Koei Tecmo’s Dead or Alive 6 has landed on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The Dead or Alive series of fighting games has a long strange history. Its creation was inspired by fighting games such as Virtua Fighter, Fatal Fury and Mortal Kombat.
Games in the series feature fast-paced 3D gameplay. And, the franchise is mostly known for its female characters—though not as you might think. Traditionally, the female characters in Dead of Alive games have been oversexualized with emphasis placed on physical assets rather than the character’s abilities.
With Dead or Alive 6, Team Ninja has chosen to tone the game down and focus on being an esports title. Let’s take a look at what makes Dead or Alive 6 different from other games in the series.
Dead or Alive 6 Details
Two new characters join the fight
Dead or Alive 6 ships with a roster of 24 fighters—the exact same amount of characters that the previous game shipped with. The majority of these characters are from Dead or Alive 5 and DLC for the game. However, there are two new characters added to the roster that we have not seen before.
The first new character is a fighter from the Hispanic community, a first for the series, known as Diego. Having grown up in the streets of New York, his fighting style is full of headbutts, punches and tackles. I found a little bit of a learning curve with Diego. His moves are a bit slower than others and not as far reach. It wasn’t long before I was able to successfully adapt my gameplay style to match his abilities.
The second new character is a female scientist from Finland called NiCO. Equipped with electro-shock gloves, she is a master of a Southeast Asian historic martial art that allows her to attack with great speed. Maybe it was because of NiCO’s fast moves or because of my traditional gameplay style in fighting games, but I found that I was able to use NiCO quite well a lot easier than Diego.
New additions to gameplay
Perhaps it was an effort to stream line the game or its focus on being an esports title, but both group and tag modes have been removed in Dead or Alive 6. Aside from this, in many ways Dead or Alive 6 plays similar to previous games in the series. However, there have been some notable changes made that increase the game’s accessibility and enhance gameplay.
Once such addition to the game that allows for gamers new to the series to have a “fighting chance” is called Fatal Rush. With a simple press of a button, multiple times, you can unleash a combo attack on your opponent that deals out some damage. Furthermore, Fatal Rush can be combined with other gameplay mechanics to make things easier for beginners.
Furthermore, Koei Tecmo has included a tutorial system in Dead or Alive 6 for those new to the game or just wanting to brush up on their skills. It’s pretty impressive considering there are over 40 lessons to complete. Though, it doesn’t come with out a few hitches to it. My biggest gripe was that there are some tutorials, which don’t compete even when you have done what it asks.
Another new addition to Dead or Alive 6 is the Break Gauge. As you inflect damage to your opponent, this gauge fills up, and when full can be combined with Fatal Rush. The result is a devastating blow to your opponent.
One of my favourite new additions to gameplay, that I found very useful, is called Fatal Reversal. With this move, in a blink of an eye, move behind your opponent. This allows you time to attack your opponent unsuspectingly. Though, I recommend not using Fatal Reversal too much as your opponent will quickly catch on.
Detailed fighters and stages
Aside from gameplay and “bounce” physics, the Dead or Alive games have been known for their flashy graphics—Dead or Alive 6 doesn’t disappoint. The character models are extremely detailed, including dirt and sweat, and are animated well. You can customize the look of each character right down to their hairstyles. Female characters have more “conservative” attire, though there are still some that are questionable.
The stages in which you fight are varied and include multi-tiered levels along with even more explosive elements added that you can use to hurt your opponent. However, there are some recycled stages from Dead or Alive 5 and one that hasn’t been altered at all. With that being said, there are two new stages I liked with onlookers who will actually push you back into the fight should you bump into them.
The game’s soundtrack is fantastic and really adds to each fight. Perhaps one of my biggest beefs with the game’s presentation is the extremely noticeable lip sync issue when the characters talk. Sure, in the overall grand scheme of things it’s not that important—it just looks bad.
New single-player content
Dead or Alive 6 features a story mode, that on paper sounds like a good idea. However, unless you are familiar with Dead or Alive 5’s story it seems totally out of place and doesn’t make sense at all. And, even if you are familiar with the previous game’s story, it feels like different bits and pieces are just randomly placed together.
Instead of telling the story in one continuous manner, Dead or Alive 6 tells the story via a chart that is confusing to follow. Different parts of the story are locked so you end up jumping around, back and forth. Moreover, some parts of the story are just cutscenes, while others are quick fights. In all the experience left me feeling confused, frustrated and unsatisfied.
In addition to story mode, Dead or Alive 6 has a new mode called DOA Quest mode. Essentially your reward in this mode is unlocking new costumes for your fighters. As you might have guessed, in this mode you are presented with a series of missions or challenges to complete. In all honesty, I found them to be repetitive and unless you really want to unlock new costumes it’s a mode most people won’t bother with.
Standard multiplayer modes with some lacking
As expected, your standard versus and arcade modes are included in Dead or Alive 6. Currently, Dead or Alive 6 only features ranked matches for online play. Lobby matches were planned for late March but have since been delayed until April.
Despite this, finding matches online has been easy and never once have I experienced lag or disconnections. It’s a shame that the game didn’t ship with lobby matches but I guess its better late than never.
Dead or Alive 6 focuses more on gameplay and less on bounce
At its core, Dead of Alive 6 offers a solid fighting experience. It’s great to see added gameplay elements and a tutorial, which makes the game more accessible to all. Although I was a bit disappointed to only see two new characters in the launch roster, they are both great additions. At the time of this review online play is a bit disappointing in that there are only ranked matches.
Much like Street Fighter V, I feel that over the coming months Dead or Alive 6 will continue to evolve and grow with improvements and new characters that will enhance the overall experience. If you are a fan of the series or a fan of fighting games looking for a solid fighting game, Dead or Alive 6 is a good addition to your library.
+ Detailed character models and stages that are alive
+ Enhanced gameplay over its predecessor
+ Two new fighters are a welcomed addition to the roster
+ Less “bounce” physics and more emphasis placed on character ability
– Story mode is a jumbled mess
– Online mode is lacking until the update comes out next month
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF DEAD OR ALIVE 6
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5