Street Fighter 6 Review: Hitting Harder Than Ever Before

Ever since Street Fighter 6 was first revealed to the public, there's been a sense that the team behind the game wanted to essentially "make up" for everything that happened the last time around. By the end of its lifespan, Street Fighter V became one of the best fighting game experiences out there thanks to the amount of variety that was eventually made available through additional downloadable content. It just took a while to get to that point. It was no secret that Street Fighter V was a work-in-progress as it initially had one of the more notorious fighting game launches in recent memory. 

Street Fighter V launched with very slim content with only a few characters, and it was such a small package that only those who were the most dedicated or even professional levels of players were intrigued to jump in on day one. Thankfully, we can finally leave all of that in the past as Street Fighter 6 is the hardest hitting entry in the Street Fighter franchise so far. Street Fighter 6 has no intention waiting for a future entry to provide a full package, and is dominant from the very first round. It's the fullest Street Fighter experience in decades. 

(Photo: CAPCOM)

Street Fighter has kind of made a name for itself as a franchise that constantly reinvents itself with new characters, mechanics, and the final revision of a title is usually being the best version of a Street Fighter entry. But that's changed big time with Street Fighter 6. It's already a huge experience. Before you even throw hands for the first real time, it's apparent just how packed to the brim of a package Street Fighter 6 is at the outset. Not only does it have the expected offerings of its single player Arcade, Training, and Combo Trials modes, but each of those offerings come with a wide variety of potential tweaks. 

Tweaks that will help ease of play such as offering select variables in Training Mode so you don't have to go through and select each potential change. It saves time to be able to select "Combo Practice" in the Simple Training Settings options and have a perfect Training dummy set up rather than try and make that myself with each option. Accessibility is a key defining aspect of Street Fighter 6 as well in terms of both actually playing it, and in its approachability for newcomers. Street Fighter 6 wants new challengers of all kinds to throw down, and it's seen in the wealth of options to change your style of play. 

This includes options such as altering a Deadzone of a particular joystick, changing camera distance when using your avatar, in-battle sound options, and more. There are also multiple controlling styles to choose from. There's the Classic six-button layout fans of the Street Fighter series should know, there's a Modern style that allows for single button super moves, and a Dynamic style which uses AI-assisted auto attack to do cool moves with only needing three buttons in total. It's all done in the service of making sure that when you finally jump into Street Fighter 6's actual fights, it's actually fun to play. Thankfully, there's absolutely no doubt in that respect. 

(Photo: CAPCOM)

Street Fighter 6 feels like the funnest version of Street Fighter in quite a long time. Fights are fast (and rematching with opponents is almost near instantaneous for those heated runback moments), and each member of the 18 fighter cast brings something new to the table. Even the fighters who have been around for decades feel fresh here. Ryu and Ken feel less like the same archetype than they ever have been before. New additions such as Marisa and Kimberly seem to take bits of inspiration from past fighters to build on and craft something new. Kimberly's play style seems inspired by Guy, for example, but then also feels incredible unique to her thanks to her paint can mechanics. There's just so much depth in each of these fighters right at the outset that it feels like players will be able to dig into these initial offerings for quite a long time before even needing more. 

The big shift in fights this time around is the Drive Gauge. This system incorporates the Focus Attack, Parry, and EX Meters of the past into a single gauge. There's the Drive Impact, which can absorb two quick attacks while delivering a big hit of your own, the Drive Parry that uses the meter to quickly absorb a hit and counter, and Overdrive Arts, which are stronger versions of the moves. Each of these mechanics has their familiar parallels in the past that dedicated fans will likely recognize, but it's all been streamlined for a much easier pick up and play experience overall. 

Playing it online has also never been easier or as fun either. Street Fighter 6 not only offers the usual casual and ranked match modes that you can can seek out in their own separate menus, but now there's a much more communal experience with the Battle Hub. This is a special online area where players can take their created avatars and either challenge other players' created avatars, or jump into the casual and ranked matches there. It's just a bit more involved and colorful, however, as your avatar can sit by an open Street Fighter 6 cabinet and wait for someone else to come along and jump in, just like you would in the arcade. 

(Photo: CAPCOM)

It's much more elaborate of a set up than the standard online lobbies in the past as not only is it visually interesting, but there are other things to do too such as potentially playing a rotation of Capcom arcade classics, buying pieces for your avatar, spectate matches, play Extreme Battles (which are fights with special gimmicks like a bull running across the screen every now and again) and more. As far as the online connectivity for Street Fighter 6 is concerned, I've played quite a few matches online and they have each run crisply. I can count on one hand the times I had trouble with even a Wi-Fi connection (much less a hardwired one), but Street Fighter 6's rollback netcode stability will be put through an even tougher wringer post-launch. 

But what if you want to keep fighting alone? Street Fighter 6 has you covered better than any other game in the franchise. As previously mentioned, there are the usual Arcade ladders here with each character getting a little bit of story at the start and at the end, but that's far from all. Street Fighter 6's ambitious World Tour mode is such an interesting aspect as it at times feels like a full game all onto itself. It's a full story taking place in Metro City with players creating their own avatar (which is also used in the Battle Hub area), and traveling across the city to fight all sorts of NPCs in the middle of the street. You become a literal street fighter as you can walk up to pretty much any NPC and challenge them to a fight. 

Working your way through the story eventually allows you to run into each of the characters and become a student of their arts. Using a fighter's particular style will level up your connection to that particular master, and eventually unlock their Super Moves, Critical Arts and more. You can also mix and match particular special moves to create your own particular way of play, and it gets pretty addicting to experiment with launching Luke's Sand Blast, but then find a way to follow it up with Chun-Li's Spinning Bird Kick. 

(Photo: CAPCOM)

World Tour also comes with a massive story of its own complete with fully animated cutscenes, characters only seen in this mode, and tons of references to other franchises in the same universe such as Final Fight. There's a ton of love for Final Fight, and often times World Tour can even feel like a spiritual successor as you can walk up to an opponent and hit them with a special before the official fight kicks in. The Beat 'Em Up vibe is even more present when facing against multiple opponents at the same time too. World Tour is just such a massive undertaking that fans shouldn't fear it feeling like an afterthought or tacked on in some way. 

That's the overall theme for this entry too. Everything feels carefully considered for those jumping into Street Fighter 6 as their first game in the series. But at the same time, there's clearly a ton to dig into for those who want to keep playing on deeper and more dedicated levels. Street Fighter 6 is just pure fun, and every punch hits hard, every kick feels great, and it's just so cool to look at. It's the most fun I've had with Street Fighter in years, and the great, hard hitting start to a powerful new era for the franchise. 

Rating: 5 out of 5

Street Fighter 6 releases on June 2 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and SteamA review copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review, and was reviewed on PlayStation 5.