Street Fighter 6 is the ultimate fighting game toolbox
Learning a fighting game can be like learning to play an instrument. You need to appreciate the basics first: how you hold it, where you put your fingers, and what it can do. With practice, you’ll learn chords and melodies and develop skills that will help you achieve any sound you want. Fighting games, especially when played at a high level, require a commensurate amount of dedication. You spend dozens of hours learning your combos, how to handle the space between you and your opponent, and how to punish a rival fighter for a mistake.
Street Fighter 6 is no different. It’s a wild combination of complex systems and mechanics that can leave you perplexed the first time you sit down to play it. After 35 years of Street Fighter games, you may be familiar with the basics. But a new addition to the series, the Drive System, adds a unique bar that lets you parry, perform powerful moves, or make special attacks even more lethal, introducing a daunting layer of depth.
You can play on the other side Street Fighter 6 casual, making decisions and beating up your friends; you will love it. Dive deeper than the surface, however, and you’ll be rewarded.
Street Fighter 6 developer Capcom has gone to great lengths to give players the tools they need to get better. World Tour, a brand new single-player mode that lets you create your own fighter, level them up and unlock moves as you explore different parts of the world, is a remarkable tutorial disguised as a story mode.
World Tour starts you off with just the basics, and a master to guide you on your path. They send you on missions and quests through the semi-open world of Metro City, meeting new characters, buying fancy clothes and taking on everyone you encounter. No one is safe: mimes, old ladies, punks who wear cardboard boxes on their heads for some reason. World Tour is part tutorial, part comedic adventure, with battles that get progressively harder.
What makes World Tour so brilliant is how few tools you’re given in the beginning: punches, kicks and maybe a projectile and an uppercut. You’ll learn them until they become a part of you, not only through street fighting, but also through fun mini-games, such as one about making pizza that surreptitiously teaches you basic Street Fighter move inputs. Secondary missions and challenges are pretty bare bones, asking you to beat rivals with specific attacks or moves, but they reinforce the idea of learning and reward you without the frustration of getting stomped online by other players. Other fighting games just throw you to the wolves and hope you figure it out.
World Tour does not come without reservations. Many locations are boring dioramas with set backgrounds, dialogue is often cheesy (to say the least), exploration is quite limited, and the overall story isn’t all that interesting. But this is the first time in the Street Fighter series that you can find a complete 20-hour campaign willing to keep you entertained while also teaching you the fundamentals of the extensive combat system.
Beyond the World Tour mode, Street Fighter 6 offers a wide variety of offline and online modes where you can test what you’ve learned so far, to keep progressing in an endless journey of perfecting your instrument. A robust training mode, trials, individualized character guides with helpful tutorials, and even the ability to watch friends and strangers play, while checking their frame data in real time, are invaluable.
Battle Hub serves as a new social space where you meet other players and sit in arcade cabinets waiting for your turn to battle. Groups of odd-looking avatars gather around arcade cabinets, each trying to take out one player who keeps winning, in a scene that reminded me of the glory days of arcade fighting games. It may take a minute to extract all available options, and some aspects, such as how to change your control scheme, can be presented in a more intuitive way. But the hub reminds me of Sony’s now-closed PlayStation Home, meaning that in the friendliest way possible, with its charming presentation and limited but joyful ways to interact with other people.
Online matches feel smooth, even playing against players in other countries, based on my experience with the game’s beta testing and limited time frame during the rating period. It’s quick and easy to get into a match. More importantly, rematches can happen in just a few seconds, an improvement that will keep you asking for “just one more fight”.
Street Fighter 6 takes a step further in welcoming new players by revisiting the basic controls. As an alternative to Street Fighter’s legacy six-button control system, Capcom introduces new streamlined modern and dynamic control schemes.
Modern controls effectively reduce the six-button layout to three, plus a dedicated “dedicated” button. There’s also an “assist” button that helps you pull off a combo that can end with a super move without breaking a sweat. Simple, yes, but you lose an important number of options and strategic resources for your fighter.
These streamlined controls allow new players to get to know their characters and enjoy the feel of combat without needing the dexterity to perform a double quarter circle forward or dragon thrust move. When you start a new fighting game, it is much more important to learn about distances, footsies, situations where you can punish your opponent and other basic aspects than learning long combos or difficult inputs.
The Dynamic schedule, on the other hand, is designed for players who just want to have fun. Press any attack button, regardless of the distance or the button itself, and the game will do the rest for you. This goes against the idea of making you better in the long run, but it’s ideal for those who want to play a few quick and dirty matches at a party. (Dynamic controls are only available in offline battles.)
None of these features would matter without a good cast of playable characters, and Capcom knows that. At launch there are 18 unique fighters that look and play with a distinctive roster of new and familiar faces that is easily the strongest lineup since Street Fighter 3: 3rd battle.
Highlights include JP, a glamorous old Russian man who attacks with nerve-racking tricks and grabs from long distances; Marisa, a Roman juggernaut with intimidating armored attacks and chargeable punches that threaten to break the bones of her opponents; and Manon, a beautiful French dancer with a surprising balance between long range kicks and powerful grabs. Classic fighters like Chun-Li, Blanka, Zangief and E. Honda round out the roster with some of their strongest designs ever, and each is armed with a vast roster of moves, combos and specials.
Everything in it Street Fighter 6 looks and sounds incredible, from the breathtaking animations of the characters as they perform even the most basic moves, to their fun gestures in the versus screen, to the art of the menus and the hip-hop tunes that play during battle.
Street Fighter 6The developers of ‘s went all in, delivering spectacle and approachability, robust tools and tutorials, all without limiting the game’s potential. You’ll find a deeply layered combat system that doesn’t limit player expression; instead of trying to simplify things by reducing character movement and options, you get a plethora, all correctly explained and presented, encouraging your own discoveries.
In an age of an overwhelming amount of content in every type of media, it almost sounds ridiculous to suggest that someone spends a large chunk of their time on a fighting game and works on it for weeks, months, or even years. But for players willing to try it, learning how to make your own music, in the form of digital street battles, can be as satisfying and rewarding as few things in life. Street Fighter 6 is the largest and most accessible pack in the franchise to date, waiting for you with open, friendly arms.
Street Fighter 6 comes out on June 2 Playstation 4, PlayStation5, Windows pc, and Xbox Series X. The game was reviewed on PS5 using a pre-release download code from Capcom. Vox Media has partnerships. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find additional information on Polygon’s Ethics Policy here.