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Dead or Alive 6 review for PS4, Xbox One


Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Team Ninja
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes
ESRB: M

On February 26th, 2019, Joey “MrWizard” Cuellar and Mark “MarkMan” Julio broadcasted from Evolution Championship Series’ main Twitch Channel to unveil the 9 titles which will comprise the tournament’s core titles. Obviously certain titles will have guaranteed slots like latest Iteration of Street Fighter and Tekken. Smash Brothers had representation, but not the version that has been played by the scene for the last 15 years. New titles with up and coming communities were included like Dragon Ball Fighters Z, UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH EXE:LATE[ST]. Unreleased and upcoming titles like Mortal Kombat 11, Samurai Shodown will ensure the action will be unpredictable as the effective techniques and strategies are still incubating. A portion of the fanbase was perplexed as a title with an impending release was completely left off the table, some conspiracy theorist types pointed to an incident which occurred at EVO Japan where a promotional event went awry…leaving red faces for organizers. Others point to the fact that historically this title did not yield enough entrants to justify the honor of being a “main title”. However enough prattling on about FGC politics, instead let us look at the latest entry to the Dead or Alive series to see if this perceived slight is justified.

Originating on the fifth generation of consoles (PlayStation and Saturn), the series was an early polygonal fighter which had 3 distinct features. The cheesecake factor was turned up extremely high, the characters had a plethora of costumes (the females more, so than the males) and stages featured hazards dubbed Danger Zones would injure players were they land in those areas. Always known as a graphical showcase, the titles would push the limits of the hardware they were present on. Dead or Alive 6 keeps this trend going even as societal norms have shifted in the gaming scene. The cheesecake factor is a bit more tucked away. Main characters such as Kasumi and Ayane are attired a bit more conservatively, although skimpier options are available should one to dig deeper. Costumes are definitely a presence as Team Ninja released a deluge of post release costume packs for DOA5 which would cost someone a pretty penny if they were to purchase every pack. Dead or Alive 6 looks to continue the trend with their season pass which already has been derided for being extremely costly. The Danger Zones in DOA6 feature plenty of explosions and even feature outlandish events which include kraken and pterodactyl attacks.

The fighting is intuitive, but yet complex. New players can pull of some fluid and fancy looking combos while mashing, veteran players could also counter everything these mashers throw at them if they understand the properties of the attacks being thrown at them. The special moves which required a player to have less than 50% life and “complex” input has been ditched in favor of a special bar based attack or counter which has a standardized input for all characters. These attacks also known as break blows although destroy your opponents clothing, hats, glasses and any hair ties if they are wearing any. Clothing destruction does not serve any purpose other than to show off the games visuals.

What fantastic visuals they are. Characters look fantastic, they sweat and bruise as the fights progress. Breathe heavily if they win by the skin of their teeth. The stages feature a lot of particle effects and most of the stages looks lived in with the exception of some of the arenas which takes place in “labs” and the training stages. One particular stage dubbed “Unforgettable” is anything but that, the stage takes place in a museum which has sections that has call backs to older games. The Las Vegas strip-ish arena from DOA4 which featured low barriers that players can knock each other over, the winding staircase from DOA2 which served as a Danger Zone, the War Zone which was a stage from DOA5 are some of the

The cast from DOA5 is relatively intact, with a majority of the guest characters removed in this base version of DOA6. Mai Shiranui is set to return as paid DLC and as the time progresses I’m sure additional fighters will be released for purchase There are two new characters and unfortunately Diego is a tad underwhelming as he’s just a street fighter, whereas Nico is pretty interesting with her technomancer fighting techniques.

The modes the game offers is rather robust. The story mode is told via parallel narrative with a heavy focus on the conflict between the Mugen Tenshin ninja clan and the MIST organization which looks to create the ultimate fighter. It’s a passable narrative and answers some mysteries of the series, but a lot of the cast from the game seems to have little to no participation in the storyline. DOA Quest features over 104 fighting scenarios which players can use to get acclimated to the game’s systems and characters. Other single player modes Arcade, Time Attack, Survival. The versus mode features an option which I doubt has been seen in any fighting game, “Event Mode” removing some clutter and adding some quality of life features which should be a boon to any tournament organizers. The Tutorial mode is one of the more robust ones out there. A guided tutorial covers all the systems of the game, the free tutorial lets you set up scenarios and features not only frame data, but distance data of attacks for those who want to dig deeper. Online is shockingly barebones with only ranked fights and no ability to play friends in online. Online Lobbies are supposed to be available as an update down the line. DOA Central lets you customize your fighters to your liking as well as provides replay theater, a lore repository dubbed “DOA Encyclopedia” which lets you catch up on the happenings in the DOA universe.

Despite advances and improvements in this iteration, my biggest gripe with Dead or Alive 6 is the unlockable system. Since DOA5, the series leaned heavily on downloadable content to expand it’s cosmetics. The costumes that are included to be unlocked are mostly recolors and unlocked at a random rate. As you play you have an opportunity to earn costume pieces, the amount needed varies to 100 to 1000 pieces. It seems the title will have events which will boost the amount of costume pieces earned, but these pieces are earned in a random way. So you could play as Kasumi, but earn costume pieces for Bayman. After collecting the pieces required you technically have not unlocked the costume, but rather the opportunity to buy it with player points (Think of it as DOA’s equivalent to Street Fighter’s fight money). The amount of player points that the game doles out feels like it’s on the low side. Unfortunately since the title has yet to offer standalone costume DLC for purchase outside of the season pass I have not been able to test if paid costumes featured this weird unlock method.

Dead or Alive 6 continues the trend of being a fun title that has a low barrier of entry, but offers those who wish to go deeper a lot of tools to accomplish that. The title remains one of the more visually appealing fighting games out there in the market. Team Ninja has created the framework for a tournament ready title, It’s tough to have to appeal to a mass market, the fighting game community AND the community that stuck with them for all these years. They just need to avoid unnecessary controversies, maybe pump the breaks sheer amount of paid cosmetic DLC.

Koei Tecmo provided us with a Dead or Alive 6 Deluxe PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B+