Street Fighter 6 is something a bit special, isn’t it? As Alex mentioned in his Street Fighter 6 review, you can tell from the second you start to get your teeth into Capcom’s latest fighter that this, really, is an all-timer. The incredible balancing of the fighting system, the well-considered comeback options, the weight with which you can punish whiffs, the variable and meaningful options open to even the most gimmicky characters… it’s Street Fighter at its peak, and a solid foundation for the next decade – if not decades – of the series’ life.
And us hopeless fighting game dependents here at VG247 aren’t the only people that think this, either – take a casual look around the industry right now (past all the smoke and hellfire summoned by Diablo 4) and you’ll see that just about everyone is learning their half-circles, Dragon Punches and Drive Parry times, too. It’s the most-played fighting game on Steam, ever, and it’s only been out a week. The numbers say a lot.
I am, by no means, a very good Street Fighter player. I can get beyond Bronze in the in-game ranking system, and then start to struggle against players that really know what they’re doing (and know how to keep Cammy and her Hooligan combination at bay, despite its new delay-based properties). So, over this past weekend, I have begun to lose more than I win – but I don’t mind, I want to get better, and losing is part of that battle.
In past games, consistent losses and a complete decimation by the occasional perfect KO (don’t judge me) might have resulted in characters teabagging me, or glib messages over the in-game chat telling me to go to bed, since it’s past my bedtime. Given the fact I have some personal information about my lifestyle represented by in-game cosmetics, some players have even called me slurs in the past. Yet, in Street Fighter 6, everyone is lovely.
“GGs,” one fighter – a particularly competent Guile – pinged me after I lost a set. “Keep it up, your cross-up game needs work.” Later, this same player requested a fight with their secondary character – Juri – where I managed to land some meaty combos off, you guessed it, my improved cross-ups. “NICE” came the ping afterwards. Made me smile, that.
Later, in the Battle Hub – a lobby that’s been realised like a big, old-fashioned arcade where you can line up at booths and engage in winner-stays-on games – things were more balanced; trading wins and losses in equal measure. Pretty much every single fight ended with another player sending one of the stock replies the game lets you use: “I had a great time today,” or “that was fun,” or “thanks!”. It’s a small thing, but these constant affirmations make the whole game feel really friendly, even when combat can get quite heated.
Thanks to the public chat lobby, you can see this pleasantness everywhere, too: someone gets absolutely battered by a particularly aerial Honda and says “wow, I didn’t have a chance, want to roll it back” in the public chat. Someone loses two perfect rounds to a Ryu that’s clearly been playing Street Fighter since the 90s and says “let’s see if you can do that against my Zan, rematch?” It really gives the whole thing an easy-going and pleasant vibe. It makes me want to spend more time in the game, and that’s always a good thing.
And all this goodwill is making me a better, and nicer, player, too. Street Fighter 6’s version of ‘buttons Ken’ is already showing itself to be ‘modern Ken’ – players that don’t really know what they’re doing, spam wakeup shoryukens, and rely on automatic combo-ing to pressure you into submission. There are definitely a few of these guys circling the Battle Hub like aggy sharks already, but when one crops up, I am kinder and more understanding: they’re just trying to have a nice time, too. They just want to play. Teaching them that doing the same old thing, again and again, isn’t effective is a kindness. Thank god for Drives, Drive Rushes and Parries – a perfect complement to easier input control schemes!
If it’s not clear from this gushing article, I really like Street Fighter 6 – I like how it plays, I like how it looks, and more than anything, I like what it’s doing for the fighting game community. I am already excited about learning the intricacies of its system for years, and years, and years to come.