After numerous years of releasing season passes full of new costumes for fans to purchase, Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo announced last year that post-game content will be stopping for Dead or Alive 5 in preparation for their new game, the aptly named Dead or Alive 6. I’ve sunk many hours into DoA5, even though I’m not that good at it, so I couldn’t wait to check out the latest iteration within the franchise in order to see just how they have evolved the game. Also, I wanted to see if ‘boob-gate’ was true and they had given every fighter a sports bra so there was no wiggle room, literally…
As masters in the field of competitive fighting games, I have high expectations for this new title, but does it deliver?
Dead or Alive 6 is positively bulging with content, content which offers a lot of progression and rewards based on how well you take in your training and advance through the various modes. First, let’s take a look at the Story Mode…
I’m not going to lie – I really don’t like the layout of the Story Mode and how they have decided to present the rather short narrative. If you’ve played Dynasty Warriors 9, the story is laid out like that, as a flowchart kind of setup. The main story follows Kasumi, Ayane and Hayate as you progress through the chapters and engage in various one-bout fights after short in-game cutscenes. Seriously, by the time I’d finished the ‘main story’, I didn’t really know much about what’s going on as the story was all over the place. I believe this is intentional…
As you engage with various characters, their timeline opens up on the flowchart. So, let’s say you’ve just beaten Marie Rose, you can continue on in the main story or take a sidestep and proceed through her story if you wish, a story which may have two or three scenes/fights. I decided to just work through the main story and then jump back to do a few of the other segments for other people, it’s all pretty confusing and a bit of an information minefield.
However, I’m happy to say that the cutscenes are actually entertaining and the characters do have some life in them, unlike Jump Force… There is also a lot of these segments to play through, over 20 in the main story and over 60 overall between all characters and pathways. Not all of them will involve a fight, but they will all offer exposition and some information regarding the main story which it’s trying to present.
Before I get into the actual modes you’ll be playing through, I feel I need to talk about the actual combat within Dead or Alive 6. I’ve not played a DoA game for a while, so coming from Street Fighter V, where you have three types of punches and three kicks, it was a bit jarring at first dropping to a single punch and kick option. However, the number of combos you can pull off once you’ve mastered the controls is incredible. The game runs silky smooth, the hits all have weight behind them, the actions are all fluid, and everything seems very realistic.
In terms of ‘boob-gate’, I feel the game had enough wobble for my liking – the women would walk on with their baby feeders swaying to the beat, this is emphasised even more when you begin to smack your opponent around in the chest area. Sure, some of the costumes may have changed in the base game and some are now less revealing, but looking at the DLC costumes (which dropped today) and the ones you can unlock, Dead or Alive 6 still has its fair share of exposed clothing for those who seem more interested in what the characters wear over the gameplay itself.
But I digress, I simply adored Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition for its smooth gameplay, brilliant effects, and satisfying combat, Dead or Alive 6 ups the level and has taken the spot for my favourite fighting game this generation.
Not everything is ultra-realistic though, as you build up your Break Meter, you can unleash a devastating attack which is unique to your character. This will usually result in a fantastical attack in which you smash your foe around and reduce their health by a large chunk. Again, some people had pointed out that certain younger females who were hit by this move don’t get a closeup of the attack impacting their face – but I never noticed this. From all the battles I had, I don’t recall any in which certain characters had a different animation.
Despite the confusing and rather messy story mode, there are thankfully more modes we can jump into in order to engage with the game, next up is DOA Quest mode…
This is where I spent a lot of my time with Dead or Alive 6. You have a list of 104 quests to work your way through, these vary from three-round 1-v-1 matches to multiple rounds of you vs a rotation of enemies. Each one has a pre-determined fighter for you to play as, as well as a chosen enemy and arena, and it’s up to you to try and end the fight after completing three challenges per quest. And yeah, it’s the annoying three-star progression process which I don’t like (you’re blocked from progressing to new events until you have achieved a certain number of stars), yet I never felt like I had to grind for stars or hit a wall as the challenges weren’t that difficult.
