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Street Fighter 6 hands-on preview and first impressions

Street Fighter 6

Ever since the disappointment of Street Fighter V, I’ve been cautiously looking toward the future of the Street Fighter franchise. Having been a lifelong fan, I always want the absolute best for this franchise simply because of how revolutionary it always has been.

While we can all agree that Street Fighter V finally redeemed itself (even though it cost a ridiculous amount of money if you were buying things as they released instead of waiting for complete editions) to do it, Street Fighter V ultimately became a decent title that many fans reluctantly accepted after it initially broke our hearts at launch.

Once we confirmed that Street Fighter 6 was a thing, questions have been looming over what the future of holds and whether or not Capcom can earn it’s place back in our hearts. While I have a lot of nitpicks about Street Fighter 6, I can ultimately say that this closed beta removed a lot of my fears.

This is a preview coupled with a supplemental video preview. You can watch the video preview or read the full preview of the game below:

Street Fighter 6 first impressions

Opening up Street Fighter 6‘s closed beta, the only selectable option was to play online in online lobbies that were composed of multiple arcade cabinets which your avatar walks up and sits at. This has pretty much become a standard, and good God was it fun messing around with Street Fighter 6‘s avatar creator.

In the end, I decided to make a blob of flesh that I benevolently named Lizzo, both poking fun at the singer but also feeling “good as hell” knowing I could represent myself in the world the way I wanted to – as a strong independent woman who don’t need no man.

As I paraded around the lobby, it’s a crime that I didn’t have an option to twerk while waiting for a spot to open, so I randomly jiggled back and forth as I waited in anticipation as if there was a two for one special at the Golden Corral.

Jumping into a game was actually pretty easy. You simply sit at a cabinet and you’re greeted with the option to go into solo practice mode or wait patiently for a challenger to arrive. What I didn’t find too enjoyable was not having a way to change my chosen fighter once seated.

Controls and network code stability

If you’re not paying attention, you’ll completely miss that you have to press a button to choose both your fighter, control scheme, and color type before you ready up. Not having an option to do this before choosing the solo mode kind of sucked because you had to commit to playing a character whom you may or may not have even wanted to play once you had some time in the solo training mode.

For example, Luke was kind of a bore to play and I just really wanted to go back to my old trusty Ryu. I could swap to him just fine in solo play, but once the challenger came, I was Luke if I didn’t leave the machine and re-up. I understand the reasoning behind eliminating the character select screens, but there’s something classically old school about that feeling that I don’t think saving a few seconds is worth missing out on.

I jumped into this thing completely blind, so you can only imagine my surprise when instead of having six attack buttons, I was greeted with a “streamlined” control scheme that’s more closely comparable to Marvel vs Capcom 3 than what I had anticipated for Street Fighter. Thanks Capcom, I hate it.

I played a few matches with it and figured out it wasn’t as awful as I originally perceived it, but it felt like I didn’t have nearly enough control over basic fight commands. The modern control scheme is probably pretty cool for playing as characters you’ve never played or trying out new characters such as Luke and Jamie.

Visuals and overall presentation

I ultimately still preferred manual mode so I had a little more of an idea of what I was doing. Once I sorted out the control scheme, I found myself having a lot of fun with Street Fighter 6’s new stylish presentation.

Similar to the watercolor look of IV, 6 opts for a more “urban” style using spray paint and paint splashes. This was visually appealing and sparked joy while baiting people into making stupid mistakes or simply eating some minor damage while unleashing a Drive Impact move.

It’s essentially a way to guard crush someone who’s turtling, and that’s a welcome addition to basic combat. This move can be used multiple times per match, and you have armor when using it, so you can definitely power through weak attacks to land it.

This mechanic is a blast to learn and work around, and made basic fighting feel fresh again. There’s more to talk about with the Drive gauge at another time, but I suck and I’m not that good yet, so we’re only going to lightly glaze over it for now.

Soundtrack and Music

Let’s talk about one thing that always matters in fighting games: The soundtrack. Capcom certainly had no problem throwing a few bucks at Exile and Flo Rida for Street Fighter IV‘s iconic The Next Door (Indestructible), and that song is beloved because of it.

We were perhaps a little too lenient on Street Fighter V being barebones to not even care that it didn’t have a hype theme (though it did finally get one for the Arcade Edition), but Street Fighter 6’s theme really should have gotten the people they’ve blatantly ripped off tried to sound a lot like for real.

Street Fighter 6‘s theme song, Not on the Sidelines, sounds like a guy doing one of the worst Young Jeezy impressions of all time.

God knows that Capcom absolutely could afford to throw money at anyone they wanted to for a franchise as large Street Fighter, so the decision to use the Great Value brand soundalike is beyond me. I’m sure it ain’t cheap to license Kanye West if you wanted to use Put On, but I’m sure Young Jeezy would have done this song at an affordable rate.

Aside from clowning the theme song, the rest of the soundtrack is still pretty questionable. Like why does Guile’s theme sound more like a remix of Blanka’s jungle theme, while Blanka’s theme sounds like they’re trying to make him Cuban?

Ken’s theme at least has some call backs to his Street Fighter II theme, as does Chun Li’s, and there’s also a nod to the original Street Fighter II character select theme found in the other random menu music throughout the demo.

As a whole though, I don’t really understand what they’re trying to accomplish with the music options here. Several of the themes ramp like they’re gonna go hard and then just never follow through.

Jamie’s theme, for example, sounds like it’s gonna be a jazzy number with some slight oriental elements but it eventually evolves into a weird disco thing that wishes it could have been in Persona. I dunno, maybe I’m just getting too old for this weird amalgamation of mashups, but most of themes are forgettable.

Final Thoughts

I could probably go on for a good while with my impressions, but in closing, I did want to mention that the netcode seemed extremely solid even with the servers having connection issues throughout the weekend.

While I’m disappointed that I never could get the beta to connect on my Steam Deck, I had a lot of fun with it on my laptop playing cross platform with anyone who was on with seemingly no direct advantage related to platform of choice.

I can’t wait to play more of this in the future, and I really hope they nerf Jamie because he seemed hella broken – that or everyone who I fought as him were already really damn good at him – and they need to buff Luke because he seems extremely underpowered.

If they wait and release Street Fighter 6 in a full state instead of the barebones “for tournaments” excuse like they did with Street Fighter V, I think Street Fighter 6 might wind up being the best Street Fighter yet. I had an absolute blast playing it and can’t wait for round two.

Street Fighter 6 is launching in 2023 across Windows PC (via Steam), Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.

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