Best Fighting Game 2023: Street Fighter 6

Thanks to its extensive new player support and its innovative story mode, Street Fighter 6 was the best fighting game of the year. For more awards, head to the Game of the Year 2023 hub.

Tyler Wilde, Executive Editor: Thanks to the deeper-than-usual tutorials and practice modes, I finally understand Street Fighter basics that have eluded me for decades—I seriously never knew what people meant by “cross-up” before this game. (I have not historically been very good at Street Fighter.) That alone has made Street Fighter 6 exciting for me, but I also like the goofy story mode. I made a character based on me—with slightly larger biceps, sure, and yeah, inhuman quads, but basically me—and watching my new Street Fighter self meet Chun-Li felt weirdly like actually meeting a celebrity. Better, really, since Chun-Li taught me how to fight, but the one time I met Jack White he didn’t teach me how to play a vintage guitar. 

Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor: Street Fighter 6’s story mode is goofy, but Yakuza Lite is such a great way to expand on a fighting game—I’m fully bored of the Mortal Kombat style of cutscene-fight-cutscene. Treating Street Fighter’s stars as celebrities in their own world was a stroke of brilliance and opens up so much comic potential.

This year’s Street Fighter EVO finals also served as one of the great spectacles of the year and demonstrated a game in great health: the top six was a mix of newer faces and longtime veterans representing a nice spread of characters, and nearly every match coming down to an absolute nail-biter. Watch the whole thing after you finish reading—those three hours will disappear in a blink.

I had so much fun just playing a preview of Street Fighter 6 this year that I went to an arcade parts store in Akihabara while on vacation to buy the buttons to build a hitbox. 2024’s the year I’m determined to overcome years of muscle memory and learn to play on a leverless controller. If that’s not love…

(Image credit: Capcom)

Mollie Taylor, Features Producer: Street Fighter 6 is the first 2D fighter I’ve given a damn about in a hot sec. It’s done a fantastic job of making itself approachable to newcomers, with a healthy mixture of casual and veteran modes to satisfy all tastes. While the new Drive Rush mechanic has split opinion in the community, the shakeup has made the competitive side of things a blast to watch. I sincerely hope more fighting games have a training and online mode as great as Street Fighter 6’s, and I certainly wouldn’t complain if more of them had an incredibly goofy story mode too.

Rich Stanton, Senior Editor: As a longtime SF player and fight stick aficionado, probably my favourite part of SF6 is the modern controls. I don’t use them, but it’s opened the game up to such a wide audience that multiplayer feels incredibly diverse, every roster character rocking up at some point, and lots of lovely special attack spamming that I can brutally punish again and again.

The more in-depth singleplayer modes were rather lost on me as a long-term fan who plays these games entirely for the competitive side, but the same principle applies. Attracting enough players is key to a game like this and from the off it was clear that Street Fighter 6 has a huge and enthusiastic playerbase, and does a much better job of on-boarding players than any previous series entry.

On a more personal level, I adored that, after the slight misfire of SFV’s Ken, Capcom brought him back to a more traditional style but also doubled-down on his awesome kicks as a difference-maker. I’ve never really mained Ken before but his SF6 incarnation is irresistible. Is this the best Street Fighter Capcom’s ever made? SF4 will always be my SF for the era I played it in, but I think this has a shout. Vital, brutal, gorgeous, crammed with stuff to do, and simply the most fun you can have getting your face punched-in.

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