Street Fighter 6 was easily one of the busiest booths at Summer Game Fest: Play Days. It was rare to walk through the venue and not see all eight stations not busy with eager journalists looking to cram in just one more fight, while waiting for another appointment, and for good reason. With bright visuals, fluid animation, and tight controls, Street Fighter 6 was an early taste of a fighting game built for the fans while carrying forward what has made the series so exciting up to this point.
With only four fighters available to play, Chun-Li, Jamie, Luke and Ryu, the demo on display for Street Fighter 6 was clearly an early taste of what is still to come. There is plenty of development time still ahead for the team with the game not launching until 2023, but what is ready shows capcom is listening, and working to deliver an experience worthy of the Street Fighter name.
Let’s get this out of the way upfront, Street Fighter 6 is very much built on Street Fighter 5. The engine at the core of the game is unmistakable, and while it is a great fighting experience, it very much feels like what fans have been asking for from the previous entry, only as a full-priced new entry in the series. Gone are many of the things that held Street Fighter 5 back from being a jump in and fight experience, boiling down the series to the essence of what makes it fun, but 6 goes well beyond that, bringing the best legacy elements of the series in a bright and exciting way.
Starting out with the visuals, Capcom has done a great job polishing up this entry, making it easily the best Street Fighter has ever looked. The bright visuals and polished classic painting look work beautifully in contrast with the street art aesthetic this entry offers. The competing styles allow for a striking level of vibrancy before, during and after a fight, giving a sense of the brutality and artistry at the core of the fighting experience.
Character movement is shockingly fluid, showing just what is possible when a developer takes the time with the systems on offer. The power being the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 means you never need to worry about a jittery 30 fps experience, giving the characters and move sets the ability to shine and never hold back a match. You know when a button is pressed, and you time it perfectly, you will land that final blow or block a strike that would have cost you a victory. You don’t need to guess at how your combos will land, it is your skill against your opponent, the way it should be.
Street Fighter 6 is also taking some of the best aspects of past instalments, including Street Fighter 4, Street Fighter Alpha, and of course Street Fighter 5. They all brought something different to the table, and seeing Capcom combine them in an experience that feels so tight is nothing short of a master stroke. There is a reason Street Fighter has stood the test of time, and this latest entry puts that on full display for everyone to see.
Beyond even the move sets, the characters, or the visuals, Street Fighter 6 just feels tight throughout the game. Street Fighter 5 saw its fair share of flak due to the bloated nature of the game. To put it simply, you should not be fighting against the game to enjoy a match, the thing the game is made to experience.
From the demo at Summer Game Fest, Street Fighter 6 rectifies this major issue. You no longer need to struggle to enjoy yourself, with each new journey into fighting taking seconds, not minutes. Pick your character, set your preferences and enjoy the core of the experience. This is the way things should have been in 5, and thankfully Capcom has listened and delivered with this entry into the series.
“Street Fighter 6 is in good hands.”
The move sets manage that fine line between familiar and fresh, giving a diverse set of characters, all looking as fantastic visually as they are to control. Jumping into a round with Ryu, everything had a level of refinement I did not expect from an early slice of the game. Punches, kicks and combos all worked to deliver a tight and fluid bout.
Each match won felt earned, and each match lost felt deserved, something that can often be lost with modern fighting games. I gravitate to Street Fighter for a polished core experience that happens to look good in the process, and during the time with the demo this is what hit me full force each match I jumped into.
Capcom has made some changes to make it one of the more accessible entries in the series. Included in Street Fighter 6 are two control schemes to best fit new and veteran players. If you are a fighting game guru, the classic is still present ready for you to dive in and enjoy. For people not as proficient in the genre, the new modern control layout makes it easier to chain and plan out attacks, and perform some of the more advanced moves.
Taking down the scheme from six attack buttons down to three, it is much more accessible for people not used to the nuances of Street Fighter. With the modern layout in place, to perform the advanced moves, you can simply hold down the Special Move button in combination with a direction input, and you are ready to fight, very similar to Smash Bros.
With so much history behind Street Fighter, many of the more complex concepts are well beyond newer players, thankfully the new Drive system in Street Fighter 6 seems to help with the transition. Drive System gives you 6 full Drive meter bars at the start of the match, giving you access to powerful offensive and defensive moves right from jump.
With options for both defensive and offensive moves, the Drive system gives a new, and potentially exciting way to play your favourite Street Fighter characters. There are a number of moves that can be used: Drive Impact, Drive Parry, Overdrive, Drive Rush and Drive Reversal, all having a place within a tight match. Also, should your meters be depleted, you will enter an exhaustion state that could cost you a match, so they need to be used with care.
Still early in development, Capcom has plenty to work on to make a full entry into the legendary series, but if the demo at Summer Game Fest is any indication Street Fighter 6 is in good hands. Visually stunning, and polished to a fine sheen, this is an experience worthy of the legacy, and should the final release deliver on this promise, Street Fighter could be back in a big way, on the fighting game circuit, and on consoles of fans everywhere.