When Koei Tecmo let the world know that they were walking away from Dead or Alive 5. It wasn’t until sometime later that news of the long-awaited follow-up was about to get underway. Thanks to some ambitious plans, a new game engine that puts the previous soft engine to shame and a few new features to introduce some new life into the series, Dead or Alive 6 was born. But would this be the game that longtime DOA heads were looking forward to?

Game Name: Dead or Alive 6
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Publisher(s): Koei Tecmo
Developer(s): Team Ninja
Release Date: March 1, 2019 
Price: $59.99|

I’ll be completely honest here, it’s a fun game and I haven’t had this much fun in a fighter in some time. It’s dumb, over the top at times, and plain silly. Lots of returning characters, with the addition of a lolified blue-haired scientist that’s packing a pair of electrified gloves, Nico, and a generic street brawler named Diego. Though Diego could be a viable replacement for Leon since he didn’t make the cut. I can’t say I found either of them interesting, at least compared to the mainstay characters.  The majority of my time was taken up by Christie and Mila. Can you blame me?

What’s new?

Changing up things, the story mode in Dead or Alive 6 has been completely redone. Now there’s a branching storyline that features every character but also consists of introductions, movies, and fights. It’s similar to a pick your own adventure as you have some control as to what part of the story you want to jump to and I thought that worked out very well. It does get confusing at times since the layout doesn’t give you all the available options and you’ll have to view the entire storyboard for them. Sure, I like to say that most people don’t play fighting games for the story, but KT has done a nice job with implementing it this time around. 

Don’t hurt em, Hammer!

Then there’s the quest mode, which is a nice way to get introduced to every character in the game. We all know that when it comes to fighters, we tend to pick a few characters and never touch the rest. This is where the quest mode shine, by giving you a chance to complete random quests with a multitude of characters. Doing so will reward you with various items and unlocks for successfully completing them. There’s also a large selection of quests, which means you won’t beat them all in a few sittings. Plenty of single-player content and I quite enjoyed the downtime from playing against friends or online. It does it boring and repetitive, due to the sheer amount of quests. But thankfully, you can play them all at your leisure or skip the mode completely. Though I don’t recommend doing so.

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No Kasumi, not like that… like this!

The training mode and its offerings are really good this time around as well. Not only is there a free training mode, where you can go and just play around, there’s also a tutorial mode, which breaks down every move and status in the game. From basic skills, throws, holds, learning how to sidestep, as well as intermediate and advanced mechanics. This game literally teaches you everything you need to know. Which is perfect for someone who’s never played a Dead or Alive game, or those who need to brush up on some things. On top of all of that is the command training mode that has you performing various moves, to the combo challenge which will teach you most if not all of your basic and best combos and juggles. This is all per character as well. Spending some time with each of the modes, I felt I was given ample coaching to get out there and bust some heads. Especially thanks to the combo challenge and command training. I can’t stress enough how important both of those were.

There’s also plenty of items to unlock and read up on encyclopedia and trivia modes. Which gives you something to do while not fighting and provides some insight into not only the game but also the series. A photo mode also made its way into the game, which lets you take pictures during matches that take place in the spectator mode, only. With the photo mode, you can pause the action at any moment and you can even rotate the frozen scene, zoom, as well as adjust the aperture, focus, and tilt. I’ve managed to get some incredible shots with the photo mode.

What about that gameplay?

The gameplay is fast-paced, lots of mix-ups, juggles, and the combos don’t last for days but are just as devastating. It’s also not very serious, which is a reoccurring theme with the series. Though I felt like Team Ninja was really trying to get this game more involved in eSports.  New to the series is the Break Gauge, Fatal Rush, Fatal Reversals and Break Blow. The break gauge is a two bar meter that fills up when you either attack or are attacked, albeit slowly. Once one bar is filled up, you can perform a Fatal Rush which is a series of hits performed by a special attack button, while the Fatal Reversal, which lets you reverse an attack from any direction. The Break Blow requires two bars and once activated, deals an unblockable hard hitting move that knocks your opponent through the air. It’s similar to the Rage Arts in Tekken 7. Lastly, if you happen to have two bars, you can still perform the Fatal Rush, with the last hit turning into the Break Blow. Meter management becomes important, and you won’t be able to simply spam these moves.

It would also appear that hit detection is a bit better. No longer are moves that seemed to be impossible able to connect. Which is great for keeping a medium distance and not worrying if an invisible limb was going to surprise attack you. Sidestepping has been improved as well. They’re quicker and this time they’re better for escaping incoming hits, with target moves being the exception. No matter how many times you dodge, they’ll connect. 

Hadok… wait, wrong game

Fans of the series will be happy to know that both 3 and 4 point holds have both returned. Yes, I’m quite aware there’s always this “This is the only way to play” argument, but to me, that’s just silly talk. If I find that playing with 3 point holds/reverses are easier for me. Then that’s the style I’m going to use. Of course, the hold button still causes problems during gameplay – mainly if you accidentally hold it to do a block. 

