Street Fighter 6 is leveraging the past to create what could be its best entry yet

Street Fighter 6 screenshot
(Image credit: Capcom)

When Street Fighter 6 was first officially revealed earlier this year, the width of long-serving series star Ryu's rippling chest stole the headlines. As far as first looks go, it was far from the worst, but with such a dearth of information arriving alongside the footage shown, people latched onto whatever they could – not least the shape of his toes and his, ahem, other physical features. The Street Fighter 6 gameplay reveal, dropped during Sony's recent State of Play event, however, left little to the imagination. 

Against a backdrop of colourful explosions – something which appears to be a prominent part of the new art style – we gleaned a sneak peek at a single player mode, five core combat systems, and, most excitingly, an open world to explore. We got a look at a few characters too – a distinctly less wide-looking Ryu; the return of series favourite Chun-Li; Street Fighter 5's final DLC character Luke; and a whole new character in Jamie, who fights in the Drunken Boxing style. This is, of course, before someone leaked what is apparently the entire launch roster online within a couple of hours of the presentation. Whoops.

The reception to the Street Fighter 6 leak is surely a net win for Capcom. Social media, instead of scouring the trailer for meme-able content, has been chalk-full of people talking positively about the brilliant redesigns of classic characters, and how interesting and unique the newcomers appear to be. Hardcore members of the fighting game community, lapsed fans, and total newcomers alike have all seemed impressed, and it would appear Capcom has learned all the necessary lessons from the barebones and lacklustre launch of Street Fighter 5 back in 2016. All told, this very much feels like an attempt to create a Street Fighter for everyone.

Ready? Fight!

Street Fighter 6 screenshot

(Image credit: Capcom)

As for the nitty gritty, World Tour appears to be a full single player mode, something many players found lacking from Street Fighter 5's launch. In Street Fighter 6, we'll be pounding the streets of Metro City – the very same Metro City from Final Fight – exploring its back alleys, dragon-punching its bins, and picking fights with its hapless yet hostile locals. Although the details of this mode are scarce, one thing is certain – the rich history of Capcom's various games is present at almost every turn. From the countless billboards featuring or referencing characters from the wider Capcom universe, to the full-on appearance of Damnd, the first boss in Final Fight, alongside a few other enemies from the beat 'em up series. 

With that, I can't help but wonder what else we might find hidden in Metro City. Capcom once tied arcade classic Strider into the lore of Street Fighter 5 character Zeku, and the Rival Schools games have been part of Street Fighter canon for a while now. Is this where Capcom finally brings Saturday Night Slam Masters into the fold? Or Mega Man? Or even Resident Evil?

Street Fighter 6 screenshot

(Image credit: Capcom)

"All told, this very much feels like an attempt to create a Street Fighter for everyone"

Today, Street Fighter is huge on the competitive scene. Those one vs one matches against mates on a battered arcade cabinet have now grown into high-level battles on a giant stage in the Mandalay Bay arena in Las Vegas. Unlike the wonderful, but, let's face it, utterly broken fighting games of yesteryear, modern fighting games are, and need to be, finely balanced and regularly patched to ensure a fair playing field between players and the characters they control. Every Street Fighter game possesses a distinguished combat mechanic that gives each one its flavour. From Third Strike's famous parries to Street Fighter 4's Focus Attacks, the Street Fighter games always change things up game-to-game, so that while classic character fundamentals remain the same, there's always unique ways to use them. To this end, Street Fighter 6 has the 'Drive System', which appears to be a way of utilising a version of every major mechanic from previous titles all at once.

First up is the Drive Impact, which allows players to absorb an opponent's attack and deliver a crushing blow of their own. It is, for all intents and purposes, the Focus Attack from Street Fighter 4. The Drive Parry, on the other hand, is a way of parrying attacks to avoid taking damage, even allowing players to perform a 'perfect parry' if their timing is precise – allowing you to strike back with a combo of your own. This is lifted straight from Street Fighter 3: Third Strike, and is one of the more exciting and memorable mechanics from the series to date. The Overdrive is the series' standard way of performing 'EX' moves, which add different properties to character's special moves. 

The Drive Rush is probably the most interesting on paper, because this allows you to cancel a parry into a sudden dash forward to catch an opponent by surprise or possibly even extend combos. This essentially allows players to perform something similar to the Focus Attack Dash Cancel technique, which was one of the backbones of Street Fighter 4's combat suite. Finally, there's the Drive Reversal, which players can activate while they're blocking an opponent's attacks, and is essentially a 'get off me' move reminiscent of the V-Reversals from Street Fighter 5. All of these utilise a block from the new Drive gauge and managing this resource appears to be a key component of Street Fighter 6's combat. All of these mechanics were fantastic in their own right in previous games, giving each game its own feel. But in Street Fighter 6, players will have all of these tools at their disposal from the word go, allowing for far more player expression.

Past, present, future

Street Fighter 6

(Image credit: Capcom)
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With an eye on the future of Street Fighter, Capcom has included the ability to play with 'Modern' controls. Designed for newcomers and players who want to have instant fun, this simplifies special moves from their standard inputs to either single button presses or a button plus a direction, not too dissimilar to Super Smash Bros. There's still some confusion as to what drawbacks there might be while using this control style in competitive matches, because although it limits you to three types of attack instead of the standard six, having one button Sonic Booms or instant Spinning Piledrivers could be a seriously powerful tool! For those just wanting to get a foothold in the game while they're learning the ropes, this will certainly make things more approachable.

Another interesting addition is the inclusion of real-time commentary, as if you were watching a Capcom Pro Tour broadcast. During a match you can turn on the voice of Jeremy 'Vicious' Lopez (or Japanese broadcast talent, Aru) to call your matches. It appears that, as well as adding to hype moments and bringing some added excitement, they'll say things that will give you an idea of what you could do in certain situations. Again, it remains to be seen as to whether this does offer an additional means of tutorializing without forcing players to sit through actual tutorials, but it is clearly another example of Street Fighter 6 being a game that incorporates all parts of the culture around the series and its rich history.

From the footage shown, Street Fighter 6 appears to be a celebration of Street Fighter's past, present and future. The leak indicated that the eight original, iconic 'World Warriors' from Street Fighter 2 are present and correct in the launch lineup for the first time since Street Fighter 4 (it took six whole years' worth of DLC to finally complete the set in SF5), and there also appears to be a considerable amount of nods to Street Fighter, and Capcom's, past. Although there is plenty more to come as we head towards its 2023 release date, what we've seen of Street Fighter 6 so far has managed to get most people back onside after Street Fighter 5's initial missteps – regardless of whether they're longterm fans or newcomers alike.

Street Fighter 6 is set to launch on PS5, PS4, PC, and Xbox Series X in 2023. 

Andi Hamilton
Freelance Writer

Andi is a freelance games journalist, but also has a "normal job". Over the last 10 years, Andi has specialised in writing about Street Fighter and Dark Souls, but also covers games more broadly, along with creating podcasts and videos for YouTube and Twitch.  Andi also prides himself in cooking a mean barbecue.