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Street Fighter 6 review: Capcom has made the ultimate fighting game

Chun Li kicks Ryu in Street Fighter 6.
Street Fighter 6
MSRP $60.00
“Street Fighter 6 is perfect for both seasoned pros and those who have never picked up a fighting game.”
Pros
  • Approachable fighting mechanics
  • Stylish visuals
  • Ambitious World Tour mode
  • Great new control schemes
  • Enjoyable multiplayer Battle Hub
Cons
  • World Tour can be a grind

When I was first walking around Metro City in Street Fighter 6’s World Tour mode, I was shocked by just how diverse its residents were. I saw people of all shapes, sizes, and races walking the streets of this rough-and-tumble city. That included the most overweight people I’ve ever seen in an open-world area in a video game, which is something that stood out as an obese player myself. Although it is just one aspect of one mode and has little to do with the game’s great fighting mechanics, it reinforces a feeling I got everywhere I went in Street Fighter 6: This is a fighting game for everyone.

Yes, Street Fighter 6 is the fantastic fighting game one would expect from the latest entry in the genre’s premier series. It’s not just that, though. While hardcore, competitive fighting game fans will be satiated, a detailed tutorial and more welcoming control schemes mean that more types of players can get the hang of Street Fighter 6. Even if you aren’t a massive fan of the traditional fighting game experience, the World Tour mode is the densest and most comprehensive single-player offering ever in a fighting game, mixing elements from Street Fighter, Final Fight, and Yakuza to create a wholly unique RPG experience. And if you have friends who also picked up the game, you can hang out with them in the Battle Hub, showing off your World Tour avatar while playing casual online matches or classic Capcom games.

Street Fighter 6 feels like the most significant revelation for the fighting game genre since Street Fighter 2. No matter the skill level, all types of players will find something to enjoy here — and even feel represented in some way. And for the most part, it does all of those things well while looking incredibly stylish.

Fighting Grounds

I’m a fan of fighting games, but don’t consider my skill set to be a competitively viable level. I can pull off some flashy combos and certainly have my go-to characters in games like Samurai Shodown and Mortal Kombat 11, but I enjoy these games most for their lore, larger-than-life characters, and the satisfying nature of seeing those characters triumph in a fight. Fighting Grounds, a hub that contains Street Fighter 6‘s basic battles and arcade modes, wholly succeeds on that front.

Zangief kicks Guile in Street Fighter 6.
Capcom

From ranked online play to more gimmicky Extreme Battles, Battle Grounds provides a variety of options so players can tailor their fighting game match experience to their liking. At release, Street Fighter 6 contains a roster of 18 characters. This isn’t the biggest roster on the market, but each fighter is incredibly refined in how they look and play. Series staples like Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li are all present and accounted for here, with new looks that show us older, more world-weary versions of the characters. And newcomers like Jamie and Kimberly have instantly iconic designs and distinct movesets that make them feel different from any fighter in this series that has come before them.

No matter who you pick, every fighter in Street Fighter 6 has some inherent draw, and the game provides more than enough tutorials and training to allow new players to get the hang of the character. As always, this new version of Street Fighter is a fighting game all about the fundamentals. Understanding a character’s best moves and combos, the best times to use them, and where to place your character when you pull them off is crucial to coming out on top in the fight. What’ll take a bit more time to get used to are the new gimmicks layered on top of the core fighting mechanics.

The Drive Gauge enables fights that feel as dramatic as aWWE match.

Fights are full of excitement and have an intense push-and-pull feeling, thanks to the new Drive Gauge system. During a fight, players can use this meter to do things like parry, enhance special moves, and pull off colorful and disruptive Drive Impacts that can absorb incoming attacks and turn the tide of the fight. Players can burn out this meter if they use it all up, though, and will then be at a disadvantage as they wait for it to recharge. The Drive Gauge enables fights that feel as a dramatic as WWE match.

Still, this all might sound intimidating to those who don’t play many fighting games, even with Street Fighter 6’s plethora of detailed tutorials. That’s why it’s revelatory that Street Fighter 6 adds two new control styles that make it a lot easier for all players to see the coolest parts of a fight. There’s a Classic control scheme, where combos are pulled off with very precise stick movements and button presses, while Modern and Dynamic are present for those who don’t want to — or physically can’t — execute complex commands. Modern controls simplify the button press needed for techniques like Drive Impacts, combos, and special moves. Dynamic takes things a step further, with an AI choosing the best attacks for the player when they press a face button.

Kimberly and Luke use drive impacts on each other in Street Fighter 6.
Capcom

Even if you’re typically intimidated by fighting games, you’ll probably have a great time with Street Fighter 6 if you use Modern controls. Meanwhile, Dynamic controls allow younger players or disabled players with limited mobility to still get some satisfaction from less demanding button presses. It’s unlikely that anyone will beat a pro using these controls, but that’s not the point. These control schemes aim to make Street Fighter 6 a more accessible and approachable fighting game, and they do so spectacularly.

World Tour

Fighting games have a long history of trying to create alternate single-player modes and narrative content outside of arcade endings (which Street Fighter 6 still has). Mortal Kombat 11, for instance, boasts highly cinematic story modes that are like movies or TV shows with playable fights interspersed. While that’s the approach Street Fighter V took with A Shadow Falls, Street Fighter 6 is much more ambitious, creating a full-blown fighting game RPG with World Tour. If you don’t usually like fighting games but enjoy titles like Yakuza 0 or Final Fight, this alone makes the package worth the price tag.

