Street Fighter 6 embraces its weird world of fighting – Preview

We recently dived deep into Street Fighter 6, and saw just how strange and exciting the series can be.
Street Fighter 6 Blanka Capcom

The Street Fighter series is the crown jewel of Capcom’s vast slate of games. With a focus on compelling, sophisticated, and deeply satisfying fighting action that puts your wits and skills to the test, the series set the foundations of the fighting game genre as we know it, and has still managed to grow with every entry for the past 30+ years.

The upcoming release of Street Fighter 6 sees a game that continues to evolve and adapt to modern times. On top of reimagining its character roster – including some much-needed changes for returning icons Ryu, Chun-Li, and Ken – Capcom has developed a parallel combat system that caters to both veteran players and newcomers.

Street Fighter 6 also brings a generally more unified and cohesive dive into a world of fighting with a reimagined World Tour mode, which allows a character of your own making to bump shoulders and brawl with the series’ most iconic fighters.

Ahead of its release on 2 June 2023, I got to dive deep into the game’s core modes, face off against the main roster of 18 fighters, and take a look at the general flow of the game that exhibited how this next entry for the iconic series could be a new beginning for the franchise.

Read: Free Street Fighter 6 demo now available on all platforms

A World of Fighters

It’s clear that Street Fighter 6 is going for a more unified and cohesive fighting game experience, bolstered by an incredibly dynamic and visually exciting tone that gives its new and returning characters a particular pep that feels fresh and exciting.

Looking back on the series, it’s fair to say that it was never really interested in presenting a sprawling narrative, but rather, it provided a loose framework that served its pick-up-and-play nature – its had roots in the arcade, after all. The plot and tone that carried throughout Street Fighter’s varied history was, simply put, more about setting a vibe for its fighting action.

That particular vibe is still intact with Street Fighter 6. However, the new game hones that into a more directed and fleshed-out fighting game that has a distinct setting and world – a world where hand-to-hand combat in the streets is the norm, and becoming the world’s best fighter is something that every person aspires to be – kind of like becoming a Pokemon trainer.

This narrative element, which underlines all the core game modes of Street Fighter 6, is such a compelling addition to the series. In playing a near-complete build of Street Fighter 6, it honestly feels like Street Fighter is finally embracing the inherent wackiness and over-the-top nature of a ludicrous framework that has existed for decades – and that’s exciting.

There’s no better mode to show off that framework than World Tour. In this first proper story and adventure mode for the Street Fighter series, you can create your own custom fighter and set out to become a real World Warrior, training with the best fighters from around the globe – Chun-Li, Luke, Dhalsim, and presumably many more.

Image: Capcom

Starting in Metro City (the main setting for the Final Fight series, which exists in parallel to the Street Fighter canon), you’ll eventually travel to other locations across the world to become a better fighter. It’s a very anime-style approach to the plot, but so far it works, and fits in well with Street Fighter’s tone.

World Tour is one of Street Fighter 6’s most intriguing modes. It blends a social hub with quests, activities, and other minor events to uncover. One of my favourite events was encountering a wannabe superhero, dressed in a Capcom-inspired outfit, trying to fight against the Mad Gear gang. The whole mode gives me similar vibes to the Yakuza series, which revels in brutal combat, bizarre encounters, and the absurdity of the mundane.  

Image: Capcom

It’s such a wild idea for a Street Fighter game to have an adventure mode – something in a vein similar to the Mortal Kombat series – but I really dig the execution of it so far. Not only does it offer a fun and humorous take on the world of Street Fighter, and pays tribute to its many aspects, but it also incorporates references and gameplay elements from other Capcom franchises, like Final Fight and Rival Schools. There are several nice touches, and they do a lot to tie the larger game together. However, it’s not totally necessary to experience if you want to get to the meat of what Street Fighter 6 is all about.

A Fighter’s Paradise

Alongside World Tour, Street Fighter 6 also has the usual host of fighting game modes and areas to hone your fighting game skills – this is easily the most content-rich Street Fighter game at launch.

In addition to the traditional Arcade mode – which allows your chosen fighter to romp through a series of ladder matches and see a brief story that bookends their trial – there’s also a suite of versus match options, combo exhibition options, and even an ‘Extreme Match’ mode to turn up the weirdness by adding stage hazards and other bizarre combat modifiers.

Street Fighter 6 screenshot
An ‘Extreme Match’. Image: Capcom

I really enjoyed seeing some of Street Fighter’s classic modes and activities – such as Training, Standard VS, and even the Bonus game where you beat up cars and other vehicles – given an update. Street Fighter 6 makes some clear efforts to broaden its approach, offering a fully-featured fighting game to dive in and gorge on.

The modes on display do a lot to cater to both hitbox-focused pros who want to learn the ins and outs of each fighter and how they perform, and those who just want to dive in and have a good time brawling it out with friends.

From my experience, there’s less of a sink-or-swim feeling when coming to grips with the game’s features. Compared to previous games, Street Fighter 6 takes a much more practical and relaxed approach, and it will likely be far more inviting for newer players looking to take the plunge.

Street Fighter 6 screenshot
Image: Capcom

Come one, come all, to Street Fighter 6

There’s been much debate in recent years about how fighting games can cater to audiences of varying skill levels, and Street Fighter 6 introduces a pretty novel take on balancing newcomers with veterans with its Modern and Classic control schemes – with the Classic control type offering the traditional six-button layout and full-stick motion moves, and the Modern type streamlining the moves and buttons into simple button-presses to make it easier to pull off combo strings and special attacks.

I tried both types for several matches, and I saw plenty of value in offering these options for players – I didn’t see one side giving a dramatically unfair advantage over the other, at least at my enthusiast level.

For instance, the Modern control type allows players to be more mobile and pull off moves more quickly and reliably than the Classic type. However, you also sacrifice the full gamut of the character’s move set for a more limited loadout, given the limited button assignments.

The Classic control type obviously gives you no restrictions, however, you’ll also need to be able to naturally juggle and memorise the gamut of each character’s move set to play at peak performance. It’s an interesting balance, and I was impressed by how each character actually felt different to play when using different control styles.

Street Fighter 6 screenshot
Image: Capcom

I ended up favouring the Classic control layout more often, in order to give me more control over my character. But with the full release, it’ll be interesting to see where the discussions land on the balance of control types – especially since both styles will be legal at professional tournaments.

Though my personal Street Fighter ability will likely never hold a candle to Pro players, I still enjoy the fast action and satisfying combat of the series. I have a great deal of respect for Street Fighter, and so far, Street Fighter 6 looks like it will succeed in honing its fighting mechanics, while also giving its larger framework a much-needed makeover.

What really left an impression on me is that Street Fighter 6 is not only embracing its weird world of fighting game heroes duking it out in the streets, but it also shows a keen awareness of the community that has stood by the game over the last decades – mainly due to its efforts in balancing the roster and offering a pathway for new or lapsed players to get a sense of what the series is all about now.

Street Fighter 6 screenshot
Image: Capcom

Street Fighter fans will find a lot to like here. But the game also frames its action in a compelling way that feels broadly attractive, and that’s an exciting turn for the series.

Street Fighter 6 will be available on 2 June 2023 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S.

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Alessandro Fillari is a writer/editor who has covered the games, tech, and entertainment industries for more than 11 years. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, he previously worked at GameSpot and CNET as an editor specializing in games coverage. You can find him on Twitter at @afillari