As it stands right now, the online play is a mixed bag and very bare bones. For the most part, the online matches were solid experiences. Using the 4+ and 5 quality settings, out of the 40-plus matches I’ve had, only a handful we’re laggy. Jumping online is fairly simple, as all you have to do is select your preferred connection quality via a slider, and if you to re-fight a previous opponent. That’s it! You can’t select the stage as they’re selected for you. Nor can you sync up with a friend and host private matches. You can’t even set up matches in the lobbies because not only was this function not included in the review copies, but it’s also no longer included in the day one patch. According to KT, we’ll see this sometime in March 2019. Now I don’t want to sound negative, but this literally could force a number of people to wait until the lobbies are eventually patched in. Not sure why they thought it would be a good idea to release the game without this and I feel the game could suffer due to this.

We’ll revisit this portion of the review when lobbies are added.

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More than just pretty face

Thanks to the new game engine, the characters look better than ever. Sweat drips down characters faces and glistens on exposed body parts, even if looks exaggerated at times. While scratches, blood, bruises and ripped clothes are apparently visible as a fight continues.  It’s a huge graphical leap compared to Dead or Alive 5, and is easily one of the best looking fighters on the platform Everything else looks beautiful regardless you play on the action or graphics mode, the animations are smooth and well done. Especially the facial animations, which do an amazing job of conveying emotions.

Customizations are back as well, and they’re pretty much similar to what was in Dead or Alive 5. Just that you’re able to save them to slots and can be picked on the fly. Here you’re only able to change your fighters hair, glasses, and outfit. I would have liked the ability to also change the colors on certain parts of the outfits. Speaking of the outfits, most of these are locked out by default. If you care about swapping outfits, you’re going to have to dive into every just about every mode in the game to earn enough outfit parts to complete them. Which also happen to be rewarded randomly. Toss in some terrible RNG and you’ll get stuck with every outfit that you didn’t want.  An option to choose our rewards would have been welcomed here.

Alright, fan service. Yes, I’ve seen the complaints, and I’ve played a healthy portion of the game as well. Yes, one of the big focuses of Dead or Alive 6 was to tone down the “lewdness” of the game. We all know DOA was synonymous with sexualization and larger than normal breasts, which was something that Team Ninja wanted to get away from. Or at least they said they did. Yet here we are and while the “lewdness” isn’t super apparent at first, once you start seeing the more revealing outfits. (See: Tina, Honoka, and Nyotengu), it just seems like everything that was said was empty words. Will it be enough to bother you? Well, that depends. For me, I couldn’t stop laughing at the jiggle physics that constantly defied the laws of gravity. You’ll see what I mean when you watch Honoka’s fighting stance. That and the gratuitous amounts of panty shots. It’s not all bad as there are some tasteful outfits that work just as well.

Lastly, I get the whole fan service, and so will most that play these games. DOA started as such and anyone who thinks this is going to stop is fooling themselves. This isn’t Virtua Fighter or Tekken. The whole sexualization is the series schtick, no matter how they twist it. It’s a love it, tolerate it or leave it sort of thing. It’s not my place to tell you to avoid something because I don’t like the idea.

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Buy, wait or pass?

Dead or Alive 6 is a good game, yet one that has me conflicted. The game is very enjoyable and I’ve been playing it long after I’ve finished my review. The fighting is solid, the game is beautiful and there’s more than content here to keep one busy for a while. However, the game has some rather weird design choices.  Such as with the quest mode, while refreshing, has caused me quite a bit of frustration. How am I supposed to do a quest where I need to do several high holds if the computer is constantly throwing me? Or when I need to do a comeback kick but the computer never knocks me to the ground? It’s bad enough that I ended up failing some due to this, but you can’t even restart the quest once you know you’re going to fail. Instead, the only options are to return to the quest list or the main menu. A retry option would have been nice to have here. A minor gripe but damn it, it’s way too simple to be overlooked.

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Then there’s the lack of the online lobbies, which I feel is the biggest downfall of Dead or Alive 6. I can’t stress enough how bad it is to release this game without them being in the game. I was alright with them coming on day one, as I could delay the review and check them out. Now we don’t even know when we’re getting lobbies at all. Is it a deal breaker? No, as I feel the game offers more than enough content to offset the missing lobbies. Is it a bad move? Absolutely!

In a few weeks, we’ll get the lobbies and KT assures me that they’ll be worth the wait. For now, we’re looking at an enjoyable title that’s worth the price of admission.

Dead or Alive 6 releases on March 1st for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Review Disclosure Statement: Copy of Dead or Alive 6 was provided to us by Koei Tecmo for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.

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Summary

Dead or Alive 6, is hands down the best title in the series. Lots of content, various modes to get you in fighting form and I found the gameplay incredibly fun. It’s almost the total package, with the exception of the online lobbies not being in yet. Still, if that doesn’t matter to you, a great time will be found in a game that doesn’t take its self too seriously.  Which is absolutely fine by me.

Pros

  • Beautiful graphics and the best looking DOA yet
  • Lots of content to tackle
  • Gameplay has been improved and new fighting mechanics help with pacing
  • Training mode and command training modes are top-notch

Cons

  • Where are the lobbies?
  • Unlocking outfits is repetitive
  • Camera angles can cause issues during heated battles
  • Why is there a graphics toggle that does nothing?
Overall
4

About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grid. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. Available for podcasts upon request.