The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it.

Shepton’s thoughts on Street Fighter 6

By Shepton on October 24, 2023 in Blogé

Alright alright fine I’m doing a thing.

Fighting games have been my dopamine delivery mechanism of choice ever since SF2 HDR came out back in the Xbox 360 times and Renegade introduced me to it. I guess prior to that, Smash was kind of a gateway drug. But Smash isn’t a fighting game, it’s a party game that has some mildly similar elements. Anyway, I like fighting games a lot. The genre has always worked for me. I respect the high skill ceiling and long, steady learning curve. There has never been anything as satisfying to me in all of gaming than when you put time into learning something in a fighting game and then pull it off in a real game against another person. It feels incredible.

So I’ve been playing SF6 a LOT since it launched. I’ve been having a ton of fun with it, and mostly I think it’s excellent. Of course I have a few gripes. Let’s just get that part of this over with right away so I can get to the good stuff.

Oh but before I forget – the music is ASS. Pretty much universally bad. Anyway, now the more significant stuff.

First and most egregious – “modern” controls. These straight up should not be an option online, at least not versus regular controls. Keep modern with modern. Segregate this shit. I get that it’s one of Capcom’s tactics to get new people and casual mainstream types into the game, but it should NOT be possible for it to hang with the actual real controls in any competitive sense. Quick summary for anyone unfamiliar:

Street Fighter is a six button layout. Light, medium, heavy punch, and light, medium, heavy kick. Inputting different series of directional inputs along with certain button combinations results in special moves like shoryuken and hadoken.

Modern (assisted) controls is only 4 buttons, and no directional inputs. You can just hit a button for a special move to come out, no need to input any directional stuff at all. The only attempt capcom made to balance this is to reduce the damage of special moves by 20% which might sound like a lot but it really isn’t, because the opportunities and convenience provided by being able to do things like instant anti-air with special moves or react immediately to jumps or drive impact with a one button super dramatically outweighs any lower damage by the simple fact that you’re going to be able to land so many more of those things in the first place.

Ultimately that leads to the game feeling incredibly different when you’re playing against an assisted controls user, and that’s really frustrating. It’s like the game has two entirely different sets of characters. Whenever you see that goddamn scarlet letter by their name you’re like “great, gotta remember to never jump or DI against this idiot.”

Fortunately I rarely see assisted mode users, so it’s not a huge issue, but I at least think standard controls and assisted controls should be separate in ranked mode or something. But then that would mean tournaments would have to separate things as well, and you’d also get whiny assholes complaining that the game isn’t being inclusive. Basically they’ve opened up a really disgusting can of worms with the whole thing and I genuinely believe that the genre will never again be the same thing that I fell in love with because now every single fighting game HAS to have some equivalent of this because heaven forbid that something can be challenging or require time and effort and practice. According to everyone else, enjoying those kinds of things makes you a no-life tryhard and the world should just give you everything for free all the time and competition shouldn’t exist.

I wanted to put more than just my boring words on this post so here’s a video of me ruining some guy’s day.

Moving on to my other issues with SF6 though, I really just have two more and I think we’ll see both either removed or improved as time goes on.

First is the input reader. It’s honestly one of the worst I’ve experienced in any fighting game. It has this awful tendency to misinterpret specific inputs as something else. For example, a super input (quarter circle forward x2) versus a DP input (forward, down, down+forward). This frequently means that wakeup options get misread and the wrong thing comes out, causing you to waste meter or get hit when you really shouldn’t have. You can blame sloppy inputs on the user’s part all you want, but nobody’s gonna have flawless robot hands and get it exactly perfect every single time, and this input reader problem is something that’s universally complained about by the entire community. So it’s not just that I suck, alright? Either everybody sucks or the game needs some adjustments in this regard. The issue seems to come from the degree of leniency in how the system is interrupting the directional inputs – it might forgive or ignore some directions. Like you accidentally got a down+back when you were going from forward to down for your DP or something like that and the system will ignore it. That’s fine and expected, but something about this input reader means it’s sometimes ignoring too much, or sometimes accepting too much. It definitely doesn’t feel right and I’ve found myself staring down at my stick in confusion after a completely unexpected move comes out far more than I ever have in any other fighting game.

There’s also a related issue with inputs – there’s a new system mechanic came6 drive rush. Drive rush is a pretty simple addition that’s basically a big fast dash that costs a little meter to perform, long story short it enables you to continue pressure or extend combos. But when it’s performed, the screen freezes for a moment. That’s fine and the brief freeze isn’t an issue by itself, but what IS an issue is that your opponent’s inputs get eaten during that freeze.

