Street Fighter 6 review: Blood, sweat, and style

Street Fighter 6 fiercely beat its way into my heart.

Street Fighter 6 review - Ryu standing with his arms crossed in darkness
(Image: © Windows Central)

Windows Central Verdict

Street Fighter 6 is an exceptional entry in the franchise that reminds me why I love fighting games. Freshly introduced mechanics shake up the familiar dance of previous titles and notably improve the moment-to-moment gameplay. Capcom continues to demonstrate precisely how a team can triumphantly transform established IP. The blood, sweat, and style pouring from nearly every moment in Street Fighter 6 will delight newcomers and veterans alike.


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    Remarkable sense of style

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    Measured new mechanics

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    A surprising amount of content

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    Charming online lobbies


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    Repetitive World Tour missions

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    Underwhelming Arcade Mode

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    Missing fan-favorite characters

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Capcom's output in recent years has been outstanding. From the reimagining of the iconic blockbuster Resident Evil 4 Remake to the enormous commercial success of Monster Hunter World, this Japanese publisher has successfully managed to reinvent its most beloved IP. Considering their sizzling hot streak, it was no surprise that fans were ecstatic about last year's reveal of Street Fighter 6.   

My journey with the storied fighting franchise began way back on Super Nintendo with Street Fighter 2. Regarding 2D fighters, nothing could match that masterclass entry's style, intensity, and undeniable flair. While I've remained a staunch fan for decades, my hopes and misplaced competitive aspirations have waned significantly. I worried that even if Street Fighter 6 managed to be the best entry to date, it wouldn't be enough to rekindle that ardent early magic. Boy, was I wrong.   

Like the hyper-stylized trailers and marketing materials leading up to the game's launch, Street Fighter 6 drips with personality, flair, and passion. Capcom has delivered an experience that graciously onboards new players and celebrates the formidable legacy of Street Fighter. Whether you're a fan of sweaty online competitive play or pseudo-RPG single-player campaigns, Street Fighter 6 is deceptively dense. The three boisterously established modes in Street Fighter 6 present heaps of day-one content and a rock-solid foundation for the future. 

Street Fighter 6: Game modes and content

Street Fighter 6 Ken introduction (Image credit: Windows Central)

Street Fighter 6 is the most content-packed offering in the series' history. While the launch roster of 18 playable fighters is comparably lighter than predecessors like Street Fighter 4, the latest outing provides a commendable number of game modes, including a full-fledged single-player campaign. Between World Tour, Battle Hub, and Fighting Ground, there are endless opportunities to scrap with fellow players or intimidating NPCs.  

It's honestly a bit wild to type this, but Street Fighter 6 includes a 20-hour RPG-inspired story mode. World Tour enables players to create their own up-and-coming avatars and travel around the globe to train with legends like Ken, Blanka, Ryu, Zangief, Marisa, Chun-Li, and more. Strangely like Pokémon Red and Blue, you and a friendly rival are racing to become the strongest fighters in the region.   

Street Fighter 6 World Tour Thrasher (Image credit: Windows Central)

Despite its single-player design, World Tour in Street Fighter 6 almost plays like an MMO. Character customization, skill trees, and an elaborate gear system pull inspiration directly from popular RPGs like World of Warcraft and Dragon Ball Xenoverse. Training under various Masters, representing established character archetypes like Ryu and E. Honda, unlocks new special abilities and play styles. This fascinating system empowers you to experiment with different move sets and learn the fundamentals of each fighter.   

World Tour in Street Fighter 6 is ultimately a fun throwback to Capcom's early beat 'em series Final Fight, which is perfectly fitting because the campaign feels like a semi-open world take on the nostalgic genre. You're encouraged to battle gangsters on the streets and smash any barrels or boxes in your path. While the repetition of mission structure and forced backtracking to utilize the game's limited day/night cycles becomes tedious, I was hooked by the whacky premise of a Street Fighter RPG. 

Street Fighter 6 art direction (Image credit: Windows Central)

Fighting Ground represents the classic offline Street Fighter experience. This pillar of Street Fighter 6 includes Arcade Mode, Training Mode, and Extreme Battle Mode. Here you can duke it out as the 18 official fighters featured in the game without the fixation on stats and RPG systems. No frills and no gimmicks (well, excluding the gimmicky Extreme Battle Mode, anyway). Just good old-fashioned Street Fighter exhibitions.   

For folks aiming to elevate their casual play, the expansive Training Mode is a necessary element of the Street Fighter 6 package.

The training mode was a major standout for me. Not only does it provide overviews of the character's strengths and weaknesses, but it also breaks down how to execute specific combos. For folks aiming to elevate their casual play, the expansive training mode is a necessary element of the Street Fighter 6 package. When understanding the nuances of new favorites like Marisa and Lily, I found myself extremely grateful for investments in the training department.   

Unfortunately, I wasn't overly impressed with the arcade mode in Street Fighter 6. The bite-sized flow of quick matches with character backstories sprinkled in at the start and finish is easy enough to digest. Still, it's massively overshadowed by the World Tour mode. Outside of unique comic panels and a few lines of character-specific dialogue, there aren't compelling incentives to complete arcade mode with more than just a handful of fighters.   

