It’s no secret that Street Fighter V got off to a disastrous start, and despite years of course revisions, its flawed foundation made it difficult to come back. In contrast, Street Fighter 6 is a complete response to the failures of its predecessors, defined by well-thought-out central mechanics, strong single-player offerings and many smart decisions that create a powerful opening punch.
Those primarily interested in playing against other players have a lot to look forward to; Between the tricky movement and the wealth of strategic options, it’s a joy to play. A huge addition is the new drive system, which neatly integrates multiple mechanics like power-up special attacks, cancels, and defensive maneuvers. The meter starts fully stocked and refills automatically, giving you ready access to a large arsenal of options, but leaving you vulnerable when it runs low, setting up a compelling risk/reward dynamic with every interaction.
Additionally, the game’s pacing feels more deliberate than Street Fighter V, making for rewarding back-and-forth exchanges, and allowing its cerebral elements to shine. In particular, the extended range of normal attacks makes careful punching battles more common, and strikes have less of an advantage when blocked, meaning that aggressors cannot conduct their offense in unison. The 18-character roster is also a slam dunk, combining returning favorites with cleverly designed newcomers to offer a variety of playstyles and difficulty levels. Each has a strong moveset, and almost every fighter has a unique trick that can change the match.
For example, Manon is a grappler whose commands deal a lot of damage every time one lands, making her an imposing speed-based character, while Jamie is a Drunken Master-style brawler. Every major character archetype feels well-represented here, from Zones to Rushdown characters. While only time will tell how the metagame will shake out, Street Fighter 6’s starting roster and core settings provide a great platform to build on.
For those less interested in playing against others, World Tour is the most notable mode. This lengthy single-player story lets you explore a semi-open metro city filled with fisticuffs-loving oddities, side quests, and RPG-lite progression. As well as being an interesting whimsical adventure, it successfully introduces and trains some of the game’s deeper systems, while providing a mostly satisfying series of fights.
Battles in World Tour are captivating with their unique attack patterns and how each enemy is paired with optional objectives that provide bonus rewards. Best of all, your avatar can learn skills from the core list, allowing you to blend the best elements of grapplers, zoners, and rushdown characters into one hilariously broken fighter. I was really surprised by how much there was in this mode and it took me over 25 hours to reach the credits. While World Tour isn’t perfect — some fights felt too confusing due to the way it handled being stuck between multiple enemies, and the shallower storytelling could have been preferable — it’s a solid entry point for the uninitiated. Testing their skills online is a lot to do.
Beyond this, numerous additions show an impressive level of polish. There are several control schemes aimed at beginners, party settings, a robust training room, arcade mode, access options and a fully realized lobby system. Throw in a well-implemented rollback netcode, quick rematches, and the ability to queue for online games from almost anywhere, and Street Fighter 6 makes it easy to jump in and play.
As a series that pioneered fighting games, every new Street Fighter comes with heavy expectations. Street Fighter 6 confidently lives up to this hype, offering both neophytes and genre players the most comprehensive offline offerings the franchise has ever seen, along with flexible core settings and a diverse cast. Between its cohesive aesthetic, clever features, and crisp core gameplay, this is one of the most impressive entries the genre has seen in some time.