Street Fighter 6 is the newest entry in Capcom’s 35+-year-old fighting game series that seeks to reinvent itself by catering to every player of every possible skill level. The title is split into three distinct game sections, World Tour, Battle Hub, and Fighting Grounds.
World Tour houses a full 25-hour RPG that lets you create an avatar and travel the world learning about the meaning of strength. You get mixed up in a shady underworld conspiracy and take place in fighting tournaments that span the globe. It’s an exceptionally goofy plot that gives your character an excuse to meet and learn from the eclectic roster of Street Fighter characters.
Your avatar will adopt the move sets of each fighter you meet after becoming their student and can swap between them freely. Special moves are earned after leveling up a particular style in fights and can be assigned to open slots regardless of the base style as long as their inputs don’t overlap. This allows you to mix and match special attacks with fighting styles in really fun and useful ways. Combat in the story is still traditional 2D Street Fighter action, but it can throw multiple enemies in at a time or introduce hazards like falling debris or powered-up bosses that beg you to stack your avatar with as many advantages as possible.
The story’s mission structure often challenges you to test out a technique like the new Drive Rush or overcome a combat scenario like fighting in the fatigued break state, but you can also be randomly attacked on the streets by roving groups of thugs. Many missions require backtracking to the mission givers to complete them, and while some of these interactions with iconic Street Fighter characters are priceless, it still becomes tedious.
The few open-world hubs like Metro City and Nayshall will reward you for exploring with fun interactions or items, but the majority of other global locales are single-screen backdrops, which is a bit jarring. It’s forgivable though, as visually the large hubs lack a lot of fidelity in comparison to the vibrant stage backgrounds. But the overall art direction, character designs, music, and visuals in the heat of fights are nothing short of spectacular.
Many of the classic game modes can be found in the Fighting Grounds. Here you can set up normal 1-on-1 matches, enter casual or ranked lobbies, or play the arcade single-player mode to learn about each fighter’s individual story. There are a host of tutorials and character-specific combo training modes to familiarize yourself with basic and high-level techniques. You’ll also find party game modes that let you add wacky modifiers and conditions to matches if you’re interested in far more casual play sessions with friends or family.
The Battle Hub is a massive online lobby that feels like a collision of the other two modes. Here, you’ll take your avatar into a giant arcade arena to hang out with other players and challenge them to fights or minigames at arcade machines. It’s a welcoming environment that encompasses the game’s more relaxed philosophy.
Street Fighter 6 introduces a new modern control scheme that assigns all your special moves to a single button with directional inputs as well as provides auto-combos on the other three face buttons. While some characters will lose access to specific attacks with this scheme, the Modern style opens up new possibilities that wouldn’t otherwise be possible due to the length and accuracy of Classic button inputs. Both options feel fun and responsive, but only time will tell which of these control schemes will prove integral to high-level play. Regardless, it’s fantastic that the Modern scheme even exists as a viable path for a novice to learn to play.
A lot of 2D fighters have resigned themselves to a hardcore audience. But Street Fighter 6 lowers the bar to entry and creates an easygoing environment to understand its mechanics all without alienating the core fans that just want to dive into its competitive meta. If you get one fighting game this year, make it Street Fighter 6. The game is out June 2 for $59.99 on Steam, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X | S.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Street Fighter 6.