Originally published at: Review | Street Fighter 6 - XboxEra
It’s great to be back! After a lengthy hiatus (Thanks Sony!) Street Fighter has finally made its way back to the Xbox platform. This is going to sound absolutely crazy, but it’s been 15 years since Street Fighter IV released on Xbox 360. The fighting game genre on Xbox was decimated by Capcom’s decision to forgo the platform back in 2016 when Street Fighter V released exclusively on PlayStation 4.
When Street Fighter 6 was first announced, platforms were mysteriously not announced with the game, which fuelled wild speculation for months about whether Sony had once again approached Capcom to…”help with development” on the fabled fighting franchise. Thankfully for Xbox gamers this was not the case and Street Fighter 6 has released on Xbox.
Has it been worth the wait? Let’s find out.
Street Fighter has long been the premier franchise in the fighting game genre. While others may have grown to gain more mainstream popularity or sales, Street Fighter to this day remains the fighting game enthusiast’s choice. The most watched on Twitch, at Evo Tournaments and so on. While the image of the franchise took a small hit with Street Fighter V’s content light launch, Street Fighter 6 looks to make amends and launch in a stronger state than any game in the series before it.
Capcom has learned a lot of lessons from Street Fighter V. But they’re also in a far better position than they were back in 2016. The Street Fighter 6 roadmap and rollout has been open, transparent and embracing of the community. With multiple betas, showcases and even a demo, players have been able to get a real taste of what to expect from Street Fighter 6, including making their own character that carries over into the full release for the new World Tour mode!
I will get one thing out of the way straight off the bat. Street Fighter 6, from a content perspective, is what many Street Fighter fans were hoping V would be back in 2016. Street Fighter V notoriously launched light on for modes and content. 6 has rectified that concern right from the outset.
The game is effectively broken up into three sections. Fighting Ground, Battle Hub and World Tour. Let’s take a look at each one.
Fighting Ground is the new name for what is essentially the standard set of options and modes you’d expect to find in a fighting game in 2023. As the selection screen itself describes, “From arcade, to training, to ranked matches, you’ll find a wealth of game modes here to sharpen your fighting skills as you fight your way to the top!”.
The Arcade/Story mode is the same as the one that was added to Street Fighter V after launch. Pick your character and work through a select number of matches (you can select from 5 or 12) with a loose “story” linking them together via still image “cut scenes” (which are skippable) with narration. Beating each character’s Story mode will unlock some incredible artwork, much of which can create some great wallpapers for your dash. You’ll also unlock the cutscenes which can be viewed in the Gallery mode.
The Training Mode is quite extensive in this iteration. While it will obviously take you through the basics of Street Fighter, one welcome new addition to the tutorial is what’s referred to as Character Guides. Which gives you individualised training for each specific character including strategies on using them called Fundamentals. It’s a really fantastic way of introducing players to characters they may not have used before or even looking at old favourites in a new light from the perspective of those who made the game.
The newest addition within Fighting Ground is Extreme Battle. A fun little distraction where you can create your own type of custom fight with set rules and gimmicks to keep things fresh and interesting. As an example, you might create a “Down and Out” fight where the goal is to be the first to knock your opponent down 5 times, with a gimmick of having to avoid stampeding bulls throughout the match! Yes, stampeding bulls. Other gimmicks include “Lucky Drones” where a drone will randomly fly overhead during the match which you can try and break open to grab a power up in order to help you achieve victory. I can see this being a pretty hilarious time with friends for sure and it’s also a good way to hone your skills and concentration further.
The Battle Hub is basically an online meeting place that seems to attempt to bring the vibes of the old arcades, but in an obviously more modern setting. Like many other fighters seem to now do, it is very reminiscent of Dead or Alive 4’s online lobby system.
But the Battle Hub is pretty cool. Anyone who was part of the various Betas will already be familiar, but in the Battle Hub you have a variety of activities to partake in. From online fights which are furnished cleverly as old school arcade dual cabs where players from around the world can sit at the same arcade cab as you and challenge you to a fight. It’s a really nice nostalgic throwback.
Speaking of arcade cabs, the Battle Hub also has the awesome Game Center where you can literally sit down at a cab to play old Capcom classics. The games available to me during the review period were Final Fight, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and Street Fighter II The World Warrior. I have to say, there was something really nice in having the ability to play Street Fighter both in its oldest and newest iterations in the one place. Yes, I’m aware Street Fighter II isn’t the oldest, but we don’t talk about Street Fighter 1.
