Street Fighter 6 isn’t just a return to form. It’s a revolutionary leap forward happening before our very eyes.
The latest installment of Capcom’s legendary fighting series delivers something new and nostalgic all at once. I thought about watching the Ultra Street Fighter 4 grand finals at my first Evo in 2014. I remembered my first dive into the genre with Capcom vs SNK 2 on the Dreamcast as a little kid. And I thought about the pro player Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi’s famously heartfelt quote from Evo 2017: “Fighting game is something so great.”
Street Fighter 6 is the epitome of what made fighting games all the rage in the bygone era of arcades and console-based cartridges. I jumped into training mode and found myself lost in a sea of delightful possibilities: new combos, new mechanics, and new setups. Once it was time to test my mettle online, I was excited to see a system that welcomes all players, with outstanding networking capabilities.
When I got tired of that, I still had a reason to keep playing, thanks to a groundbreaking new story mode. With Street Fighter 6, Capcom has recaptured the magic that made me fall in love with fighting games all those years ago. It doesn’t matter if you’re in it to compete, to introduce yourself to the genre, or because you already love the series.
There is something for everyone in Street Fighter 6.
A Competitor’s Dream
Street Fighter has been the poster boy for the fighting genre since Street Fighter 2 dropped back in 1991. But Street Fighter 5 was a notable fall from grace for the iconic series. Now, Capcom’s taking back the crown.
Street Fighter 6’s starting roster lets you choose from 18 characters, with more planned for future DLC. Each one’s move list and aesthetics is bursting with love, care, and incredible attention to detail. I was having a blast exploring what they can do and how each one makes the most of the game’s new systems. With so much variety, it’s hard to think there won’t be a character there for you, whether you’re picking your main based on looks or playstyle.
While each character has vastly different styles and mechanics, they all share the outstanding Street Fighter 6 Drive and Parry system. Drive really makes this feel like a modern throwback to classic fighting games to me. You can use it in two ways. Drive Rush covers characters in a splash of paint as they burst into a quick run across the screen to punch, kick, or grab their opponent. Drive Impact is a heavy-impact attack that can stun and wall-splat opponents, easily setting up a free full combo.
Best of all? Drive mechanics are easy to learn, use, and counter. This allows for the kind of high-risk, high-reward battle of wits that exemplifies the fighting genre at its finest. There’s a yin and yang to literally everything in Street Fighter 6, and thanks to the seamless online experience, I can enjoy it all no matter who I’m fighting against. (Even though the online is somehow flawless without an ethernet cord, don’t let me catch you jumping in my lobby without one.)
An RPG in My Fighter?
When you need a break from the competitive grind, there’s plenty more to enjoy in Street Fighter 6. World Tour mode is a show-stealing mode that’s best described as RPG meets beat-em-up. (Imagine a next-gen MK Mythologies: Sub Zero, but actually good.)
You begin with a character creator so detailed, it puts FromSoftware games to shame. I ended up making a rip-off Dural from Virtua Fighter, instead of one of those monstrosities you’ve probably seen everyone else make. From there, you embark on a journey to become the next great World Warrior, seeing the world while beating up literally anyone in your path.
The best part about the RPG side of Street Fighter 6 is how it allows you to create the ultimate mashup of characters. Want a fighter with Dhalsim’s stretchy limbs and Zangief’s command grabs? You can do that. It’s so fun to mix the move lists of all these iconic characters in ways that just are not possible otherwise.
All the while, the game is actively, sneakily teaching you the Street Fighter basics — how to combo, how to do special moves, how to tech throws, and even how to play neutral and punish attacks. It’s genius — or it could have been.
You’ll learn a lot during your adventure, but you’re never actually forced to use what you’ve learned. All those lessons go down the drain when you realize you can just cheap out and abuse the AI. World Tour definitely a welcome addition to the game, but depending on your background with the genre, your mileage will vary. (There is a God Hand reference hidden in the world, so I can forgive a few small missteps.)
Street Fighter 6 is a love letter to the entirety of the fighting game genre and its vast history. The presentation, the visuals, and the return of arcade mode where Street Fighter 5 originally left it out. It ticks all the boxes in terms of what fans have been asking for.
Capcom’s latest takes everything you’d expect from the father of the fighting genre and turns it up to 10. There’s something for everyone here, with no fat or filler to ruin the experience. Street Fighter 6 is the best fighting game in a long time, and in the years to come, its impact and legacy could be every bit as massive as Street Fighter 2.
Street Fighter 6 launches for PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on June 2, 2023. Inverse reviewed the PS5 version.
INVERSE VIDEO GAME REVIEW ETHOS: Every Inverse video game review answers two questions: Is this game worth your time? Are you getting what you pay for? We have no tolerance for endless fetch quests, clunky mechanics, or bugs that dilute the experience. We care deeply about a game’s design, world-building, character arcs, and storytelling come together. Inverse will never punch down, but we aren’t afraid to punch up. We love magic and science-fiction in equal measure, and as much as we love experiencing rich stories and worlds through games, we won’t ignore the real-world context in which those games are made.