I don’t have as long of a history with Dead or Alive as I do with other fighting series. The first game in the series that I got my hands on was Dead or Alive 4 on the Xbox 360. It’s been just over a decade since then, and as I have grown and evolved as a person, my love for Dead or Alive as a series has evolved as well. No longer am I just in it for the fan service, but also the gameplay itself. Luckily, over the years Team Ninja has been able to improve on more than just the sweat physics of their fighters. In fact, while it’s not the best fighting game on the market, Dead or Alive 6 is one that definitely remains appealing to fans like me.
Dead or Alive 6
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Team Ninja
Platform: Windows PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
Release Date: March 1, 2019
Players: 1-2 Player (Local / Online)
Dead or Alive 6 is a 3D fighter with a relatively easy to learn system in which new players can grasp the game’s basic mechanics and have a good time, while more seasoned veterans can enjoy a level of complexity that sits right beneath the surface.
As a new player, you could realistically win your fights without learning a single combo, but with a little bit of practice and general understanding, you can become a true master of the jiggle fighter and bash your enemy’s brains in with a devastating 30+ hit combo.
Dead or Alive 6 is built with both playstyles in mind. It is helped by the wealth of solo content that prepares the player before they ever even step foot into an online battle.
DoA6 also has a fairly large roster of fighters to choose from, each designed with a specific playstyle in mind. Whether you are the kind of player who wants to overwhelm your opponent with a flurry of quick strikes, or snap their spine with devastating grapple moves, Dead or Alive has a character for you.
While nearly every character from Dead or Alive 5: Last Round returns, unfortunately we do not see Naotora Li, Momiji, Rachel, or the Virtua Fighter guest cast, but we do have two new characters in their place.
Luckily, there are characters on the way to continue to beef up the cast, but even as it stands now, there is plenty of variety to enjoy. I personally am a Tina Armstrong main, but I have also decided to pick up Brad Wong and Ryu Hayabusa (can anyone say Izuna drop?).
Dead or Alive 6 is flashy, but doesn’t use the prettiness on screen to cover for lackluster gameplay. Combat feels smooth and fluid, with no character or animation jank on screen.
Several times while playing offline matches, I would have to stop to just marvel at what was going on on my screen. Attacks feel like they have weight and just made me feel good when I can land them during longer combos, which admittedly was not very often.
The story of Dead or Alive 6 carries on after the story of the previous game, with characters having their own sub plots, but I am going to be honest, of all the features of DoA6, this is the one that I spent the least time with.
While I will definitely come back to it after this review is published, the focus was to attempt to cover the entirety of the content that was available to me, which was plentiful.
There’s a story mode, quest mode, and training, which consists of multiple different modes. By the time you finish up your offline training, you will be prepared to bring the pain to other players online.
Most of my time online was played before the game was officially released, so I was limited on who I could find in a match; when the game did release, almost everyone I fought was from Europe.
Despite the fact that the game would tell me that our connection was poor, I never experienced lag, delay, or frame drops. Because the online matches ran so well, I was able to enjoy myself at all times, despite the fact that I did not win a single match.
The one glaring issue I have with Dead or Alive 6’s online is that the game does not have player lobbies to play with your friends. This is an oversight that I just don’t understand at all, especially after Dead or Alive 5: Last Round was criticized for also not having player lobbies on PC either.
Now it has been stated that lobbies will be coming in free update by the end of the month, but the fact that such an important feature needs to be patched into the game at all is ridiculous, and does nothing but hurt the chances that Dead or Alive 6 will have at a healthy community.
The graphics of Dead or Alive are needless to say, fantastic. From lighting in the environment to the characters themselves, everything feels like there has been a ton of effort put into them, and that is because, there has.
Team Ninja knows their audience and fans very well. They know that while we may love a good fighting game, there is always going to be an alternative reason to why we play the game.
While the game’s look is great, there is one issue that I ran into that really baffled me when I noticed it. During the mini introductions during a fight, I could not help but notice that it felt like the characters’ mouths do not move correctly.
While this may seem like an minor issue, I would not be doing my job if I didn’t mention it, but whether it was laughing at the effort put into the sweat physics, or actually feeling like a badass when I stood victorious over my enemy while covered in bruises, Dead or Alive 6’s updated graphics are the icing on the cake.
Another feature that has been added to the game is the ability to customize your fighter’s costumes, but the options are so limited as of release that I could only ask, “why bother?” On top of that, the way in which you unlock new costumes makes absolutely no sense.
As you play you get costume parts and you would think that you could then spend those parts to buy or “craft” a costume for a character of your choosing, but instead you just randomly unlock costumes for random characters; you have no control over who or what you unlock.
For example, because I main Tina, I want to unlock her cowgirl outfit because I am a dirty old man, but all I can do is hope that I unlock it by chance, rather than on purpose. This is another issue that will be addressed with an upcoming patch, but again the fact that this is an issue at all is mind blowing.
Finally, I need to address the $92.99 elephant in the room. While I am not one to complain about the concept of a season pass, or announcements of Day 1 DLC plans, releasing a game at full price that is lacking features like lobbies, and at the same time announcing a season pass that is nearly a hundred dollars and does not allow you to buy anything individually is insane to me.
Koei Tecmo should know better than to expect their fans to throw down so much money on a fighting game Day 1, when they are not even sure if the community will be able to support the game long term.
If nothing else it’s bad optics, and I could have only hoped that the blow back for the season passes for Dynasty Warriors 9, a game that is still far from fixed, would have given Koei Tecmo pause and make them think about ensuring the quality of their product before they try and sell us sexy costumes for their cast, which I am not against.
If the Season pass was $60 instead of over $90, I would have nothing to complain about; three characters and 62 new costumes for that price would have felt like a steal, especially if it were a once a year sort of thing.
Unfortunately, as it stands now, I feel that Koei Tecmo are trying to rip off their fans with this one, which is a shame.
There is a lot of potential in Dead or Alive 6 because at its core, I think it is a fine fighting game, but there are forces, both internally and externally that have and will continue to harm the game’s growth and community. I can only hope that there is a resistance to these efforts, and the dedicated fanbase of Dead or Alive 5 continues to support Team Ninja’s efforts.
It is honestly a shame that the poor PR behind the game from announcement to release has affected the title’s image so much. I wish that I could hold off on giving the game a score until six months from now, because the quality, entertainment value, and general worth comes from the health of the game’s community, and if it dies within a few months, there’s simply no reason to spend the money.
(Editor’s Note: Tyler and Eric Nakamura, Senior Community/Marketing manager for Koei Tecmo US are friends.)
Dead or Alive 6 was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a review copy provided by Koei Tecmo US. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.