There’s also a Body Shop where you can access your avatar to make any changes you may feel are necessary as well as a Hub Goods Shop which is exactly the same as the one you’ll remember from Street Fighter V (if you played it). You can buy outfits, colours, emotes and even characters amongst other things. The in-game currency comes in the form of Fighter Coins and Drive Tickets. Fighter Coins are your Street Fighter “V-bucks” equivalent which can be purchased with real money and Drive Tickets are more akin to Fight Money in Street Fighter V in that you receive them as rewards for completing challenges or events. There also seems to be a “Coming Soon” gear store of some kind in the Hub. Not sure what that is yet.
Overall it does a great job of replicating the feel of being at an arcade or tournament and at the very least, older players will have a blast playing Final Fight!
The meat and potatoes of Street Fighter 6 comes in the form of World Tour. Long time Street Fighter fans will remember that the last time we saw World Tour was in Street Fighter Alpha 3. Back then, it was a fairly simple mode where you could customise your character’s (selected from the main roster) fighting style and “travel” the world and fight in different scenarios. You could then build up your characters fight style as you went on.
The World Tour in Street Fighter 6, as you’d expect, takes this concept to the level I’m sure Capcom probably envisioned back in 1998 to the point where this could almost be a game in its own right. It almost (and I emphasise almost) reminds me of a mini version of Shenmue squeezed into a game mode. Those of you who created an avatar in the beta will have the option to carry it straight into World Tour, but you’ll have the option to modify that model or create a new one upon beginning. You’ll be run through a very quick and basic tutorial on the fundamentals of fighting and Luke will take you and your training partner/rival out into the…sort of open world of Metro City of Final Fight fame. While Metro City is where you’ll begin, your journey will take you to many locations around this fictional world of Street Fighter. Once in Metro City you’ll be taken through a pretty standard tutorial period where you’re given the grounding for how the city works and how you can build up your character as you go on.
Each city will have a Master that you can meet up with to learn new fighting styles and Master Actions that help you progress through the mode. One of the more fun aspects of World Tour is being able to go up to literally anyone and just…start a fight with them. The NPCs will have their own levels which will change the difficulty of each fight. Some will even have certain requirements you can meet that give you items, money and miles, which all work towards your progress to become the best fighter you can be.
There are stores where you can buy gear/clothing for your character or even food trucks to buy vitality and stat boosting items to use throughout your journey. It can’t be stressed enough how much there is to this mode. The cities themselves are even surprisingly explorable. You can even access the top of some buildings to find some secrets, have some fights and meet some interesting characters. There are side missions that you can choose to partake in alongside sticking to the main story path missions some of which even lead to bonus stage type activities like board breaking. Again, there’s a tonne here.
While there is a story weaving this all together, those looking for the more cinematic narrative driven single player experience many are used to with Mortal Kombat won’t find this here. This is far more interactive (for want of a better word) and quite frankly deeper and more involved. This is a game within a game and it’s pretty damn enjoyable. Maybe this is a me problem but I really did just want to keep starting fights with random people in the street.
Visually, Street Fighter 6 was a bit of a conundrum for me. It’s weirdly all over the place depending on the mode you’re playing.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good looking game. As are most RE Engine games. Texture work is great, the fighters skin looks authentic, sweat glistens, bruises and cuts form as you fight, the visual flourishes on special moves are as beautiful as ever and models are really detailed and animate expertly.
My issue is, it feels like Capcom couldn’t quite settle on an at style for 6? Street Fighter IV had a very distinct, chunky art style with characters that had exaggerated musculature and not quite right body proportions that weaved an ink based visual touch that worked beautifully in a way my description may not convey. Street Fighter V is for all intents and purposes an evolution of IV’s style with increased model detail and thanks to Unreal Engine 4, better lighting and physical based rendering that really made the visuals pop. Street Fighter 6 sits in this strange limbo where it seems like they were caught between evolving Street Fighter V’s style further and abandoning it completely and going for the more realistic character models that rivals Tekken and Mortal Kombat go for. I’ll probably be alone in this, but I think I actually prefer how Street Fighter V looked.
