I’ve always enjoyed fighting games and remember being jealous that I couldn’t play the first Dead or Alive games because I didn’t own a PS1 or PS2. The first game in the series I owned was Dead or Alive 3 (2002) on the original Xbox and I remember being blown away by the graphics and gameplay. I also enjoyed Dead or Alive 4 (2006) on the Xbox 360 which was the last game in the series that I played. For some reason I skipped Dead or Alive 5 (2012) so I’ve been eager to see how the latest entry plays.
Firing up Dead or Alive 6 (DOA6) and jumping into a quick versus match the game felt instantly familiar. The bulk of the roster is unchanged and all my favourite characters still remain. While the characters are instantly recognisable, DOA6’s new engine allows for absolutely insane levels of detail so they’ve never looked so good. DOA6 features two new characters – NiCO, a MIST scientist and Diego, a street fighter.
The beauty of DOA6 is how accessible the game is to players of all skill levels. It’s possible to button mash and still have a good time as the basic moves are easy to pull off. While this is great for beginners, the combat features plenty of depth to keep veteran fighting game fans happy too. There are also new features to the combat that I’ll get to shortly that enhance the experience.
Watch the Dead or Alive 6 launch trailer below:
One area of DOA6 that I’ve been incredibly impressed with, is how much effort the developers have put in to teach you how to play the game. Right from the main menu you can jump into a tutorial that really shows you what to do and, more importantly, when to do it.
Going even further is the excellent new solo DOA Quest mode. Here you are presented with over 100 challenges to beat. Each one features three objectives and beating each rewards you with a star. Certain numbers of stars are required to unlock the next group of challenges. The objectives in each ask you to perform very specific things in order to beat them. This might be causing a certain amount of damage or using a particular move.
Beating the objectives in each challenge rewards you with in-game coins and costume parts. If you want to unlock all of the costumes then you’ll need to spend a lot of time in this mode. While some objectives are simple to achieve, others require practice and patience. Many of them ask things of you that you might not even know you could do. If you’re unable to complete them at the end of the round it gives you the option to jump into tutorials to teach you what you need to do. By the time you’ve mastered all of the challenges you’ll have a far better understanding of the game.
In addition to the modes mentioned, there’s also Story, Training, Arcade, Survival and Time Attack. The most interesting of these is Story mode which is rather confusing to begin with. There’s a main story to play through but at the same time, beating opponents unlocks story chapters for each of the characters. It takes a while to go through and unlock everything and even longer to make sense of what is going on.
All of the various modes are building you up to take on ranked online matches. At the time of writing, ranked online play is the only online multiplayer option. You have very little control over who you play against. The few matches I’ve managed to find have been against players with good connections and I must say I’ve been impressed by how well it plays over the Internet. The developers are promising many more online features but these are coming in a post-launch patch.
Back to the actual fighting, the combat is fast and brutal. To get the most out of the game you need to learn the more advanced techniques and also become familiar with the different fighters and their fighting styles. Understanding how your opponent can attack and predicting what they might do next is key to winning. Similarly, you need to know how to perform a variety of attacks because spamming the same ones over and over will rarely lead to success. As you fight, visible marks appear on the fighters and clothing can also be damaged.
To make things easier for new players, the right shoulder button activates a Fatal Rush combo and you can press this up to four times to perform an impressive string of attacks. The new Break Gauge fills up as you fight and can be used with a Fatal Rush to deal a strong finishing move. Alternatively you can use it to get you out of trouble and counter your opponent.
As good as the game looks and plays, there’s a serious amount of fan-service that I think is going to divide players. The more costumes you unlock the more revealing they seem to become. Most of this seems to surround the female fighters and they often end up in suggestive poses. When a fight is over you can choose which fighter the camera focuses on and then move around them, zoom in and out and tilt the camera to get the angle you desire. The over the top bouncy boob physics also return.
Overall I really enjoyed the combat in Dead or Alive 6. It’s easy to pick up and play but with enough depth that you’re still learning for a long time. It’s easily the best looking fighting game I’ve played and there’s enough content to keep you busy for hours. Hopefully the promised enhancements to online play come in the near future and if the developers deliver this could become essential.
Dead or Alive 6 was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Developer: Team Ninja Release Date: 1st March, 2019 Reviewed On: Xbox One Also Available On: PC/Steam, PS4