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Street Fighter 6 is the best fighting game of 2023

Street Fighter 6 is the best fighting game of 2023, and probably the next few years too
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To be fair, it’s not much of a competition, is it? Street Fighter has almost always been the premier fighting game franchise around the world, so any year where a new entry is launched is a good one for the fighting game community, but Street Fighter 6 really went above and beyond what fans expected. The netcode improvements were desperately needed, yes, but after a fairly slow-paced neutral game in SF5, this new title tears up the rulebook to get players as close to one another as possible.

The Drive Rush mechanic changes everything so drastically that it’s become a bit controversial. Drive Rush allows a fighter to dash towards to opponent at rapid speed, with advantage on attacks used immediately following it. A Drive Rush and follow-up attack can happen faster than you’re able to react, forcing a greater degree of foresight and understanding of the game than ever before. The downside is that advanced foresight can amount to guessing at high/low/grab mix-ups.

Drive Rush is intimidating, both when using it and defending against it, but even less experienced players have easy access to a universal counter. You can easily macro a single button for a Drive Parry, which eats away at your Drive Gauge when held, but replenishes that gauge when successfully countering attacks. A perfectly timed parry will even reward you with serious advantage frames, giving you time to counter and punish your enemy.

Street Figher 6's visual style is better than ever.

Street Figher 6's visual style is better than ever.

Both mechanics introduce a greater deal of risk and reward than ever before, and instead of the Drive Gauge being something you build for a low-health reversal, they’re full when each match starts, encouraging you to go all-out from the first second of each round. But if even that isn’t enough to make Street Fighter accessible, then there’s the Modern Controls.

Modern Controls have become a genuinely viable competitive option for professional Street Fighter players thanks to easy access to certain moves. It’s easy for experienced players to look down on Modern Controls, but top-level Street Fighter has never been about execution, it’s about understanding your opponent and carefully choosing your moments. If those shoryuken motions and charge inputs have prevented you from playing Street Fighter in the past, SF6 genuinely removes all of those barriers for you, leaving only your opponents to overcome.

Each character looks better than ever, even if Cammy's forehead is a bit... big.

Each character looks better than ever, even if Cammy's forehead is a bit... big.

It’s the most welcoming Street Fighter game ever, while also being the most content-complete. The Fighting Ground section has more content than SF5 did at launch, but it’s only a small chunk of what’s available, with Battle Hub and the single-player World Tour offering dozens upon dozens more hours of activities. World Tour is even built to tutorialize high-level fighting game mechanics and strategies while being filled with Capcom references. If you know all about fighting games already, it might not be for you, but if a newbie takes it seriously, they could become a genuinely capable competitive player.

Fighting games often get the short end of the stick in terms of mainstream acclaim and sales, and in fairness, Street Fighter 6 is a trend in the right direction after decent sales and a great critical reception. But when Game of the Year discourse cropped up once again, it was mysteriously absent from a majority of lists. Street Fighter 6 is brilliant, but fighting games still don’t have mainstream appeal, and I fear they never will. But if you’ve ever been curious about why so many people in the FGC love the genre so much, there’s never been a better time than now, or a better game than Street Fighter 6.