What I found even more odd was the fairly mundane looking World Tour and Battle Hub modes. We know RE Engine can handle a lot and is capable of producing some beautiful results even in big open areas, so it was pretty strange to see how the game looked in these modes. Again, not ugly by any stretch, but a noticeable step down from the traditional modes.
I will also say the soundtrack left a little to be desired? Past Street Fighter games have had some truly classic music, both at a stage level as well as other parts of the game. Let’s be real, Street Fighter IV’s intro song Indestructible is an absolute cringe classic. For me, nothing in 6 really stood out or got stuck in my head like other tracks have in the past, although to be fair, the same criticism could probably be made of V.
Anyone who played Street Fighter V will feel right at home with Street Fighter 6. While true fighting game aficionados will probably notice more change and nuance shift than I could, I didn’t struggle to come to grips with how 6 plays and had no issue adapting tried and true tactics and a fight style I’ve been applying for years.
For those who didn’t play Street Fighter V (which, given where you’re reading this could very well be you), Street Fighter V and in turn 6 opted to fall more inline with the fighting mechanics of Street Fighter III. Where as IV played a little more like II. There’s a fluidity to 6 that clearly evolved from III with an added emphasis on combos that began with V and has gone to another level with 6.
The main change to Street Fighter 6’s fight mechanics is the Drive Impact system. Maximillian has an incredible video that explains better than I ever could on the…impact, the Drive Impact system has on Street Fighter 6 and how much more welcoming it makes it for less experienced players. But in all honesty, for a bit more a fighting game layman like myself, in practice Drive Impact just feels like a better version of Street Fighter IV’s focus attack. But don’t tell Max I said that.
But Capcom have gone to pretty great lengths to make Street Fighter 6 the most accessible version of Street Fighter going around. Killer Instinct set a high bar for accessibility back in 2013 and Capcom might have taken some cues from the Xbox exclusive fighter. Both in the way it handles accessibility for those with disabilities through audio design but also in making the genre more “noob friendly” with three different control methods. You have your Classic control setup, which is your tired and true, three sets of kicks and punches for those of us who grew up on fighters. Then there’s the ironically named Modern setup which which is an evolution of the SNK fighter control scheme (hence the irony in the naming) which consists of a light, medium and heavy attack button as well as dedicated special move, parry and drive impact buttons. Finally there’s the new Dynamic setup which is a further simplified Modern scheme. But like Killer Instinct, Street Fighter 6 also includes the option for auto-combos which is great for making you feel like you know what you’re doing. Purists may hate it, but ultimately it’s an option that can be toggled on and off and pros shouldn’t have any issues handling button mashers online.
Speaking of which, unfortunately, during my review online window, I didn’t manage to find any online players for the standard online modes or any population in the Battle Hub. However I did manage to get populations during the betas and as someone who didn’t really enjoy the online performance in Street Fighter V, 6 is a massive improvement. For Xbox only owners, Killer Instinct still sets the gold standard for online play, but this is the best Street Fighter has ever been online by a decent margin. Anyone who managed to play any of the betas would be aware.
For newer players, those looking to fine tune their skills and even those maybe looking to break away from their comfort zone, Street Fighter 6 offers some of the most in depth tutorials and super handy Character Guides that are really great for explaining the game’s mechanics and teaching you the ins and outs of each character.
Serious players will also appreciate the low latency mode for the controls.
It’s pretty hard to argue Street Fighter 6 isn’t the best iteration of Street Fighter as an overall package. Yes, debates will take place for years over which version has the best fighting mechanics, best visuals, music, roster etc.
But no Street Fighter game has been the complete package 6 is. As mentioned off the top, Capcom heard the content criticisms hurled at V and clearly learned from it and delivered in spades with 6. Even if you manage to burn through the more traditional modes Street Fighter 6 has to offer and getting pummelled online isn’t your jam, the World Tour mode will keep you busy for absolute ages and the level of customisation in the avatar creator is hilariously ridiculous and you could probably spend weeks and months just fine turning that.
The roster is pretty varied with a nice blend of classic and new characters, but honestly not much in between outside Juri and Luke as the only “recent” options. Everyone else is either an old favourite or brand new. Am I a pretty boring old man who mostly stuck to Ken and Ryu? You bet.
Xbox players have had to wait a long time for Street Fighter to come back to the platform and luckily got the best iteration yet.