Street Fighter 6: How frame data in SF6 is going to rekindle the hardcore value of the series


There is no question that Street Fighter has done some heavy experimenting in the past. From the way the game plays to the art direction and character roster, there has been no shortage in terms of experimentation. We could all agree at this point that Street Fighter V is to Capcom what Saint Anger was to Metallica – something that many hardcore fans of the series wish had never happened.

With that said, we can finally turn the page on what seems to be the most polarizing game in the series (SFV) and start looking into a brighter future with the release of SF6. This post is all about the 101 on the mechanics and the main reasons why this is a complete departure from the train wreck that is SFV in the eyes of many fans of the series.

Street Fighter 6 brings the footsies back to the spotlight

While the drive system remains to be tested to see how much cheese it can bring to the table, for the most part, it feels like a very good mechanic. It does seem to be responsible for the possibility of creating frame traps and block strings, but unlike the mechanic in SFV, this is going to cost you resources. Even when you do get frame advantage on normal, it is only for a limited number of hits. In SF6, you need to commit to the use of your drive meter to get those longer strings (they are still much shorter than the endless strings you could do in SFV with some characters). Therefore, SF6 will allow for strong pressure, but you won’t get it without sacrificing bars. It will not be free of charge.

One of the biggest issues with SFV is that it allowed players to pressure with too much ease and no serious consequences for pestering the opponent. This was the biggest problem with the game and Capcom saw the issue and corrected it with drastic changes. This game feels more like any SF in the past than it does like Street Fighter V and that is a very good thing.

Drive is quite dangerous in the corner, but if people abuse it expecting a wall splat, they will be countered and the player that is against the corner will have the opportunity to attack. It could be with high damage combos or a throw that puts the opponent in the corner and flips the momentum of the match.

Footsies and heavy neutral gameplay reign once again in SF!

How the new frame data turns the game into a neutral heavy experience

Let’s be completely honest about gameplay mechanics that cater to luck and endless set play pressure. The more you are allowed to pressure your opponent without the need for fast reactions and proper knowledge of footsies, the easier it is to get wins by throwing the dice.

The definition of set play in fighting games is when you create a specific game plan even before a round starts. Never has this been easier to achieve than it is in Street Fighter V and that game owed this terrible gameplay style to the frame data. The endless strings of plus on block normals made the game feel like a turn based RPG instead of a fighting game.

The biggest issue with such a massive display of plus on block normals is that it gives way to a larger number of rock/paper/scissors scenarios. The more guessing you can force on your opponent, the less the game caters to skill and the more it caters to luck. With that said, it is impossible for a game not to have guessing elements, but they should not be predominant. Oki is indeed an important part of fighting games, but it should only be felt strongly during wake up situations.

The biggest problem with SFV is that it was constantly forcing players to experience 50/50 scenarios during endless block strings. In SF6, the majority of your normals, even standing and crouching jabs are minus on block. Yes, this is a big deal in the Street fighter series because it has never been that way before.

The beauty of this change is that it forces players to become skilled at the neutral game. If you poke someone with the majority of your normals in SF6 once, it is already the opponents turn and no longer yours. It is important to understand that this does not mean that you will be punished if the opponent blocks your jabs, but you won’t maintain pressure any longer.

Trades are also back and they are a very important part of a properly balanced neutral game

The burnout

There is a way for players to become plus on block on many of their normal, but it requires that the opponent burns out. What this means is that the opponent will make use of the entire drive meter. Once that happens, the character goes into a different stance during the burnout period. At this point, the opponent will be able to do certain block strings without the need to burn meter.

The 101 on the burnout state

  • Your drive gauge is reduced if you block hits, but it is not reduced if a hit connects
  • When you are punished by a counter, it is reduced
  • Getting hit by drive impact will also reduce your drive gauge
  • There is also drive reduction when the opponent lands a super
  • You can refill your drive gauge to get out of the burnout state by hitting or parrying your opponent

What all of this means is that the goal of any match in SF6 to be able to pressure your opponent with minimal risk of retaliation is to deplete their drive gauge completely.

The parry system

The parry in SF6 is quite unique and it is not like the 3S parry at all. The way this works is that you basically block anything that comes your way, buy you are never going to be able to tech throws while in a parry state. The reason why I say “state” is because you go into this blue glowing stance that allows you to simply hold the parry and deflect any hits, but you will be 100% vulnerable to all throws and command grabs.

With that said this parry does not allow for many advantages with the exception that it helps you regain a small amount of drive gauge per parry, but there is a perfect parry within the parry stance, and the window to get that perfect parry against any move is of two frames. The good news is that the player is rewarded with a chance to go on the offense.

The parry offers two types of parry options with differet rewards.

