Street Fighter 6 - Early Impressions
Can I just say, it was really nice of Capcom to allow PAX AUS to tag along with the Street Fighter 6 (SF6) Expo held this year in Melbourne. Always good to see the big guys keeping an eye out for the little fellas out there! Jokes aside, I was clearly mega keen on checking out the new iteration of Street Fighter at PAX AUS this year and I was lucky enough to get a bunch of games in against many a random person and all I wanted to do was head back for more! Between these games and spending way too many hours watching pros test out the beta, I’ve compiled a few early impressions about SF6, where it’s at, where it’s heading and if the optimism is running high or if there are concerns moving forward, let’s get into it.
You Drive Me Crazy
Contrary to popular belief, Street Fighter (SF) isn’t a legacy series. Every version of SF has been quite different from the last. This dates all the way back to the very first (and admittedly, worst) entrant to the franchise and how its sequel (Street Fighter 2) completely blew it out of the water with a host of changes and dynamics. SF6 is no different and the universal mechanic that drives (lol) this game is the ‘Drive System’. Every character will have a total of six-gauge bars just under their health, this allows you to use things like Drive Impact, Drive Rush, Reversals, and Parries. That’s a lot of words I just used there, so I’ll break it down a bit;
Drive Impact – This unleashes a powerful attack that can potentially stun your opponent and has two hits of armour. Quite a powerful tool to use.
Drive Rush – Or commonly referred to as “the green shit”, this can be used to cancel a normal move and allow you to extend a combo for more follow-up damage, or close a gap very quickly and potentially provide a link to other moves.
Parries – Parries are back baby! Holding down both medium attacks will allow your character to parry most incoming attacks. Timing it within a two-frame window will signal a perfect parry, pulling this move off will give you a lot of frame advantage.
Reversals – Quite identical to the V-Reversal of SFV fame. You can use this when in block stun to stop an opponent’s onslaught. Early indicators seem to suggest this is unsafe on block though.
All characters also have a super bar that can fill up to three levels, allowing three levels of super moves (4 if you’re low on health and at max bar, as that allows you to perform a Critical Art). These can also be consumed for enhanced moves, which are essentially EX moves from previous SF versions. Exhaust all your meter though and you’ll go into drive exhaust. In this state, you’ll take chip damage, be unable to utilise any drive moves, as well as finding yourself vulnerable to stuns! It will replenish but during that time will be quite a stressful time for the player. Use that meter wisely.
Everything, Everywhere, All At Once
What really stood out for me was how all the available characters seem to have every move-set from every game they’ve been in … and then some more! Ken has all his crazy kick target combos as well as his toe poke and overheads, and returning from SFV is his run-dash and fire-specials! Guile has a wide assorted of sonic booms that range from his tried-and-true booms to the enhanced ones from SFV fame!
The list goes on and on, but I’m struggling to find a move that a character had in previous iterations that aren’t showing up here. This in itself doesn’t mean much of course. Because “big deal” I hear you say, “they just put in all the moves from other games, that doesn’t necessarily make the game good”. And RIGHT YOU ARE GOOD SIR! Now sit back down and let me expand ab it further here. What makes this exciting is how they’ve been implemented and more importantly, how they’ve been developed to mesh with the drive system. This essentially gives the player freedom of choice and expression with how they play the character and so far, it doesn’t really seem like there’s a right way to do things. How you play your character could be quite different from the next person. The range of options is all there and the freedom of choice is completely yours.
OK let’s get into the weeds here. SFV was somewhat of a failure on Capcom’s part. There were a range of issues at launch and extending quite far into the game’s life. Bad performance, terrible netcode, lack of content, bad character designs and animations, and a lack of freedom for the player’s combo choices. Adding to this pile was the V-System and how it never really worked the way it was probably designed to.
We’re assuming here, but the general idea is that the V-System would give each character a unique ability and feel to the other. The reality was that some V-Skills worked well and others didn’t and I’m sure it was a nightmare to balance correctly. Popping V-Trigger itself was a road to victory that destroyed a lot of hype when it came to comebacks in matches. There were only so many times you would see Urien get a one-hit trigger activation and set up a 50/50 scenario that would result in a potential victory before it became an exception to not see such things in a match.
So, what about SF6? Well, straight away we’re seeing a lot of content coming in the form of fighters HUB. The level and character designs look absolutely spectacular, the gameplay is both fast and fluid and the drive system is already opening the game up a bunch and we’re only in the early stages of beta testing! Now whilst we didn’t get a beta code to test the Netcode, there have been a lot of reports from those who had it, signalling that the rollback Netcode in SF6 is incredibly impressive.
All these indicators suggest that the developers really listened to the feedback and criticisms of SFV and instead of putting their heads in the sand and ignoring their player base, they’ve spent the time to fix things up and made sure that they’re being done right.
My Glass Is Half Full x 2
Oh Lord did I love playing this game. The gameplay feel is great and it looks fantastic. The damage is scaled really well, there are no comeback dynamics in play, so a comeback is quite earned when it happens.
It’s also the little things that are being recognised over time that aren’t readily apparent when you first pick up the game that make me quite excited for this title moving forward. Things like boosting your meter regeneration by playing more aggressive or losing it if you’re turtling in a corner. Things like drive-impact initially seem really powerful, until people get a good read or react well and counter you for a bunch of damage. This gives moves like this an ‘all-in’ feel and adds an element of risk and reward that you’ll weigh up in the middle of a match. At no point during my matches did I feel I was getting robbed of a round due to a cheap one-hit. If I lost, I lost because I wasn’t good enough and if I was playing well, that would carry into a win on my side (and don’t let anyone tell you that Hewso beat me in a match, because I’ll deny it to my grave).
It goes without saying, but all I want to do is play this game some more. Play it online, play it with friends, figure things out and find combos that are both rewarding and fun to do. There’s no rock-solid release date for this one but you bet we’ll be jumping on any news for this one going forward.