Thank you, Street Fighter 6. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t embarrassed to play a fighting game in front of strangers on the show floor of a video game convention, and it was all because of the updated control scheme in Street Fighter 6. The modern control type adds simplified inputs to Capcom’s storied fighting game franchise, turning button mashing into an effective art. I’ve never felt so capable playing Street Fighter, at home or on a large screen in front of a bunch of gaming nerds.
The modern control type unleashes special moves by pressing a direction and a face button, and simplifies behaviors like throws and the game’s new Drive moves (more on that in a moment), activating them with a single button press. When playing Ryu, it’s possible to Hadoken with just one button. This is the Smash Bros.-style gameplay I’ve personally been trying to shoehorn into Street Fighter titles for years, and man, it feels good.
I tried out Chun-Li, Jamie, Luke and Ryu with the modern control scheme, and threw out special moves and parried attacks so smoothly that at one point, I actually turned up the difficulty settings for my PC counterpart (impressed gasp). I was promptly beaten, but it took three rounds and I put up an actual fight.
Chun-Li is my favorite Street Fighter character – which usually doesn’t end well for her – and in 6 with the modern control type, she feels faster and more powerful than ever. I ended up using her Tensho Kicks move often, charging toward my opponents and pressing triangle to lift them up with a series of spinning feet to the face, but all of her specials came easily and hit hard.
The Drive Gauge is new to Street Fighter 6 and it’s responsible for all of the graffiti-style visuals you see in trailers. In action, Drive abilities feel just as explosive as they look, and the bursts of color they add to fights are eye-catching without being distracting. The Drive Gauge steadily charges while fighting and players can use it to parry, counter, rush into and absorb attacks, and add extra spice to their special moves. That last ability is called Overdrive Art and is a direct replacement for the EX Special Moves from previous Street Fighter games.
Not that I could tell you how to access EX Special Moves in previous Street Fighter games off the top of my head – but playing Street Fighter 6 made me feel like, maybe, I’d be able to figure all of it out. The modern control layout is a fantastic entry point for newcomers to the franchise and folks like me, who have historically relied mainly on button mashing and luck. The modern controls helped me slow down and appreciate each move, and made it easier to connect my inputs with the actions on-screen. I feel like I understand Street Fighter a little better now. I might even try out the classic control type when I pick up Street Fighter 6 – in my living room, not a show floor.
Street Fighter 6 is due to come out in 2023 for PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox Series consoles and PC via Steam.