Street Fighter 6 Battle Hub selfie wall (Image credit: Windows Central)

Battle Hub serves as the virtual online playground for Street Fighter 6, and I quickly grew to adore Capcom's hilarious twist on the metaverse. This mode tosses players into sprawling online social spaces in an ingenious twist on traditional multiplayer lobbies. Your World Tour character acts as your avatar as you navigate virtual arcades adorned with Capcom memorabilia and selfie stages.  

To participate in online multiplayer matches, simply walk up to an arcade cabinet and jump in the hot seat. Here random passing players can request a battle or spectate ongoing fights. While it's impossible to replicate the energy of in-person competition, Street Fighter 6's approach to multiplayer beautifully rhapsodizes arcade enthusiasts. Spamming Spinning Bird Kick emotes while dressed as cheap cosplay Blanka in a crowd of online strangers is a charming reality only possible in Street Fighter 6. 

Street Fighter 6: Controls and combat

Street Fighter 6 E. Honda introduction (Image credit: Windows central)

In terms of core gameplay and controls, Street Fighter 6 isn't a radical departure from previous entries. The deliberate, chess-like back and forth remains a crucial component of the action. However, a host of calculated systems propelled by the freshly instituted Drive Meter and a beginner-oriented control scheme prudently alter combat dynamics.   

Street Fighter professionals can quarter-circle punch and down-up-kick without batting an eye. Unfortunately, those unmistakable button commands don't come as easy to first-time players. Street Fighter 6 offers a "Modern" control scheme that dramatically simplifies the game's learning curve. With automatic combos and single-button special attacks, this streamlined option enables anyone to pick up and play any character, which previously wasn't always an enjoyable option in Street Fighter.   

Street Fighter 6 doesn't only cater to new players. In fact, the Drive Meter arguably hoists competitive play to another level. Mechanics like Drive Impact, Drive Parry, Drive Rush, and Drive Reversal deliver game-changing combat versatility. Annoying tactics like projectile spamming and low-kick combo cheesing can be effectively countered and punished by opposing fighters. For players jumping straight in from Street Fighter 5, these changes take some getting used to but are worth studying.  

Street Fighter 6 review: Style and presentation 

Street Fighter 6 Marisa stage (Image credit: Windows Central)

Even from its earliest pixel art iterations, Street Fighter has possessed a signature sense of style. Each subsequential release has pushed those boundaries further, and Street Fighter 6 is no exception. The gorgeous 3D watercolor flourishes introduced in Street Fighter IV have been eloquently ripened, and the overall production of stages, characters, and special abilities is best in class. 

The principles of design and art direction in Street Fighter 6 are unapologetic.

Street Fighter 6 makes every moment an enchanting spectacle. From the quirky pre-match loading screens that enable players to mischievously taunt opponents with silly faces to the hype-as-hell character introductions, the amount of detail and attention on display in Street Fighter 6 is extraordinary. No matter how often you see it, witnessing an over-the-top finisher like Marisa savagely smashing another fighter's skull into a brick wall fills you with a rush of unfiltered adrenaline.

Street Fighter 6 gameplay (Image credit: Windows Central)

The principles of design and art direction in Street Fighter 6 are unapologetic. Legacy characters have been radically remodeled, and the modern fighter wears its inspirations on its sleeves. With elements of street art, anime, traditional Japanese watercolor paintings, and hip-hop culture bursting from each scene, the latest sequel exhibits a resolute creative methodology.   

It's worth noting that high-resolution textures weren't available in the review build we played on Xbox Series X. For the World Tour Mode, this was particularly glaring and meant various logos and signs were utterly unreadable. According to Capcom, these textures will be added with a day-one patch, but as of writing this review, we haven't seen them implemented. 

Street Fighter 6: Conclusion

Street Fighter 6 Ryu victory pose (Image credit: Windows Central)

When it comes to conventional 1v1 fighting games, it doesn't get much better than Street Fighter 6. Sure, there are a handful of fan-favorite characters missing from the launch roster that I'd love to see added to the game, but in every other way, it's the complete package. The day-one offering this time around feels substantially more robust than Street Fighter 5.   

Despite its repetition, World Tour was a shockingly capable amalgamation of classic RPGs and side-scrolling beat 'em ups that I would never have imagined spending over 20 hours with. Combined with the comically absurd online Battle Hub offering, that is more than enough to keep even casual players connected with Street Fighter 6 long-term. With the promise of continued online support, there's enormous potential for Capcom's premiere fighting game to reclaim its throne for years to come.  

Like many ongoing games, Street Fighter 6 will feature battle passes and paid premium content. However, these systems weren't made available during the review period, so we can't discuss what the pricing is or what rewards will be included. While the approach to monetization in Street Fighter 6 remains unknown, we can confirm World Tour currently features dozens of unlockable customization options, including new costumes for playable characters.  

Street Fighter 6 World Tour Photo Mode (Image credit: Windows Central)

At this point in my life, I can't imagine myself becoming a professional Street Fighter player. Still, the fantastic gameplay and improved competitive systems in Street Fighter 6 encourage me to step into the ring and at least pretend like I know what I'm doing. Regardless of whether or not I take home the Capcom Cup, one thing's for sure – there will be copious amounts of Street Fighter 6 in my future.   

Street Fighter 6 is scheduled to release on June 2, 2023, for Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, and PC. If you're looking to up your game, be sure to check out our list of the best arcade fight sticks and best Xbox controllers

Miles Dompier

Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.