Dead or Alive 6 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Az Elias 03.05.2019

Review for Dead or Alive 6 on PlayStation 4

The past couple of years have been incredibly messy for the Dead or Alive series, from how Team Ninja confused its fans with unclear messages as to the future of the franchise to the undeniably poor marketing and communication regarding Dead or Alive 6's attempts to move away from the sexualised content to that of a more mature and brutal looking fighter. It has been a frustrating sequence of events for those that love the series, as it was difficult to understand what direction the developers were trying to go, whether they themselves really knew what they were doing, and how it looked sure that DOA6 wasn't going to perform too well once released. Following a few patches a little while on from launch, how does the game now fare?

It wouldn't be unfair to say Dead or Alive 6 isn't the long-awaited successor to DOA5 that fans were waiting so long for. The previous title was milked until the cows came home and spanned two console generations with multiple editions before DOA6 eventually came along. The problem is that the sixth tournament just feels like so much more of the same, with little innovation in almost every regard.

It's not necessarily a huge negative, since the accessible fighting gameplay is still as appealing and fun as ever. It's just that for those that have been playing the likes of DOA5 for years not just on PS3, but PS4, too, jumping into DOA6 has a tendency to become a bit stale quicker than hoped. That said, the addition of the Special attack at the press of a button changes the dynamics just enough that some terrific new combos can be achieved, to the point that it's not unusual to hit 15+ combos with only a little practice and good positioning, whilst using the environment accordingly.

The S button move is designed to cater to the more casual fighting fan, much like the mashing Square button attacks found in many 2D anime fighters lately, but given its generally easy readability and slow start-up, it's not so abusable that it becomes too cheap of a move; experienced players should be able to punish S attacks easy enough. Holding back and S, provided there is some meter in the new special bar, allows for a guaranteed hold on an opponent's attack, as well, which is again a casual-friendly feature that grants one more chance to the person on the back foot. The mind games commence in these situations, as the attacker may be expecting the defender to use this if in the final moments of a match as a last resort, and if assumed correctly, can punish with a throw instead. Such small additions to gameplay do actually mix things up a lot more in terms of trying to outwit your opponent.

Screenshot for Dead or Alive 6 on PlayStation 4

Sidestepping is a key move that strangely has been tied down to the S button. Instead of having the option from DOA5 to double tap up or down to sidestep, the direction must be pressed in tandem with the S button, and the S button tapped once again to perform a unique sidestep attack. The extra attack button in the form of the S move being macro'd by default to one of the shoulder buttons makes sidestep attacks tricky to adjust to, and moving S elsewhere would make it harder still. Some fiddling in training is necessary to get used to this change in sidestep attacks that just doesn't feel quite right now, and it doesn't seem like removing the double-tap direction option was needed at all. It means more people have to get used to a forced setup that doesn't benefit from the new function.

As far as the gameplay modes available in a fighting game launched in this era, what's on offer in Dead or Alive 6 is more than acceptable. It sounds crazy to compare to the likes of Street Fighter V, which released as bare bones as a fighting game could have a few years back, but the traditional modes are all here in Team Ninja's latest. Arcade, Versus, Time Attack and Score Attack return, although it is disappointing that Arcade is simply the same bog standard fight through opponents, with no special cutscenes, unique character stories or endings to entice going through with each fighter on the roster. Even if it just went minimal as in Street Fighter V, with still images and text to detail short scenes before each fight, it would have sufficed, especially for less popular characters or DLC fighters that don't get much time, if at all, in the main story mode.

Massively disappointing the story mode is, too, with what seems an incredibly rushed and slapped together set of cutscenes that do very little to elaborate on so many characters and events from the overall plot. Yet another DOA tournament is randomly announced, probably taking place a few weeks after the previous one for whatever bizarre reason (no doubt because the developers are reluctant to age the characters), whilst the serious side of the arc sees the ninjas trying to bring down more Kasumi clones and a robotic revival of DOA1 boss Raidou (an unoriginal and boring personality in itself). Things jump from one thing to the next, and you don't really get to have a proper feel for the fighting tournament that is taking place, as certain rounds are skipped over at pace. If quotes are to be believed, the development team cut dozens of story scenes from the game due to time constraints - and it shows. The story mode is a great example of how DOA6 wasn't given the care it deserved compared to the previous title.

