Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo bring us their sixth entry in the long-running Dead Or Alive series. By reading this Dead or Alive 6 Review, you will be able to understand what the game offers directly from the eyes of a massive fighting games fan but a newcomer in the franchise. This review will focus on the gameplay and what’s in the box, avoiding less important aspects of the series that others are fixated on.
Release date: March 1st, 2019
Approximate size: 50 GB
Developed by Team Ninja
Published by Koei Tecmo
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Pro; Also available Xbox One and PC.
Now, before we get into the actual plot of the game, let’s address this layout chosen for selecting chapters and the grid-like structure on which the chapters are spread out. It makes absolutely no sense and if you aren’t paying close attention, you’ll get lost very easily. You’ll finish one chapter and two more will unlock but for different characters. The ideal way, in my opinion, would have been the following: Having one main storyline with different chapters and after completion, unlock the more character specific storylines. Either that or separate the two into two different modes like Street Fighter V or put them in Arcade Mode. Anything would have been better than the choice made here. With that out of the way, let’s talk about the plot.
The storyline is all over the place and this should be a bad thing as I should be bashing all of the weird plot lines, but I have a theory that has caused me to really enjoy the story mode. I imagine the development team was in a meeting spitballing ideas and quickly turned down the idea of telling a good, logical, and serious story. Instead, they decided to make something so over the top that it will be memorable no matter what. They succeeded because you could say a lot of things about the plot, but you can’t deny that it’s entertaining as well. Some of these situations and dialogue options are hysterical. Go with an open mind and just enjoy as you learn about the Dead Or Alive Tournament, the secret organization, the ninjas in the background, and the search of the chosen one. Yeah, it’s like they grabbed popular plot points and threw them all together.
NetherRealm Studios (known for Mortal Kombat/Injustice series) are still the kings of fighting game’s storytelling but there is also room for the nonsense that provides a good ride too. Does completing DoA 6 give you anything? No. Is any of it memorable? Yes, actually. Some really unintentionally hilarious scenes I’ll never forget and there is a lot here that’s perfect for memes.
As I said earlier, this is my first venture into the Dead Or Alive franchise. The others always caught my eye but due to timing, or my monetary attention placed elsewhere, I never dived into the games. Until now.
For the most part, you’ll face off against another fighter until one of you loses all the life bar or until the time runs out. You have access to dedicated buttons for punch, kick, throw, special, and block. There is a taunt button, but I don’t really use it. You can also use a combination of buttons for a stronger kick and punch. For combos, you’ll point the left stick in a certain direction to modify the type of attack. For example, pushing the stick up gives you high kicks and punches, and lowering it gives you access to low combos. It’s up to you to mix and match and use mids as well to create combos and trick your opponent. You can also trip your opponent, attack them as they are down, and launch them in the air to juggle them. The stage itself can also be used to deal damage to your opponent, which is now a staple in fighting games.
As you fight, you’ll build the meter above your health bar that will grant you access to other techniques, called the Break Gauge. A lot of techniques can be used from this meter and it can make a huge difference in any given fight, granting you the victory, as long as you use it correctly. Break Hold allows you to sort of intercept an attack and reset with an advantage. For example, let’s say someone is doing a combo and you active this; you’ll catch the punch and get behind the opponent. If you’re fast enough, you’ll be able to get the drop on the opposing fighter. Break Blows are powerful attacks that send the opponent flying. That’s a great way to cause separation or to put the cherry on a brilliant beat down. Side Attacks are quick offensive moves done while sidestepping, allowing you to stay on the attack as you maneuver around the enemy. Then you have Fatal Rush. These are sort of like the supers from other games; very flashy moves which do a lot of damage. You take all of these different mechanics and you’ll find that Dead Or Alive 6 is a deeper fighting game than you might be expecting. One of my favorite aspects of this game is the blocking counter in this game. When you are blocking, with the right timing and button pressing, you can intercept an attack and counter it. It’s not something I’ve seen in other fighting games, at least not to this degree, and I absolutely love it.
