Street Fighter 6 hands-off preview – the fighter that really is for everyone

Street Fighter 6 seems to be doing the right thing with Capcom’s recent announcements.

A stark contrast to the disheartened revelation of Street Fighter V, the game exudes personality and style in a way I haven’t seen since Street Fighter III over twenty years ago. The past weeks, after the big gameplay reveal at the Summer Game FestivalI had the chance to take a close look at the game from behind closed doors to get a feel for the game and understand the flow of the new combat system.

I love fighting games and play them almost every week (in fact, I’ve been playing every day for the last few weeks), so I was really curious how Street Fighter 6 differs from the rest, and what it does to try and close the much-maligned skills gap that seems to be growing between newcomers and veterans as the genre matures.

The game wants to teach you and does it stylishly

The first thing I got to see was the game menus and the way it presents the move lists to the player. Not only are they super sleek and stylish (the whole game is, after all), but they’re also very friendly to newcomers. As you can see below, each move has a short video associated with it to show you what each move looks like.

Images represent a game that is still in development.

While it lacks the elements that more dedicated experts are often obsessed with, like frame data, it’s simple and accessible. In fact, in the menus I saw that there are character-specific trials as well – so the game should provide you with some good tools for getting better no matter who you play.

Modern control mode is an entry point for newcomers

As I mentioned before, so many fighting games flood players with lists of combos and skills their character can do. It’s gotten to the point where so many of my friends who play casually don’t even bother picking up the game to learn it.

So many people need instant gratification these days, and I totally get it, but the way Street Fighter 6 gives you options with controls could provide that gratification without ruining the balance of the game. The modern control mode can be a real game-changer for players who want to get into fighting games but are too overwhelmed.

Street Fighter 6 Preview
Images represent a game that is still in development.

Essentially, this means you can perform certain moves and combo strings without complicated input. On the one hand, this means that those who are less handy can easily keep up with those who are. On the other hand, it’s not an “easy” mode – using modern mode will eventually limit what you can do compared to standard mode, as many of your normal attacks will be replaced by the simpler special input.

So why bother? Frankly, it feels like a really good effort to get new people into the game – a hurdle that so many fighting games often struggle with. It feels like the perfect gateway to let people pick up a fighter, eventually giving people the confidence to switch to standard controls and unlock the potential for themselves and their character. And that’s okay.

Think of the controls of Smash Bros, but in Street Fighter. A real game changer for newcomers.

The commentary system is ingenious and boosts your matches

When I first heard of the commentary system I honestly thought it was a bit of a gimmick and didn’t see the value in it. But when I watch so many matches with it, I have to admit that it is very impressive. Essentially, any of the commentators can be selected for a match – so far there’s one English and one Japanese – and through the use of dynamic AI they’ll comment on your match instantly.

Street Fighter 6 Preview
Images represent a game that is still in development.

This is a great addition. Not only does it add hype to each of your matches, especially the close calls, but the way it’s stitched together makes it feel like the commentator is actually there. There are also references to other games and characters in the commentary.

To further capture the feeling, the commentators themselves are real people. Both Jeremy Lopez (English) and Ryutaro Noda (Japanese) have provided professional commentary on real Street Fighter tournaments – and I have a feeling there will be more in the final game when it launches next year.

It is artistically the most notable Street Fighter game in ages

I’m surprised I got this far without saying this. Again, a far cry from Street Fighter V’s relatively simple presentation, Street Fighter 6 exudes style and flair. Powered by RE Engine, the same engine that powers the recent Resident Evil games and Devil May Cry 5, the characters all have a more photo-realistic approach as their foundation, while still remaining highly stylized. It’s really exciting to see what the rest of the cast will look like in this new visual style.

Street Fighter 6 Preview
Images represent a game that is still in development.

But what’s even more exciting about Street Fighter 6 is how it moves. Aside from the sprite-based games of yesteryear, Street Fighter 6 seems to be the smoothest animation in the franchise. The way everything moves and the way special attacks land with huge splashes of color that stain the floor sounds a bit wacky at first. But such a bold stylistic choice paid off in motion – it’s without a doubt one of the most striking and visually fantastic fighting games I’ve ever seen.

There are more modes beyond what we’ve already seen

The reveal trailer introduced us to the new World Tour mode that brings Street Fighter to the open world for the first time. Battle Hub seems to be a huge lobby with announcements while you can meet friends to match in games. But other modes seem to have been included as well – and our first look at the menu suggests there’s more than meets the eye for Street Fighter 6.

Street Fighter 6 Preview
Images represent a game that is still in development.

The Arcade mode includes options to play against enemies as usual, such as Story- and ladder-style battles. The options practice pack includes the character tests mentioned above, as well as specific combo tests to help players refine their game. Versus modes will also return, but we’ve seen a team fight mode that debuted in updates to Street Fighter V but seems to be here from the start.

Finally, “Extreme Battle” mode seems like a party style mode that adds special rules and crazy mechanics to battles. There could be even more to come, but for now there seems to be a nice wealth of options in Street Fighter 6.

Both the netcode and online modes will be robust and inclusive

I’ve been into Street Fighter V for a while, but for its time it was way ahead of its time. Full cross-play across the platforms wasn’t an industry standard six years ago (and still isn’t for some modern fighting games), so it’s great to see Capcom continue this trend with Street Fighter 6.

Street Fighter 6 Preview
Images represent a game currently in development.

When released with full cross-play across all platforms at launch, there’s bound to be a way to play with random people or your friends wherever or however they play. In fact, Street Fighter 6 will feature rollback netcode, which is less prone to lag, and likely to be developed by more than one person

All in all, Street Fighter 6 is really poised to become not only the best Street Fighter in the series, but also one of the strongest fighters on the market. His willingness to tweak accessibility strategies to invite new players, without compromising what appears to be a deep and robust combat system, is to be commended. Hopefully, that trend will only continue as the roster progresses.

Street Fighter 6 launching in 2023 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.

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