If you’re one of the unlucky folks who wanted to get into the Street Fighter 6 closed beta but weren’t chosen by Capcom, join the club! Then again, I had no illusions of actually getting into the closed beta test even though I applied because I understood it would be wasted on me. I’m not exactly good enough to go through the game’s paces nor am I popular enough to get the word out on how good it actually is. So I’m happy a lot of the more experienced in the fighting game community were given access to it instead of little old me. Would’ve appreciated the taste, though.
Luckily, I don’t actually need to be a beta tester for Street Fighter 6 as there were more than just a few players willing to stream or upload videos on their experience with it. It’s through these videos and live streams that I got to experience and even learn a few things about Capcom’s upcoming fighting game. A lot of these things were actually made available before the closed beta during shows like Tokyo Game Show and the like. There were already some people who have played earlier versions of Street Fighter 6 and were able to give breakdowns on how the game behaves. This might be true but it’s a whole other matter to see it in action. So here are five things I’ve learned from watching others play the Street Fighter 6 closed beta test.
#1 Punish Counters are scary
Fighting game fanatics should be familiar with counter hits. This is basically when you hit an opponent while they’re doing an attack of their own. There are usually big benefits for counter hits like slightly extra damage or getting more frame advantage which will enable you to perform combos you couldn’t do regularly. Street Fighter 6 now has 2 new counter states. The first is your regular Counter Hit, which is when you hit them before their attack gets out. This is the one you usually get when you bait out a move with a frame trap.
On the other hand, Punish Counters occur when you strike your opponent while their recovering from an attack. Most fighting game players will know these as whiff punishes as you strike their limbs while they try to poke you with a long range normal. But Punish Counters are much more scary as, if you do get one, you’re rewarded with much more frame advantage than a normal Counter Hit.
This adds a lot to Street Fighter 6’s overall meta as you can’t recklessly throw out pokes anymore. If your opponent knows you’re going to do it, he can hit your extended limb and get a Punish Counter, allowing him to get in with a long combo. This also means the risk and reward for invincible reversal moves like a Dragon Punch really has to be much more balanced as you have to keep the Punish Counter in mind if they block or see it coming.
#2 Drive Gauge is life
I’m not totally sold on the entire Drive Gauge system Capcom invented for Street Fighter 6. It’s essentially a new meter found just underneath the character’s life bar and it’s used for practically every new mechanic in the game. This is the meter that gets eaten up when you do things like the Drive Parry (deflect attacks), Drive Impact (a big strike akin to Street Fighter 4’s Focus Attack), Drive Rush (a quick dash in and modified your normals) and everything else. Maybe I just don’t like its placements as I’m so used for this kind of bar located at the bottom of the screen.
Anyway, effective meter management of the Drive Gauge takes the highest priority as, if its empty, the character enters something called Burnout. It might not seem so bad because this just means you don’t have access to the variety of mechanics for a while, right? Well, that’s true in a sense but it’s so much worse than that. When you’re in Burnout state, if your opponent hits you with a Drive Impact and you get sent into the corner, not only will you get a wall splat, your character will automatically get stunned! That’s also the least of your problems!
One thing I noticed is characters don’t take any chip damage in Street Fighter 6 as long as they have some Drive Gauge left. I’ve seen someone block Ryu’s Shinkuu Hadoken with a magic pixel of life and come out unscathed. This isn’t the case when your Drive Gauge is empty and you’re in the Burnout state! Your life bar will get chipped off if you block special attacks while your Drive Gauge is empty, leaving you open to get chipped to death. So, not only do you not have access to the new gameplay mechanics when in Burnout, you’re also in danger of getting immediately stunned by a Drive Impact or KO’ed via chip damage! So, you better keep at least 1 stock of Drive Gauge at all times!
#3 Drive Impacts look a little overpowered… for now
Fighting games have usually been compared to a fast-paced game of rock-paper-scissors. That’s because there is always a counter to something but that something will beat out another thing. The opponent keeps on trying to hit you? Block until the onslaught is over. The opponent keeps on blocking your attacks? Grab and throw them to the floor. You get the idea.