The player and Li-Fen prepare to fight the Mad Gear Gang in Street Fighter 6 World Tour.
Capcom

Players create an avatar for World Tour mode with the deepest and most impressive customization options outside of Black Desert Online and last year’s Saints Row. Even if you don’t feel represented through someone in the main roster, you can craft a character you’re more comfortable playing as here. Once players do that, they are thrown into a 20-plus-hour globe-trotting journey where they meet classic Street Fighter and Final Fight characters as they search for the meaning of strength. It’s a lighthearted, over-the-top narrative seen through the eyes of a delightful doofus. Still, similar to the Like a Dragon games, it can take some darker, politically driven turns as it tackles topics like corrupt governments and shady charities taking advantage of struggling developing countries.

Those twists and turns kept me enthralled throughout the entire adventure, and that level of engagement is vital because this isn’t a short, linear romp; it’s a 20-hour RPG where I can fully explore Metro City and Nayshall, visit other countries like Italy and France, and fight almost every NPC I come across. Yes, you can walk up to pretty much anyone in World Tour and ask them to fight, or just Shoryuken them in the back to get some preemptive damage and start a fight. It’s like if you fought people instead of Pokémon in Scarlet and Violet.

A regular fight in Street Fighter 6 World Tour.
Capcom

While some fights play out in a traditional round-based format, at other points, players can fight multiple enemies at once in battles that feel closer to a beat ’em up like Final Fight. You’ll need to do a healthy mix of both to stay at a viable level throughout the adventure. Having these fights also feeds back into progression as players level up and gain items by completing in-battle challenges. It also allows players to rank up their relationship with a Master. During the story, players will encounter all 18 characters from Street Fighter 6’s launch roster and can convince them to become one of your Masters.

Doing so grants access to their fighting style, and using that style in combat will level up Style and Bond ranks with them, unlocking more of their special moves and Super Arts. The best part is that those can be mixed and matched, so you could potentially create a fighter that uses Ryu’s Hadoken, Chun-Li’s Spinning Bird Kick, Ken’s Shoryuken, and Guile’s Sonic Hurricane. I spent the most time using Dee Jay’s fighting style, but incorporated special attacks from other great melee characters like Luke and Marisa. Combine this with the customization options present, and World Tour lets you create tons of varied fighter moveset combinations.

While World Tour isn’t flawless, Street Fighter 6 is a better game for having it.

On the surface, one might not expect Street Fighter 6 to scratch the open-world RPG itch, but World Tour does so in an original way that also familiarizes players with the core fighting mechanics. If you play through the story and do many of the tutorial sidequests available across Metro City and Nayshall, you’ll have a deep understanding of all of Street Fighter 6’s systems.

World Tour does fall into some RPG clichés that made the experience more frustrating the further I got into it. There are a lot of fetch quests and other repetitive objectives that get stale the more you have to do them. In the game’s later stages, enemies’ health bars get bigger and bigger; while you can use items to heal during a fight or give any of your character’s stats a boost, you’ll be forced to grind on basic enemies to get strong enough to overcome certain fights.

I understand that endurance is an important skill for a fighting game player to have, but at times it becomes exhausting. Thankfully, that moment-to-moment fighting is enjoyable enough to make grinding a bit of fun. While World Tour isn’t flawless, Street Fighter 6 is a better game for having it. It makes the game appeal to a whole new batch of players and enables me to recommend Street Fighter 6 to RPG and beat ’em up fans just as much as I can to fighting game fans.

Battle Hub

The final piece of the package is Street Fighter 6‘s excellent online social space, Battle Hub. It may just be one room, but it’s a better Metaverse than Mark Zuckerberg could ever make. My experience with Street Fighter 6’s online features was limited prelaunch, although I have played against many other players at events like Summer Game Fest Play Days 2022 and during the game’s various betas. Overall, it looks like Street Fighter 6 is shaping up to have a solid online experience (though we’ll see how servers hold up at launch).

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Battle Hub allows its multiplayer experience to go a step further than just ranked or casual matches in Fighting Grounds. It’s a giant virtual arcade where players can show off their avatars, form Clubs, set the characters they want to fight as, and approach players at a virtual arcade cabinet to fight them in a 1v1 match. This spans traditional fights, the gimmicky Extreme Battles, and even Avatar battles, where one can fight other human players with the movesets made in World Tour.

Fighting games like Dragon Ball Xenoverse have had areas similar to this before, but Capcom executes the idea with grace here and successfully creates a virtual space that feels like the arcades of old. It also serves as a Cacpom and Street Fighter history museum of sorts; you can play arcade cabinets for classics like Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo or Street Fighter II: The World Warrior in the Battle Hub’s Game Center. It’s not the most complex multiplayer space available in gaming, but it hits all the right notes to become a solid virtual hangout spot for all types of fighting game fans. Gamers don’t need corporate-filled metaverses; we like fun virtual spots to hang out with friends in our favorite multiplayer games.

… the new gold standard for the genre.

Street Fighter 6 is a multiplayer experience that you can safely bet won’t be shut down anytime soon. The series has been well-supported post-launch by Capcom over the years, and we already know the DLC characters coming over the next year. New additions to Battle Hub and World Tour have also been promised, and Street Fighter 6 will eventually get a Battle Pass-like system called a Fighting Pass to deepen multiplayer progression. Even with titles like Tekken 8 and Mortal Kombat 1 on the horizon, Street Fighter 6 will be eternally entertaining, not just for hardcore fighting game fans, but anyone remotely interested in them.

From its control options to World Tour’s RPG setup, Street Fighter 6 ensures that it can be a fighting game for pretty much any type of player. You’re likely to find your physical, cultural, or gaming background represented within this game somewhere and have all of the tools at your disposal to go from flashy amateur play to seasoned pro, all in one of the best-looking games of this console generation. Street Fighter 6 is the ultimate fighting game and should be the new gold standard for the genre.

Street Fighter 6 was reviewed on Xbox Series X.

Editors' Recommendations

Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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