Street Fighter 6 Review – Ain’t Ever Backing Down

“I ain’t ever backing down,” goes the chorus of Street Fighter 6’s main theme. It’s not really heard much in the latest entry to Capcom’s flagship series, but the anthem sure has some fighting words. It’s even called “Ain’t On The Sidelines”.

The more I hear it on loop, the more I feel like this cool anthem is a statement of intent. Street Fighter IV may have been indestructible and has instrumentally revived the fighting game genre in the mainstream gaming audience, but Street Fighter V… didn’t rise up to the occasion. The launch period of that game was rough, and took years and years of updates to be in the decent place it is today.

And during that period of time, other games have risen to the top of the fighting game hierarchy. Look at Arc System Works and their massive output of games. SNK is back in full swing. Bandai Namco’s Tekken Project team and NetherRealm Studios keeping it tight with their releases. All while Capcom’s fighting games, Street Fighter V and Marvel VS Capcom Infinite, were not received as well.

There is a lot on the line when Capcom burst out of nowhere to lead the next generation of fighting games. They wanted that runback. They wanted to stay in the game and prove once again who they are. And without a doubt, they have successfully done so in this ambitious, yet mature, latest entry to Street Fighter.


Street Fighter 6 is another of many Capcom games to now use the proprietary RE Engine. And along with that, there’s a change of art style. Sort of. You see, with this entry, characters look more grounded and realistic. But you really won’t notice the major changes to how the returning World Warriors look unless you watch a side-by-side comparison.

At first glance, Cammy and Zangief, for example, look like how you expect them to look barring the new costumes. But their faces look staggeringly different to their appearances in Street Fighter V.

Yet they still look like Cammy and Zangief. In fact, many of the characters still retain their odd quirks and body proportions. Ryu’s sharp eyebrows still pokes above his headband. Chun-Li’s thighs and Guile’s biceps look abnormally huge, which is normal for them.

It’s amazing how this change in art direction still retain essence of Street Fighter that you don’t see fans getting upset over what could have been a major style change. Street Fighter 6 still looks Street Fighter, but it ain’t looking like any other Street Fighter game.

Outside of the looks, there’s more granular detail to the character models as well. Muscles jiggle when pulling punches and kicks. The characters get scruffed, scratched, and sweaty as the match keeps dragging on. It’s small little details that you should zone out of when playing the game, but when you see it, it’s lovely to see the attention to detail.

It’s not all realism, however. Street Fighter 6 still uses some artistic filters, this time by way of splashing graffiti paint all over. The new Drive system makes use of the colourful splashes and also lets people who are watching know that something’s really popping off. Two Drive Impacts being popped? The game slows down for dramatic effect so you wait in anticipation of who shot last and wins out. Get a perfect parry? That’s such a ridiculous feat that the game pauses and splash some ominous purple to let everyone know you are beasting out here.

The stages this time around don’t have any gimmicks. And so the focus is entirely on how much detail that can be squeezed into it. And there’s a lot. The arena stages look extravagant and appropriately gaudy. While the stages where you fight in the streets look worn out and lived in. There are also exotic locales around the world, so there’s plenty of variety when it comes to the stages available on launch.

For the World Tour mode, Street Fighter 6 also includes 2 big open-world maps: Metro City and Old Nayshall. The former a stand-in for New York City in the Street Fighter/Final Fight universe, the other is set in a new fictional country in Central Asia with a lot of different Asian cultures mish-mashed into this rural but rapidly developing city. These maps are not only feel real and alive, the fact that you can practically have a fight in any part of the town and still have some nice background to set the stage is one amazing feat. The NPCs that are scuttling about would even huddle around the fight you’re in and start spectating. And these are faked- you see them still standing there once the fight concludes, it’s impressive to see.

The Battle Hub is nice too. It’s an online lobby presented as a game center where you can ask for matches by sitting or queueing up at an arcade cabinet, play other Capcom arcade games, fight using your player-created avatars in the center of the hub, participate in tourneys and more. It has the ambience of a game center, complete with the clicking and clacking of arcade sticks and jazzy lounge music. It should be nice for the more sociable players.

