Our hearts have felt empty for a while. We have been sorely missing breast jiggling physics, hyper sexualised combat, and glorious fan service in our games. Never fear though, for our saviour is come, DEAD OR ALIVE 6 has arrived!
The story mode of DEAD OR ALIVE 6 is an interesting beast, combining a core narrative string, intertwined with individual character plots. The central plot following Kasumi, who retired from her clan following the previous title’s events, and a new plot that is surfacing to threaten the world. So, just as dramatic as ever.
This is boosted by having continually unlockable character scenarios too that follow the characters, their motivations, and reasons to be involved with the core narrative. Set out in a grid; it allows the players quite a lot of freedom in how they wish to unravel the plot and, as the scenarios are quite short, makes for a fantastic change of pace from the main game.
Speaking of which, the character list of the title is pretty good, covering a decent cross section of the past games and introducing Diego and NiCO. Personally, we love Diego and his more aggressive playstyle, and the entire roster is enjoyably diverse. In fact, the only sore point for us is the addition of the lacklustre Phase 4 again, but that is an incredibly subjective gripe.
Gameplay-wise, DEAD OR ALIVE 6 is more of the same of what you’ve come to expect, which is in no way a bad thing. Returning is the simple punch-kick-hold-throw set-up, along with the addition of the Break System. As the holds and counters are still the main focus, the gameplay feels as strong and unique as ever among it’s contemporaries.
However, the Break System adds a new, more beginner-friendly, spin to the combat. Allowing all players access to the Fatal Rush, a one-button combo that can end in a slow-motion fatal blow if the player has a full Break Gauge, which fills throughout the match. It’s immensely satisfying to land these moves, and their simplicity to execute is great for newcomers.
There is an argument to be made for whether it is a good thing that the gameplay hasn’t overly changed in years, but with the addition of the Break System, it feels like the sixth mainline title is finally the definitive version of DOA. Everything you would expect is here, and also has a great focus on newcomers. Essentially, this game is win/win for all involved.
Also, for the fans of the more risque elements of the game, all of those shenanigans are present. Despite Koei Tecmo’s insistence on these factors being reined in, breast jiggle physics, the ability to pan the camera over the sweaty character’s win poses, and borderline fetish outfits are all present, correct, and still as hilarious as ever.
The content in the game too is as robust as the aforementioned breasts of some of the characters, with multiple modes, tutorial systems, unlockable in-game costumes for the entire roster, and game customisation options to be found and messed around with. There’s a lot to see and do in DEAD OR ALIVE 6 regardless of your ability level.
The tutorial systems to be found here are incredible; with basic Tutorial Mode to teach you the basics of the gameplay, Training Mode, Combo Challenges, and the new DOA Quest. This new mode gives the player small challenges to complete with each character that teaches the player to use each character’s quirks in a tactile, enjoyable way.
Furthermore, the DOA Quest objectives get steadily and slowly more challenging, easing the player into slowly becoming better at the game bit by bit. This is achieved by having quick links between DOA Quest and the Tutorial Mode if you’re struggling with a particular task (some of them can definitely be a little tricky).
The online mode consisted of Ranked and Lobby, with the former being a best of seven rounds set-up and a rematch system. The netcode was very mixed in terms of quality on our matches, but that might be an connection issue more than an issue with the game itself especially as some of the supposed high connection match-ups actually ran completely awfully.
The only substantial problem we found with the online was that people really didn’t seem to ever want to rematch, so we could never get into any kind of flow. Once again though, this is not a problem with the game per se, but it did make enjoying the online modes very difficult to do when most of it was spent waiting for a match instead of playing.
As we heard from the Director himself, the entire game has been built in a new, hardware intensive engine, and it really shows. Every character, animation, and stage look absolutely incredible. Albeit, there are odd graphical moments with the alternate costumes on occasion but this doesn’t detract too much from the overall package.
The sound design, however, is a bit of a mixed bag. Aside from a few standout tracks, like the character select screen music, the OST is largely forgettable. However, the sound effects are satisfyingly punchy (sorry), really giving the gameplay more impact. This is especially noticeable during the slow motion fatal blows, which are made to sound as brutal as they look.
Core values aside, DEAD OR ALIVE has a great pedigree in the fighting game genre, meshing together simple core mechanics with complex strategic play that has made the games a blast to play for all ability levels. DEAD OR ALIVE 6 is simply the perfect iteration of this mantra, being both warmly accessible while maintaining solid high level play.
The game might focus on fan service with some of the unlockable costumes, with some of them equating to essentially just a bikini, but personally we appreciated that this fan service extended to the male roster too, with Rig for instance having a “costume” that is essentially just a tiny pair of briefs. It’s great to see that Koei Tecmo are trying to appeal to everyone.
It isn’t trying a great deal new, but what it is doing is consistently solid and thoroughly enjoyable. The roster is (mostly) fantastic, the gameplay solid, the visuals breathtaking, and the amount of playable or unlockable content staggering. DEAD OR ALIVE 6 should not be slept on, whether you’re a returning player or a newcomer.