Last week I was one of the lucky few people to be given access to the Street Fighter 6 Closed Beta Test. Upon getting my email I immediately downloaded the game, waited for the release day…and then had to wait half a day more before for the first few hours the game was up the servers were not working and it had to go on maintenance twice.
But once I did actually get in I was ready to play and write down my thoughts for my less fortunate friends. Before I get into those thoughts though I feel I should lay down how much of a casual player I am. When it comes to fighting games in general I usually played 3D fighters like Dead or Alive, my knowledge of 2D fighters is limited almost entirely to Melty Blood but I am trying to branch out.
All of that is a fancy way to say, I know nothing about Street Fighter. Throughout my entire life before this weekend I have played maybe a collective 3 hours of Street Fighter. However, despite that I have been really interested in Street Fighter 6 because of how stylish it looks.
Thoughts on the main gameplay
And thus, I picked up the closed beta, picked Kimberly, and proceeded to play it for hours on end. I picked Kimberly up immediately because I felt she has the best design in the whole cast and I have a natural gravitation toward ninja characters in fiction.
Going into matches, the first thing I took note of was the netcode. It was good, ungodly good in fact. Throughout the entire time I was playing the game I only experienced one or two pauses. When I played matches against a friend in Korea we both had a completely smooth experience, even when one of us (me) played on wi-fi!
As for how the game itself played, I was immediately impressed! Street Fighter 6 is an incredibly fun game, as a casual player I can’t exactly give specifics without sounding like a lunatic but to my untrained eye everything felt just right. Matches are the perfect length with each round usually lasting around a minute if both players are playing well, every character has good combo potential, and systems like the Parry and Drive Impact are incredibly fun to pull off.
Going into what I observed from other players, Juri seems to be a crowd pleaser. I played a LOT of matches but I can still say a majority of my time in NA, Europe, and Asian servers was spent fighting against Juris. In comparison, during the entire time I was playing online I only encountered a single Chun-Li player.
I also fought against a fair few Ken’s and learned that Ken players are the scariest people on earth. Once Ken gets in, he will not leave. He’s at his peak rushdown and any Ken main will be pleased with how powerful he seems to be in 6. Or maybe I just suck, who knows!
Almost all of my time was spent playing as Kimberly, with a few matches as Luke. I admit I probably should have tried out each and every character for the sake of writing an article on the Beta. However, I have a pretty good reason for sticking with Kimberly the entire time:
Kimberly is fun as hell.
As a very casual player its pretty rare for a character’s playstyle to click instantly with me, I usually need to trial and error my way through learning how they’re supposed to play. Not with Kimberly though, she immediately clicked with my preferred playstyle so my entire time with the game was just spent slowly improving and learning new tricks with her.
Being a rushdown + mixup character, throughout most of my matches I actively tried to test out new ways to play with Kimberly (I’ll explain later why I didn’t just go to training mode). Spending several matches figuring out exactly the best way to run in for her grabs or how far she throws her spray can traps was some of the most fun I’ve had learning a character in a fighting game. As a way of showing that I did learn throughout my play time, allow me to describe every way I found that Kimberly can easily get close to her opponent. Keep in mind that I played on PS5 with the default simple control scheme so I don’t actually know the right term for each button.
With Kimberly I have 4 options for getting in close and comboing (forgive me if I sound dumb at any part, I am still new to this genre)
1. Her teleport, easily the most reliable because well, it’s a teleport, and the input is literally just down+triangle. It can transition into either a normal combo or a grab but if the opponent knows you’re about to do it, you’re screwed because Kimberly cannot block as she’s teleporting. So my strategy for using it is to only do it if the opponent is distracted by throwing projectiles
2. Pressing right+circle has Kimberly perform a jumping kick forward. Since this is a heavy it does good damage while moving her but also it’s very picky. Do it too far from the opponent and you’ll whiff and get punished, do it too close and you will go past the enemy and be on the other side of the screen.
3. Quarter circle backward + circle has Kimberly begin to run toward the opponent. You can either interrupt this with an attack or do nothing, if you do nothing Kimberly will jump off the opponent and you can have her perform a grab, which I love pulling off. The two risks here are obviously if an enemy calls your bluff and punches instead of blocks they’ll hit you and the second risk is that after you bounce off of them all they need to do to dodge the grab is take a step backwards
4. Kimberly has a Senpukyaku but it always sends her at upward angles. So you need to be careful that the enemy doesn’t punish you on the way down. The obvious use for this is to only do it when the enemy themselves is about to jump.
All in all, my experience with the main game was nothing but positive. If Street Fighter 6 remains this great at launch it could be the greatest fighting game I have ever played. Before I close this off though, there is one less positive aspect I would like to talk about.
My experience in lobbies
In the decade of 2022 there no longer exists normal, menu based, fighting game lobbies. Now every game wants their lobbies to leave an everlasting impression on players and Street Fighter 6’s battle hub is no different.
The main thing you have all seen of SF6’s lobbies is the complete freaks the character creator allows you to make. With the character creator’s limb editing it is extremely easy to make an inhuman monstrosity. Unfortunately for me, it’s much less easy to make a normal looking person. I tried my hardest but was still unsatisfied with how my character looked in the end (It doesn’t help that the closed beta only allows you 1 chance at character creation.). My advice for people wanting to mess around with the character creator is to either be prepared to spend a lot of time with it, be ready to accept a freak, or just use the presets.
The lobby itself I found generally cozy, definitely one of the better 3D lobbies I have seen. The lobbies can hold a large amount of players and there are more than enough arcade machines for you to sit at and initiate a match. A very good small design decision is that open arcade machines are highlighted on your minimap, so you don’t need to check each and every one for an available slot.
Sitting down at one of these arcade machines will give you the option of either just sitting around and staring at other players or let you go to a solo training mode as you wait for another player. As the normal training mode was bizarrely unavailable during the closed beta test, I tried to take advantage of this when trying to learn Kimberly, but was almost always unable to as I was constantly pulled into matches. I’m not going to say something insane like having a short waiting time is a bad thing, it’s just unfortunate that this was the only way of training during the beta.
One thing I did find very annoying about the lobby however was the frequency the “A player is on a winning streak!” Announcements would play; It must have been once every six seconds. As the game approaches release date I hope Capcom slows down the frequency of how often that message plays.
Another thing I would like to talk about is the character select screen, or rather how to find it. I guarantee a majority of people playing the beta accidentally started a match as Luke because they didn’t know where the character select screen was. To select a character you need to first press triangle in the lobby to get to your Fighter ID, then move over a few tabs to get to the character select screen. While this isn’t an issue once you learn where it is, I don’t like that you need to figure out where one of the most vital screens is at all.
You don’t really need me to parrot what everyone else is saying, Street Fighter 6’s beta was amazing. Every second I was playing it I had a blast and I have full confidence that the full retail release will be just as good.
Fights feel perfect, every match lasts the perfect amount of time, and both characters I played felt fun! What more could I ask for?
When Street Fighter 6 releases in 2023 I’ll be there day one, expect me to be playing (read: losing) ranked matches as Kimberly immediately. See you all then.