The UI is incredibly snappy, with most menus having no lag going in and out of.

While the game is pretty decent performance-wise, you can easily get a locked 60 fps on older mid-spec PCs, the World Tour mode sure is demanding in terms of performance. The PS5 version locks gameplay to 30fps by default from what I tested the demo. On older PC hardware, the game struggles to during beat-’em-up sections involving four or more opponents. But if you have specced-out mid-range PC with parts from 2023, you should be fine.

Audio-wise, there’s really no discussion. The soundtrack, chock full of evergreen hip-hop tunes are complete bangers. The new character themes might need time to be getting used to, Guile’s theme doesn’t really go with everything this time around, but judge them on their own merit and the new songs work great as the soundtrack to two people bashing each other in under 99 seconds or less.

The voice acting is decent, the announcer is killing it. But the surprise addition of having esports commentators narrating your match is actually pretty decent. Transitions between each line of commentary feels natural. The way they write the play-by-play and colour commentator lines to be able to play off of each other is nice, giving players the illusion of the two being in sync and riffing on each other. Their reaction to what’s happening in a match is appropriate. The lines only get cut abruptly when a K.O. appears. It’s a shame the lines do get exhausted and start repeating rather quickly. Play a set of 10 matches and you start hearing the same remarks by jchensor of how one of the players being hungry because they were cooking. A good line by the way, just that I heard one too many.

Street Fighter 6’s shift in a new art direction is a major change, yet if feels subtle thanks to how rooted the game still is to the fundamentals of the series. The old guard of fans shouldn’t feel left out with this change, and objectively the game looks and sounds good.


Street Fighter 6 is mechanically a 2D fighting game, where two characters move horizontally and vertically, and thus no side-stepping. It’s also one of the few games to still use six buttons for normal attacks, a tradition since Street Fighter II, rather than four so you can have all the attack buttons on the face buttons of a controller.

But this entry sees the introduction of Modern controls, the ability to play SF6 as a four-button game. You lose access to half of the traditional normal attacks, but you get auto-combos and simpler inputs for special moves. Struggle to do quarter-circle motions, let alone charge moves or 360 SPD inputs? Modern controls makes those special moves accessible via a press of one or two buttons, no motion moves are needed. Now everyone can mess around with charge characters and grapplers.

There is also Dynamic controls, which is intended to be used for local matches so that anyone can pick up, mash buttons and have a good time.

But Modern controls is balanced to be viable for online play. The jury’s still up if it’s any good for high-level competitive play. At the moment, it makes it easier for just about anyone to get into the real meat of fighting games- the rock-paper-scissors gameplay of outwitting the opponent using the moveset you have.

And for the veterans, Classic controls remain intact and uncompromised. The skill ceiling remains as high as it was, just that the skill floor has been lower to accommodate more players, including players who have never grown up during the age of arcades and game centers where these motion inputs were born of.

Street Fighter 6 makes great strides in walking newcomers into the world of fighting games. The tutorial that pops up when you first enter Fighting Ground walks you through the basics and assumes you know nothing. But it also provide some much-needed nuance advice a well. In particular, the game tells you how to troubleshoot motion inputs that don’t come out despite pressing all the buttons. The one little note where it says that you might have pressed the attack button ahead of completing the motion input was enough to get something click, and now I can fireball spam like any filthy casual in online lobbies can do. It’s great.

The command list is now more helpful too, as it not only shows the command, but the animation of the command on a tiny video screen, as well as a description of what properties it has, and what sort of situation the move might be useful.

There are also character guides, that walk you through all the moveset of a character, explaining some examples, and allowing you to practice the described moves and combos.

This is all neat, and allows players to learn from just within the game itself, something fighting games have been having a problem with for decades. Add World Tour mode, a whole 20+ story mode campaign that effectively work to get you used to fighting, and you get one of the best tutorials that Street Figther has to offer.

