A long-running, but often overlooked fighting game franchise, Dead Or Alive has always been known for its fast, fluid gameplay, over-the-top antics, and let’s be real here its scantily-clad female fighters. Over the years, the series has made strides to try to become a more robust and competitive fighting game. The problem has always been that it’s hard to really take the series seriously when two women are beating the ever-loving hell out of each other in bikinis on the side of a snowy mountain. Scenes like this are not uncommon for Dead Or Alive, and that has been, and still is, the biggest problem. For Dead Or Alive 6, Team Ninja made a lot of noise about trying to be more serious and mature. Still, noise is all it turned out to be.
What Is It?
Team Ninja’s initial marketing of the game made it seem as if the game would forego the overly proportioned, fantasized ideals of the 16-year-old Japanese schoolgirl ninja in favor of more realistic and believable characters. In some ways, they succeeded here, but the old DOA is still here lurking just below the surface. Most of the classic costumes that you remember from the older games have been brought forward to DOA6, including bikinis. So, let’s just get that out of the way right now. Dead Or Alive 6 is very much a DOA game in that regard. That’s both good and bad. Long-time fans will feel right at home, which is good. Unfortunately, DOA can leave a bad first impression on newcomers. Many will look at the game and dismiss it as nothing more than an immature trite. That’s the really bad part. If you can look past the initial ridiculousness of what you see, there is an absolutely fantastic fighting game waiting for you.
Dead Or Alive 6 is a very conflicted game. It wants to be taken seriously as an adult, but it’s telling you this by yelling from the deck of a pirate ship wearing a wedding gown as kids would do today.
Why Should I Care?
Playing Dead Or Alive 6 is a blast. It’s a fast-paced and intuitive fighting game that hides a surprising amount of depth to it. Previous games in the series used a punch, kick, and hold button for all of the game’s moves. For the first time in a long time, an extra Special button has been added. This button allows you to execute special combos, as well as side-step and engage the game’s new Break Hold and Break Blow moves. Break Holds allow you to catch any move and create some space. Break Blows are this game’s implementation of super moves. They do a lot of damage, can push through most other moves to connect, and can trigger the game’s more spectacular stage effects. Details on all the mechanical properties of these moves is a little beyond the scope of this review. For that, I would recommend one of the game’s strongest features, the Tutorial section. A lot of time went into creating this lesson plan, and going through it all will definitely help you get up to speed.
Unlike some other Live Service type games, Dead Or Alive 6 comes with a full complement of modes. Offline modes have the typical Arcade, Time Attack, Vs, and Survival modes. There is also a robust Mission mode that will have you completing set challenges for each character.
The story mode is probably one of the game’s worst features. It is a disjointed narrative to begin with, but it is made worse by the fact you can go off and do side missions to get more detail on other characters. At the end of it all, you end up with a story grid where you can literally see the holes in the plot. There is a lot of empty space on that grid, even after you complete every episode. Plus, I can’t talk about the story and not mention that it’s never a good idea to try to resurrect powerful evil figures and think you’ll be able to control their power or harness it. Don’t the people in this world have anime? They should know this never goes well.
Finally, Dead Or Alive 6 features online ranked and lobby matches. At launch, the game only had ranked matches. It took more than a month for the lobby feature to be added. Here’s where things start to get a little sour for me. During this time, Koei-Tecmo announced a Season Pass for $94 which would add 60+ new costumes and two new characters. They announced this as their game launched missing a feature that has become standard for online fighting games. Priority problems? I believe so.
All of that aside, the online performance is usually very good. I have run into a few matches that were borderline unplayable, but those have been few and far between. It’s possible to set a lower threshold on connection quality, so you can keep those slideshow matches to a minimum.
As of right now, the game’s Live Service aspect has been somewhat mitigated based on player feedback. Unlocking costumes is not as much of a slog as it had been. Unlocking all of the costumes in the game (those that aren’t paid DLC.) is possible. Whether or not you want to go to the trouble of doing it is up to you. Online and offline matches will gain you a steady flow of parts, and if you play online, the parts you get will be for your main character. This is a big improvement over the handful of parts being doled out initially, most of which would likely go to characters you don’t want to play. I’ve seen worse unlock schemes, but I’ve also seen better.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
The best thing about Dead Or Alive 6 is its gameplay. I touched on it earlier, but it’s worth repeating. This game plays exceptionally well and is a lot of fun! It is easy to learn, offers a deceptive amount of depth, and above all, is the best playing game in the series. If it weren’t for its dumb marketing, reprehensible monetization scheme, and a developer that seems of two minds, it would have been easy to recommend.
As it is, there’s a lot to love about DOA6. It has the heart of a true fighter. Unfortunately, it also has the mind of a teen with raging hormones.
At least 7 is a lucky number?