Good fighting rhythm and intelligent move additions still offer a solid entry-level and fun tournament experience.

Dead or Alive is known for one thing and that is female body shapes. Which, to be honest, is a shame, because the series with its fast combat system, which is more focused on timing than complex specials, is actually ideal for finding access to the more complex tournament fighters. It is less important to learn six finger breakers for each fighter than to recognize and exploit the moves of the opponent, all via four simple buttons on the pad.

Fast sequences of strokes with the right timing, that’s the heart of the game.

On this point, not much has changed with Dead or Alive 6. On the easier levels of difficulty, a little button mashing is completely sufficient to feel good and to get ahead and even at the highest “True Fighter” level I survived one round or the other with at least relative ignorance of the specialties of a fighter I didn’t trust. Something that would be virtually impossible in Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. If you just want to have a smooth and nice beating party, don’t have much knowledge of the genre and still want to land hits, this is certainly not the worst starting point for you. Most of all, however, it feels good. You quickly have routine in the little combos, these are brought to the screen precisely and easily felt by the pad and even if the force of a Mortal Kombat is rarely behind the blows, it has the martial arts B-movie flair that you want to have something like that.

The counter and break system provides a little more depth, which appropriately punishes players who are too carelessly beaten. That and sometimes a sideways step into the depths of the room is enough, because you still don’t find much offensive jumping here. The break-blow and hold is on its own key and varies whether you move towards the opponent or away. The latter provides a very elegant counterattack, which usually positions you directly in the back of the opponent. If it goes to your opponent and your charging break indicator is well filled, you can land a cinematic four-man combo that ends with a particularly effective move. Like the normal moves, these breaks are not an art in pure pad mastery, it is “only” about when exactly and with what positioning you perform them for maximum efficiency. How much you can optimize that, you can see in the downright meager online mode – there are only ranked matches, still no lobbies – where pros like to demonstrate it to you.

Overall, you have become a bit more chaste …

All of this has worked solidly for years without reaching the sophisticated game depth of the competition. Which never seemed to be the goal of Dead or Alive and is completely okay. There can be a somewhat more superficial fighter, outside of the anime area there is no competition for it anyway. What nobody should really expect is the leap in the direction of e-sports that has been announced at some point, the engine and the fan base hardly produce that. Still, fun with a proud 27 characters can definitely be had here. Also because the technology is no longer nearly as backward as with DOA 5: Last Round. Above all, the new engine stages the fighters very neatly, only the backgrounds are miles away from being as impressive as DOA 3 did on Xbox back then, for example. Even if the dinosaur stage or the museum have a few nice gimmicks ready, something else is nice.

There has also been progress in terms of game modes, albeit not in the online area. The missing lobbies are supposed to be submitted by patch this month, but offline you have a solid selection of activities. The story mode is again a confused monster that makes up something with dinosaurs, clones, AI, ninjas and everything else from countless individual scenes and battles and leaves everyone who might be looking for coherence in the dust. It’s fun, more chaotic, more primitive, often more than just a little stupid fun, which certainly cannot compete with an Injustice or even Soul Calibur.

… or rather the old freedom of movement has been packed behind the paywall this time.

There is an arcade mode, but no intro or extro films, just a fighter and a few random opponents from the crowd of 27. The quest mode is more exciting, with over 100 challenges in which you have to do three different things in a fight with a certain fighter. The first is usually winning and then things like a perfect win or increasingly difficult moves and combos follow, sometimes repeatedly. Well-known in one form or another, motivating and above all very instructive, because more than once I have called up the associated training room to practice what I asked for.

What you then unlock, especially in Quest mode, but also in the other modes, brings us back to the introductory sentence: Female body shapes. And here Dead or Alive 6 is clearly backing down compared to before. Soul Calibur was much more shameless recently, but this is also due to the fact that there not all scarce and less scarce costumes behind a massive paywall – almost 100 euros for unlocking all costumes and just two new fighters in something that includes the term season Pass not earned because more paid content follows behind it. Tecmo has never been reluctant to do that at DOA, but if you’re thinking of buying DOA 6 for skimpy outfits, don’t do it. Now I can’t say that a little more discipline is bad for the game, it looks more like a normal game that not only draws attention to itself with the physics slider – which of course still exists.

The Breakers look nice and massive, but are nowhere near as dramatic as their equivalents in other games.

But yes, there is sheer greed for money above normal levels and there is also the fact that you can unlock some things, but in a completely random system that is vaguely reminiscent of loot boxes from hell. You don’t get unlocked entire outfits, only parts and points for unlocking them. So it can happen that you play for four hours – like I do one evening – and in the end you don’t have anything you wanted and actually not really anything. It’s all a study of how unlocking shouldn’t be designed, but at least all fighters are directly available and so all of this only touches on the irrelevant parts of the game.

The “Core Fighters” version is exciting and unusual: It is a free-2-play version in which you have most of the modes minus the story and only four fighters. Perfect for playing and having a little fun, so download it. Here you can buy individual fighters for 4 euros each or a little cheaper in a pack. The story costs 20 euros – which I would never spend on it – and all in all and everything together it is of course a bit more expensive than the normal version. Still, a good demo with optional expansion.

A classic? No, but still good for a few laps.

Dead or Alive is no longer relevant, neither as a mainstream graphics demo, as it was in part three, and certainly not in the “serious” tournament fighter circles. A slightly sexist – or “culturally differently oriented” – relic from days gone by that nobody needs anymore. Or? How many of the current fighters can you just put in, have no idea of ​​even one special move and still shine to a certain extent? It’s almost more of a rhythm game for that matter, at least if you can get a feel for the timing of the punches and combos. It’s not just about doing complicated pad art, but experiencing a flow of battle and the new part with its breakers does that excellently. The modes cannot compete with a Soul Calibur or Mortal Kombat, but Dead or Alive still has its place in the world. Even if it could slowly end its search for extreme experiences in the microtransaction area.

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