Street Fighter 6 Review

Richard Walker

What is the true meaning of strength? Is it how hard you can hit, or is it something less tangible, something that comes from deep within? Or perhaps it's how far you can chuck a fireball? You can ponder what the true meaning of strength is while playing Street Fighter 6's World Tour mode, a semi-open-world, story-driven affair, in which your custom avatar embarks upon a quest to – you guessed it – discover the true meaning of strength. And who'd have thought that in order to achieve this epiphany, you'd need to go around picking fights with all and sundry? Next time you're out on the town and see thugs getting into a ruck, remember, they're just seeking the true meaning of strength. It just happens to be after fourteen beers.


World Tour is a good place to begin your Street Fighter 6 journey, although purists will no doubt make a beeline for the Battle Hub or Fighting Ground for straight up, unadulterated 1v1 brawling. In World Tour, you'll find yourself initially learning how to fight under the tutelage of new guy Luke (following his debut as the final DLC fighter for SFV), hitting the streets alongside brash student Bosch. Before long, you'll be rubbing shoulders, trading blows, and learning new moves with several other 'masters', like Chun-Li, Ryu, Ken, Blanka, Juri, Dee Jay, E. Honda, and muscular newcomer Marisa, who has her red tresses styled into the shape of a gladiator's helmet. As you do.

While there are a fair few fetch quests and countless brawls to partake in during World Tour, Capcom is to be applauded for taking a stab at implementing a proper, full-blooded story mode in Street Fighter 6 - replete with light RPG elements like XP, skill trees and the like - where a conventional Arcade mode would have sufficed. For its duration, World Tour is enjoyable, even when you're battering random Mad Gear thugs with cardboard boxes on their heads for the umpteenth time. Set primarily in Final Fight's once crime-ridden Metro City (which has been mostly cleaned up by former Mayor Mike Haggar), you have free rein to run around fighting with anyone who crosses your path, while exploring alleyways and overpasses, or shopping for new duds.

Surprisingly deep, World Tour turns out to be the most elaborate tutorial ever, as each master gives you new moves and the story drip-feeds new mechanics to learn. You can ape any master's style, and then cherry-pick moves, making your avatar fighter unique, which is a nice touch. Regardless, your avatar will always look grotesque, no matter how hard you try. Anyway, by the time you're working towards qualifying for Haggar's fighting tournament in the arena that bears his name, you'll be well versed in much of what SF6 has to offer. And if that all sounds like a lot, then there's always the traditional tutorial and practice mode to be found in the Fighting Ground portion of the game. This is where you'll find the core Street Fighter experience – key modes like Arcade, Versus, and the frenetic Extreme Battle (bouts in which random modifiers keep things interesting).


Battle Hub is SF6's online arena, where the lobby is no longer a simple menu, but a three-dimensional place in which you can control your avatar, running around and interacting with other players, before sitting down at one of the arcade cabinets to spectate or take part in a fight. It's here that you'll discover how vital Street Fighter 6's new 'Drive System' is – mastering it essentially means life or death when playing online, given that you can use a Drive Parry manoeuvre to deflect attacks (for as long as your Drive Gauge will allow, before you're placed in a 'Burnout' state). Drive Impacts and Drive Reversals can turn the tide during a showdown, too, so getting to grips with the system's nuances will naturally give you an edge. The Drive System is SF6's new secret sauce, adding a wonderful tactical layer to Capcom's long-running series.

Using the default four-button Modern control system, it's far easier to juggle special moves and Drive skills, while the Dynamic control setting enables button mashers to get something out of the game. If you're an old hand at Street Fighter (like myself), you'll naturally opt for the Classic control system, with good old quarter-rolls of the d-pad required to unleash special moves (really, if you're not throwing Hadoukens like this, then what are you doing?). Don't expect to jump online with the Modern control system and expect an easy ride, though – you'll still get hammered if you don't have a handle on the fundamentals. But make no mistake, this is by far the most welcoming and accessible Street Fighter game to date. Come one, come all. It's great.

SF6's also brings a fair few newcomers to its roster, placating the old guard with all eight Street Fighter II 'World Warriors' (Ryu, Ken, Blanka, Chun-Li, Dhalsim, E. Honda, Guile, Zangief), two Super Street Fighter II characters (Cammy and Dee Jay), while Super SF IV’s Juri, Luke from SFV return, alongside Kimberly, Jamie, Manon, Marisa, Lily, and new psycho-powered villain JP, who are entirely new to the series. Eighteen characters might seem a mite paltry, compared to other recent fighting games with their bulging rosters in the dozens (and the absence of classic boss characters like M. Bison, Sagat, Vega, and Balrog is a blow), SF6's small, more curated roster hints at Capcom's focus in ensuring each one has its place – quality over quantity, as it were.


As for Street Fighter 6's chunky art style, it's difficult not to go back and forth on whether it's visually appealing or not. In World Tour, many of the NPCs (clearly generated using the game's intricate character customisation tools) look ugly, while the masters you encounter look good in cutscenes, but look bizarre in-game. You need only gaze at Ken's unusually squashed head (or, indeed, your own custom-made abomination) to wonder what's going on. Given that Capcom has built this using the usually stellar RE Engine, it's baffling that SF6 lacks a certain visual 'wow' factor, and a chugging frame rate during fights in World Tour only compounds things. That said, outside of World Tour, Street Fighter 6 looks fantastic, running and playing like a dream, whether you're playing online or sat on a sofa playing with friends.

Crucially, Street Fighter's universal appeal remains intact in Street Fighter 6. The game has changed and added enough new stuff without compromising what makes the series unique. In World Tour, the visual presentation can be a little rough around the edges, but the depth, detail, and bonus unlockables on offer more than make up for it. Nonetheless, as a package, taken with Fighting Ground and Battle Hub, Street Fighter 6 is terrific – few fighting games cram in this much content, and fewer still manage to imbue it all with such effortless verve. Make no mistake, this is Capcom firing on all cylinders, abundantly aware of the true meaning of strength.

Street Fighter 6

As Street Fighter approaches its 36th year, Capcom proves that it still has what it takes to make a cracking fighting game. Street Fighter 6 not only feels fresh and vital thanks to its excellent World Tour mode and online Battle Hub, but it cements the series' credentials as one of the best around.

Form widget

None of the music is quite as ear wormy as the seminal tunes from Street Fighter II, but then, what is? Voice work is decent, and if you enjoy hip hop, you'll dig the soundtrack.


In Fighting Ground and Battle Hub, there's no faulting Street Fighter 6's RE Engine graphical fidelity and performance. In World Tour, things are a tad inconsistent, unfortunately.


Unmistakable, beautifully familiar, still brilliant, Street Fighter 6 is sensational stuff. Modern and Dynamic controller options, meanwhile, welcome in newbie players.


World Tour offers a nice slab of story, while Fighting Ground has all of the usual modes you'd expect. Battle Hub is the place to do all of your online scrapping. Brill.


A list divided into three chunks. Battle Hub is the main bit, while World Tour and Fighting Ground are treated as DLCs, which is odd. Loads of grind as always.

Game navigation