Among the few 3D fighting games that have stood the test of time and turned into popular series, Dead or Alive has always managed to set itself apart from the rest thanks to its unique take on combat and signature character designs. After multiple releases of the last iteration across a number of different platforms and a barred visit to the beach that required a little extra work to obtain, the series has returned once again in Dead or Alive 6. Offering a number of tweaks to the standard formula and a couple of new fighters, is this latest entry in the series worth your time?
As before Dead or Alive 6 manages to offer a fairly solid story mode for players to enjoy. With eight chapters in total the story mode is laid out in a descending grid where players can follow the main story as well as take part in side stories for each of the characters in the game. Some do get more time to shine than others and while the story itself is a bit of an odd one it does manage to tell a cohesive enough tale that continues the story of the tournament and the ninja clans.
For the most part players shouldn’t expect too much challenge from this mode outside of occasionally being placed behind the controls of a fighter they may not be used to. It is nice to note that some of the newer characters such as Honoka and Marie Rose are given extra attention this time around to make up for their lack of attention in the previous game and both newcomers also get a solid amount of time to shine.
Players will find that, although two characters are already locked behind DLC at release, Dead or Alive 6‘s initial offering of twenty four playable fighters makes for quite an eclectic batch of characters with a mix of fighting styles to choose from. Nearly all of these fighters are returning from the previous entries in the series with the fresh faces of Marie Rose and Honoka now worked into the series in better fashion and as for the two new characters we have a powerful scientist named NiCO that is capable of using electricity in her attacks and a street fighter named Diego.
Those unaware of how to play the game or are rusty with some of their favorite characters will find that Dead or Alive 6 remains as accessible to newcomers as possible. There are numerous gameplay modes designed around teaching the player the ins and outs of standard gameplay mechanics through a tutorial to each character also having a specific pair of tutorials for them. These include command training that showcases every move that the fighter is capable of using as well as a much more difficult to complete combo challenge that focuses on stringing together these moves into devastating combos.
The standard fighting gameplay remains mostly the same as Dead or Alive‘s triangle style of combat remains true here, with strikes beating grapples, grapples beating holds, and holds beating strikes. Holds are handled similar to they were in the past with players attempting to grab an incoming attack and reverse it on their opponent. It is interesting to note that should the player want things a little easier, it is now possible to swap from the newer 4-Way Hold mechanic that requires mid-kicks to be input different from mid-punches to the 3-Way Hold of older games though this option is only available in single player modes.
A new mechanic has also been implemented in Dead or Alive 6 with the use of the “Break Gauge” that fills up while dealing or receiving damage. When filled the player has the option to drain the entire bar to perform a Fatal Rush that deals stunning attacks that finish off with a powerful blow that will send your opponent flying while also dealing cosmetic damage. Along those same lines it is also possible to burn half of the gauge to perform a Fatal Reversal that immediately dodges any incoming attack and puts the player in position to counter attack their opponent. There are also special side-stepping attacks that also utilize this but can be done by the player as well. All of these features are tied to one button that can also perform a standard fatal strike combo chain in an effort to make things easier for new players.
Players will be able to take their skills as well as their favorite fighters through a slew of different single player modes as not only are there the aforementioned story mode and training options but a number of other modes as well. This includes Arcade, Time Attack, and Survival modes that feature a variety of different difficulty levels that pit the player against the AI, a Versus mode that allows you to fight against a local friend or against the AI as well as a new DOA Quest mode. This latter mode introduces three challenges that players can complete in a match while using a certain character. These range from simply beating an opponent within a time limit, gathering enough Survival items, performing a certain attack or counter, and more. The rewards for these modes often come in the form of in-game currency as well as costume pieces if you manage to complete all three challenges. This also serves as yet another tutorial to help introduce some mechanics to the player in a more high-stakes fashion.
Speaking of fashion Dead or Alive 6 once again offers a multitude of costumes for everyone on the roster, with some characters getting a bit more love than others. These costumes range from being the classic outfits fans remember to new and unique ones that are a bit more titillating but it is unfortunate to note that many are also simple color swaps of one another. Another negative aspect happens to be the way these costumes end up being unlocked this time around. As the player finishes various fights they earn in-game coins, player experience, fighter experience, and costume pieces. The coins are used to fully unlock various pieces of background music, information, and titles that players obtain from playing the game while experience mostly is used to unlock additional difficulties and various titles.
The costume pieces are another thing entirely and although it has been patched already with another patch on the way, actually obtaining costumes for characters you play is a chore. Completing DOA Quest modes unlocks the most pieces of an outfit but outside of that players will need to grind by fighting in single player modes or online and hope they manage to get points that actually go towards a character they like to use. This is something that is unfortunately a difficult endeavor since it is entirely possible to earn costume pieces for characters that you have never touched before or, in the case of the two DLC fighters Nyotengu and Phase-4, don’t even have the ability to play as outside of a few specific fights. Throughout my time with the game so far only one costume has been unlocked for one of my main fighters while a multitude have been obtained for other lesser used characters, making for a frustrating grind that is hopefully addressed in the future.
Outside of the sizable single player content players will find that the aforementioned online multiplayer is currently rather anemic. Although promised to arrive later this month with lobbies, Dead or Alive 6 currently only offers online ranked matches with no hope of actually playing against your online friends outside of getting a lucky draw when searching for an opponent. Thankfully actually fighting online is an easy to use feature that works rather well and it is possible to try and challenge for a rematch a handful of times if you find a particularly challenging or fun opponent to face off against.
Visuals & Audio
Although there were some concerns leading up to the game’s launch it is rather easy to say that Dead or Alive 6 still holds onto the gorgeous looking character models and physics that the series is known for. The initial costumes may be a bit tame for some characters but there are still plenty of outfits available for unlocking that series regulars will be more familiar with. The fast paced fighting also returns in tried and true format with some extra impactful touches added into it as character models can now be scratched up or have clothing ripped up if they are hit with specific attacks alongside the return of sweat and dirt accumulating during a fight. It is a bit disappointing though that the actual stages where fights take place have been given a bit of a downgrade from previous entries. While there are still some crazy looking stages to fight on and stage transitions, the various stage hazards have been toned down immensely and even scene transitions are kept to a minimal basis compared to what was seen in the most recent entry.
The soundtrack features a wide array of tracks that fit the game’s theme perfectly and there are even additional pieces of music that, once unlocked and purchased in-game, can be swapped around so you can pick and choose your favorite songs. The voice actors for both the Japanese and English voice tracks perform their roles well even during some of the cheesier moments of the game’s story mode but it would have been nice for more fighters to have unique pre-fight dialogue with certain characters as some are kept at a minimum.
While there may have been some trepidation leading up to Dead or Alive 6‘s release there is no real cause for alarm for series regulars here as the game once again delivers a fast paced fighting experience unlike other 3D fighters in the genre and looks great while doing so. The numerous tutorial style modes help walk newcomers through the ins and outs of the game while returning fans will find that while not a whole lot of new features have been factored into Dead or Alive 6‘s combat system, it is still just fresh enough to feel like an exciting change of pace that will keep players entertained through a variety of single player modes and the online fights that will hopefully expand soon. There may be a few step backs in regards to stage details and costume unlocking but those looking for a fast-paced fighting game will find that Dead or Alive 6 certainly scratches that itch in a new enough fashion that feels just a bit anemic out of the gate.