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Dead or Alive 6 Review - DoA Gets it's Groove Back

VO: Dave Thibault WRITTEN BY: Ty Richardson
Despite the overly sexualized characters, Dead or Alive continues to be a deep fighter. Check out our full review right here on MojoPlays.

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MojoPlays Review: Dead Or Alive 6

Say what you will about “Dead Or Alive”, it remains to be one of the best fighting franchises in gaming. Since its birth in 1996, the two-decade old series has captured the hearts of thousands, whether it’s for the fast-paced combat, stylish characters, and...other things. (The writer means it’s provocative sexual content) However, since series creator Tomonobu Itagaki left Tecmo, “Dead Or Alive” has slowly turned into a different direction. Not only did “Dead Or Alive 5” change the visuals and artstyle, but it received over five years of continuous support with patches and DLC. Gameplay was as exciting as “DOA” had ever been, stages were highly detailed and beautiful, and wardrobes were stylish and … occasionally scanty! It has only been about a year and a half since “DOA 5” ceased support, and here we are with “Dead Or Alive 6”. Does this old dog have new tricks up its sleeve, or is it just a sexual joke covered in cobwebs? Welcome to MojoPlays and this is our review of “Dead or Alive 6.”

Let’s cut right to the chase - “Dead Or Alive 6” is an old dog with not-so-new tricks, but that is far from a complaint! If you haven’t played a “Dead Or Alive” game, allow me to briefly explain. The DOA franchise has implemented a rock-paper-scissors mechanic in its gameplay; strikes beat throws, throws beat holds, and holds beat strikes. Sounds simple, but it gets incredibly complex with each character. Some fans, like myself, will tell you the series perfected its own formula around the time “Dead Or Alive 2” or “Dead Or Alive 3” was released, and that same golden goose egg of a formula has yet to be dirtied by a speck of dust. It’s still fun, fast, and frenetic as it’s ever been.

However, “Dead Or Alive 6” does introduce a new feature in its gameplay. Underneath the health bars, players will quickly notice the blue bar. This is called the Break Gauge, and it allows players to execute either a Break Blow a single hit that can knock an opponent across the stage, a Break Hold that can help players escape combos quickly, or a Fatal Rush which is a stylish combo that finishes with a Break Blow. Admittingly, I was worried that the inclusion of a meter would put a damper on “Dead Or Alive’s” classic gameplay as other fighting games have suffered from forcing players to focus on the meter too much. Thankfully, “Dead Or Alive 6” has found that perfect balance between meter management and good ol’ fisticuffs. So, props to Koei Tecmo for putting my foot in my mouth!

“Dead Or Alive 6” hosts a wide variety of game modes for you to conquer. Arcade mode puts you through a standard arcade ladder, Time Attack sees you finishing an arcade ladder as fast as you can, and Survival pits you against multiple opponents under one health bar. Unfortunately, we faced some technical issues during Survival mode. Any time I had defeated my opponent, the game would start chugging and stuttering as the next one jumped in. Koei Tecmo has stated that a Day-One Patch will be released. So, hopefully, this problem will be fixed before you get your hands on the game.

Of course, a “Dead Or Alive” game wouldn’t be complete without its own Story mode. Now, fighting games have never been known to have compelling stories, especially “Dead Or Alive”. You can expect the same schtick from “Dead Or Alive 6” as any other previous entry; Ayane is chasing Kasumi while calling her a traitor, drama bombs are dropping all over DOATEC, Honoka proves she’s dumber than a box of rocks, and Bayman watches all of this unfold while looking badass. However, what makes the Story mode a little jarring is in how its constructed. As you complete the main storyline, additional chapters for specific characters will unlock. These sub-chapters provide some backstory as to how A caused B or they’ll be an entirely different story of its own. Sadly, the sporadic structure of it all makes it difficult to keep track of what happened when. Eventually, I just turned my brain off and plowed through the fights, digesting them as a sort of “extra practice mode”.

Speaking of practice, “Dead Or Alive 6” is one of the most welcoming fighting games I’ve seen in recent years. Whereas most fighting games focus on new techniques, mechanics, movesets, and the like. “Dead Or Alive 6” is opening the door to those who have played few to no fighting games. Players can find a multitude of areas where the game is teaching them something, and it is one of the few fighting games that will sit down with you and teach you. Command Training tasks you with executing a character’s various moves. The Tutorial, while extensive, provides an in-depth guide on the game’s mechanics and controls. You can also take on Combo Challenges, where you’ll need to rely on quick reflexes to perform combos in different scenarios.

Oh, and then there’s the newest mode of the franchise - “Quest Mode”. This features a series of challenges where you will have to play as a certain character and finish fights while adhering to different tasks. Some of these tasks include finishing the fight within a specific time, landing a certain move, or executing holds a number of times. Each task you complete will reward you with one of three stars, depending on how many you completed during the fight. If you’re having trouble earning a star, the game will actually recommend you a quick tutorial. And earning all three stars rewards you with costume patterns, which go towards unlocking a costume for different fighters. On paper, the process sounds tedious, but I found Quest Mode to be immensely satisfying! Back when we interviewed director/producer Yohei Shimbori, he said that Quest Mode was built as sort-of alternate tutorial since the main one felt “more like homework”. This was to be something fun for newer players that would also help them learn the game. Not only did I have fun going through Quest Mode, but I really felt like I was understanding the game better than I ever have. I used to always play “Dead Or Alive” the same way I played other fighting games, and Quest Mode helped me get a better level of understanding how the game works. I have not yet completed all of the challenges, but I’m eager to go back and take them all on!

“Dead Or Alive 6” also features a section of extra goodies known as DOA Central. Here, players can spend their Player Points to unlock costumes, accessories, and hairstyles. (Don’t get out the pitchforks! Koei Tecmo has already confirmed that microtransactions aren’t a thing! Calm down!) You can also save outfits in case you wanna stick to your personal preferences over the default costumes. Unfortunately, “Dead Or Alive 6” has really cut back on the wardrobe in comparison to previous titles, even axing some classic designs of characters. So it looks like the DLC is going to be strong with this one…

Another feature I want to mention is the win-lose screens. You know how characters will have their own win and lose screens? Well, after a fight, you can quickly position the camera to take pictures of the victor and the loser. Now, on the surface, this doesn’t seem like anything special, but there is actually a ton of fun to be had here! If I wasn’t zooming in on Diego’s buttocks or looking at how much gross sweat my fighter had produced, I was positioning the camera to make an awesome wallpaper for my PS4 dashboard or making overly cinematic moments to edit later. This was a wonderful hidden toy, and it is going to make fight nights with friends even more entertaining.

One last thing to mention is the online mode. But sadly, we were unable to test this mode out during the review process as the servers were not yet available. So be sure to check back later for a pinned comment by Ty Richardson who will share his thoughts in the comments shortly after the servers go live.

Yes, the game is still holding some it’s sexuality, but that should not be the defining trait of “Dead Or Alive”. If there’s anything “Dead Or Alive 6” has shown me it’s that the series has changed, and for the better! Not only has it evolved with other fighting games, but it’s inviting new players into the fighting game genre by offering a multitude of ways to learn how to play. There’s tons of offline content to play through, various modes to hone your skills, and it’s the same old “Dead Or Alive” we fell in love with back in 1996. As a fan of “Dead Or Alive”, it warms my heart to say that “Dead Or Alive 6” has officially given the franchise its groove back, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds in store for the game, Koei Tecmo, and the “Dead Or Alive” community. I’m a Fighter, and never before has that felt so damn good to say!


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