Dead Or Alive 6 Review

A champion... or just a contender?

Dead or alive 6
Team Ninja

Rating: ★★★★☆

After what feels like a small eternity since its last major instalment (6 years in reality), Dead or Alive 6 is once again a contender in the modern fighting game conversation.

Thankfully, despite this very being a solid aesthetic upgrade and a continued embracing of the series' most overblown tendencies, new mechanics do make DOA 6 distinct, especially amongst a string of numbered instalments that for me, have failed to impress.

First up, it's worth pointing out: This is still the Dead or Alive you know and love.

Various signature characters like Kasumi, Ryu Hayabusa, Tina etc. have largely similar move sets as even back in the halcyon days of DOA 2, but they're bolstered by the Break Gauge - a new meter that leads to unique chain specials and a finisher. The latter can be countered by a Break Guard - essentially a universal counter that's the only way to stop a more damaging flurry. The former is geared towards the DOA newbie, or someone who maybe hasn't played a fighting game at all.

These new combos and blocks fit nicely into the ongoing trend of onboarding players in more simplified, immediate ways. DOA 6 follows the mighty Dragon Ball FighterZ, Tekken 7 and Marvel vs Capcom Infinite as an established, premiere fighter welcoming fresh players.

Dead Or Alive 6
Team Ninja

To this end, there is a mode centred on simple move-based goals named DOA Quest, and an exemplary tutorial. The former is focused on hoovering up costume parts for each fighter, while the latter walks you through a character's full set of abilities, animation by animation, letting you perfect each attack or counter before moving on. The two are tied together if you need to hop away from DOA Quest to brush up on a tricky move's execution, and combined it makes for an extension of the base tutorial that many other fighters would do well to ape.

Once you've got the broad strokes of combat down, you've two major avenues to further test yourself.

Dead or alive 6
Team Ninja

Either you'll dive into the story - one that takes many a page from Mortal Kombat 9, hiding load times for the next fight under a cinematic showing any number of interactions between newcomers or old stalwarts, or you'll attempt to survive online. Weirdly, the actual layout of the full narrative comprises far too many strands and timelines to make it enjoyable as a beat-for-beat story, and the vast majority of the dialogue is bogstandard anime fare in a bad way, but it's still great to see DOA further embrace the model MK 9 set out.

Online... things are way tougher. Somewhat obviously, at this stage we're six instalments in, and being that the core of DOA 6 is still DOA, many players have their characters and specific move chains down pat.

Thankfully, that signature counter system is present and correct, meaning that unless you're out of meter on the receiving end of a Break Gauge special, just one button press will reverse anything else coming your way.

dead or alive 6
Tecmo

It's that dynamic attack/defend juxtaposition that always meant DOA had a furious pace, and it's no different here. With even more time and more powerful hardware under Team Ninja's belt, the result is one of the most recommendable DOAs since 3.

Sadly, and here's where we get to one standout negative: The game's Season Pass is a whopping $93. A staggering figure that primarily consists of 62 costumes across all fighters, it marks a brazen acknowledgement of just how much Team Ninja are aware of the wide-eyed lust for DOA's character models - and how much they're willing to take advantage of that.

dead or alive 6
Team Ninja

The price is so exorbitant, the whole thing almost feels like a joke centred around monetising the very perverted sensibility at the heart of DOA's most passionate fandoms - a mentality backed by every OTT boob bounce in-game. Either DOA 6's season pass is the best business move in quite some time, slapping an insultingly high price point on the franchise's own twisted male gaze, or a damning indictment of where the industry is at. Note that you do get two additional fighters for this ludicrous price as well but... clearly the focus is entirely on matters of the flesh.

Overall though, Dead or Alive 6 feels like an entry in the series that makes more waves than DOA 5. Its new mechanics make easier difficulties a cakewalk, but the skill level required for online play is a great reminder that millions of people still adore this franchise.

As a starting point it's immaculate - the only issues coming from how much Team Ninja are willing to fleece some of their most dedicated fans.

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Gaming Editor
Gaming Editor

Gaming Editor at WhatCulture. Wields shovels, rests at bonfires, fights evil clones, brews decoctions. Will have your lunch on Rocket League.