Street Fighter 6 is looking promising

Street Fighter 6! We’ve finally seen more than just the graphics and a bad logo. At the most recent Playstation State of Play, a whole three minute long trailer featuring numerous different game modes, characters, systems, and more was shown to us. I’ll be getting to each of these throughout this piece, but to sum it all up: Street Fighter 6 is looking very promising. 

It feels as though we are finally about to see a title that carries the weight of fighting games on its back with a budget that reflects that importance. From what we’ve seen so far it looks like Capcom finally understands where this game comes from, what has moulded its history, and my Lord, have they jam-packed it full of personality. 

Street Fighter 6 Breakdown

Drive system

Every version of Street Fighter has brought with it something new that defines that version of the game. For SFIV it was the focus attack and ultra meter, for SFV it was the V-Trigger system.

Street Fighter 6 will be bringing us the new Drive system, which comes with quite the handful of different options that can be used on both offence and defence, as well as serving as one of the big decision-makers and breakers of the game; managing this resource will be a big deal. 

There are several things you can do with Drive. First up is Drive Impact, an attack that absorbs incoming attacks and delivers a strong hit on your opponent. Next is Drive Parry which somewhat explains itself; essentially this mechanic allows you to parry the opponent’s attacks and gain a better advantage than just blocking. There is also a levelled up version of this mechanic known as a Perfect Parry, which rewards perfect timing with a slowdown and big punish opportunity. 

Next up is the Overdrive, and this is Street Fighter 6’s version of an EX attack. By spending some of your Drive gauge, you can enhance one of your character’s special attacks. Next is Drive Rush; this is a run-cancel ability that characters can do after performing a parry or an attack. This will be a big one for closing the distance on some of those tricky characters that like to keep some space between you. Finally, Drive Reversal acts as the game’s “get off of me” tool, similar to SFV’s V-reversal or SF Alpha’s alpha counter. 

All of these mechanics are dependent on the user’s Drive gauge, which is made up of 6 small bars underneath the character’s health bar. Each of these different mechanics has a different cost and reward. For example, the Drive Parry initially costs half a bar to perform; however, if you successfully land the parry then you will be rewarded with more Drive Gauge.

Street Fighter 6

Modern and Classic controls

One of the biggest hurdles that has plagued fighting games since Street Fighter II is the barrier to entry their control schemes provide. Historically, fighting games have used specific command inputs in order to perform special moves such as the Hadouken or Shoryuken. In the context of the game, it makes a lot of sense to assign these to complex inputs; the Shoryuken, for example, is an invincible attack that can hit the opponent out of the air. If something like this was able to be performed with a simple button press, it becomes a bit too powerful, so locking it behind a command balances the move out. That’s the theory, anyway. 

As much as this helps with the balance of the game, it does the opposite when it comes to helping casual players get into the fighting game genre. These tricky inputs feel unnatural at first and it’s only after repeatedly practicing these motions that you begin to feel comfortable with them. Again, this isn’t what someone playing their first fighting game is after; they want something where you can just jump in, press some buttons, and play with friends — even those who have never touched the game before. 

Introducing the new Modern control layout, which features easy-to-perform special attacks at the push of a single button. “But Conor, weren’t you just saying that single button special attacks would be too powerful?” I did indeed. However, this casual alternative for new players comes with a couple of trade-offs that help to balance things out without hurting those who just want to jump in and have some fun. 

By selecting the Modern control layout you gain access to only four special attacks — using Ryu on a PS5 controller as an example, you’d press Triangle to Hadouken, back on the D-pad + Triangle for Tatsumaki, down on D-pad + Triangle for Donkey Kick, and forward on D-pad + Triangle for Shoryuken. The trade-off is that you don’t get access to the other special moves that characters have access to outside of these four. Alongside this, you only get access to three of the usual six normal attack buttons — they’re now strong, medium and weak attack buttons rather than providing separate buttons for punches and kicks.

You still have the option of the Classic control layout, which gives you access to everything you’re used to if you’ve ever played a Street Fighter game — six normal attack buttons and all the possible special moves performed by motion inputs. This means that new players can pick up the game and have some fun with the Modern controls, then if they want to take it further and learn more about the game they can switch over to the Classic controls to level up their game. Or you can stick with Modern and continue to enjoy the game that way.

Street Fighter 6

Street Fighter 6 Game Modes

One of Street Fighter V’s biggest shortcomings was its complete lack of single-player content; it made the game feel like an unfinished product that wasn’t worth the price tag and totally alienated people who just wanted to hop into a new Street Fighter game and have some fun. The game didn’t even have an arcade mode at launch — this was a huge failure on Capcom’s part. 

This is why it’s incredibly important for Street Fighter 6 to be a feature-rich game that looks and feels like a triple-A title: one that both casuals and returning players can get something out of. And it’s looking promising; there have been three modes shown to us so far, each of which offers something distinctive.

The first is Fighting Ground, and this is the mode that houses everything you know and loves from previous Street Fighter games. Story mode, arcade mode, survival, trials — all of those kinds of features will be here. 

Next is the World Tour and while we don’t have any real details on the website just yet, we can tell from the trailer that this is a game mode where we can create our own character, wander around the streets of Metro City, meet up with classic Street Fighter characters and fight. Perhaps we’ll be able to customise our character’s moveset as we learn from each of the cast members, so you could learn Ryu’s Hadouken and also have Chun-Li’s Spinning Bird Kick. 

Finally, we have the Battle Hub. Again we don’t have any real details for this mode as yet, but from experience with other fighting game titles, this looks like an online area where we will be able to compete with others.

In the Battle Hub, there seems to be a big news screen, and this might be where Capcom posts out info and updates for the players to see while in-game. We also see a ton of arcade machines around the hub, which could well be where we meet up with players online to play matches. There are also tournament brackets visible on the walls of the room, so maybe there will be the ability to host tournaments from the Battle Hub as well — or perhaps official tournaments hosted by Capcom.

There is a ton to look forward to with Street Fighter 6, and it looks like transparency and community feedback is at the forefront of Capcom’s mind when it comes to developing this game. I think we might be seeing the return of Capcom as the king of fighting games once more!

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Conor Evans
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