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Street Fighter 6 Beginner’s Guide

Street Fighter 6 Beginner’s Guide

Sebastian Quintanilla
13 min

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Street Fighter is among the most popular fighting game franchises in the world and it has one of the most comprehensive competitive scenes in the FGC. It can feel a bit daunting coming into a fighting game with such legacy and prestige, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the genre, and if Street Fighter 6 sales across all platforms are anything to go by, this is a genuine possibility for a lot of people. If that's you, welcome to the FGC!

In this guide, you will find all the basic building blocks you'll need to get started with Street Fighter 6 and the next steps in your training, including a host of other guides we've made that explore each part of the game in more depth.

The Legacy of Street Fighter

Street Fighter’s core mechanics have changed over the years, yet Street Fighter 6 is among our top 3 games in the franchise. If you have extensive playing experience with Street Fighter IV or V, then you should still look over this guide to help you catch up with the changes introduced in SF6.

New in Street Fighter 6 are “Modern controls”, which simplify the control scheme of Street Fighter at the cost of greater flexibility. If Street Fighter 6 is your first Fighting game, consider playing the World Tour with modern control to have a great first experience and learn some of the overall concepts of the game. But we would not recommend you stick with modern controls for too long, even more so if you plan to play online matches. “Classic controls” provides you with a lot more control over your character and is what enables the top end of the competition.

Which Version to Pick up

If you want to learn what each edition of Street Fighter 6 offers, we have a handy article with all the details. Suffice it to say, if you are a beginner and don't mind picking up new characters after you've become familiar with the game's system, then the Standard Edition will work just fine.

As for the platform, Street Fighter 6 runs well on all platforms, including last gen consoles. Keep in mind you will need the platform's online subscription service to play online unless you are on PC. Though If you are planning to play on a PC, make sure to check the minimum and recommended specifications. All versions of the game also feature accessibility options.

Where to Start Playing

The World Tour, Street Fighter 6's single-player story mode offers the best path into the game, containing both a tutorial and a story mode that will slowly feed you more information and challenges.

Once you become familiar with Street Fighter 6's base mechanics and its characters, you can hop on to the Fighting Grounds, where you will find in-game tutorials, character guides, combo trials, and a full fleshed-out training mode to start exploring each character's unique moveset. Both modes also offer a lot of replayability, so don't feel you have to rush through them to get to the good stuff!

You might already feel like you have a preferred play style from your time on the World Tour, so test out a few characters and see which ones feel the closest to your personal preference. Remember that you don't need to be a character loyalist! Once you drop into the Battle Hub and play online matches, your characters are individually ranked, not your account overall. So go ahead and theorize, practice, and test new characters to your heart's content in the Fighting Grounds for as long as you want.

Basic Controls

Although Street Fighter 6 introduced modern control, we will stick to classic controls for this guide. The main reason for this is because classic, all be it a tiny bit more challenging for brand new players to the genre, still provides a more significant benefit in the long run. Also, we are showing you the control for playing with a keyboard on PC, but it is highly recommended you play with a controller. Eventually, if you get really into fighting games, you may want to pick up a fightstick or box controller.

Your most basic attacks will fall into three categories: Light, Medium, and Heavy attacks.

Light Attacks, often called jabs, are quick moves that can help you counter your opponent's heavier attacks or simply to range the fight. The back-and-forth between two characters in the middle of the screen is called the neutral and the main skill being tested is called footies, as the two players try to sneak, usually a jab, into the other to follow up with other, more powerful, attacks, strings, or combos.

Medium Attacks then are, often, slower, but in exchange they deal more damage, have longer ranges, or even more active frames; the longer the active frames, the more time there is for it to connect, besides active frames, you also have startup, how long before the attack is active, and recovery frames, how long until you can do a different input. These Attacks are also often called hits. 

Heavy Attacks frequently leave you exposed to counters, but they also deal the biggest amount of damage of the three. Depending on your character, these might be some of their best offensive moves. Learning when to use them and how to exploit opponents that use them will be a key feature of your early practice. Heavy attacks are also called wallops.

Keep in mind that attacks also vary from punches to kicks and whether you are standing, crouching, or jumping. The complexity in Street Fighter is rooted in these different types of moves, their frame information, the patterns you and your opponent lean on to succeed, and a whole lot more.

Basic Movement

The second half of the equation is movement. Just as important as your basic attacks are how to avoid them and get close to your opponent to land them. In Street Fighter 6, like all previous SF titles, you can move from side to side, dashing, jumping, and blocking. Keep in mind that blocking is always down and in the direction opposite to your opponent.