The challenges are as you’d expect, for the most part, things like ‘Clear the quest’, ‘land 2 comeback kicks’, ‘hold 2 high strikes’, ‘inflict 40 damage with one attack’, etc… Each challenge is shown on the screen throughout the combat and ticked off upon completion, so you always know if you’ve done it or not. Also, successful completion of the challenges will reward you with in-game coins, yet completing all of the challenges for a quest will reward you with ‘costume pattern parts’. These are used to unlock new costumes for the fighters, yet you still have to buy them with coins after you’ve unlocked them!
What I loved about the DOA Quest Mode was the fact that it’s pretty much an interactive tutorial with a purpose. As you bring up a challenge, it’ll occasionally have an indicator to the side saying ‘Recommended Tutorial’ next to one of the challenges – an example would be next to ‘Defeat the boss with a Break Blow’. Now, I know how to pull that off, as I use it all the time, but if you didn’t know how to achieve that goal, simply press Triangle and you’ll be taken to a short training segment where you’re literally taught that one move. You can practice for as long as you want and then return to the quest in order to try and achieve it.
Just a word of warning, you have no control over the difficulty of these, it starts off easy and it eventually gets really, really hard. Thankfully you should be good at the game by the time it gets hard though, especially if you’ve mastered all the moves it’s been subconsciously teaching you!
I just want to fight!
For those of you who just want to jump in and beat someone up, Dead or Alive 6 has you covered in that aspect as well! the ‘Fight’ menu is comprised of Versus, Arcade, Time Attack and Survival.
Versus: Here you can choose which side you want to be on (left or right), whether you have one or two players, or if you want to simply watch the CPU battle it out with itself! You can also adjust things such as health, time limit, rounds, what level of holds are allowed, CPU level, and if you want the game to be in event mode or not. Then, pick your fighters, accessories and stage and away you go! You can even turn off the environmental dangers should you choose to do so!
Arcade: Chose a difficulty from the six on offer, as well as your character and accessories, and then work your way through a series of battles as you progress through the game as if you’re playing an arcade tournament. This one was pretty self-explanatory!
Time Attack: Similar to Arcade, only you have a choice of five difficulties, instead of six, and the goal is to fend off all the enemies in the fastest time possible in order to be placed onto the leaderboards.
Survival: Pretty much the same as Time Attack, only you are trying to see how many people you can defeat as you fight one round after another against various enemies. You get a little health back per round, as well as health items which drop on the arena.
I didn’t have the chance to play much of the game online, as I had it pre-launch, but I managed to engage in a few battles which worked perfectly. There was no lag, no obvious ping issues, and no unfair advantages to either of us – even in the fights where I lost. I felt I lost due to my skill level not matching my opponent, not because the game was unfair or unbalanced. However, I’m sure the developers will be constantly looking for trends and the way people play the game in order to issue tweaks here and there to the various characters attacks.
At the moment though, there is only an option to play online in ranked matches with random people – I can’t see any option to play friendlies with people you know. I’m not sure if this is because it’s pre-release or if the developers have opted to only allow online ranked fights against strangers? Either way, if you want to play with someone you know, it seems local two-player may be the only way.
If you want to brush up on your training or try and earn the trophy which requires you to use training for over an hour, then there’s an option for that as well! You have Free Training, Tutorial, Command Training, and Combo Challenge modes – each of these contains hours of tutorials and guidance (except Free Training), so there’s plenty to work through if you wish to brush up offline before heading into the ranked online above!
This wouldn’t be a good fighting game if it wasn’t crammed with bonus features, would it?! Dead or Alive 6 has all of your usual aspects, a wardrobe where you can buy and change the clothes of each character, as well as save the choices to various costume slots; a Theatre to rewatch cinematics; a Music database to listen to any music you’ve encountered; a Library full of DOA facts/glossary and trivia information which you’ve unlocked via quests and by increasing your level; and a Database screen which shows your stats.
The Database screens get rather detailed. Not only does it tell you how many fights you’ve had and your win/loss figures, but it also tells you how many high, mid, and low punches/kicks you’ve performed, the number of throws and holds, how many fights you’ve done with each character, etc… If you’re someone who likes to read all of your stats and see if you’re getting better based on which character you’re using, then this screen will be your best friend!
