Despite the minor delays, Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja’s latest installment in its 3D fighting game franchise delivers with an explosive and fast-paced action while still being as beginner-friendly and “slightly less” on the bouncy and voluptuous bodies. Featuring new multi-layered arenas and unique hazards, it tries to up the antics to create a truly entertaining yet weird competitive experience.
From a pterodactyl snatching you from the ground to the absurdly gigantic octopus legs that would slam you to the lower level of the wrecked ship. It’s an experience even the most masterful of ninjas would find no escape to should they wake the creature of the deep. Developer Team Ninja laudably includes all of them, no matter how weird, if it’s entertaining… its going in there for good. This makes it an exhaustive package of funny moments including all the bells and whistles that satisfies both the button mashers and masters alike.
Following the events of the previous entry, DEAD OR ALIVE 6 leads two separate narratives with the battle between ninjas and DOATEC against M.I.S.T. as well as the events that would take place during the 6th DEAD OR ALIVE Tournament. It separates itself with a chapter-based introduction to its timeline with new arcs unlocking when certain chapters in the main arc is cleared. While it gives the freedom to view the game how you see fit, it also makes for a rough storytelling for the amount unlocked at any given time that messes up the flow of the narrative as a whole. It crumbles down due to its lack of cohesiveness yet picks itself up for the quality of its cutscenes, plot twists, graphics and single-player content that any DOA or fighting game fan would come to expect.
And it delivers with a more expansive slew of content with the inclusion of DOA Quest as you tackle an expanding lineup of quests as you earn more stars for achieving certain conditions. These conditions can include but are not limited to clearing the game mode, executing the specified amount of throws, holds or strikes, achieving a certain amount of damage in a combo or single hit and many more.
But what makes it rewarding is the time you’d spend on a character you’ll probably never even touch outside DOA Quest and the monetary rewards that you’ll need to purchase new costumes, hairstyles, glasses, titles or BGM in DOA Central. Should you manage to clear the three conditions of a certain quest, you’ll also be rewarded with costume parts that you’ll need to fill up to unlock a costume for purchase. However it’s AI can get a little bit limited to its range of attacks depending on quests while some can get very annoying such as quests that require to use a Break Hold while in a Fatal Stun state. The AI would more often than not use attacks like throws or strikes or simply directly do a Break Blow than a Fatal Rush needed for the quest. After a total of ten consecutive fails to get the quest completed, I simply skip everything that had the same quest requirements.
But the most important thing to know about a fighting game isn’t how much content and features it can handle but how it feels and how much you can take in. And DEAD OR ALIVE 6’s kung fu is as strong as Jann Lee’s sweaty armpit. Its rock, paper, scissors mechanics of throws, holds and strikes puts its focus on prediction and deception as you read their moves or force it out of them. Trying to bait in a response is the key to inflicting a merciless punishment. And it’s more noticeable with the new mechanics in the form of a Special Attack button. The Fatal Rush which can be triggered by any character using 4 strikes of the specific button (R1 by default) offers a simple combo while inflicting a fatal stun status that cannot be countered aside from a Break Hold that can only be used when your Break Gauge is at least half full. Meanwhile a Break Blow which is also countered by the Break Hold and can be chained after the last strike of a Fatal Rush or activated on its own, uses the full meter of your Break Gauge and inflicts even more hurt to unsuspecting foes. Lastly, a Side Attack can be unleashed freely to dodge an attack by sidestepping and attack with your own. It’s a beginner-friendly move set that is easy to learn but takes time to master for its hidden complexities in a professional environment. And that’s what makes DOA6 fun.
With a total of 26 playable characters at launch, two of them being pre-order bonuses and two new added characters, it has enough diversity of fighting styles to keep the game compelling and its fighting slicker. NiCO who is both a graduate of MIT and a Lightning Technomancer, ravages her foes with lighting strikes and devastating finishers. While Diego, the New York street brawler who caught the attention of the DOA Tournament organizers takes on the ring in the biggest stage of them all. With two more characters being added from its Season Pass 1 content, it will bring in Mai Shiranui along with an unannounced KOF character. However if I’m being honest, I still feel disdain with the pre-order characters being Nyotengu and Phase 4 which are both characters taking part in the story mode already despite their minor roles. On the bright side, you can still play them on DOA Quest despite not being entitled to the pre-order bonuses.
Visually, it’s a gorgeous looking game. From its character models and its environment, it goes way beyond what I expected from a fighting game. The multi-layered arenas filled with hazards and traps offer a fun way to experience the game while the unique looking characters despite its lack of comprehensive customization provides enough eye-candy to keep you from looking away. Sometimes far too much that you wouldn’t mind getting thrown a lot for that panty shot in the end. Its only drawback is its mediocre hair visuals. While it isn’t as obvious for male characters that have far less range of movement for their short hairs, the female bunch is not. A minor complaint but what I find the most interesting visually, is the damages inflicted by Break Blows. Costumes or characters in specific would have noticeable damage whether it’s ripped clothes, blood gushing out of their nose or a change in hairstyle for female characters that just lost their hair clips or ribbons.
There’s only one thing I look for in fighting games and it’s the fighting itself. The boobs and asses is an added bonus though. And DEAD OR ALIVE 6 provides you with enough of both worlds to keep you coming back for that one more round. Whether you’re playing with a mate at home or in his/hers. Because apparently, Online mode is only made up of Ranked Matches making fighting your friends from thousands of light-years away from you close to impossible. Pair it up with terrible player connections, and you’re better off taking the next flight to god knows where to get that offline versus mode setup. If you’re looking for a fighting game as an online experience, this would really depend on how good a player’s connection is or how patient you can be with a stop-dance style of online matches. Although its single-player content is also something that could put in hours of fun whether you’re clearing every combo challenge or mastering your way with the characters in its four fight modes with eight levels of difficulty.