So let’s say I get knocked down and I believe my opponent is going to do something unsafe on my wakeup, like they’re going to go for a throw or pressure off some kind. I decide my best option is to do a wakeup DP. I input forward, down, down+forward and…. Nothing comes out. I wake up just standing there because the opponent did a drive rush and the game is like “what directional inputs? I didn’t hear nothin’.” It’s absolutely infuriating.

So yeah, there are distinct and frustrating problems with the input reader. But I’m hopeful that they can and will be fixed. Enough people complain about them so I’m certain that capcom is aware of the issues. But Capcom is entirely retarded, so who the fuck knows if they’ll actually do anything.

The only other major issue I have with the game is that the current implementation of system mechanics has resulted in a very formulaic meta. Drive rush and extremely high damage level 3 supers mean that there’s way too much potential to just rob a whole match off of a single stray hit. It’s chaotic as hell. I’m sure that it makes it very exciting to watch, which is probably the point. But this is also something I think will get changed over time. I fully expect drive rush to get some changes as time goes on, and I personally hope that level 3 supers maybe get their damage toned down a little so that it’s not so common to literally lose 60% of your health because you didn’t block low and your opponent did a sudden drive rush into

Oh and I guess one other thing that needs to change – if somebody rage quits in ranked, it should fucking take their points and award you the win. Right now if you’re bodying someone they can just alt+f4 and the game disconnects both of you and your points don’t change. Need to correctly punish the bitches and reward honest players. Why is this still a thing in 2023? Multiplayer is not a new idea and at least 50% of human beings will be bitches.

But now the stuff that I like about the game.

It’s got a relatively solid roster of characters right off the bat. Decent variety. The balance is actually pretty fucking good too – there are a few characters that are better and worse, but the worst can still hang with the best when played well. Tweaks are still required of course, here’s a few basic thoughts on the sore thumb characters:

JP is an annoying cunt who can get away with murder at any point on the screen and doesn’t even need to learn combos, he can just do his special moves all day because he’s got like six kinds of fireball. Dude has an overhead fireball, a low fireball, a command grab fireball, can FEINT his fireballs to bait you, and he has C. Viper’s ground spike things at various distances, and portals he can put in the sky to drop more spikes on you from above AND he can choose to teleport into those portals and come in close for an instant throw when you’re blocking expecting the spike. It’s bullet hell on steroids and honestly I feel like his style is not a fit for street fighter so he’s a massive pain in the ass to fight against.

Ken is broken as fuck simply because he has every tool available, plus effortless corner carry, and insanely high damage on even his most basic stuff. His neutral game is incredibly strong and he has tools that let him just bully everyone for free.

Zangief is pretty bad and doesn’t really have many tools that allow him to get up close and play his game. Modern Zangief though is unbelievably terrifying because one button instant command grabs for huge damage are crazy good. Who would have thought? Not Capcom.

Honda is an odd one because he’s REALLY GOOD at low levels of play but REALLY BAD at high levels of play. At low levels, people simply lack the knowledge and skills needed to deal with his cheap play style. At high level when players understand the game plan and have the timing necessary to simply parry, Honda has NOTHING.

I think Marisa and Manon are similar to Honda in that regard, though perhaps not as extreme as Honda. They both have gimmicks that make them extremely dangerous at low levels of play but much less effective versus opponents who know what they’re doing. Marisa is by far the better character of the two though, and since she can basically do 70% damage off of a single hit with unbelievably easy combos she’s definitely the one that needs to be toned down while Manon could probably use a little help.

That all being said, those balance issues are pretty damn small in the grand scheme of things. Ken and JP aren’t SO good that they’re unbeatable, and Zangief isn’t SO bad that he can’t win. It much more often comes down to the player than the character.

Another clip. For energy. For fun.

I think it’s actually a big compliment to the game that this is the first fighting game I’ve played where I genuinely want to play every character. Every single character appeals to me and looks like they have really fun moves, combos and gameplans. My main is Cammy and I’ve dabbled a little with Honda. They’re wildly different play styles and levels of complexity. In all honesty I actually got bored of Honda after only a couple hundred matches, but Cammy I’ve gone back to and I think I’ve played a couple thousand as her in total and I’ve got no signs of feeling bored with her at all. It’s just that Honda is very braindead and repetitive and easy. Right now I can’t decide who to play next – Luke, JP, Ken, Marisa, Dhalsim, Zangief and Ryu are all pretty appealing right now. Hell even Lily. Literally the entire cast make me want to learn them for various reasons but I don’t have the time or patience or mental capacity.

