From top to bottom, the latest 'Street Fighter' game could change what fans could expect from the genre
“Street Fighter 6” is the most important fighting game to come out in more than a decade. It’s not just another chapter in the genre’s most venerable franchise. It’s the fact that Capcom is going all out to reimagine the scope of the series. From top to bottom, the game takes a broad look at fighting games and tries to upend expectations while also keeping to its roots.
I had a chance to play about three hours of “Street Fighter 6” at Capcom’s U.S. headquarters. I dabbled in the Fighting Grounds, which is where players will find traditional modes. Players have an Arcade mode where players choose a fighter and take them through a short story told over five or 12 battles with bonus stages in between.
EXTREME BATTLES AND VERSUS MODE
It includes Extreme Battles, which is a party mode. Players can mix six different rule sets with six different gimmicks to create twists on traditional fights. They’ll be hits if you have people of similar skill levels duking it out. The randomness and chaos of the gimmicks and rule sets evens out the playing field and will lead to amusing moments.
If players are more serious, they can check out one-on-one matches in Versus Mode, or they can even gather friends together for a Team Battle. Each person picks a character and goes head to head until they lose. It’s a mode that one can duplicate with pen and paper but it feels much better when it’s incorporated into the game, which tracks win rates and other records.
A THOROUGH WAY TO LEARN
One of the best parts of “Street Fighter 6” is how it revamps the tutorial process. If you’re new to fighting games or just curious about it, this entry does the best job at teaching players. The training mode doesn’t just flash a move command list. It guides players by showing them the type of each fighter (power, tricky, standard), effective range (long, medium or close) and ease of use (easy, normal and hard). It goes deeper from there with character guides that actually teach players the theory and concepts behind each character.
I checked out the Character Guide for JP, and it went into how he’s a ranged fighter. He’s meant to keep players off balance with distance attacks, but if opponents manage to get close, he has a few moves that knocks them away. If players want to sharpen their skills to take everything they’ve learned from the Character Guide and Training mode, they have a Combo Trial, which tests how well players can perform combos.
The developers’ dedication to transparency shows how much care and thought went into designing "Street Fighter 6"’s systems and the care they put into crafting each character. The game’s tutorial is one of the best ways to learn fighting game lessons that go beyond Capcom’s flagship title and extend to the whole genre.
ENTER THE WORLD TOUR
While those elements serve to augment the competitive experience, Capcom turned its sights on players who have an itch for a solo role-playing game experience, and they created a World Tour. This is bar the most radical “Street Fighter” addition in years. Players create an avatar, and they join Luke’s dojo called the Buckler Basic Training Course in Metro City. This part of the game is also another entry point in teaching players the gameplay, but the game incorporates narrative and an open world.
It’s insane, but players can explore the world that they only saw snippets of in previous games. Along with becoming a student of Luke, players will have a rival named Bosch. As his students, Luke sends you out to explore Metro City and just start random fights with people. In the real world, this would get you arrested, but in “Street Fighter 6,” it’s commonplace to walk up to a stranger, touch fists and beat each other up.
Players will have to grind through several random fights and take on missions doled out by Alice, who looks like a hipster Pippi Longstocking. All of this levels your avatar up and gives the hero experience points to put into the game’s skill tree. Reaching higher levels also boosts core stats such as health and punching power.
The difference in strength between a novice like yourself and Luke, one of the mentors in the game, becomes obvious. Fighting him at level 1 is like an ant trying battle a dog. Players will barely do any damage to him.
HEAVY RPG ELEMENTS
To help players get around, there are bus stops that act as fast travel points. But if they use them, players may miss ladders and other secret areas that have treasure chests containing gear. Again in another RPG element, players can wear clothes like hats, T-shirts, pants and shoes that offer small stat boosts to help them through the World Tour campaign.
Eventually, players will find Chun Li and they can become her student as well. Having multiple masters means that players can mix and match different fighting styles to craft their own fighter. That means I can use her Kikoken with Luke’s Rising Uppercut. What’s interesting to note though is that though players can mix and match Special Moves, they will keep the base moves of one master they choose to follow. (Don’t worry, players can easily switch out moves their mentors through a menu, so you’re not stuck with it.)
In the case of my manly character, he ended up with the risque and feminine movements of Chun Li. It was amusing to see but I ran with it.
Players have to keep in mind that just talking to a legendary fighter doesn’t guarantee the avatar becomes a student. The hero has to fulfill a quest. In Chun Li’s case, I had to watch over her student Li-Fen and talk to other students, which often meant impromptu matches.
A ‘YAKUZA’ FEEL
As players explore, they’ll run into bonus games and even rowdy thugs such as the Canary Crate Gang members. These baddies just rush at players and create an instance where players fight them just like in a fighting game. The whole experience makes “Street Fighter 6” feel like the “Yakuza” games.
Your avatar will walk around and run into thugs and get in a brawl. The one caveat though is that it’s in a 2D space and that can make battles difficult especially if enemies such as drones surround players. It can be hard to figure out which way to block. What’s more interesting is that after each fight, players won’t be healed and that calls for them to use healing items, which can be picked up from random scrums or purchased in stores.
Speaking of retailers, players will run across different shops and food trucks. The stores sell knickknacks and clothing items that boost stats while they’re worn. Meanwhile, food spots offer goods that temporarily raise stats and heal players.
Lastly, players can build relationships with their teachers. They can buy gifts for them at shops and complete quests for them. That gives them the ability to call on legendary fighters such as Chun Li or Luke for help, and they’ll jump in to help out during battles. All of this creates a fairly intriguing campaign and expands the “Street Fighter” world, giving it depth it never had before.
The big question is if the story can keep players attention and be woven in a way that accentuates the core gameplay. If this World Tour feels tacked on, then it could be huge miss on an idea that has serious potential.
“Street Fighter 6” is scheduled for release June 2 on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X and Series S, and PC.
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