Shoryuken at E3 2018: Hands-on with Dead or Alive 6

By on June 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm
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E3 2018 was a very exciting time for fighting games, with many titles available to play by anyone who attended the event. One of the most exciting upcoming fighters, however, was not on the showroom floor.

Shortly before E3 2018 officially began, Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja announced Dead or Alive 6, the next iteration of the popular 3D fighting game, and it surprised many with its more refined design, dynamic action sequences, and new overall direction. With the game being announced so close to the conference, many wondered if the title would have a presence at E3. After looking at the floor plans of the two event halls, it was clear this was not the case, but that didn’t mean Dead or Alive 6 was missing in action.

Shoryuken was invited by Koei Tecmo and the Team Ninja community manager, Emmanuel ‘”Master” Rodriguez, to get an early look at the title at the Koei Tecmo meeting room — and it’s clear Team Ninja has a new mission for a favorite franchise: making Dead or Alive 6 familiar, accessible, and — above all — action-packed.

Dead or Alive 6 breaks new ground with the Break Gauge system

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Dead or Alive 6 is just as fast, furious, and technical as it’s been known for. Jumping into the demo with Kasumi, a series mainstay, felt familiar. Her strikes were accurate and graceful, and her old combos worked in similar fashion. Everything you’d expect from the kunoichi was there — except for her familiar outfit, which was replaced with a new battle suit more focused on actual combat. What was different this time wasn’t necessarily the characters themselves, but the new mechanics put in place as part of the title’s combat system. Accessibility is king when it comes to the current climate of the recently-developed fighters, and it’s on full display with the new Break Gauge system, the first super meter system for the franchise.

The system is utilized through the new special button, (RB or R1) and even activates an auto-combo when pressed repeatedly on its own. This new mechanic is known as the Fatal Rush. Once activated, the Fatal Rush cannot be stopped by the opponent (unless they burn their Break Gauge), allowing a guaranteed combo. Players must be cautious on both ends of the Fatal Rush — not to leave yourself open by not making contact, and not to allow yourself to get caught if you are on the other side.

Pressing the special button (RB or R1) + up or down initiates a side attack where players can avoid their opponent and go right on the offensive. This is a great way to make your sidesteps count, especially when being rushed by the opponent.

Neither of these methods use up any meter, so mixing these new mechanics in with regular DOA tactics is going to be what creates the most successful players in this new entry.

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By pressing forward + special (RB or R1), players activate a Break Blow, an incredibly devastating attack that uses the entire meter and initiates those new dynamic close-up shots. The Break Blow is also a great way to burst through the opponent’s strikes as it goes straight through high and mid attacks. Players can lead into the Break Blow through the Fatal Rush if there is enough meter built to execute it, allowing new players to feel a surge of success when pulling off that stunning string of attacks. Whiffing a Break Blow or Break Hold will burn the Break Gauge meter as well so those techniques should be used carefully in order not to waste them.

Depending on the character, the Break Blow may strike the player in the face as shown in the reveal trailer, giving a zoomed-in look at all of the messy new details on display in DOA6: showcasing all the scratches, cuts, and bruises brought on through the heat of battle. For Kasumi, her strike focuses on the body of the character, blowing them back with extreme force. This matches her character a bit more than a sucker punch to the face, and is just as visually stunning to see in action.

The Break Hold is the defensive version of the Break Blow, and the only way to counter the attack. It also uses a full bar of meter and is activated by pressing backward + special (RB or R1). It doesn’t do as much damage, but that is the trade-off for being able to counter the intensity of the Break Blow.

Definitive details discovered during DOA discussion

DOA 6 Destructible Outfit

Certain costumes are destructible, this is indicated by a red star icon next to the outfit being selected. The feature shows off the dynamic damage system. Damage occurs with significant attacks at their point of impact.

Players can decide upon using a four-way or three-way hold system before entering the versus mode, allowing newer players the option to learn the fundamentals of holding before diving into the full scope of complexity available.

Stages are still as dynamic as ever, and are filled with hazards like electric rings and rowdy bystanders, and destructible elements like crates, cars, and dumpsters. Stage transitions are still up in the air, with the game still being very deep in development.

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That being said, you couldn’t tell this game had an early 2019 release window because of how incredibly polished the entire experience was, even if the demo only had four characters to choose from.

Kasumi, Zack, Jann Lee, and Helena (who I found the most success with) felt like complete fighters waiting for the rest of their friends and foes to join in on the fight. The gameplay was solid, the characters were well-defined, and the new mechanics worked incredibly well without sacrificing the series’ long-established identity.

I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the roster along with their new designs and the story that will tie them all together. Most of all, I am excited to see where this installment will take the franchise, and hopefully open itself up to a whole new audience looking to fight in style. Dead or Alive 6 is set to release early 2019 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC — and will be playable to the public for the first time at Evo 2018 later this summer in Las Vegas.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Team Ninja has provided us with a little more information on the break gauge, and we’ve updated the article accordingly.]

Source: Team Ninja Associate Editor. Austyn James Roney began his gaming journey with Super Smash Bros. on the N64 but learned the ways of the fighting game genre with Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Loves all fighters, regardless of dimension or playstyle.