Late on a rainy January afternoon, I was fortunate enough to be granted a couple of hours of hands-on time with the latest build of Dead or Alive 6 and interview time with the great Shimbori-San.

This version had all gameplay modes, the full current roster, and a small variety of costumes to play around with. Although I did not get to explore every facet of the game, after my short playtime I felt more confident in my skills as a fighter and my enthusiasm the perennial beat ’em up franchise reignited.

This is not a toned down, censored, hobbled iteration. This is an upgraded, enhanced sequel. Ignore the family-friendly rumors. This is classic Dead or Alive at it’s finest.

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Often in fighting games, unless you are the most committed type of player it may be tempting to button bash, but if you take the time to get in the Dead or Alive head space and watch each move’s animations play out before hitting the next attack button, combos become chainable and flashy as all heck!

To make your journey from noob to Pro streamlined, or if the in-game mechanics seem insurmountable then you need to head over to Dead or Alive 6 Quest on the main menu; here you can find a range of lessons on controls and characters’ moves. This mission-based training mode is a look into Dead or Alive 6‘s antagonistic files on the main characters and their previous fights.

From a narrative point of view, this is a nice little touch as it makes a standard challenge mode feel like canonical glimpses into the history of the series. I spent most of my time here refining my skills and taking on challenge after challenge, except one that I couldn’t quite get the timing down on, so I moved on to the next one and ignored it! My time with Dead or Alive 6 was short I couldn’t spend all my time improving my skills when there are costumes to be customized.

Aside from the dedicated customization mode found in Dead or Alive 6 Central when selecting your fighter of choice, glasses, hair and clothing are editable right after the character select screen, quick appearance customization makes long play sessions more varied and offers unique player experiences. This feature only takes a couple of seconds to zip through, or you can spend as long as you want to pour over your unlocked outfits or, for the fight mad beserkers out there this can just be skipped out and you can dive straight into knocking the sweat out of your opponent!

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Meticulous thought has clearly gone into every layer of design for the end user experience; a favorite example of mine is to cover the loading of the detailed character models in the select screens Fighter cards display the stats of your selected fighter is a neat and an inventive way to veil loading times of character models on the selection screen.

For once in a fighting game; spectators in the backgrounds, are not just flat cardboard cutouts or low poly mannequins. If you get knocked into the blood-thirsty crowd chanting for KO’s they will push you back into the arena for more brawling. I found this to be more disturbing than any Kraken attack or dinosaur mauling, having actual people throw you back in for more punishment. The level of detail on character models and levels are nothing short of spectacular.

Dead or Alive 6 really puts the slobber into slobber knocker! Spit, sweat and dirt are like nothing I’ve seen before. Each character’s facial animation is a wonder, a full range of dramatic emotions are displayed each boastful smile or regretful gasp is rendered in real time.

If you are looking for a visually impressive, entertaining fighter to show off the graphical capabilities of your new PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox One X then I can not recommend Dead or Alive 6 enough! Let’s see how it fares in the upcoming n3rdabl3 review when Dead or Alive 6 releases on 15 February 2019.

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