The 101 on the drive impact

  • The drive impact move is similar to a focus attack from SF4. In SF6, it costs 1 drive bar and most characters have 6 of these bars.
  • When this move hits on block, it is -3 but it has very good pushback.
  • Any cancellable normal can be cancelled into drive impact
  • It acts as an armor on activation and this makes it ideal to handle constant pressure
  • The armor can take two hits but it won’t armor with supers
  • If both players simultaneously activate the drive impact, they will get pushed back
  • The drive impact will cause a wall splat on hit and on block in the corner and this allow for some unavoidable damage.
  • If the wall splat is done on a character in burnout state, they will also get dizzied. This will allow for maximum damage combos.
  • You can counter a drive impact with anther drive impact or you can throw the opponent out of their drive impact animation
  • A neutral jump or a sequence of fast jabs will also work against drive impact
  • A super will armor break a drive impact

The 101 on the Drive Rush

  • The drive rush is performed by cancelling your drive parry state with a forward dash (press forward twice)
  • Cancelling from parry costs 1 bar but cancelling from a normal costs 3 bars.
  • A normal that you perform after a drive rush will have a faster recovery and this leads to a follow-up normal or special
  • You can expand your combo with another drive rush for a total of 6 bars used
  • The drawback is that using all your drive gauge will get you in a burnout state
Drive rush gives you more pressure options, but it costs a large amount of resources.

The beauty of the live commentary feature

As annoying as this sounds to some people, if you take the time to hear the demo commentary that has been released, you will notice that this is going to allow players to improve their awareness of the mechanics.

The commentary includes things like “Player 1 can’t use any drive moves without burning out” and this is incredible useful when you consider how it reminds players of the way the mechanics work. This alone makes it a very welcome addition for anyone that is just getting started in SF6.

SFV fans say “but SFV had a huge audience”

Sure, it certainly did, because Capcom is the ultimate fighting game behemoth that can afford insane amounts of marketing. When a game brings in the mainstream hype and big paychecks in tournaments, many people will play it.

Street Fighter V is a great game in terms of responsive controls, quality graphics and effects, but is a bad game in terms of how it butchered the value of fundamentals and neutral game skills. The way the game worked was perfect to allow low skilled players to have a fighting chance against intermediate level players and this made it extremely appealing for the mainstream. It even made it so that some pro players would lose in pools against unknown players that had a good set play game plan.

It only takes a second of research to find “why SFV sucks” and you will get a plethora of video essays on the matter as well as pro player interviews explaining their reasons to dislike the game. That never happened with any SF game before it. With that said, all games have detractors, but SFV was constantly crossing the line between love and hate with the community.

The camera angles for different situations in the game are very engaging.

You can only transform a game so much before it becomes something else

It is possible that the FGC will never be a huge money maker in the world of eSports. The truth is that Capcom’s shot callers are probably smart enough to realize that SFV tried to take the series too far away from what a good fighting game should be and they are correcting this issue with SF6. In order to avoid alienating the casual players too much after the casual friendly SFV, they have introduced one-button special moves in optional modern controls in SF6.

I made a video on the reasons why one button special moves are bad for the FGC, but given the heavily neutral and skill based nature of the SF6 frame data, it will be of little value or advantage for players to have that option. With that said, it will still make it easier for new players and casuals to enjoy the game at low and intermediate levels, so in SF6’s case, I would say it is an addition that brings in new blood to a game that is actually a footsie based fighter.

Footies are incredible in Street Fighter 6

This video by the FGC place showcases the incredibly delightful footsies in SF6. The video features Punk and Brian F with a Jamie mirror match. This character seems like the ultimate footsie machine, but the one thing I want to highlight is the sharp reactions from both players.

You see moments when Brian F throws a low poke and Punk reacts fast enough to punish counter. Both player capitalize on mistakes and perform damaging combos, but it never feels like either player is overwhelmed by offense.

It is a game that forces you to have insane reactions to whiffed moves. This is the kind of gameplay that hardcore fighting gamers love and casuals hate. Luckily, the player pool for casual play is always vast and only a small portion of an active community reaches the highest levels.

This is the reason why a good fighting game should always cater to fast reactions, strong fundamentals and as little 50/50 nonsense as possible during the neutral. It is perfectly fine to have 50/50s on wakeup (Oki) but not to make it so that even the neutral game becomes a coin toss.

This is why SF6 feels like it will be the perfect modern fighting game. It has the most amazing footsie based gameplay I have seen since the Alpha series. I have heard younger players say things like “Many boomers will play the new SF game for a month and then quit and go back to ST” and this is definitely accurate if we talk about the SFV era.

Many old school players hated SFV and felt the game was a disaster, but this time it feels more like the effect that SF4 had on old school players. It feels like a game worth playing and a game that forces people to understand the neutral.

This is the kind of footsie play that you never saw in SFV even at high levels.

Questions and answers

Will Street Fighter 6 be available for PS4?

Yes, while the game is pretty good looking, there is nothing in it that a PS4 won’t be able to handle. With that said, perhaps some lighting and particle effects will be less impressive on the PS4 port.

Is the game going to feature cross-play?

The game is going to feature cross play for all consoles and PC. This is going to allow for the community of players to be way bigger given that Xbox players will be thrown into the mix.

Is the game going to have rollback?

Yes, sf6 will have rollback and based on the closed beta tests, it seems to run quite smoothly even with less than perfect connections.

Final thoughts

It is difficult to say just how much we can expect from SF6 as far as it being the best SF ever made. Regardless of the lack of exposure to the mechanics, we can already see how the game caters to an audience that loves fighting games instead of looking to appeal to the casual gamer as a priority.