Capcom has announced new characters for Street Fighter 6 on a near monthly basis since the next instalment of the series was announced. After a period of showcasing that first build (featuring Ryu, Chun Li, Luke and newcomer Jamie) around trade shows, we’ve now had the chance to get our hands on the new challengers. Guile, Juri, another newcomer Kimberly, and the recently-announced Street Fighter legend Ken are now playable, each of who showcases even more of the creativity in combat that Street Fighter 6 looks to be bringing to the table.
There’s a couple of new stages too. 'Carrier Byron Taylor', a huge military aircraft carrier named after Guile’s superior in the Air Force (one for the lore nerds), which, despite being a gigantic grey battleship, is a background that's full of life. A big colourful flag flaps away in the wind on the deck and, like Guile’s stages from previous games, there are loads of folk watching the fight, cheering the combatants on. In fact, Guile himself appears in the background if you’re not playing as him, hands a pilot his helmet and fist bumps him. The other, 'Tian Hong Yuan', is a beautiful-looking Chinese inspired backdrop, full of vibrant colours and lanterns hanging from anything that’ll have one.
Capcom has also added two additional voices to the Real-Time Commentary feature - Tasty Steve and, as the first ‘colour commentator’, FGC royalty, James Chen. If you watch competitive Street Fighter, hearing Steve losing his mind over a particularly hype moment or hearing James deliver his trademark, "IS IT GONNA KILL?" line when landing a Super is as much part of the experience as all the "Hadokens!" and "Shoryukens!". As such, they’re welcome additions to the commentary roster so far. There’s more than a few iconic voices in the FGC - it is going to be interesting to see which ones Capcom deem fit for inclusion over time.
Old dogs, new tricks
Up first here, though, is the man of the hour: the freshly announced Ken Masters. A perhaps inevitable inclusion but an undeniable fan-favourite, only with a twist on his classic design. Turns out, the leaks were true - Ken has fallen on harder times since Street Fighter 3: Third Strike (yes, SF3 is the ‘last’ game if we’re going in chronological order, but that’s a whole article in itself), and is now working on the Metro City dockyard. The billionaire playboy is now a scruffy, unkempt mess of a man, with only the pants of his iconic red gi any indicator of his classic look, now largely covered by a big duster coat. Despite a visual overhaul, he’s very much the usual aggressive, more front-foot focused version of Ryu that he has been in most of the games - they didn’t use this as an opportunity to make any radical changes to his game plan, instead doubling down on what you expect from the character.
His V-Skill 1 move from Street Fighter 5, which allowed Ken to go into a running state to continue pressure, is now just a standard move that he can perform by pressing two kick buttons, with the ability to put a different type of kick attack onto the end of it depending on the button pressed. Whilst in this run state, performing some of his classic special moves - Dragon Punch or Hurricane Kick, for instance - gains them some slightly different properties, although in our time with the game we weren’t able to explore this as fully as we would like. It appears that this will allow for Ken to run forward and extend combos for additional damage, and to keep up offensive pressure on his opponent. He also has two new kick-based attacks - one that attacks forward, and allows you to push a button to get either a mid, low or overhead mixup; and one that acts a bit like his Street Fighter 5 V-Reversal, a forward-moving flying kick that draws the opponent closer to him, again allowing for that trademark offensive pressure.
Fan favourite Juri, again, is very similar to her previous incarnations, this time playing a sort-of half-and-half version of her Street Fighter 4 and Street Fighter 5 iterations. Her core mechanic of ‘storing’ Fuha stocks that she can spend for specific moves is still present, but she’s less reliant on it than in Street Fighter 5. She always has her various special moves at her disposal, and none of them require stocks to be accessed, with spending a stock now extending these existing moves in her arsenal or giving them different properties, allowing for bigger combos and more damage. This change is huge for the character because having to make the decision between ending a combo with more damage or ending it with the move that adds a Fuha stock feels more like a meaningful choice - it’s not mandatory to your success, but the risk vs reward element is worth keeping in mind at all times. Oh, and she's got her divekick back, which is always a deadly weapon to have in this character’s toolbox.
Guile, well, he’s Guile. He’s got his Flash Kick and he’s got his Sonic Booms, as always. There’s no real ‘big body’ character in the game right now so Guile is probably the hardest hitting one - his stuff all looks like it hits like a truck. Big, meaty punches and kicks that feel super satisfying to land and a load more ‘target combos’ in his arsenal that give him more time to charge his attacks, allowing him to stick one of his trademark special moves on the end of a series of strikes. Like the rest of the roster, a lot of his V-Skill and V-Trigger stuff from Street Fighter 5 are now just standard parts of his moveset, with his ‘Solid Puncher’ V-Trigger now being one of the three super moves he has access to and allows him to throw a flurry of different speed Sonic Booms.
An interesting element that we didn’t really have time to fully explore is that by pushing forward and punch at the end of a Sonic Boom input or up and kick when performing a Flash Kick at the exact same time gives the moves different properties - something that top players are going to be looking to achieve consistently and it is going to be interesting to see how combos and damage change depending on whether you nailed one of these frame perfect attacks.
Finally, and probably the most fun character in the current roster, is the newcomer Kimberly. A disciple of Bushinryu, the martial art practised by Final Fight and occasional Street Fighter character Guy and his master Zeku from Street Fighter 5, only with a more flashy, street dance-influenced twist. Much like her sensei before her, she has a command dash that can have a sliding low or overhead attack tagged onto the end of it, as well as the ability to cancel it to fake out an opponent. However, it has a brilliant, new property - if you run into the opponent with the command dash, Kimberly runs up them, leaps off and gets an air throw or divekick, forcing the opponent to guess right or get hit.
Kimberly also has a ‘command normal’ attack performed with forward and heavy kick where she leaps towards the opponent and, even if they block the attack, bounces either away from them, directly upwards or even over the top of them, again forcing the opponent to guess which way to block. This will hit everyone, every time, for at least a week after release while people figure out the best way to deal with it! She also gets an additional buff after she lands her level three super, where she starts listening to the music on her portable tape player - again, unfortunately we didn’t have time to truly explore the properties of this. These moves, combined with her spray can bomb traps and ability to teleport (!) makes her a formidable and extremely exciting character who is all about getting right in the opponent’s face and forcing them to guess over and over again. She’s a lot of fun.
It’s no surprise that the two new characters are probably the most interesting because Capcom is on a pretty hot streak of adding really cool new characters to the Street Fighter universe. Menat, G, FANG, Zeku - all of them have unique play styles that make them stand out in Street Fighter V’s large roster. Right now, the general vibe from returning bunch all feel like fleshed out versions of their Street Fighter 5 counterparts but with their V-System moves and abilities merged into their standard move sets, they already feel more versatile and that you can be far more creative and expressive with them than you can in the previous entry.
So far, the leaked roster appears to be correct and although it remains to be seen as to whether that all of them make it into the launch lineup (which might be quite optimistic, to be fair), there’s a lot of characters that, based on our time spent with the first eight, are going to be fascinating to see how they blend with Street Fighter 6’s new universal mechanics. Who’s going to be next?
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