Back in October, CAPCOM gave a select few a first taste of the Street Fighter 6 experience with a closed beta test that allowed them to try out the Battle Hub mode, a new lobby system that attempts to offer new levels of interactivity, compared to the systems seen in previous entries in the series, aiming to recreate the feel of the Street Fighter experience. real arcade.
This month, the Japanese publisher made an early Christmas gift for fans of the legendary fighting game series, hosting a second closed beta test featuring the same content as the first and some minor balance and system tweaks. As such, players were unable to pilot some newly revealed characters such as Dee Jay, Manon, Marisa, and JP or already revealed returning world warriors such as E. Honda, Blanka, and Dhalsim, as the choice was limited to Ryu, Ken, and Luke, Jamie, Kimberly, Guile, Chun-Li, and Juri.
Even with the limited content, the second beta was a lot of fun. Having spent more time on this test than I could on the first, my opinion of the game has improved, and I now feel that Street Fighter 6 has an excellent chance of becoming the best entry in the series since Third Strike.
Since the changes were minor, the second Street Fighter 6 beta was pretty much the same as the first. Unlike Street Fighter V, the next entry in the series will not be attack-oriented, lacking nearly infinite pressure chains, multiple customes and specials with overshot frames on the block, and artificial returns, or thefts, as SFV gamers call them, with V-triggers. Character bases are negative on block, and the only way to make them plus on block is to cancel them out in the Rush maneuver by spending a new resource called Drive.
This resource is not only used to perform Drive Rush, which can also be used to close the distance with the opponent, but also for Drive Impacts, a defensive armor move that can absorb 2 hits and leave the opponent defenseless if connected, Drive Parry, 1 frame that can be extended by pressing on buttons, and Drive Reversal, a reversal that can be fired while in blockstun. This new resource is also used to perform Overdrive special moves, EX special moves seen in previous entries in the series.
There is a downside. If the drive is depleted, characters will enter burnout, leaving them vulnerable to electrocution if the drive is impacted in a corner, and killing Chip. The opponent’s frame advantage over the block will also be higher, making Burnout dangerous even if they’re in the middle of the screen and with high health.
Spending more time with Street Fighter 6 made me realize just how ingenious its driving mechanics are. Counter management in Street Fighter is nothing new, but it has never been as important as this upcoming entry. At the beginning of the round, both fighters start with a full bar. However, it doesn’t take long for it to lower, since all maneuvers using Drive are extremely powerful. Most players will use them more often to create openings, to catch opponents unawares or to punish bad habits, such as stringing attacks together that don’t really make a limit.
This creates a neutral game that is tense and exciting. Aggressive players who use a lot of Drive to overwhelm an opponent will likely end up being burnt out, while those who are too defensive will end up losing a lot of Drive, as it gets depleted by blocking, and risk burnout themselves. There is no proper way to manage Drive, players need to adapt to the situation and the opponent. With Drive Impact capable of punishing so many moves and all manners that are easily punishable too, it’s clear that the days of thoughtless button pressing are over.
However, burnout isn’t the end of the world, as it actually leads to what might be Street Fighter 6’s finest moment. In the roughly 400 matches played during the second Closed Beta, I’ve seen players handle the situation in very different ways. While many were holding back, waiting for the meter to be manually restored, others unexpectedly went on the offensive, hoping to hit a group ending with a Critical Art or Level 3 to speed up the meter recovery process.
Many others, once cornered, were ready for Drive Impacts that could result in electrocution, creating some very tense situations where one mistake could be the end of the round for any player. These “staredown” situations were one of the highlights of my second closed beta experience. It remains to be seen if these situations will ultimately slow the pace of matches, but for now, I greatly appreciate these slow but intense moments.
Another thing spending more time with Street Fighter 6 made me realize how great all the characters play. In the first beta I only spent time with Ryu, but in the second closed beta I started with Ken and then moved on to Luke and experimented with Guile and Jamie a bit. After some time in training mode to get used to their standards and learn some basic combos, I jumped into some real matches, feeling that the ones I had just tried could work somewhat with a little more practice. In Street Fighter V, it took me a long time to settle on a character I felt comfortable with, and I never really felt like learning about other characters until late in the third season. characters even before release, yet another testament to the amazing work CAPCOM is doing in designing combat characters.
With more players coming into the second closed beta, I expected the online experience to be less smooth than in the first, but thankfully that wasn’t quite the case, as the network code handled most matches well, even when matched against two players. away from my site. Having had a limited time with the first beta, I wasn’t particularly bothered by the automatic changes to the input delay kicking in if the ping increased after 100ms, but this time around, I certainly was. Unlike the first beta, where the input delay changed during a match, in the second it only changed between rounds, which didn’t do much to mitigate the problem because it was still annoying and required a bit of tweaking mid-match, which is a big no. Not in a competitive game. The whole point of the rollback-based network code is not to make input delay changes during the game, so I hope CAPCOM changes things before the game is released later next year.
I honestly didn’t think it was possible, but the latest Street Fighter 6 closed beta, even with its limited content, has me even more excited about the game. The downside is that it also made waiting more difficult. June 2nd, when the game will be released on PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S is still a long way off, but now I’m sure Street Fighter 6 will be a game to remember.