But it’s by no means perfect. I’m surprised to not find a hand-holding guide on how to do charge moves, since a good number of characters have them as their core gameplan. Some of the deeper systems and quirks are not taught. And when you dive into a YouTube guide video you might find that the game and the fighting game community don’t really use the same lexicon so you have to study up on those (for good reason- you can’t call the neutral game “footsies” in the game itself, for example. That word means something else outside of the FGC, as I learned it the hard way).

The tutorialisation and onboarding process has definitely improved, but has not completely undercut the efforts by content creators and the community that are still making guides and tutorials. Sooner or later you’ll still need the help of outside resources to get good. But at least that’s not the expectation of what you should do after purchasing a copy of this game.


If Street Fighter V had the V-System, Street Fighter 6 has the Drive system. This is the main flavour that SF6 brings that makes it play just a little bit differently from other games in the series. The Drive system is comprised of various moves that are all universal- every character can make use of it. Every character can parry, do a Drive Impact, cancel moves into a Drive Rush, get a combo-breaker with a Drive Reversal, and more. These moves are obviously very powerful at the hands of a skilful player. The nutty combos you can do thanks to Drive Rush is one good example. But it’s just as handy for the beginner. Drive Impact is a simple move to do and when it lands, gives you a moment to breathe and rethink, a reset. It’s a good panic button. But more adept players can find ways to punish this (just throw them), or use it to set up a combo. Parries can simply be done by holding two buttons (or a button macro), but the Master level players know exactly the timing of each hit, hit parry at the right frame, and get the perfect parry that can turn the tide of battle instantly.

EX moves are now called Overdrive moves, and uses the Drive gauge just like everything else in the Drive system. The game has two meters of resources, but the Drive gauge is the more important one. The super meter to pull of Super Arts and Critical Arts exists normally. The Drive gauge is the one you want to manage. Overuse of Drive moves, or blocking too much, and you’ll drain it all out and enter Burnout, where you’ll be in real trouble (and opens a big opportunity for the opponent to take that W).

The V-System was too character-centric and requires extensive knowledge to work it into a game plan. This means newcomers would have no idea how to really make use of it. The Drive system isn’t like that. The universal system is a rising tide that lifts all boats. It’s easier to use, and it’s just as deep.

The character roster for this entry has a good mix of all your typical fighting game archetypes. And there’s definitely something for everyone. But I really love the new warriors joining in. Not because they look cool, but they also bring some new ways to play. The massive bisexual punch lady Marisa looks to be built like a grappler, but no, her moveset is simple quarter circle motions and dragon punches, and her gameplan is simply to punch the living daylights out of her opponent using her massive damage output and super armour properties that keeps her rolling those punches. The new grappler is actually Manon, who uses the elegance of ballerina movements to command grab opponents and has an array of long pokes to get into position. Luke, the much-loathed cover star of SF6 (but things have turned around thanks to his English voice actor’s many antics online) provides a different flavour of your typical shoto character, and not just another Ryu/Ken/Akuma/Dan variant either.

SF6 has quite possibly the strongest cast of newcomers. Not all of them are winners, but I can see a handful of them being popular enough to return in future games. And the fact that they bring something new to the table in how they fight helps a lot as well.

From the perspective of a novice player, and a lapsed fighting game fan, Street Fighter 6 plays as well as I would have imagined. You’ll need a second opinion from a more experienced player to know if the game is balanced or not, or the mechanics really are as deep as I’ve been led into seeing. But from this perspective, SF6 is a great game.

And World Tour mode is good too. It’s not perfect- and the ending was an odd choice, but having an open-world beat-’em RPG as a story mode serves the game much better than just doing a cinematic story mode. Mostly because the story delivery is meh, but everything built around the World Tour mode- from the interaction with the main character roster to the callbacks to long history of the franchise (including the weird retcons that they needed to make) is an experience. True strength is the friends we made along the way, and the motivation to keep becoming stronger and keep playing the game.

(Find out more of my thoughts on the World Tour here.)


At launch, Street Fighter 6 has 18 characters, 16 stages (including the training room), two outfits for each character (which require some time to unlock- or a microtransaction), an Arcade mode, online matchmaking, custom rooms, the huge story mode that is World Tour, the live service online hub that is Battle Hub, and even arcade games from Capcom’s extensive library, available on rotation. Yeah, arcade game emulation within Street Fighter 6. Wild.

