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Street Fighter 6 is one of the most exciting games of the year – at least, for a section of the crowd. I see you at the back! The fighting game community is strong and keeps going from strength to strength. This year sees the launch of Street Fighter 6 – and possibly even Tekken 8, if we get lucky – which means it’s a huge year for the FGC. Capcom was kind enough to invite GLHF down to its office in London, where were able to go hands-on with what players should expect to play on launch day. That’s the entire base roster of characters to play in Versus, and a bunch of the offline modes to delve into.

Street Fighter fans will probably have already gotten to grips with the World Tour singleplayer mode with the recently released demo. We’ve been able to play a bit beyond the point the demo cuts off, and the limits of what your custom character can do are interesting to say the least – or, potentially broken, to put it another way. Your character can learn a “style” from one of the members of the Street Fighter cast, and this will dictate your normal moves.

You can then learn and mix and match special attacks from across the cast. Yes, this means you can potentially equip a fancy teleport along with a brutal command grab. Height and limb length is all factored into the hit and hurtboxes of your character too, meaning you can make a truly ridiculous, tiny freak with absurdly long arms for that poke reach. As I said, broken.

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Traversing the town is also decent fun. Metro City is a goofy place to inhabit, especially when you can dragon-punch almost anybody (with a name over their head) on the street to start a fight. It looks hilarious, but fighting tough foes – even those much higher level than you – allows you to increase your level, health, power, and more. It feels like a fully-fledged Street Fighter RPG, with moves like Shoryuken and Spinning Bird Kick acting as movement tools to traverse rooftops. It’s super silly, but infinitely endearing.

We were also given the chance to play with Cammy’s combo trials, which showcased some of the limits of the game. Anyone that’s played will already know, but there’s a great amount of depth and flexibility to the combat system, and seeing Cammy string together special moves with using meter makes it clear.

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But the meat, as always, comes from playing with other people. Against an opponent that shall remain nameless, I played at least one three-round match with each member of the cast, some of them multiple times. It certainly wasn’t enough time to get to grips with the likes of newcomer Manon, whose combination of pokes and grapples seems very versatile, but JP seemed to come naturally. He conjures cracks of psycho power above foes, a bit like Kolin’s icicles, and they can either result in an attack, or he can teleport to them.

Just that aspect of JP’s moveset opens up the door for a lot of trickery and mindgames, and that seems to apply to the entire cast, each in a different way. And the cast really does feel diverse, with each character offering a different pace and set of inputs for unique gameplay styles. Am I repeating too much of what the fighting game fans already know?

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If there’s something to complain about, it’s that Lily’s large anime eyes just don’t look… correct, in SF6’s more realistic artstyle. It’s a little creepy, that’s all! The rest of the cast looks honestly fantastic.

It’s all setting up for one of the biggest Street Fighter releases of all time, both in terms of content and hype – a complete reversal after the barebones launch of Street Fighter V. Street Fighter 6 has style, it looks amazing, and from everything we’ve played so far, it feels great to play. We’ll have to wait to see how the meta around these new mechanics and characters shake out, but as long as the servers hold up on launch day, this is going to be incredible on day one.