Fighting games have notoriously always been a niche genre, somewhat difficult to get into due to a high skill ceiling that makes it feel almost impossible to get anywhere unless you button mash. Complicated combos, stick movements, special attacks and move chains have made the genre impenetrable for large groups of people, including myself. But, after seeing what Capcom has done for Street Fighter 6 with its modern control system, it is clear that lowering the barriers to entry and simplifying some of the more complicated aspects of the genre is key to expanding its reach.
Upon loading up the Street Fighter 6 beta a few weeks ago for the first time, I looked at the classic control system for a couple of the Street Fighter 6 characters and instantly felt overwhelmed – you needed three, four, possibly five stick movements to pull off just one advanced move. Fortunately for me, the modern controls were listed too, which simplifies the controls down to two button presses and a stick, but if they weren’t, I would have likely given up.
Getting to grips with complex controls is such a hurdle for newcomers and it has put me off some of the best fighting games out there. But the beauty of these modern controls is that they don’t water down the gameplay. There are still combos for you to learn, timing to hone, and attacks to figure out how to chain together.
I didn’t want to play Street Fighter 6 on easy mode with just one button press to pull off an attack or combo – I wanted a level of complexity, but I also wanted to have fun. The range of attacks here hits that balance perfectly, meaning new players can dip in and out for a quick session without becoming overwhelmed.
The first fighting game I played and actually stuck with was Mortal Kombat 11 but it took hours of sticking with the game and trying to learn one character for me to have fun and feel like I was making headway and getting good. Since then I haven’t found another game that offers that approachability, until now. Although I struggled initially, I picked up combos, attack chains, and the general playstyle of characters far more quickly here, even though I had a limited window of time to play the game.
For the beta, I settled on studying Kimberly and discovered the different ways she could utilise her short-range teleport, sprint attacks, and throws to either hit combos or surprise my opponent. It felt incredibly rewarding to be able to learn the character in just a few hours, without feeling I was missing something key from her moveset.
For me, that approachability is what’s going to separate the best from the rest in the genre going forward, which is key if developers want to reach a bigger audience. And in Capcom’s case, it has proven that it can do just that with the modern controls in Street Fighter 6, without compromising on the traditions offered to loyal fans.
Who knows, by the time the Street Fighter 6 release date rolls around, I might feel confident and comfortable enough to give the old control system a go.