely where you’ll still be playing in six months time. You’ll be in the Online Lobbies. Flicking through Fighting Ground and matching up with people in the Battle Hub.
And already, it’s fair to say the online component is solid, stable and is handling the player pressure extremely well. I wanted to give some time for the post launch to see how lobbies fare and how long I’d be waiting around. The answer is barely at all.
Between the crossplay possibilities, the amount of people running around the hub and the amount of servers Capcom have put on, I’m hopping into Avatar and Arcade Battles within seconds in some cases. Minutes in others.
So let’s talk about Battle Hub, a vast area full of arcade machines, random people to interact with, cosmetics to buy, and even playable Capcom classics. You can watch people’s fights on a big screen to get some tips, set up for avatar battles if you’ve already created your own character and built them up a bit in World Tour and even smash check ####out the original Street Fighter. If you just want to see how far things have come, I guess.
Battle Hub feels very welcoming to everyone. If you’re a veteran, if you’re just starting out. It’s a great way to learn more about yourself, what you need to do to improve, how to safely contest against the rest of the world before even touching Ranked. It’s also a wonderful way to see people’s warped imaginations. Believe me, you’ll see some sights.
But even when you’re waiting for an opponent and you’re in training, you can experiment with all sorts of different programmes, put yourself in scenarios you know you’re a little bit weak in, or strengthen yourself in areas you’re starting to get more comfortable with.
You can tweak opponent settings, make them reactive, better at countering and even turn off their block. Whatever suits you in that particular moment, you can do it. Which gives you so much room for experimentation, to learn at a pace that feels right for you.
As we mentioned with World Tour as well, this is a great way for you to learn individual characters as you train under a particular master, so you can perfect a style or decide it isn’t quite right for you.
But to go even deeper, via the Capcom Network, you can actually watch replays of your last matches, even adding commentary to it if you’re so inclined. This is a great way for you to learn from your mistakes, watch what you did right or wrong and make mental notes on how to improve. You can even watch some recommended replays for you, depending on you’ve been performing and who you’ve fought.
The game learns more about you the more you play, and you can learn from it. Which is why I feel no fighter has been this good at onboarding new players while at the same time giving you the tools needed to keep improving and bettering yourself.
As for Fighting Ground, this will be the most familiar area for fighting fans with classic modes like Arcade, Versus and, of course, Online to go through. But on top of the standard fighting fare there’s an elaborate area for practicing where you can train against an AI in re-created scenarios, look at individual character guides, put together combo trials to get better and standard in-game help.
There’s also a setup here for Team Battles. While it’s sadly not 2v2 on screen, it does mix things up a little bit if you want to try your luck together as a united front as opposed to smashing one another’s heads in.
Special Match is the interesting one, though, and Extreme Battles. These are essentially gimmick battles with unique sets of rules. Like having a bull run in the middle of the fight which you have to jump over or have to perform a specific action, or be the first to reach the highest score.
It’s a really fun little twist on 1v1 and is made for you to loosen up a bit and have fun. Which is where this game just shines, again and again. It feels less intense than Street Fighter V, and as such you feel more welcomed into it and want to invest your time.
The presentation helps, too. Every little detail about Street Fighter 6 just exudes style. From the character face off screen, to the flashing of the Round 1 to the splashes of color as you pull of special moves and the overall UI as you move through cut-scenes and storyboards.
Capcom have been absolute perfectionists with SF6, making sure every detail looks, feels and sounds right. There’s a classic arcade feel to this one, probably down to Battle Hub, but it makes a difference because I feel that’s been lacking in recent releases. And that soundtrack? Also perfect and first rate.
I’m just simply blown away. Absolutely, positively enamored by what’s been achieved here. Never, in my wildest dreams, would I have put a fighter among my favourite games this year, especially based on how good Jedi Survivor and Tears of the Kingdom are, and the likes of Spider-Man 2 and Alan Wake 2 to come.
But, how do I put this in a way that jusifies my experience and explains how good this game actually is? Street Fighter 6 has completely changed my perspective on fighters. It’s made me into a fan. It’s given me a taste and an understanding for how people have and continue to play these games. It’s given me an in-road into a community that, up to now, has felt impenetrable.
The modern controls will, of course, not be for fighting veterans but for others, it gives them a fighting chance, it lets them be competitive and it helps them understand how to pull off moves or be able to fight back until they can pick it up for themselves.
This game is going to open doors. It’s going to make more fans, widen the community pool to levels its never seen and at the same time, create a measuring stick for everything that follows. With Mortal Kombat 1, Tekken 8 and King of Fighters 16 also set to pop up this year, this was an important year to get it right. And honestly, I just don’t know how any fighting game is meant to contest it.
Street Fighter V was good for its time but before long I knew I had no chance of being competitive or being able to maximise my enjoyment. With Street Fighter 6, I can and will get better. I am enjoying myself after every fight – win or lose – and the best part? I want to pick it up, I want to play and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon.
I don’t know how the hardcore fighting community feels about Street Fighter 6, but for people like me who peaked in the mid 90s and haven’t had that much affection for the genre since, this is everything I could have wanted and more.
And if Capcom could do a standalone Street Fighter spin-off that expands upon World Tour, making it even bigger and self contained, that would be great.
Street Fighter 6 is the best, most welcoming fighter I’ve ever played. From the presentation to the content, to the way it prepares you to fight in ranked and the stability of the online component, it’s easily the best and most complete Street Fighter game Capcom have ever made. With an enjoyable, World Tour mode that can sink hours of your time, to a thriving community-driven Battle Hub and all the prerequisites you expect from the genre, this stands alongside the best games released this year and is set up to be played and enjoyed for years into the future.
+ The aesthetic of the entire game is energizing, vibrant, and gorgeous to look at
+ World Tour mode is the best implementation I’ve seen in any fighting game
+ Capcom has made sure to leave no one behind, making sure this is a game for everyone
+ Character roster is robust with a good mix of styles
+ Online is vast, varied and the servers are holding up wonderfully
– Grind for coins is a bit of a slog if you’re not willing to pay for it.
Street Fighter 6 is out now on PC, PlayStation and Xbox.
Code Kindly Provided by Capcom for review purposes
Played on PlayStation 5
Full deep dive into World Tour Mode can be seen here