Review: Dead or Alive 6 (PlayStation 4)

Reviewed by Zubi Khan, posted Mar 1, 2019
Mar 1, 2019
  • Release Date (NA): March 1, 2019
  • Release Date (EU): April 1, 2019
  • Release Date (JP): March 1, 2019
  • Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games
  • Developer: Team Ninja
  • Genres: 3D Fighter
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
  • Also For: Computer, Xbox One
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
    Co-operative
Dead or Alive 6 is the latest installment in the long-running, arcade-inspired fighting series. How does it stack up to previous entries?
Zubi Khan
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Dead or Alive 6 is the latest installment in the long-running, arcade-inspired fighting series. My first exposure with the franchise was with Dead or Alive 2 back on the PlayStation 2 but it wasn't until the 4th release on Xbox 360 that I fell in love with the fast and frenetic fighting franchise.

On the other hand, the previous entry, Dead or Alive 5, I found to be a little too over-the-top, to the point where it almost overshadowed and diminished the core fighting mechanics on display — I'm happy to report that with the release of Dead or Alive 6, Koei Tecmo manages to strike a perfect balance between action and nuanced appeal. For starters, one of the biggest additions to the game is the inclusion of a special bar.

The special bar is similar to the reversal power blow from DOA5, but is much easier (and flashier) to pull off as it is now a frontal move referred to as Fatal Rush. At first glance, Fatal Rush may feel like an easy mode button for new players to use in order to feel like they're competent at the game, I for one sure did. However, it's better to think of the Fatal Rush technique as a last-ditch effort in order to get out of a precarious situation or end the fight if the opponent's HP is low enough (as the move itself, doesn't do a whole lot of damage).

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DEAD OR ALIVE 6_20190228143141. DEAD OR ALIVE 6_20190228142403.

Additional changes to the core fighting system include the addition of Break Blows and Break Holds — both Break Blows and Break Holds utilize pressing the special button, which on PlayStation 4 by default, is R1. Break Blows are a little bit stronger than Break Holds and use 100% of the specials gauge in an overwhelming parry, conversely, Break Holds are more subtle and only use half of the gauge but are still more powerful than regular holds, with a longer stagger between the two. These additions mostly feel like a welcome touch that compliments the tried-and-true Strike, Throw, Hold triangle formula that the series is known for.

In terms of content, Dead or Alive 6 offers 24 characters, with an additional two locked behind a paywall (Nyotengu and Phase 4 are DLC). Amongst the included 24 playable characters, the two newcomers include Nico and Diego. Nico is a MIST scientist and uses a fighting style known as Silat, a type of martial arts augmented by Nico's pension for technology, giving her punches an electric edge. Diego is a street brawler, feeling a bit like Rig and Bayman but still unique to warrant his own niche appeal.

Dead or Alive 6 includes 14 stages with many of them being reminiscent of popular stages from previous entries into the series. It should be noted that overall, there are fewer stages in DOA6 that have multiple layers, however, I found this to be a good thing, as Dead or Alive 5 kind of went overkill with how bombastic the stages were, making them feel more like a set piece out of a Michael Bay movie, rather than an intense backdrop for a fight. My favourite stage in Dead or Alive 6 would have to be the stage, Unforgettable, which in itself is an amalgamation of classic DOA venues from past games.

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DEAD OR ALIVE 6_20190228140303. DEAD OR ALIVE 6_20190228143334.

Although all the fighters, sans the DLC characters, are playable from the get-go, Dead or Alive 6 does offer a competent story mode that is fragmented into an ever-expanding timeline, where players can gradually make their way to the end, with many of the character narratives intersecting at some point, making for a relatively interesting experience. To make up for not having to unlock characters, DOA6 instead, offers a plethora of cosmetics (outfits, glasses, hairstyles, etc) that can be earned via in-game currency from just playing the game.

Costumes, in particular, feel a bit grindy to unlock, as they can't even be purchased till the player first unlocks the right to buy them, by completing specific challenges in a new mode, known as DOA Quest. Koei Tecmo did address this issue, stating that a day-1 patch will make it a bit easier to accumulate points, however, it remains to be seen just how much of a difference this patch will impact the unlocking process.

One area in which I was disappointed with the game was the lack of any guest characters, which felt like a series staple up until this point, personally, I would have loved to see the inclusion of someone like Ryo Hazuki, perhaps to hype up Shenmue 3 (of course, if SEGA/Deep Silver allowed it).

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DEAD OR ALIVE 6_20190228140324. DEAD OR ALIVE 6_20190228140938.

With Dead or Alive 6 being built ground-up for current generation platforms, the title looks better than ever, especially when in regards to the wear and tear that fighters receive as matches progress. The sweat and dirt specifically, look a lot more convincing, going from what reminded me of one of those old Gatorade adverts, in which the athletes would sweat the popular sports-drink, to something that is much subtler and less jarring to look at.

On PlayStation 4 Pro, Koei Tecmo included the option to switch between performance and a higher graphics fidelity setting, although the difference in performance I found to be about the same, opting me to leave it on the higher graphics setting. Ultimately, Dead or Alive 6 is another great entry into the long-standing series and shouldn't be missed by longtime fans and thanks to the inclusion of the special bar, newcomers should find the game accessible to get started with, as well.

Trailer

Verdict
Pros
+ Respectably sized roster
+ Accessible to different skill levels
+ Good visuals and overall polish
+ Inclusion of a story mode
Cons
- Unlocking everything feels slow and will likely take a long time
- Lack of guest character (not counting DLC) feels wrong
- Day 1 DLC and locked characters feels a bit dirty.
8 Presentation
Although not a massive jump from DOA5, the sixth installment still manages to bode some impressive visuals.
9 Gameplay
Just like what made the original Dead or Alive great, DOA6 feels just as fun and technical while still being friendly to newcomers.
8 Lasting Appeal
Casual players may grow bored of the game after a while but serious fighting game fans will have a great title to add to their roster of arcade fighters.
8.5
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
With a decent roster, great accessibility, and fun gameplay, Dead or Alive 6 is a solid entry, and worth your time if you're a fan of the series.


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