I am not very good at Street Fighter. 2D fighters have never been my jam, I’ve always been a 3D kid – so much so that I even took a trip to Japan when Tekken 7 was arcade-only and sat on one machine as a couple of locals threw themselves, hopelessly, at my King. But that doesn’t stop me playing games like BlazBlue, Street Fighter, Guilty Gear and more besides on release – I love fighting games. Can’t get enough of them. My limited skill ceiling shouldn’t affect that too much.
That means I am usually very loyal to my main character – I’ve been playing Cammy for as long as I can remember. The Killer Bee works very well for how I want to play; an aggressive rushdown superstar with some lovely mix-up potential, and (now, in Street Fighter 6) some tricky charge times that really force the opponent to be light on their toes and read everything you do at the very, very last minute. She’s wonderful, and hard to deal with, and her speed and aggression more than make up for my lack of ability to get those one-touch combos out.
Despite my limited skill, I play Classic controls. I have tinkered with Modern, and I do get a bit aggravated that Modern Cammy players that I meet in the ranked lobbies can execute combos that I am not consistent with. But I will not back down; instead, I look at the impressive chains that wombo-combo me into the wall and think ‘ah, so that’s the timing, is it?’ and redouble my efforts in pulling them off. Sometimes I succeed! Sometimes, I concede a match to someone I really should have beaten. The fighting game gods cast their choice, we rematch.
And this gave me an idea. I don’t really want to play with Modern Controls yet, because I want to get better with the core systems and understand the bread and butter of the mechanics better. But that doesn’t mean they’re not a good training tool. From my time in World Tour – Street Fighter 6’s exemplary story mode – I really enjoyed my time with Chun Li; her stances, mid-range utility and combo potential impressed me enough to think of putting her as my second character. In previous Street Fighter games, I barely stray from Cammy… but when I do, it’s to buttons Ken or wake-up Ryu, and nothing more exciting than that. Here, in Street Fighter 6, I took Chun Li to the lab for about an hour… and I came out feeling very confident.
It’s all down to those Modern control auto-combos, you see. Simply holding a shoulder button and a face button and seeing Chun go from neutral to devastating combo and hitting with all the impact of a focused one-inch punch gets your blood up. It’s exciting! It’s the whole appeal of a fighting game, realised with perfect rhythm. Repeatedly hammering those combos, switching the input to Classic and trying to emulate it – situation dependent – is a better training tool to me than the Combo Trials baked into the game’s robust tutorial mode.
I think there’s something about letting you handle these moves yourself – seeing how they feel ino the hand, in the arena, in combat – that sinks into my feeble brain better than a static replay of a combo I bang my head against, over and over and over. Playing real matches (even against the AI) and knowing what moves can be pulled off where, what’s safe and what’s not, and how to capitalise on a cheeky low poke… it’s the friendly, encouraging introduction to a character I never knew I needed.
Learning a character via Modern Controls also allows me a better comprehension of how they play when they’re on the other side of the arena. Going up against Modern Chun Li in a game now feels safer; I know her tricks, I know her mix-ups, I know her range. I also know all her stock combos that Modern players can’t really deviate from – perhaps the biggest drawback of the control scheme (aside from that 20% special move damage nerf).
Modern Controls are a huge boon for accessibility, and I can already see friends that I know aren’t fighter fans posting about the game and even chatting about successes they’ve had in Battle Hub. There’s a reason this game is the most popular Steam fighting game of all time – at launch! – and that it’s already sold through an obscene amount. There’s a reason everyone in the lobbies is so damn nice; they’re all having a good time! Because they’re good at the game! Imagine that!
Modern Controls have caught some heat for allowing spammy players to spam… but that’s always been the case in fighting games. As Alex so eloquently put in his piece, if you can’t stand the Modern Control heat, stay out of the Street Fighter 6 kitchen. This new, accessible and friendly addition from Capcom has effectively lowered the barrier for entry whilst simultaneously raising the base skill level in the whole game. It’s nothing short of magic, really, and a perfect balance between keeping the Street Fighter legacy intact and modernising the brand for newcomers.
One of the first DLC characters that’s going to arrive in the game is Rashid – the rapid, Middle Eastern gadget lover that was introduced back in Street Fighter 5. He’s another rushdown hero, and I will 100% be taking him into the lab, and into Arcade mode, with Modern Controls the second he drops, to get a quick and dirty look at how to play him. I am already excited about this – me, a player that’s gone from barely knowing one character to having at least three at my disposal.
That I’m already planning to drop cash on the DLC speaks volumes: Street Fighter 6 has done its job, and I think I’m going to be playing this for a long, long time.