There is one specific universal new move that seems to be topping all the other attacks at the moment, however. That would be the Drive Impact. The Drive Impact seems super strong right now as there is very little reason not to throw it out. Drive Impact only costs one bar of the Drive Gauge so it’s very cost effective. It pushes the opponent very far into the corner, even if it’s blocked. It also can cause a wall splat when close enough to the corner, even if it’s blocked! Not only that, it will go through most attacks as it takes 3 hits to counter a Drive Impact successfully.
There are several ways to counter a Drive Impact strike, though. There is the Drive Parry, which can deflect all attacks, including this very special strike. You can also do something like an invincible attack like a Dragon Punch just before the hit connects. All Super Arts also seem to counter it just fine as well. While this means there are many ways to beat Drive Impacts, no one, even the pros, has the mental awareness to effectively counter Drive Impacts just yet. This makes me think that, early in Street Fighter 6’s lifespan, people will complain how Drive Impacts are just too powerful and Capcom should nerf them immediately. This will just be the knee-jerk reaction and something Street Fighter 6 players will get used to countering as the game’s meta changes in the future. It looks fine, as long as the netcode is good enough to allow for people to react to it. That could change in the future, however. But, if it behaves the way it does during launch, I think most people will adapt to it and the only ones complaining will be the ones who never learn from getting hit by it over and over again.
#4 No one played using Modern Controls
There’s always been the idea of fighting games being too hard to get into. A lot of the reasoning behind this is because it can be difficult to execute the special moves at a moment’s notice. This is why fighting game developers have been experimenting with simple control schemes to make their products more accessible. Capcom also joined the bandwagon with Street Fighter 6 by introducing Modern Controls. This allows new players to join in the fun with a much more simplified control scheme, like single button special moves and auto-combos.
However, as expected with the people who got entry to the closed beta, no one used Modern Controls. I didn’t really see anyone mess around with the Modern Control scheme and, in all honesty, I understand why. Pro players have the special command motions ingrained in them so it doesn’t make sense to limit what they can do by learning a totally new control scheme to play. Modern Controls also does not give you access to all the attacks available, which would be an incredibly hindrance for pro players.
I hardly think Modern Controls will be used by the majority of players who get Street Fighter 6. Most players will stick to the Classic control scheme and I even predict most people will even forget it’s an option. It’s nice of Capcom to keep newbies in mind but I don’t think we’ll be seeing anyone win any major tournaments using Modern Controls.
Besides, even if you haven’t touched a fighting game in your life, there’s actually a mode in Street Fighter 6 you might like, which is next on my list!
#5 World Tour Mode and Battle Hub is going to be a blast
Maybe it’s just me but I would have never guess Capcom would revive the old PlayStation Home social game. I thought a lot of hardcore gamers would actually be angry for this extra layer of non-fighting in their fighting game. I thought they would be pissed Capcom would devote a lot of resources to something that’s relatively superfluous to the fighting game experience and they should just concentrate on making Street Fighter 6 the best fighting game out there. But I was wrong. From the streams I’ve seen, a lot of the pros were, at the very least, fine with the entire Battle Hub setup. They were impressed with the entire character creation engine and how many options you could adjust to customize your avatar. They also liked the fact that you could play some classic Capcom arcade games like the original Final Fight and Magic Sword.
Right now, Capcom has only given us a taste of what Street Fighter 6’s has in store. However, the mere fact they’re giving us a really different and unique experience rather than the usual arcade ladders and the like, it seems like it’s going to be worth it even for players who just want a vast online world to explore or play some classic arcade games. Besides, who doesn’t want to play some Final Fight?
BONUS: Capcom gave us too much power with the character creation engine
Capcom pulled out the RE Engine to be used for Street Fighter 6’s graphic engine. As it was used for their recent Resident Evil games, we all know you can really create some beautiful looking characters. So, with Street Fighter 6’s character creation system, we can all expect gamers to try their best to make the most delightful looking avatars, right? So, let’s just check out what’s possible with the character creator…
KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!
What other lesons have you learned from the Street Fighter 6 closed beta? Let me know in the comments section below!