But is the game fun? Oh yes, it is. Dead Or Alive 6 was not a game I was anticipating to purchase, it wasn’t on my radar. Since I was foreign to the franchise and with other games coming out this month, I didn’t even think about buying it. However, when I played the Beta one weekend, the gameplay hooked me in, and the final release brings that experience with more polish and flair. It truly is a ton of fun. This is a smooth experience with no gameplay or graphical issues and the CPU can be quite competitive. Learning characters, seeing their move sets, and watching all of the crazy things you can perform has all been fantastic. Now, let’s talk about the modes you can play in Dead Or Alive 6, starting with the online which is by far the weakest offering.
Online in fighting games and first-person shooters are the lifeblood of those games, even if I’m not a multiplayer kind of guy I can still acknowledge the importance of having a healthy assortment of online modes. For some bizarre reason, Dead Or Alive 6 only offers Ranked Mode. How this decision to release the game with only that available is a head-scratching choice that is, frankly, unacceptable in this modern era of gaming. I know Lobbies are coming, supposedly in the first week of release, but I can’t judge something that isn’t available during my review and that should have been since day one. Fighting games all across the board have loaded their games with tons of online offerings. With that out of the way, no unranked or friend battles, Ranked Mode has been a smooth experience. No crashes, no rubber banding, and very few connection issues. Finding matches hasn’t been an issue and it seems everyone else is actually trying to hone their skills and be the best.
On the main menu, you’ll see a category titled Fight and it’s here where you’ll find most of your single-player offerings. Versus Mode is where you can quickly jump in to have a fight with either the CPU or another player locally. It runs as it should, and I spent here a decent amount of time researching some moves and options before heading to the online mode. Time Attack has you going through a series of fighters with the goal being to defeat them as quickly as possible. This mode I had no interest in until me and a friend turned it into a competition between the two of us. Who is the better Kasumi? Let’s go through Time Attack and find out while we brag to one another on who is better. He was. Survival is a mode found in most fighting games and, as the name applies, you are to survive either an endless wave of opponents or a preset number. The damage you’ve taken in each round carries onto the next. I’ve played a lot of Survival modes in different games and this one is a ton of fun. I definitely recommend it. Then there is Arcade Mode. Every fighting game needs one and this is implemented well. I found the CPU to really get tough towards the end of my runs, but they never felt cheap, nor did they spam tactics like other fighting games in the past have fallen victim to. A great Arcade Mode and the perfect mode to play by yourself.
Any aspiring player, or skilled veteran, will tell you how important it is to devote time to this mode. Here you’ll learn the mechanics of the game and perfect your mastery of a fighter. It is, also, up to the game to provide you with the tools necessary to make this devotion of time streamline and guiding. Dead Or Alive 6 does an excellent job at helping you to understand and to grow as a player. Combo Challenge will have you perform a combination presented to you. It’ll start off with simple moves and mechanics, but it will eventually ramp up in difficulty. If you have a competitive drive or desire to master a character, you’ll find plenty here to motivate you. Command Challenge is similar only with more emphasis on button commands and abilities. Tutorial Mode comes in two variants: character specific and basic. This is the best area to truly understand the character you want to master. If you want to be the best Helena Douglas in the world, you’ll get very close to that from this area alone. Not only will you learn the mechanics that apply to every character in the game, but you’ll also learn those unique to her. This applies to every character of course. Free Training is also there for you to experiment and do what you want. Maybe you accidentally discovered a cool combo but are having trouble replicating it, then going here is the best way to try to recreate it without restrictions.
Over one hundred missions are here for you to tackle, each with three objectives that will grant you a star once completing them. These can range from defeating an enemy in a certain amount of time, landing a certain numerical value of a combo, using Side Attacks, and everything in between. If you want to learn the game without going into training, this is a good spot to quickly jump in for a challenge because the controlled fighter and opponent are preselected. For completing these missions, you’ll unlock clothing for other characters at random.
This is the vanity and unlock area. In the Wardrobe section, you can unlock fighter clothing with the money you have been accumulating from playing the other modes and customize characters to have a certain combination of clothing in a slot for quick selection in other modes. Database is where you can view your stats and fighter record. Like my KOD record in Call Of Duty, I avoid that. If you had an epic encounter and have recorded it or saw something you wanted to analyze like fight footage MMA fighters use, the Theater section is where you’ll want to go. Music area allows you to unlock BGM tracks and place them in certain spots you’d like to hear them play. Library gives you access to Dead Or Alive trivia and an encyclopedia which I found very helpful being new to the series. I recommend fellow noobs come in here and learn more about the series and world, should you have that interest.
