Street Fighter 6 made a strong first impression during its State of Play gameplay unveiling. It made an equally strong impression when I went hands-on with its traditional 1v1 Fighting Ground experience at Summer Game Fest Play Days.
Thanks to the technical prowess of the RE Engine, Street Fighter 6 is a marvelous game to look at. Its gameplay is equally impressive as it’s deepened with the new Drive Gauge and Modern Control type. While being the next grand mainline entry in the most important fighting game series of all time is a tall order, Street Fighter 6 already seems prepared to take on that challenge.
The build of the game I played let me go hands-on with four characters: Ryu, Chun-Li, Luke, and brand new character, Jamie. Ryu and Chun-Li’s redesigns look fantastic, while Luke and Jamie have distinctive styles as relative newcomers to the franchise. In general, Street Fighter 6 is an utterly gorgeous game.
Powered by the RE Engine behind games like Resident Evil Village, Street Fighter 6’s character models are incredibly detailed and colorful. The inner-city alleyways of Metro City and the cherry-blossom-filled Genbu Temple I fought at were vibrant and lively, and pre-game presentation always got me hyped as the Street Fighter characters pumped themselves up for the impending fight.
Fights and special moves aren’t too visually busy, so you’ll always clearly understand what moves you’re doing. Drive Impacts create gorgeous, paint-like streaks across the screen, giving these disruptive moves more satisfying visual feedback. Especially on next-gen consoles, Street Fighter 6 will be one of the prettiest fighting games ever.
Street Fighter 6 loads super fast-on PS5 too, with rematches loading nearly instantly. Those quick load times helped ensure I stuck around for even longer than my allotted demo time, but so did Street Fighter 6’s satisfying gameplay.
Street Fighter titles have always been very lauded and popular fighting games. As genre trailblazers, the last few Street Fighters mainly focus on evolving the combo-based gameplay that sets a standard for the rest of the genre. Street Fighter 6 is no different.
You’ll punch and kick as your favorite characters, stringing together button press and stick movements to pull off wild special moves and combos. Many of the iconic combos and button presses return just as you remember them, so you shouldn’t have trouble pulling off a Hadoken a Ryu when you finally get your hands on Street Fighter 6.
In Street Fighter 6, players draw from two different gauge meters. The more traditional Super Gauge lets your character pull off their special moves. Meanwhile, the new Drive Gague lets players do up to five colorful offensive and defensive moves like the Drive Impact counter, the Drive Parry, and more. Players must manage this meter wisely, as they’ll take more damage if it fully depletes. It doesn’t revolutionize the fighting game experience but adds an exciting risk-vs-reward element to each fight.
Even though I’ve played less than an hour of Street Fighter 6, it already feels fantastic to play and like a solid evolution for this classic series. For fans that might not be as familiar with fighting games, Street Fighter 6 isn’t leaving them in the dust.
This game introduces the Modern Control type, which lets players execute special moves like the Hadoken or the Shin Shoryuken with simple button presses. Holding R2 and mashing triangle is much easier to understand than a complicated string of button press and stick movements, so fans who want to see each character’s flashiest moves should enjoy this new control scheme.
Playing with the Modern control type can feel stilted as you’re only doing combos and missing out on the simple punches and kicks that can do wonders in stringing together moves. Still, I’m all for this feature making Street Fighter 6 more approachable. It will even be handy in helping me see the coolest moves from every character in the roster without having to memorize and master lots of complicated inputs.
So, while Street Fighter 6 doesn’t boldly rethink what fighting games can be, it’s a beautiful, enjoyable, and approachable title that should recapture the hearts of fighting game fans, many of whom this series helped create. It was the best AAA game on the show floor at Summer Game Fest Play Days, and I’m excited to play more in the future and learn what the World Tour mode is.
Street Fighter 6 will be released for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S in 2023.