I’m not going to deny it. This is my first Dead or Alive game since Dead or Alive Ultimate. Yes, it’s been that long. Though I do have to say, Ultimate is the first thing that springs to mind whenever I hear Dream On, the song used for its spectacular intro. Back on track, it’s been a good while, and now, I’ve had the pleasure of checking in on the series after such a lengthy amount of time away. Now, whilst I’ve been pleasantly surprised by most of it, Dead or Alive 6 is not entirely without fault, more so on a technical level above anything else.
We’ll get to that shortly. First, let’s address the game’s controversial material. It’s no secret that the developer intended for Dead or Alive 6 to be less, well, busky and skimpy. If that’s what you were hoping for, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. There’s heaps of skimp, and there’s plenty of busky characters, and yes, they bounce like never before. Though, to the developer’s credit, much of the skimp is buried underneath a rather convoluted and unnecessary costume unlock system. Nevertheless folks, it’s all there and it’s all on show.
Personally, this didn’t bother me whatsoever. It felt very much in place given the series’ history and designs. Quickly moving on. Dead or Alive is back, and it’s back with a bite. There’s a suite of options to select from the main menu; Story, DOA Quest, Fight, Training, Online, DOA Central, and Options. The latter is fairly self explanatory, and doesn’t really go above and beyond expectations. The same can be said about its online component; offering up the ability to fight in ranked matches against other players of roughly equal skill.
The game’s online play is quite fluid and sturdy, but it could do with a few more options to maintain player interest. Word on the street suggests that this will be padded out soon after launch, so let’s sit tight and see what the horizon brings us. The game’s story is a mixed affair; both interesting and oddly confusing. The campaign’s levels are spread across a large chart that’s broken into several chapters. Chapters run the length of the chart, with the story’s main serving being the first chain of events. It takes roughly an hour to run through.
It doesn’t end there though. Running the width of this chart are other character’s stories, and here, you’ll be able to watch cutscenes and participate in fights that are specific to the game’s diverse cast. These stories run parallel to the main story, and oftentimes intersect with the main story overall. Now, as alluded to above, it’s an interesting setup, but overall, there’s not really much content per-character. It doesn’t help matters that most of this content is primarily blocked off until you meet certain requirements elsewhere within.
Essentially, the whole ordeal allows you to see what other characters are doing alongside the main arc, but the execution prevents it from feeling as fluid as it could have been. The game’s main story is as daft as you would expect it to be, with odd dialogue and over-the-top voice acting further emphasizing its oddities. Still, there’s much entertainment to be found here, and it does relay that iconic Dead or Alive vibe rather well, just expect it to be constantly broken up by loading screen, after loading screen, after freakin’ loading screen.
DOA Quest is a solid addition. This is where you can go to take part in deep, varying missions. Each fight here offers three specific assignments, and should you meet said requirements, you’ll earn a three star rank in return for extra goodies; money and clothing materials. It’s a neat way to play and there’s no shortage of quests to take on, but damn is it a grind-fest to unlock your favorite outfits. Each costume requires a certain amount of material to unlock, and there’s a fair selection of costumes per-character to work towards.
Whilst you can indeed earn these materials outside of DOA Quest, the return for time invested doesn’t really weigh up very well at all. DOA Quest is easily the most efficient way to gather clothing materials, but even then, you’ve a lengthy trek ahead of you. One baffling design choice is that even when you’re earning materials in DOA Quest, you’re not guaranteed to get the materials that are specific to the costume you’re aiming for. Overall, this could have done with some refinement to bolster its otherwise enticing concept.
Dead or Alive 6 offers a number of other modes to take part in; arcade, survival, time attack, versus, and so forth. The whole package brings you the tools that you would expect to see in any modern fighting game, and it really cant be faulted on that front. There’s also a very intuitive tutorial system in place for newcomers to take to. It’s here in which you can learn the basics of play, as well as get a feel for each and every character through their contained training modes. Safe to say, there’s a lot of content to work through from start to finish.
Despite its unforgivable grind, there’s much enjoyment to be had here as you go about your punchy business and unlock a shed load of varying cosmetics, titles, and added extras. So, with the fundamentals out of the way, how does Dead of Alive 6 feel? Rather well I must say. The game’s combat is very weighty, tight, and responsive. You can truly feel each and every blow that you deliver to your opponent, with a simple yet effective combo system in place that doesn’t come across as too unavoidable, or indeed, too overpowered overall.
There’s little to keep on top of as far as its controls are concerned, simply offering a command for punching, kicking, grabbing, and throwing. The combat’s complexity is found in how you string these commands together, along with its core functionalities, to achieve some brutal outcomes. That being said, Dead or Alive 6 is very a much a game for both veterans and newcomers alike. There’s a tremendous amount of variation to tap into for those familiar with the series, and thanks to its accessibility, it never alienates first timers.
There’s also a special move for each fighter to rely upon. In a nutshell, you can fill a gauge through delivering blows to your opponent. Once filled, you’ll be free to unleash a devastating mass damage attack. Hardly groundbreaking, but it fits in extraordinarily well. Something I absolutely loved about the game is that of its stage design. Each stage has a fun gimmick that you can pull from, and they typically come with multi-tiered parameters that allows you to take the fight outside of the area that you initially start battling in. It’s cool.
I particularly enjoyed the pirate ship-themed level. Here, you’re fighting on board a ship. If you time your attacks right, you’ll send your opponent into the grips of a Kraken that will slam them below deck, before you join them down there to finish them off. There’s much more besides; slamming them off the edge of a building, feeding them to a dinosaur, or even tossing them to onlookers before the onlookers toss them back at you. Sadly, not everything is great about the game’s stages, and it’s here in which things nose dive a bit.
Whilst the character models are spot on and gorgeously detailed, the stage design can be a bit hit and miss. Several times did I encounter some odd looking pop-ins and ugly details distracting me from the combat. It’s not a deal breaker, but I do wonder why more effort wasn’t spared for the quality here. Nevertheless, with those issues and the aforementioned design choices aside, Dead or Alive 6 is well worth your time and attention. It’s got everything that a good fighter needs, and holds the necessary tools to maintain traction.
It helps, of course, that (excluding its outlandish voice acting) the game sounds sensational throughout. The audio presentation sits very well with the its grounded approach, further relaying the high levels of action that ensues throughout each and every match. When all is said and done, this is one fighter that sounds as good as it looks, and, for the most part, looks as good as it feels. The bottom line in all of this is that if you’re in the market for the next best fighter, this isn’t it, but it does just manage to stand in the same ring as its peers.
Dead or Alive, for better and for worse, attempts to do things a bit differently with its sixth mainline entry. The game’s fluid and weighty combat is its high point, together with its depth of content and its diverse selection of modes and unlocks. Unfortunately, the game is held back quite a bit by its convoluted campaign, its unnecessary costume grind, and its lack of stage refinement. Bottom line? DOA6 is a competent fighter, nothing more, nothing less.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.