Fighting games have these huge ebbs and flows in their popularity, depending on the games of the genre that get released and their public reaction. Street Fighter V felt like it made the scene ebb, and whilst there has been some great fighting games released since then (Tekken, Soul Calibur, DragonBall Fighter Z), I feel like we’re only just seeing a return to the flow. Certainly this is helped by the biggest of those games, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. Whilst I’m not a fan personally, it’s impossible not to see the hype it generates for fans of fighters, and those around them.

It’s with this in mind that I consider that Dead or Alive 6 might be coming out at the best of times. People are still excited, and might be looking for something else to keep their interests. I’ll freely admit I like fighters, but I am decidedly ordinary at them. Only a few really appeal to me too. Tekken, Soul Calibur, BlazBlue and Dead or Alive are amongst the only ones I’ll play. When I got asked if I wanted to check out the new DoA, there’s really only one answer: “Hell yes.”

The preview consisted of three facets; Story mode, Versus, and DoA Quest. Story mode was…limited. It was two scenes, it seemed perfectly serviceable. Not too many people play Dead or Alive for the story, I wager, so I wasn’t too concerned with this. It looks like it’s not a linear story like Dead or Alive 5 was, but instead character based, so you can follow on the events of the game from a specific character’s perspective the whole way through. It’s an interesting move, maybe it’ll be a little more understandable.

DoA Quest was the thing I was most interested in. From what I can tell it’s a set of 96 quests, made of three missions each, where you’re given a specific character and during your 2 rounds (I didn’t fail, I guess technically it could be 3) to complete goals. These goals could be anything from “Perform X damage in a combo” to “Perform a ground attack”. In truth, this acts like an open tutorial mode, but it has rewards such as costume parts if you perform the correct actions. If you fail, and I did, then the game leads you toward a full tutorial it steps you through the moves that will fulfil your conditions, then you can try it out until you get it down pat. I loved the quest system, as standard tutorials don’t really float my boat. Adding in a bit of risk around a real fight and adding in decent rewards is a really good way to incentivise players to learn the more intricate mechanics. Building competency is a surefire way to get people more invested in the game, and makes matches a bit more interesting. It’ll be interesting to see the effects it has.

The Versus mode was exactly what you’d expect. This was where I spent quite a bit of my time. I wanted to reacclimatise myself so I played as my favourite fighter; Mila. I quickly learned about the new Fatal Rush system, where pressing R1 (RB on Xbox One) will perform Fatal Strikes, and if you land a few of these consecutively, and your Break Gauge is high enough you will perform a powerful Fatal Rush combo. This can be blocked easily by your opponent if their Break Gauge is high by using a Fatal Reversal. It’s a high risk, high reward strategy. I think newcomers will lean on this as they ease themselves into the mechanics, due to its ease of execution. Due to its easy blocking though, it won’t be able to be spammed which is awesome for those who are very very sick of “Hadouken! Hadouken! Hadouken!” and its various counterparts in online multiplayer.

I played around with a few of the new fighters; NiCO and Raidou. Both were a good bit of fun to play, but during the scope of a preview session it’s hard to get really good at anything. Once the game comes out I’ll play around with it a bit more. Nico has a bunch of lightning moves and can teleport, so I’m keen to play around with that some more.

I’m not the greatest player of fighting games out there. If you wanna talk jump cancels and animation frames then you’re going to go on deaf ears. However, when it comes to Dead or Alive 6, from the limited slice of what I’ve seen it looks good. I’m keen to try it out some more in a few weeks when it launches. For what it’s worth, it looks like it’s adding some really cool stuff that will help people get better at the game, and thus make all online matches just a little bit more interesting.