Platforms: XBSX, PC, PS5
Version Played: PC
Last Thursday, I spent hours taking apart and putting back together a couple of arcade sticks. I switched out the Hori buttons on my newest stick with Sanwa buttons from an old one. All in preparation for this past weekend, when I got a chance to try out the Street Fighter 6 Beta. It was really more like a network test than anything. The only mode available was the Battle Hub, which is the new 3rd person online lobby system, and the survey I did afterwards was mostly about the network performance. There was a lot to see and do, though. There were 8 characters, 6 stages, training, minigames, the lobbies, and everything that comes along with them. I think the only thing I didn't do was the tournaments, which sound like a weekend event type of thing.
Of course, the most interesting thing to me is how the game actually plays. The first thing I noticed was that it's a bit slower than SF5. I'd say it feels closer to SF4, which seems to be a theme with SF6. I also noticed that there's a lot of hit stop going on. Maybe even more than in SF4. What I mean by hit stop is that the character animations stop for a brief moment when you connect with an attack. Super Smash Bros and Zelda games do this a lot, too. The actual fighting and controls of Street Fighter 6 feel really good. They feel like an evolution of SF5's. Move inputs are very simple, the game feels responsive, and the timing for basic combos is pretty forgiving and easy to understand thanks to the slower pace of the game. One clear example of how the game is easier to control is that characters with Rekka Ken style moves (like Karin and Fei Long in past games) only require a quarter circle input to start the attack and then you just tap on buttons for the following attacks. I guess Luke in SF5 really was a preview of how SF6 would play.
Honestly, I spent most of my time with the Beta in the training room, but I did also do a bunch of online matches. Some were fine and some were very laggy. Sometimes I felt like my moves didn't come out and sometimes it felt like my moves came out way too late and whiffed. It felt like the timing varied depending on the lag and it felt different from playing in the training room. This is why I'm not a fan of online fighting games no matter what kind of "netcode" they use.
There are also minigame machines around the back of the room. These work just like the other machines, allowing you to go into the training room while waiting, except you play minigames against challengers. One of the minigames available gave you a list of objectives to do during a match with no life bars. For example, get 2 knockdowns, do 3 throws, 2 Drive Parries, and 2 anti-airs. The first person to complete all the objectives wins. I didn't really like that one. The other minigame was more like a reverse life bar tug of war. You fight to push a life bar towards your opponent's direction and whoever pushes the life bar all the way across first gets the KO. A bull will also regularly run out from one side of the screen and hit people for huge amounts of damage. This minigame took place on a stage not available in the regular VS modes, a streetside market with monkeys running around. I thought this one was a lot better than the other one.
There was also a section of the Battle Hub that had a classic Capcom arcade game on a bunch of cabinets. These seemed to be on a daily rotation. I saw Final Fight, Magic Sword, and Super Street Fighter II Turbo, the super hard version they put in SF30AC. I'm guessing these will all be games from Capcom Arcade Stadium 1 and 2. I actually played all the way through Final Fight here. All the games are on free play, but the emulator only has the bare minimum in terms of features. You can change the button mapping, and that's about it for the options. You can't even turn off the scanline filter or make a save state. It's cool that these games are even there, though.