Put the volleyballs away. The trailer for Dead or Alive 6 is here, and in a departure from previous entries, the next title in Team NINJA’s 3D fighting game series eschews scantily-clad avatars and out-there level design for real fighters who really pummel each other in breathtaking fidelity. Never before has Dead or Alive looked this good, or this brutal.

On Monday, Koei Tecmo offered a first look at Dead or Alive 6 online, showing the return of classic characters like Ryu Hayabusa, Hayate, Kasumi, Helena Douglas, Zack, and Jann Lee, back in the world famous martial arts tournament. The trailer also reveals a new take on the Power Blow, introduced in 2012’s Dead or Alive 5, where certain strikes get the up-close slo-mo treatment (think Mortal Kombat X, but not as lethal). The game has an “early 2019” release date for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

In a previous reveal by IGN days prior to E3 2018, producer/director Yohei Shimbori explained that the series is taking a more accessible approach to its fighting system — inspired by the accessibility of smartphones — while also de-emphasizing sex appeal, a regressive reputation closely associated with the franchise since it first hit arcades in the late ‘90s. This includes outfitting its female characters in more modest costumes that emphasize practicality over looks.

Dead or Alive 6
Nasty. 

“We wanted to make a more cool and mature Dead or Alive this time, and to that end we made a conscious decision to make the characters less sexualized,” Shimbori told IGN.

While the Dead or Alive series has always had men and women (and monsters) in equal amounts, the games had a decidedly regressive take on women for a long time. Examples include the “jiggle physics” engineered specifically for the female avatars, the “She Kicks High” ad for Dead or Alive 3 from 2001, as well as the entire Xtreme Beach Volleyball spin-off series. But Dead or Alive 5 was an inch towards modesty (downloadable costumes aside), and now Dead or Alive 6 appears to be the series’ first real effort out of an adolescent mindset.

Added art director Yutaka Saito: “The female characters are still attractive, as are the men, but first and foremost they are fighters.”

Dead or Alive 6

More characters in Dead or Alive 6 will be revealed over time. And all characters will come in breathtaking 4K resolution, as Team NINJA is adding previously unseen realism to its fighting. In the IGN interview, Shimbori teases that characters will sweat, bruise, and favor injuries during intense battles. Characters’ facial expressions will also reflect how much pain they’re in.

“Our goal is to no longer force characters to look great at all times, but to leave that up to the natural flow of battle,” explained Saito.

Dead or Alive 6 marks the return of the franchise since 2012’s Dead or Alive 5, released on the previous generation of gaming consoles (not including the 2015 remaster Dead or Alive 5: Last Round).

Dead or Alive 6 will be released in early 2019 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

Photos via KOEI TECMO