In the past decade or so, the Street Fighter series has failed to grasp my attention for long. I dabbled with both Street Fighter IV and V, but never got too invested in the gameplay. Maybe I missed the 2D of Street Figher II I grew up with, often playing it on the Game Boy on long car trips. That is, until the sixth entry in the longtime series was revealed. Something about it spoke to me -- the grungy street aesthetic felt so fitting for the series and it truly looked as though Capcom was giving it their all to make Street Fighter 6 the best in the series. After playing the Closed Beta, it's a great time for fans of Street Fighter's past and present, because Capcom is definitely making something great here.
Exploring the Battle Hub in Street Fighter 6
The Closed Beta test allows players to test out the Battle Hub portion of Street Fighter 6, which is a brand new mode for the series. This mode introduces a more community-driven dynamic to multiplayer. The Battle Hub is an area players explore and interact with each other while initiating matches and partaking in other challenges. The first thing to do is to make your own character.
If you have an interest in Street Fighter 6, chances are you've already seen the character creator online. It's hard to avoid the eldritch horrors testers made in this creator. This is to say, the character creator is robust and flexible. You're able to make pretty much anything you want, from a gritty and realistic fighter to a lanky-armed dude with a gargantuan head and legs built like a brick shithouse. I'm sure Capcom knew the capabilities of this creator and embraces the craziness of it. Sliders for just about every facet of your character's body are available -- yes, there is a buttocks muscle slider.
After making your character, players are able to explore the Battle Hub. It's a room filled with arcade cabinets and vendors. Addressing the latter, the Battle Hub is not just a way to interact with other players; it's a way to express yourself in any way you see fit. You're able to purchase new outfits from a vendor with currency earned from completing challenges. I was able to find just a small selection of clothes to choose from, but I expect more once Street Fighter 6 actually releases. I think it's great that we're able to tune our avatar to the way we see fit.
Other community features include a chat box and emotes. While the Fighting Ground mode -- which was not included in the Street Fighter 6 Closed Beta -- is a more traditional experience that matches you with players, the Battle Hub necessitates players sit at an arcade cabinet. These are double-sided arcade cabinets, so once two players sit on either side, the battle is on. Capcom is clearly trying to emulate the experience of an in-person gathering or tournament in virtual form with the Battle Hub.
There's so much love and care put into the Battle Hub. In one section of the room, there are arcade cabinets. I was able to play a fully emulated version of Final Fight in Street Fighter 6. Another player can even sit and join you to partake in the fun. This isn't likely to be the most popular feature in Street Fighter 6, but I certainly appreciate the attention to detail Capcom put into crafting this community-driven experience.
A New Training Mode and Control Scheme in Street Fighter 6
The bulk of my experience with the Closed Beta test thus far was toying with the Practice Mode. If you sit at an empty cabinet, you're able to practice while waiting for an opponent. To test out all the features introduced in this entry, I sought out an empty Battle Hub server and sat by myself so I wasn't interrupted -- even while playing a video game, I'm still the introvert as I am in real life.
Street Fighter 6 introduces what may be the most robust Practice Mode ever conceived for a game. Virtually every facet of your training experience can be tweaked, altering gauges and health amounts, tuning the AI dummy, and more. You're able to pick specific modes to practice responding to certain aspects of gameplay, like offensive pressure from the opponent. It's exactly what I'm looking for in a fighting game. Look, there are millions of players with far more experience with Street Fighter than me, and it's hard to make up for such a large skill gap. With so many options in training, I can see myself having a decent chance.
Besides training, one of the most impressive inclusions in Street Fighter 6 is the modern control scheme. It trades the directional movements and inputs needed, for example, a hadouken -- a forward or semi-circle and button tap -- with a simple button press. In the case of the PlayStation 5 controller, simply pressing triangle initiates a hadouken. It's mind-blowingly easy to perform combos and special moves that require more memorization and finesse for beginners. The R2 button on PS5 is the "assist" button. Holding R2 down while tapping the light attack button (square) strings together a bread-and-butter combo.
The modern control scheme is something every fighting game should strive to have, though I should emphasize it's clearly not a substitute for experience. I found it easier to perform Ken's moves on the Classic control scheme since I have previous experience with his moves. That said, Modern is a great control scheme for those looking to learn a character without getting totally annihilated.
We haven't seen everything Street Fighter 6 has to offer. I am especially excited to try out the World Tour mode, which is a brand-new singleplayer experience. It appears as though Capcom is attempting to appeal to every type of player in Street Fighter 6, and rather than stretching themselves thin, they're crafting what could be the best experience the series has to offer since its transition to 3D. After minimal excitement for both IV and V, I'm all in for Street Fighter 6. Count me among the leagues of players ready to duke it out next year.
TechRaptor previewed Street Fighter 6 on PlayStation 5 using a copy provided by the publisher.