If you were a kid in the early 90s you already know that Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter are the granddaddies of fighting game. Mortal Kombat brought digitised characters, ultra-violence and controversy. Street Fighter brought deep fighting mechanics, quirky characters, and a focus on being family-friendly. Amazingly, both franchises are still going strong today.
Street Fighter 6 saw release on June 2nd 2023, making it the most recent entry. For the most part, the community is happy with the game. Universal praise is being heaped on the dramatically expanded single-player experience, the elaborate tutorials, and the inclusion of solid rollback-based net code. Here is our look at the latest fighting game phenomenon.
If you don’t know what a fighting game is, you’re clearly from another planet. Street Fighter 6 is the 6th major entry into the franchise, coming after the controversial entry that was 5. Street Fighter 5 is widely criticised for being underbaked, releasing with very little content, and charging exorbitant amounts for new characters. Fortunately, 6 improves in all of these departments in a big way.
Street Fighter 6 offers 18 fighters as of release, 2 more than 5, has a single-player World Tour mode, and heavily focuses on welcoming new players. There have also been very few technical problems at release, with the game and online play being impeccable. Overall, as far as new AAA game launches go, Street Fighter 6 is another homerun for Capcom.
The biggest new addition to the franchise by far is the World Tour mode. While 5 had virtually nothing for players to do in single-player, 6 offers a fully fleshed out single player experience. In World Tour players enter into an RPG experience similar to the Yakuza franchise. A semi-open world can be explored, a story unfolds, and players are able to level up and evolve a custom character. Custom characters can be tweaked with new move sets, different fighting styles, and an extensive catalogue of clothing. Most fascinating of all is that custom characters can even be taken over to the Fighting Hub, allowing for online play against other players’ creations.
The work that’s gone into the World Tour mode is undeniable, almost feeling like an entire additional game to the usual Street Fighter offering. The mode is also definitely a big step towards attracting new players. Players usually intimidated by fighting games can now, for the first time, approach the industry from a stance of confidence. Which is to say; the franchise is no longer entirely about forcing new players into competitive fights, most of which they’ll initially lose.
The Fighting Hub is the new online lobby system for the franchise. Instead of simply logging in, sitting back, and waiting for a match, players can now actively move around a virtual lobby. The lobby is made up of multiple game consoles, each of which acts as a ‘versus’ node. If you want to start a challenge, you sit at a node and wait for a challenger to approach. There is, however, no knowing how long it will take for a challenger to step up, so you can perhaps browse Casino Grand Bay on your phone while you wait. Or, of course, you can also browse the Fighting Hub and look for players already waiting for a challenger.
The Fighting Hub is enormously impressive in almost every regard. Again, it’s clear that an incredible amount of work has gone into designing the hub. Smooth jazz plays over the simulated intercom system, enormous screens display information about the best fighters, and a virtual arcade even lets you play old Capcom games.
Yes, you heard that last point right; Street Fighter 6 provides classics like Final Fight and Street Fighter 2 for free, built right into your copy of Street Fighter 6. If you aren’t impressed yet, it’s probably because you’re trying hard to be unimpressed.
As far as characters at release are concerned, Street Fighter 6 offers a respectable catalogue. As mentioned, there are 18 characters currently available, as of 16 June 2023. The character list includes classics like Ken, Ryu, Guile, Chun-Li, Blanka, Dhalsim, and E Honda. There are also a few new characters, such as the Gen Z focused Luke. All in all, it’s difficult to find anything to complain about with the character list, especially since new characters will inevitably be added in the new future.
As to how much new downloadable characters cost, and if the prices will be acceptable, remains to be seen. Hopes are that Capcom has learned from the controversies that unfolded with Street Fighter 5.
As every fighting game fan knows, the genre lives or dies on its online experience. Ping is a universal problem, potentially ruining an otherwise pleasant experience. The good news is that, across the board, Street Fighter 6 plays like a dream, even in online battles. The new rollback net code, for those unaware, makes it possible to enjoy fighting games even with a ping of around 200. By simply dropping and updating animation frames, based on a prediction algorithm, even a ping of 200 feels smooth.
Of course, some purists still insist on pings of 100 or less. Either way, players from around the world can still get in, enjoy online fights, and participate in the action. Rollback net code is a major leap forward for the genre as a whole, making fighting games more accessible than they’ve ever been.
Capcom is hitting it out of the park lately. From Resident Evil: Village, to Resident Evil 4 Remake, and now Street Fighter 6, it seems like the company can’t make a mistake. If Capcom keeps this up it likely won’t be long before they’re amongst the most beloved developers in the world.
At least, they’ll be amongst the most beloved developers depending on how much they charge for new character DLC. Current hype and goodwill can all still come crashing down, assuming that prices are unreasonable. Hopes are that Capcom keeps the goodwill going, doesn’t get greedy, and respects that video games are fast becoming very expensive. If they don’t, players will likely head on over to Diablo 4 instead.