Talking about Street Fighter means touching the authentic foundations of the fighting game genre. A franchise born 35 years ago, to which many others owe their development and success, based on a model that seemed successful and at times inimitable. But the entertainment public is capricious and it is important to innovate, revolutionize, change everything and then everything again, trying not to distort the true essence and spirit that made Ryu and his associates' saga famous. A very difficult task and, probably, precisely with Street Fighter V, Capcom has approached it in ways that still today have left a bitter taste in the mouth. I repeat: it is not easy to change at all, but with Street Fighter 6, it seems that Capcom - contrary to what was done with the fifth chapter - wants to put the player at the center of this sixth generation. And the arrival of this Closed Beta already makes this aspect clear.
Street Fighter 6, Here comes a new challenger: You!
Precisely with this first beta Capcom wants to immediately clarify the radical change that this new chapter in the series will bring. Starting the beta for the first time, I was not catapulted into the clashes, perhaps with 3-4 characters made available making me dream of the rest of the roster. No sir. This time it goes straight to an editor for creating a avatar.
THEeditor of your avatar follows the best seen in an MMORPG or in a FPS, but certainly never appeared in a fighting game. In addition to the selectable presets, you can create your own character from scratch, defining gender, skin color, eyes, hair, muscle mass and the size of each body part, with infinite possibilities beyond any imagination.
Although I have chosen my personal "traditional" canons of the street thug (brawny man, tattooed and with some scars on his face), other players have given free rein to their imagination by creating real monstrosities. Although all the avatars created in this beta will not be kept, in the final version of the game they will be the absolute protagonists of the mode World Tour (not available in this version) and del Battle Hub, true protagonist of this Closed Beta.
In fact, once the avatar was created, I was greeted by Eternity, a sort of guide character, who introduced me to the Battle Hub, a huge virtual lobby that can currently hold up to 100 players simultaneously with their avatars. with the ability to communicate with each other and, above all, challenge each other in front of cabin cruisers available in absolutely free and crossplatform matchmaking.
At the bottom left of the screen there is a map with radar that allows us to understand at a glance which positions are free and waiting for an opponent. In any case, if you don't want to go looking for a cabinet in which to challenge each other (in the old 80s way), it is still possible to join the classified and friendly matches aligned by the CPU by setting their availability to participate.
In the Battle Hub it is already possible to do many activities not strictly related to Street Fighter 6 matches, which in addition to a very complete training mode and participation in tournaments, it is possible to customize our avatar in the Goods shop spending the credits accrued in the challenges, play the great classics in the cabins of Street Fighter II Turbo, Final Fight e Magic sword (these changed every day of the beta and, surely, we will see other historical titles from the Capcom stable), improvise DJs, watch the matches only as spectators in front of the cabinets or the highlights of the tournaments projected on the screen.
In short, currently the Battle Hub is far from complete, and many areas are still inaccessible, but the spirit is the right one and it is already able to offer many hours of fun.
Yes, yes, it's fine you say, but the real game? Wait a minute, I find a cabinet with a "friend" willing to beat himself...
The best combat system ever?
You see, if I had started this article talking about the game, the fighting game, its combat system and its new graphic impact, I would have already finished a long time ago. Not because there is little to say, but because I could have summed it all up in one simple word: perfect.
With the only flaw of having to wait for 2023.
I just can't do it. Simply because SF6 promises to be gigantic, and yet we have only seen a small part of the Capcom project.
In fact, Street Fighter 6 will be made up of several components that still remain to be discovered: a mode World Tour with a distinctly open world matrix, a mode Fighting Ground which should include all the classic modes seen up to SFV (arcade, training, online matches, and much more) and the Battle Hub which we partially tested in this demo. And only thanks to the hub and matches with other players that we got to test the new combat system and appreciate the graphics engine.
Street Fighter 6 offers a new control system, close to those approaching Street Fighter for the first time and to fighting games in general, with the possibility of enclosing memorable button combinations associated with special moves in the press of a single button. But series purists and genre veterans will also be able to continue using the "old" moves. In short, it's up to you to decide whether to perform a hadoken in the classic way (with the sequence down, down-forward + punch) or simply by pressing the "triangle" button. But the news does not end here.
The entire match is shaped on the use of Drive Gauge, a bar that allows you to perform special attacks called Drive Impact who delivers a powerful blow that can absorb the incoming attack and cause a Wall Splat, even if the opponent blocks the attack, the Drive Parry which automatically repels an opponent's attack and recharges the Drive when executed successfully, Drive Reversal which brings a counterattack while blocking an opponent's attack, and finally the Drive Rush, a quick forward dash from a parry or cancelable normal attack.
But pay attention to the use of the Drive Gauge, because although it recharges it is also easy to abuse it and enter a state of extreme vulnerability and unable to use the Drive moves. It is a system that is not particularly original, but which undoubtedly balances the clashes well allowing access to all and, if you have also mastered the old arts for decades, combining them with the new Drive Gouge system, fun is guaranteed in addition to your clear superiority . So I'm sure I'm not going too far when I repeat at this point that the SF6 combat system is almost perfect.
The premises of the definitive chapter
In choosing characters, in this demo I was able to regain control of Ryu e Ken, the historical characters who most of all have undergone a strong restyling, not only as regards Ryu's beard, but for the new characterization of Ken who definitively detaches himself from the role of Ryu's "twin character" by diversifying his repertoire based on kicks. Luke, Juri, Chun-li, Guile are back and the new entries complete the selection Jamie e Kimberly. The whole is driven by a RE Engine that thanks to the photogrammetry technique, the developers have created models and scenarios of great detail (it will be enough to trivially see the details of the hair of some characters), a much higher framerate and therefore greater fluidity of the characters.
The only flaws found concern some small bugs probably due to the beta phase, which crashed the game while I was in the Battle Hub lobby (never during a match), or when a few times I found myself using Luke (always only him) despite having selected Ryu or another character. The geographical areas available for the Battle Hub are indexed by connection quality, and although some of them were marked as "poor signal", there were never any slowdowns. Wanting to clarify that the game also offers the crossplay between platforms, I can conclude by stating without a doubt that we are facing a truly exceptional netcode. Let's hope they don't cause disasters between now and the game's release…
My experience with the Street Fighter 6 Closed Beta ends with a big smile on my lips, a test that greatly exalted me seeing that Capcom has set itself the goal of putting the player at the center of this new gaming experience.
It is quite evident from the presentation of the Battle Hub and of our virtual counterpart who will then have to walk through the streets of Metro City and all the other locations foreseen by the World Tour… this turn by Capcom intimidates me a little, but at the same time it allows me to feel that breath of fresh air that I have longed for in the Street Fighter series for too long.
We have proof that the rest of the gears of this machine have all the potential to do an excellent job, from the renewed combat system, passing through the visual rendering of the RE Engine, up to a granite netcode. Now we just have to cross our fingers and wait for the official date of the final version which will see the light in a still unspecified 2023.