I said some more stuff in the comments. Summary: Game is risking becoming stale due to a couple of things:

1. prevalence of drive rush (I think it needs a few changes, mainly that I think it should scale the damage just the same way perfect parry does. Make the cost of using it less rewarding to make people save their meter for other things, so it isn’t used as frequently. This does increase the odds of people spending their last bar to do a surprise end-of-round DR to kill the last little bit of their opponent’s health though. Counteract that by making DR more risky to do, like maybe damage scaling the other direction for someone who interrupts drive rush?

2. a couple of unbalanced characters. I already touched on this a little, and I don’t think the game is THAT unbalanced, but Ken and JP are the two major outliers and they now feel like they make up about 75% of the online playerbase and dominate tournaments as well. In the top 64 at the recent CPT Singapore tournament, almost half of those 64 players were using Ken or JP.

Additionally, level 3 super animations are too fucking long and level 3 supers do far too much damage. Both those aspects need to be toned down.

So yeah, that’s my general thoughts on the game right now. While I’d love to see some changes, I’m ultimately really happy with SF6. I’ve put almost 400 hours in already and I’m still really into it. So that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. What’s up with you.


  • After some additional consideration and more playing, and watching the recent Singapore CPT tournament since writing this, I’ve got a little more to add.

    Right now the game is becoming stale – main reason being drive rush. It’s far too prevalent and powerful of a tool and it’s making the neutral game boring and repetitive. I’m not sure how to “fix” it – maybe make it travel less distance for everybody, maybe make it cost more meter it can’t be used as much, maybe scale the damage of anything used after drive rush quite harshly or something.

    That sounds like I’m straight up hating the game – I’m honestly not, I wanna stress that I’m still very much having fun with it. It’s just that if drive rush stays as it is, that fun will fade.

    Additionally, as far as spectating the game goes, it’s also risking becoming stale if they don’t do something about Ken and JP very soon. It feels like at least half the matches at tournaments feature one or both of those characters and that’s already getting old.

    Perfect parry might honestly be an issue as well at the high levels of play, where people are capable of reacting and parrying a ton of things. But I think it’ll be a longer time before that becomes something that needs to change for the sake of the game’s health.

    • OH, and level 3 supers do too much damage. That coupled with drive rush means that at any point it’s so easy for a whole match to just turn on a dime. It’s common for people to be able to do 60-70% damage in one combo, which means that one mistake can cost you a game that you’re otherwise dominating.

      Level 3 super animations are also way too fucking long. I shouldn’t be able to take a piss and make a cup of tea while my damn super is going off.

  • I want to like fighting games. Played a fair few, won some local tournaments, watched plenty of others, but the genre has become way too formulaic in the past 10ish+ years. And I feel like almost all of them eventually approach a Marvel Vs. Capcom singularity of presentation and gameplay. High spectacle, high speed, long combos, more and more characters in-match, and generally way spammier.

    Fighting games strongly remind me of what chess grandmaster and world champion Bobby Fischer said about his own game. He grew to hate chess for what it became. It sucks because the creativity is dead. It’s a mere exercise in pattern recognition now. I think the same of fighting games. It’s all about things like rote memorization of BnBs and 50/50 mixups. Too many specifically designed tools for keeping your opponent from even playing the game nowdays. Way too many combo extenders. And one mistake can lead to ToDs in far too many games. It’s certainly not fun to suffer it yourself but it’s also not fun to do to others. It feels so boring and hollow.

    Modern chess is so much about opening theory and memorization, that it only becomes interesting once the players run out of book moves. Except fighting games don’t even get that quality because they don’t run out of pieces that force the change. Throughout a fighting game match, generally, you’re going for the same optimal strategy/combo each time if you really care about winning and, who are we kidding, everybody cares about winning since that’s all there is in this genre.

    Unless a match slows down enough for players to actually learn about the other’s quirks and preferences to then form counters and use mind games, they’re pretty samey. And that happens pretty rarely as it is. Since the games move so fast now (almost like a twitch shooter with short time-to-kills), even a pro’s skill is slightly more luck than reactable intention. So many get the lucky poke and with prevalent high/long bnb comboes or tods, a single lucky strike can basically end the match. The challenge/obstacle/threat, is less about fighting an opponent and more about just not dropping your combo.