Each of these movement options comes at a cost however. Dash too much and you might mistakenly come into range of an attack that would have missed had you otherwise slowly walked forward, jump too much and the parabolic arc you make on the screen will make it very easy for your opponent to counter, and constantly try to block your opponent's attacks and you might end up being throw every which way.

Each character also has its own movement characteristics, Rashid, for instance, has plenty of movement options while someone like Zaingieff is much slower by comparison. Knowing the options your character has is important, but so is knowing how your opponent can react to your own. You'll find there is plenty of depth to explore here if you like to strategize your matchups.

Specials, Throws, and Drive Moves

Rounding up the controls are the Specials, Throws, and Drive moves. Each of these is executed by performing a combination of inputs. Special moves are character specific, so you will need to check them individually; thankfully the Fighting Grounds have all the tools you'll need to see and practice them all.

Throws are universal to all characters, allowing you to grab your opponent and, well, throw them to either side of the screen. This move is particularly useful when an opponent is constantly blocking your other attacks, as throws cannot be blocked. They can also be mixed in along a pressure string, meaning a continuous series of inputs that forces opponents to block or be hit by it, as a way to play mind games on your opponent.

Keep in mind that Throws can be escaped, also called a tech throw, if your opponent also inputs a throw at basically the same time. It might not happen too frequently, unless they are expecting it, so again, try not to be too obvious as to when you plan to throw someone!

Drive moves are also universal but a lot more complex. Although all characters share the same moves in concept, they each have their own spin on it. These are Drive Impact, Parry, Rush, Reversal, and Overdrive Specials. They all cost a different about of Drive Gauge, located at the top, right below your character's health. You can regain Drive by just playing the match, blocking, attacking, etc. Be careful not to expend all of it in one go thought! If you Burnout then you will be at a considerable disadvantage for a long period of time.

To start out, learn your characters Drive Impact, Parry, and Rush. Impact will allow you to deal a lot of damage with a single move and opens up the possibility of follow-up attacks or combos. Parry gives you a chance to protect yourself from strong attacks, especially those you can see coming and prepare a perfectly timed parry for. Finally, Rush can be used after a Parry, cancellable move, or directly from neutral. In each instance, a successful Drive rush allows you to follow up with other attacks, as those follow-ups will have enhanced frames, making it a great way to close the gap and start putting pressure on your opponents.

If you want to learn about Drive Reversals and Overdrive Specials, or just a more detailed explanation of what each drive move does, we highly recommend you check out our in-depth guide on the system.

Learning Individual Characters

A key aspect of playing any Fighting Game is learning not just what your character can do but what other characters can react with. It is highly recommended that you pick a main character to start because it allows you to narrow down the amount of information that you need to process in a match, and if you are a complete beginner to fighting games, characters like Marisa, Luke, and Ryu are especially good at having simpler ideas behind their fighting styles, allowing you to concentrate on learning as you play.

Take for example our Juri guide featuring pro player Jak. You can practice and work through the combos and strings shown in the guide inside the Fighting Grounds, set up fights against CPU opponents to further your understanding of it, and then eventually take that effort you put in and apply it to online matches in the Battle Hub.

Playing Online

The Battle Hub will be your home for online matches. Whether it be standard, extreme, or avatar battles, you will have a lot of choices. But the best way to get some licks in will be the standard battles. Simply walk over to one of the arcades and join someone's game or sit and wait for someone to join yours.

Do not feel discouraged if you don't win a lot of fights right away. The path to becoming good at anything is littered with failure, and Street Fighter 6 is no different. The good news is that you can, and should, take a break occasionally. Extreme and Avatar battles are a great way to break up long playing sessions, not to mention the Game Center, where you can play a few classic Capcom titles. You can also head over to the Battle Hub store, and pick up new cosmetics with Fighter coins and Drive tickets.

Spend your off time watching live matches or replays; these can help you by showing how other players play certain characters, including your main. Street Fighter 6's replay system will also recommend replays from matchups you've struggled with in the past, so make sure to open it up occasionally to see what you might need to look into next.

Once you play a few ranked matches, you will be given a rank. By playing and winning more, you will slowly make your way through the ranks until you reach Master. Remember that the rank you achieve is on a per-character basis, meaning you can safely learn new characters outside of your main without risking your well-earned rank.

Want to Learn Even More?

If you start feeling confident, then why not read How to Get Good at Street Fighter 6. Which focuses far more on the process of learning and applying what you see on guides, replays, and the game itself to becoming a better player. Ultimately, how you choose to experience Street Fighter 6 is up to you, and it will always be the right choice. Enjoy online matches, the World Tour, or the competitive side of the scene. They all offer a great experience.

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