Screenshot for Dead or Alive 6 on PlayStation 4

One decent addition to the series is the DOA Quest. This features tons of individual battles that require players to complete additional tasks mid-match, sort of acting as a tutorial of sorts on top of the already excellent tutorial mode that is in there. More unlock with more tasks that are completed, and although some of the rounds can get a bit samey and uninteresting, the mode is a good distraction from the usual features and something that DOA has needed for a while.

Whilst not as bad as when DOA6 launched, thanks to some adjustments in patches, the costume unlock system is downright ridiculous and one of the worst that exists in any game. Instead of just being rewarded a costume as one would expect when completing an arcade mode run or something similar, players are given costume "parts." Each costume that is locked requires a certain number of parts before becoming available... Available to buy, that is! That's right - getting all the parts for one costume after the painstakingly long process of playing multiple matches and modes only grants you access to buying the thing in the shop with a separate form of in-game currency. This cash also takes forever to earn unless you don't mind countless online matches or going through the DOA Quest or other modes repeatedly.

Things have been changed so that costume parts are given for the character you're using, instead of a random character, now, and the part number rewards have been increased since launch, but it doesn't remove the fact that the whole system in itself is awful. Increasing cash rewards or getting rid of the need to even purchase them in the shop entirely would have both been helpful, but as it stands, players must suffer with this terrible method.

It doesn't help matters that the costume selection is extremely poor. Just two costumes at best for the majority of the males, with recolours made into separate outfits entirely, and not an overly large lot of choice for the females, despite them getting more. Naturally, most of these get-ups will come through DLC and future editions of the game (surely a sort of Ultimate edition will release at some point), but the limited variety in the base title is disappointing to say the least.

Screenshot for Dead or Alive 6 on PlayStation 4

Stage options are a mixed bag, with a couple of returnees in the form of Sweat and Crimson, and a very interesting hybrid of arenas for Unforgettable, which features parts of stages from past games, complete with changing music when the fighters enter a different section. Some of the better stages include Lost Paradise, which is essentially what Zack's Island would look like if it was abandoned and overrun with dinosaurs, and Forbidden Fortune, where a kraken can show up on the top decks of a dodgy ship, throwing players to the treasure-loaded floors below if disturbed. Others are standard fare, with labs, a very boring car stage, and the usual wrestling arena just a few more options on the stage list. The lack of beaches, snow stages, and something a bit more whacky is noticeable.

DOA has always been known for its lush visuals and some of the best character models in the genre. With DOA6, whilst there is a clear step up in many areas due to being a full current generation game (unlike DOA5 Last Round, which was ported from PS3 to PS4), there is this nagging feeling it isn't as top tier as it could have been. Characters have a strange plastic-y look to them that makes it seem as if they are permanently drenched in massage oil, and budget may have resulted in plenty of assets being carried over from the last game, despite the new engine. DOA6 still looks great, but one too many areas stand out like a last gen sore thumb, especially when it comes to stage terrain.

With online lobbies now finally being a thing (not including these at launch was a shot in the foot), Dead or Alive 6 checks almost all of the right boxes for what a fighting game needs. It has a good selection of modes and characters (despite the two newcomers being pretty boring), and the combat itself is still the familiar, accessible and extremely enjoyable system that has been tweaked to enhance it just that bit more over DOA5, but it doesn't quite reach the potential it should have as an eagerly anticipated sequel. Plenty of characters and costumes are not present, it could do with an unranked online match mode, the story is a complete rush job, and the costume unlocking process is bad.

The free-to-play version of the game, Core Fighters, gives every curious fighting fan a good reason to give it a go, but those tempted by the full package might be better waiting a bit for a price drop, or a probable Ultimate edition that could come next year or for next gen consoles.

Screenshot for Dead or Alive 6 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The combat system has been tweaked just enough to keep things fresh for Dead or Alive 6, but there is this niggling feeling that the budget just wasn't there for this game, which is unfortunate, because there are plenty of modes and great characters to enjoy. A few too many aspects stand out as sub-par, though, leading to disappointment for many that have been waiting so long for the next entry in this franchise. Still a whole lot of fun and worth at least trying the free-to-play version out if curious, but it may be best to wait for the likely Ultimate edition.

Developer

Team Ninja

Publisher

Koei Tecmo

Genre

Fighting

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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