    Fighting games, of course some more than others, have devolved to be solely about metas and optimization/memorization just like chess. The math took over and everything became predictable and less fun. The same characters and combos over and over again. And people are easily influenced by “pros” so casual players copy them and then you see that infection everywhere. This is not absolute nor 100% of course but still way waaaay too rampant.

    And frame data just makes me sick. Something revolting about it or how games are designed/played around it. Like, it violates the spirit of fighting to me.

    And all these gripes not even including the problems from developer screw-ups, like game or character breaking buffs/nerfs. I swear modern devs don’t understand their own genre sometimes let alone their own game.

    There is also that saying about chess: “The ability to play chess is the sign of a gentleman. The ability to play chess well is the sign of a wasted life.” I think this fits fighting games to a T. But I understand that dopamine hit. Even now I feel a pull to find and play a fighting game.

    I like the idea of fighting games, but I don’t think they have been implemented well in a very long time.

    Of course there are some super hype and legendary moments out there and I’m not trying to take away from any of that but then again, I think those are the exceptions or so legendary because of how much they flout the normal play-state of the game.

    My favorite fighting game is Smash Bros because I think it’s the only one that escapes the severe formula-ness of the others. It’s much more open for creative play and better at mind games. But, full transparency, I haven’t played a Smash game since Brawl. Yes, I do agree that it’s mainly a party game but I feel other fighting franchises have lowered the bar so much that Smash is the only one that largely retains the right spirit.

    I thought the SF6 demo was decent, I made some lanky-legged stubby-armed grandma character which was cool, and I certainly liked the direction they went overall. Deejay seems like pure fun and joy now and doesn’t look like the creepy rapist he was before. Got my eye on Tekken 8 though.

    I know what you’re saying about the control differences. Reminds me of Marvel Vs Capcom 3 putting in something similar back then. And more recently, things like DragonBall FighterZ’s autocombo crap and I think that Granblue Fantasy: Versus also had the exact same thing you described here in SF6. It’s been years since that came out. Not surprised that Capcom would be late to the party and yet also copy so much.

    I hate this long drawn out drive for more casualness for the past decade and a half or whatever. People unwilling to put in any effort to learn or practice and still want to play, never realizing the majority of the fun comes from that effort’s fruition.

    DUUDE, what is it with input readers lately! I feel this is the most basic tech that’s been around forever and it’s somehow worse and worse as time goes on. And not even specific to fighting games honestly. Again, devs don’t know what they’re doing anymore.

    OMG, they are still handling quits in ranked like that? In 2023? You’re exactly right man. My god these fucking devs. They HAVE to know but they don’t want to alienate casual players. I hate pandering to that audience above all and now they can cloak these bad ideas under the guise of accessibility or something. And folks wonder where personal values have gone and why people are so weak and sensitive. I firmly believe that quality/good entertainment makes quality/good people and bad/dumb entertainment makes bad/dumb people.

    Despite all I’ve said, and I’m sorry for how long this comment is, that was some good work on that Ken with your Cammy. Always a treat to read something on this site.

    • I had a thought. Perhaps a refinement of something I said. I think even most fighting game franchises are blending together and play the same. starter/launcher, combo, combo extender 1 (could be assists, bounces, otg, walls, or in SF6’s case: Drive Rush), combo, combo extender 2, hyper move.

      I had a sort of epiphany back in Marvel vs Capcom 3. Comboing was kinda the same for each character and given how long they were, I didn’t feel it was fun to do nor fun for the other player to suffer through. I feel if a point occurs in a match where the opponent could put down their controller because they can’t do anything, that’s not fun and something is wrong with the design. Idk, just thoughts.

      • Sorry I’m responding so late, the notifications for comments are really inconsistent for some reason. Didn’t even see that first comment until today.

        Anyways, I’m still enjoying SF6. I’m actually somewhat looking forward to Granblue Versus Rising – I dislike the assisted inputs but it seems like the general idea of the game is that it’s actually a lot more like real vintage SSF2T. Back to basics, rock paper scissors. They’ve made a lot of improvements during the beta tests, wish is a relief to see. At most I’ll only dabble in GBVR though.

        You mentioned things feeling homogenized with auto combos – I get what you mean but in the case of things like DBFZ, it actually became much more complex when people started to figure it out. The first few weeks were people just doing LMH launcher jump LMH special super, but then those people got bodied when they came up against people who could optimize their shit and do significantly more.

        I do still think drive rush is too powerful in SF6 but I’ve been making efforts to learn counter plays and it’s becoming more tolerable.

        Currently trying to learn Zangief, too. Doing 360 and 720 inputs on a leverless controller is a big learning curve, but hella fun.

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