VsFighting X, the 10th instalment of the UKs biggest fighting game event made its glamorous return this past weekend in the heart of central Birmingham. Walk past all the construction through the doors of the Millenium Point venue and excited crowds of competitors and spectators dominated the space. However, as brilliant as the tournament itself was, one of the most popular attractions was Street Fighter 6 on the 2nd floor.
With a crowd of eager players larger than even some of the titles with their own dedicated tournament space, four monitors of the version 1.0 build quickly became a hot spot for every attendee. The game, as you may have noticed if you’ve been following it since its announcement, has a lot of hype around it as all mainline Street Fighter titles have had in the past.
While the opinions of many influencers and press outlets are out in the wild — including our own impressions of the game — this was a great opportunity to find out what your typical gamer thinks of the next big thing flying out the doors of Capcom. To find out, I made the journey out to Birmingham to get the consensus.
Michael travelled over from Liverpool and has been playing fighting games since they were around seven years old, back when Street Fighter 2 cabs were out in the wild. Their first impressions of Street Fighter 6 shared a common eagerness found among many who set up camp at the demos between tournament matches: “I want it now! It felt heavier, like everything had a lot of weight to it. I really enjoyed the new metre too, it reminded me of Mortal Kombat 11 how your counters, parries, and abilities are all part of the same thing.”
Another shared sentiment brought up by Michael and many others at VsFighting was a sense of relief after playing Street Fighter 6. That even in this early iteration, it was giving off an better first impression than the previous title — Street Fighter 5 — did at launch. That title recieved critisism due to its rough state at launch, something the leads behind Street Fighter 6 are very open about!
“As much as I enjoyed Street Fighter 5 from a casual perspective, it didn’t feel very, what’s the word, creative. Not like some of the previous entries. Street Fighter 6 feels like its harkening back to that.”
Ryan from Sheffield was among the older generation present at the event, but left the Street Fighter 6 set ups with an enthusiastic smile more than matching younger players at their first big event. He found himself pleasantly surprised by the “unique” nature of Street Fighter 6 compared to some of the previous entries in the series. They got into fighting games in a serious way back in 2009 with the release of Street Fighter 4, and since then has been bouncing around from game to game. “It feels very unique in a good way! Street Fighter 5 is kind of based on Street Fighter 4, which is based on Street Fighter 2. It’s interesting to have a new Street Fighter that’s based on a new concept.
Ryan, like Michael, picked the new drive gauge as the biggest highlight from his time playing. They emphasised how it created this balancing act between using resources as they come naturally, while taking care not to overextend and get punished for it. “You’ve kind of got everything all at once, so it feels like you have to be aggressive and throw out a bunch of stuff, but not be dumb and use up all your resources.”
There were some measured takes among the crowd, with positive aspects matched with others that didn’t go down so well . Take Leo; they first got into fighting games to a serious degree with Marvel vs Capcom 2 on the Xbox 360. While they did come away thinking Street Fighter 6 was good — making note of the “great” graphics and familiar kit of returning characters like Ryu — they had some pointers on their mind. “I think it needs to be sped up just a touch.”
Their most pointed critique comes with the new mechanics praised by those like Ryan and Michael before, as Leo put it: “What new mechanics? (laughs). I feel like they kind of changed the focus attack (from Street Fighter 4) and tweaked it to be something else. Parries have been something that’s always been in Street Fighter, it’s just whether some or all characters have it. ”
While they ultimately leaned positive towards the title, Leo’s main attention is focused at a title that’s already released with fantastic success. “I’m more excited for MultiVersus, I’m not gonna lie. I think that’s gonna bring a bit more hype, and from the age of like… 40 downwards, you’re going to attract the attention of all those people. I think it’s gonna be the next big thing.”
While it’s true that Street Fighter has an older, perhaps even ageing population compared to more contemporary titles, that’s not to say that the name doesn’t hold some sway among the younger crowd. The final person I spoke to was Alvin, a student and animator who I found playing casuals in the DNF Duel section.
They, despite being younger than a decent chunk of Street Fighter 6 players at 22 years old, took time away from KOF15 and anime fighters to try the game for themselves. Their takeaway? A real love for the new characters, attacks, and art style. “I started playing Jamie, and I really enjoy how he plays! With his rekkas (A type of special move that allows for multiple stages with successive inputs – The Fighting Game Glossary) and his drinking metre that lets you do more special moves. I also like the Drive Impact, but it’s very powerful, you need to like parry or deal with it somehow.”
Ultimately for Alvin the diversity — in terms of gameplay, visuals, and character designs — was their favourite aspect. “I feel like when people who are good play this game, we’re going to see type of people right? Who play different and approach the game differently. It gives more freedom in terms of play style than Street Fighter 5.”
It was refreshing to hear from a diverse range of typical fighting game players about their thoughts on Street Fighter 6, especially as they came fresh off their first hands-on experience with the title. The largely positive outlook from OG stick diehards, pad-using 09ers, and hitbox zoomers, combined with important points of early flaws and gripes, is key because it helps paint a picture of the community consensus heading into 2023.
With whispers of a new Tekken on the horizon, plus the ever-looming presence of Project L and Riot Games esports money, it’s great to see a new Street Fighter have a damned strong dog in the race.
For more Street Fighter 6 coverage, check out our feature on why we hope Street Fighter 6 has no guest characters.