Of course, Story Mode is also there to learn why everyone is fighting. It can be hard to follow with how it’s designed. Options menu gives you some interesting selections to customize the experience to your liking. For example, you can choose to have the frame rate prioritized over graphics and vice versa, and you can tone down the violence, sweat, and blood. Dead Or Alive 6 offers a ton of different modes for single player gamers. Online friends, unfortunately, have been left with only one mode and the promise of another soon. As mentioned, the game is a blast to play and it runs great. The mechanics in this game are wonderful and deep for those willing to explore but also friendly for those coming in new to fighting games or the series as a whole. Loading can also be an issue, more so in Arcade and Online.
I’d like to start with the character models because most of them are absolutely beautiful to look at. There is a lot of care and attention to detail that has gone into most of the cast, from the fabrics in character clothing to the models themselves. In addition to that, if you leave all the settings on, you’ll see you and your opponent accumulate sweat as a battle intensifies and drags out, blood splashing from devastating slow-motion attacks, and clothing fly and rip off when a powerful blow is landed.
On the other hand, some character models look as if they were copied and pasted from a generation ago. Seriously, I don’t know if it’s that some fighters got more priority over others or if they got hit with budget cuts on those few blemishes on an otherwise gorgeous cast.
The effects in the game are also nicely implemented, always emphasizing on something awesome happening and helping to make you feel like a competent fighter. The animations in the game are also well produced and unique, for the most part, to each individual fighter. A character’s fighting style is actually taken into account when their animations were created, and it shows. I mentioned how nonsensical and over the top the game’s story is and the in-game cutscenes that show this story are just as crazy as the story.
Environments also look tremendous and you’ll fight across a bunch of different sceneries that all are graphically impressive. Do you want to fight at a beautiful wooden ninja dojo, outside, with fall leaves in the background? You can. Want to fight in a ring surrounded by electrically charged ropes to keep you and your opponent contained? That’s here too. Want to face off against an opponent at a rocky forest at night? Yes, that’s here as well. The game offers variety for you to fight against the characters and none of them stick out as bad, but they all look beautiful. The devs should definitely be proud of the backgrounds they have been able to produce in this latest entry in their long-running franchise. The menu and U.I. also look sleek and nice, easy to maneuver through and easy to find what you’re looking for. There is a lot you could say about the series and some of the decisions that were made and where some of the priorities may or may not have gone but you can’t deny this is a good-looking game for the most part.
I’m just going to address the weakest part of this game’s audio design and that’s the English voice acting. The accents, the pitch, everything is all over the place and I turned it off almost instantly because it’s terrible. One of the characters has a French accent but it feels as if they opted not to get a Frenchmen to play the voice but rather an American to mimic a French accent and voice the character. It’s bad. With that being said, the non-English voice acting is great. It helps if you’re a fan of anime too. Each actor accurately portrays their characters and feel less like they are voicing a role and more like they are that character. I appreciate the commitment to the role. The game’s sound effects are great as well and accurately capture what is being shown on screen. No sound element feels out of place, even the grunts and pants as the fighting takes place adds another layer of realism and comedy.
The music that plays in the background is a lot like elevator music, it’s there to serve a purpose but it never tries to be more than what it is. Thankfully, it never detracts the gameplay, and should you ever find yourself listening to its poppy beat, it’s not horrible. Overall, the game sounds are a nice, complementary layer to the game. Except that English voice acting… God, it’s horrible.
Dead Or Alive 6 is such a fun game and I’m actually ashamed it took me this long to get into it and try it out. The gameplay offers a nice balance of casual and can be deep if you look for it. The dodge mechanic is fun, tough to master, but worth it once you do. Online runs smooth, despite having only one mode. There is plenty of content here for single player, which is weird to say, and you can easily find something to do. It’s still unacceptable that there is only one online mode in this day and age, and we can hope that’ll change in the future but it should have been here since launch. Graphically, the game is stunning. Character models are detailed, they sweat, get dirty, and have their clothing ripped. Environments are great looking as well and varied.
If you love fighting games, you’ll have a ton of fun here. It’s a great fighting game. The story, however, is terrible but at least comical. The English voice acting is also terrible. Also, be advised, there is a $100 season pass that adds costumes and only two fighters. Unacceptable as well.