Street Fighter 6: Mastering the Basics
The advent of a new era of fighting games is upon us with the release of Street Fighter 6. The game has come out to widespread critical acclaim, bringing in a fresh but familiar fighting game experience to the table for a new generation of players.
The inclusion of an option to simplify the control scheme, as well as a staggering number of in-game tutorials teaching the fundamentals of fighting games makes Street Fighter 6 the most newbie-friendly title in the series. There has truly never been a better time to get into the genre, whether or not you’ve even seen a single match played out.
But with a new entry in the venerable franchise comes the same set of hurdles faced by beginners each time. The gap between the lower leagues in online play versus the true masters of the game is enormous, and simply jumping into ranked matches can be a daunting task.
Fear not, for we come to you with our guide to getting better at Street Fighter 6. While this guide is aimed mostly at newcomers to the series, these tips also apply to those that have been playing since the earlier titles — but seek to improve their gameplay past the entry level.
Choose one character, and stick with them
It is certainly true that one of the draws of fighting games as a genre is the variety of playable characters in each game and their corresponding personalities and playstyles. Street Fighter 6 is no exception, with 18 characters at launch and more on the way as DLC. Therefore, we certainly wouldn’t blame anyone for wanting to try their hand at each available character, particularly against AI-controlled opponents.
While this is great and all, it’s not exactly what we would recommend for those looking to get better against other human players. It is far more important to focus on learning the fundamentals in this regard, rather than to attempt to “diversify” your character pool.
Thus, we suggest picking a character that you resonate with — whether that’s in terms of their personality or their moveset — and sticking with them until you get the basics of Street Fighter 6 down. Save the experimentation for after that!
Find your character’s anti-air moves
Jumping attacks in Street Fighter 6 are very powerful and rewarding. They give tons of advantage to the user when blocked, and allow massive, highly damaging combos when they do land. They also allow players to avoid projectiles that only travel horizontally across the screen, such as Guile’s Sonic Boom and Ryu’s Hadouken.
New players tend to spam jumping attacks for these two reasons. It is extremely vital, therefore, that you look for your character’s specific anti-air moves, which are designed to hit opponents jumping in on you recklessly. Good anti-air moves tend to have large vertical hitboxes, or have invincibility to airborne attacks. Examples of such anti-air moves include Ken’s Shoryuken, Guile’s Flash Kick, Chun-Li’s standing medium kick, etc.
Reacting to your opponents jumping in with your character’s anti-airs nets you free damage, and dissuades them from approaching you from above. They will instead have to accept that they need to approach you on the ground (which is more difficult to do), or eat your anti-airs every time they try to jump. Either way, it’s a big win for you in the mental game against your opponent.
Block, block, block — and punish
Aside from losing to jumping attacks, the number one reason players get stuck in the lower ranks in fighting games is because they fail to block and punish moves that have highly abusable characteristics.
For example, every crouching heavy kick (also called a “sweep”) in Street Fighter 6 recovers very slowly, especially when blocked. This is to compensate for the fact that sweeps tend to have long range, hit standing opponents, and score a knockdown on hit.
Blocking a sweep allows you to counter with your own, as long as you press the corresponding button in time. During this time, your opponent cannot even block your incoming sweep, resulting in what is known as a “block punish”. This extends to other moves like Luke’s Rising Uppercut, Juri’s Tensenrin (or Pinwheel), and Chun-Li’s Tensho Kicks — which tend to have invincibility frames on startup.
More than anything else in fighting games, this is the most important aspect when it comes to getting out of the trenches. Lower ranked players gravitate towards moves that have overwhelmingly good traits, but are heavily unsafe when blocked at the same time. Blocking and punishing such moves allows you to easily take a health lead against opponents that rely too much on gimmicky strategies, and fluster them when they realize that their shenanigans suddenly don’t work.
Naturally, you first have to block at all in order to punish in this manner. This means not mashing out moves randomly in the open!
How you punish unsafe moves is mostly up to you. For beginners, we recommend going for knockdown moves like sweeps (as mentioned above), or uppercut-type special moves like Shoryuken or Rising Uppercut.
For those with a bit more experience and muscle memory, though, a full combo would be ideal in order to inflict maximum damage. This is very character-dependent, though, so we suggest looking online for your character’s “bread and butter” combos in this regard.
Stick to three or four easy to medium-difficulty combos
Speaking of combos, there really is no need to go for the flashy stuff right away. Bread and butter combos are there to squeeze the most damage out of the easiest execution routes available to your character, and are designed to be reliable and dependable on a game to game basis.
Don’t sweat the hard combos just yet; learn your character’s easy to medium-difficulty combos first. Ignore the combo counter on the side of your screen — it means nothing in the grand scheme of things. Getting mileage out of your combos in the form of damage is far, far more important.