Why Street Fighter 6 is exactly what fighting games need right now
Street Fighter 6 is a welcome refresher for the beloved fighting game series. Boasting a slew of single-player content, accessible control schemes, and a wealth of extra modes, Street Fighter 6 is exactly what the fighting game genre needs right now.
Street Fighter V is on its last legs as its successor, Street Fighter 6, looms on the horizon. For fans of the classic fighting game franchise, this upcoming title is looking pretty clean — both visually and technically. But it’s also a major shakeup from the Street Fighter formula that we’ve grown accustomed to over the years in many ways.
From its vibrant cast of new characters and opportunities for new lore (as it takes place after Street Fighter III), to its intense focus on single-player content that drops players right in the world of Street Fighter itself, this game is giving the franchise a fresh new feel that’s appealing to everyone, not just fighting game vets and hardcore fans. After the rough launch of Street Fighter V, it feels like the stars have finally aligned for a fresh, new take on the series.
Be the hero of your own story
As opposed to other Street Fighter games — and, indeed, many other fighting games in history — Street Fighter 6 is placing an unprecedented focus on single-player content. Now, fighting game fans can become the protagonist of their very own story in the Street Fighter universe as they meet with some of the series’ most iconic characters to hone their martial arts skills and work their way up from the streets of Metro City.
For some, this might seem like an superfluous addition that won’t appeal to competitive Street Fighter players. To others, like myself, this is basically everything I ever wanted in a fighting game. As a longtime fan of the franchise, I always envisioned a Street Fighter RPG where players can create their own characters and roam around the world, taking on various opponents and getting tutored by the likes of Ryu and Chun-Li.
Now, that dream has become a reality. And although it might not be an award-winning standalone title, it certainly offers newcomers a fun and exciting way to integrate themselves into the Street Fighter series (as well as providing a welcome reprieve from getting beat down against more experienced players in ranked mode).
Noobs just wanna have fun
That’s not the only thing that might appeal to newer players. Street Fighter 6 is implementing two simpler, more accessible control schemes for those who may have trouble with complicated inputs and combos: Modern and Dynamic controls. This marks the first time that Street Fighter, specifically, has done such a thing, and it’s one of the first major fighting games to ever offer three separate control patterns for both newer players, and those just wanting to mess around.
This particular facet of fighting games has long been a point of contention among die-hard players. After all, a major element of the genre is skill. Pulling off certain moves, combos, and parries requires well-practiced timing and precision. When it comes to competitive circles, players would rather fight against opponents on equal footing — not someone who’s getting a special move with a single button press.
That being said, a huge factor holding greenhorns back from getting into fighting games is the genre’s overall complexity. With a franchise as big as Street Fighter, it makes sense to expand its player base by opening up these mystifying doors and leveling the playing field, so to speak. After all, not everything has to be totally competitive; sometimes, people just wanna mash buttons and have fun!
Something for everyone
That being said, Street Fighter 6 also has its fair share of challenging gameplay aspects, not the least of which is its ‘Perfect Parry.’ Unlike the game’s standard Parry, which is achieved by holding down Medium Punch and Medium Kick, players can tap both buttons within a very small window to get a ‘Perfect Parry,’ which offers benefits like instant recovery and the ability to punish a wide array of attacks. On top of its new Drive system, which necessitates active meter management from players, Street Fighter 6 gives players most of the tools for battle right off of the bat, instead of having to build up a meter to use them.
Of course, we also can’t discount the game’s Battle Hub mode, which acts as an interactive server where players can go head-to-head in lobbies in both Street Fighter 6 and older titles. Although fighting game lobbies are nothing new, this makes the experience far more interactive and fun with a ton of fresh options.
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Hearkening back to the franchise’s classic arcade mode mini-games, Street Fighter 6 also boasts a slew of fun game modes to challenge both fighting game noobs and seasoned players alike. Extreme Battle Mode throws obstacles like a raging bull into the mix, making the stakes a bit higher — and also a bit goofier for all involved. It’s a creative way to lighten the game’s competitive atmosphere and offers hardcore players an even bigger challenge when taking on their rivals.
Putting the ‘street’ back in Street Fighter
Looking back at the past, it’s hard not to compare this upcoming game to the likes of Street Fighter III, both in terms of aesthetics and its status as a major shakeup for the series. Not only does the new game serve as a direct sequel to the Street Fighter III story, it also inherits the spirit of several other of the game’s characteristics. Street Fighter III pushed the technical envelope to an extreme degree, while also introducing a cast of mostly-new characters, with a completely fresh storyline that abandoned Shadaloo and instead offered up a new menu of baddies: The Illuminati.
Aesthetically, the Street Fighter III games also shook up the series’ aesthetic in a major way, placing a big focus on hip-hop music. (How could we ever forget Third Strike Online’s ‘Knock You Out?’) This seems to be the case for Street Fighter 6, as well, which notably changed Ryu’s classic theme song to a fresh, funky beat that feels like the old-school fighter is about to unleash the pain on his new-school rivals. He’s a changed man, now — and so is the rest of the game, which boasts a slew of catchy hip-hop beats that have me bobbing my head every time I open up the demo.
Of course, we can’t forget the game’s main theme. When I downloaded the beta and went to its game page on my PlayStation 5, my jaw dropped. We’ve come a long way from Street Fighter IV’s ‘Indestructible,’ and I gotta say, this is definitely a tune that will hype you up in preparation for Street Fighter 6’s explosive release.
The sound palette for this game is nothing short of masterful — and so are its graphics. Street Fighter 6 manages to combine realism with the series’ classic, cartoony style in the perfect way, maintaining its characters’ iconic designs while also showing their maturity in the years that have passed since Street Fighter V. New characters are an exciting feast for the eyes, while its returning mainstays have gotten a makeover that makes them look more stylish than ever.
More than just a fresh coat of paint
It’s clear that Street Fighter 6 has a definitive, cohesive vision, both for its gameplay and for its overall look and sound — one that takes a drastic and much-needed turn from its predecessors to invite a ‘New Generation’ of fighting gamers into the fold.
I’ll say it with my chest: I believe that Street Fighter 6 is the future of fighting games. With its focus on single-player content, a wide variety of control schemes, and new game modes, Street Fighter 6 is making fighting games more accessible than ever before. Boasting a sharp new look, fantastic new soundtrack, challenging new game mechanics, and a swath of new characters, this game is exactly what the fighting game genre needs. But, I leave it to the community to decide where its place in fighting game history will stand.