As far as content goes, SF6 has delivered a lot at launch, truly a lesson learned from the previous game’s launch. Right now, we can expect a year of seasonal content, with four more fighters coming soon. There are some live events in the Battle Hub to keep people logging in. There are dailies, weeklies and monthly challenges, all contributing to the progress of the game’s battle pass, the Fighting Pass. The first season’s offering is rather lame, with free players unlocking barely anything interesting, with those that pay for the premium tier getting ridiculously more content that feels not as rewarding. But we’ll see over time how the live service of the game develops.

The online connection since launch has been overall good, with a few hours of disturbance here and there. But overall, it’s launched in a much better shape than its predecessor. The game can be played offline which is a blessing, and should be kept as standard.

I’ve put in about 37 hours before writing this review, 23 of which are just on the World Tour mode. As all fighting games should be, there’s no real ending. But if you’re here just for the single-player content I think there’s a lot on offer here.

Personal Enjoyment

It’s been five or more years since I really sat down and play a fighting game. Mostly because during that time, Gamer Matters has someone else to cover this beat, but now I’m back as the resident fighting games person.

Street Fighter 6 made me remember the good times of just mashing the keyboard back in Street Fighter IV. These days, now that I learned that pressing buttons on a keyboard is not too far off from those Hitbox controllers pro players have been using these days, I found a new groove and appreciation towards fighting games. I feel more confident that I can get good, be better and actually enjoy the game even if I am on the losing side.

The World Tour mode also helps give me that confidence. Being able to bash AI opponents, but have contextualised and structured as an RPG makes the grind to get good more fun and rewarding. Some folks are just intrinsically motivated to be a better person. But I need a carrot on a stick to get me going, and the mode has done its job well.

While I don’t use Modern controls as much, it still allowed me to try out other characters I never touched before. And that itself opened up my mind into learning how they work, and how to beat them.

Also, I now have a new main that really speaks to me. Marisa just punches really, really good, and that’s all I want to do now. Simple gameplan, simple execution, all about the reads, catching the opponent off-guard and wiping a good chunk of life bar with one good Gladius punch.

My only gripe was how demanding the performance for World Tour was, where the game can slow down into slugfest that recreates online matches with 1 bar of connectivity. Though I also am not sold on any of the live service aspect that the game has to offer in the long run. But we’ll see.


Street Fighter 6 attempts to both attract new players to get into fighting games and keep veterans of the genre satiated with a fundamentally sound set of gameplay mechanics and features. Amazingly, the game juggles the two disparate, but essential, audiences with this latest entry.

The allure of a full-fledged story mode that’s a full-blown open-world beat-’em-up RPG and accessibility options with the new controls makes this game worth playing for newcomers or lapsed fighting game players to hop in. The character roster is strong, with the new characters adding interesting new ways to fight. The Drive system is really easy to use and learn yet still has depth for the truly skilled to master is an amazing feat. And for the most part, the online connectivity has been buttery smooth and stable.

But just like the path of seeking strength the game leads you on, there’s still a journey for SF6 to go and prove itself. The game wants to be a live service and yet said service has yet to have done anything interesting or enticing.

But overall, Street Fighter 6 offers a complete package for players of any experience level. If you never played fighting games before, you will find the motivation to get into fighting games for real after giving this a shot. And if you’re already a fighting game enthusiast, it should keep that love and passion for this genre alive in your heart.

Street Fighter 6 clutches it out this round with a tremendous comeback. They ain’t ever backing down. They gonna get the crown and go for another round.

Played on PC. Review copy provided by the publisher.


Street Fighter 6

Street Fighter 6 offers a complete package for players of any experience level. If you never played fighting games before, you will find the motivation to get into fighting games for real after giving this a shot. And if you're already a fighting game enthusiast, it should keep that love and passion for this genre alive in your heart. Street Fighter 6 clutches it out this round, what a comeback. They ain't ever backing down.

  • Presentation 9
  • Gameplay 9
  • Content 9.5
  • Personal Enjoyment 9

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