Okay, I don’t usually do this but I saw that everyone was questioning EA on their spreadsheet of when you can play Bioware, yet other companies also release mini spreadsheets telling you what you get for your money, Dead or Alive 6 was one of these games! When I booted up the game, I noticed there are two characters I can’t pick and there’s no way to buy them either as it’s pre-launch still. However, a quick google search later and I found a spreadsheet of what each of the versions of the game gets you on each platform – there isn’t a single version that gets you everything. On the PS4 you can get extra costumes, a theme and a new character, or a second extra character if you go for the digital deluxe. On Xbox it’s similar but instead of a theme, you get an extra costume you can’t get on PlayStation…
It’s all very confusing and a bit iffy tbh. Sure, give those who pay for the deluxe editions something extra, but having the characters actually show up in-game but blanked out, like it’s teasing you, is a bit much. Also, if you prefer physical then you can only get a standard edition, so no bonus secondary character and skins for you, unless you buy the deluxe upgrade separately (if that’s a thing…). One thing I will say though, at least it isn’t like some other games where you get different content based on WHERE you buy it, or the mess that was Red Dead Redemption 2 with its multitude of extras sold within about five different products!
**update – the season pass is £73.99, considerably more than the base game. For this, you get the two new characters and 62 costumes. It does say the content may be available separately and I really hope the two locked characters ARE available separately as I doubt a lot of people will want to lay down an additional £74 just to unlock two characters who are live on day one**
Dead or Alive 6 looks fantastic on the PS4 Pro. Also, unlike the news you may have heard before release, the PS4 Pro has both a resolution and framerate mode, just like the Xbox One X – what this means is anyone’s guess at the moment (I have reached out to KT for an answer). However, going by eye, I would say the performance is a locked 60fps at 1080p and the resolution mode is 1260-1440p at an unlocked framerate which is always around 60fps. I’ve played the whole game in resolution mode and it looks great – a lot less shimmer, straight edges, clearer textures, and I’ve not noticed any dips in framerate or screen tearing.
However, there is one thing which stuck out like a sore thumb and really affected the story for me – the cutscenes. Just like pretty much every other fighting game out there, all of the cutscenes are played in 30fps. It’s not a smooth 30fps either, you can clearly see that it’s running at a much lower framerate once you’ve just come from silky smooth 60fps gameplay. It’s not a big issue, but the cutscenes don’t even have that many particles or effects in them, so I’m not sure why the system has to dramatically drop the framerate for them.
Also, those wishing to stream or take pictures of their gameplay during the Story Mode, make sure you have a third party capture card. That’s right, on the PS4 you can’t record, stream or take pictures once you enter the Story Mode. All the other modes work fine, but the story blocks all access. I’m not sure if it’s the same on Xbox but it probably is.
Audio-wise, Dead or Alive 6 has a multitude of tunes which are used throughout the many stages and cutscenes. The voice acting isn’t that bad either, with the actors delivering their lines in a believable and emotional way. I love the small touches as well, such as the elevator Muzak kicking in when you’re browsing the DOA Central mode for new clothes and reading up on the lore.
Taking its place as my favourite fighting game this generation, Dead or Alive 6 is so addictive! When you’re not trying to achieve all three stars in each of the 104 quests, you’ll be either fighting a stranger online, training for your next fight or working your way through the rather messy story mode. The narrative may not be one of the best out there but the game delivers where it counts, in the combat mechanics and performance. Delivering both a resolution or framerate mode on the PS4 Pro, Dead or Alive 6 ensures it remains stable whichever option you decide to go with.
Based on the amount of support, updates, and DLC that Dead or Alive 5 received post-launch, expect Dead or Alive 6 to receive the same, if not more, in the years to come.
Dead or Alive 6£54.99
- - The combat feels very weighty and smooth
- - The new break system works perfectly to deliver ultimate chaos against your foe
- - The story, whilst confusing, is a decent length with over 60 scenes
- - Over 100 quests, each with three challenges to complete
- - A vast library of music, lore and costumes to unlock
- - Day one characters locked behind whatever version of the game you pick up
- - No unranked/friendly online play (from what I can see)
- - The price of the season pass is crazy!