Opinion

Road to E3 2018: Dead or Alive 6

Six years on, Dead or Alive 6 is a tangible thing. Tomonobu Itagaki’s baby, which started as a sexy Virtua Fighter clone in 1996, has come a long way. Beginning life as a very casual series, Itagaki’s departure allowed DOA to evolve. After Team Ninja gave him the boot, Dead or Alive 5 arrived on the scene with the “I’m a Fighter” tagline. They finally had the authority to push Dead or Alive into the competitive scene. With Dead or Alive 6‘s announcement, what does it need to satisfy a fan like me?

Dead or Alive 6, Koei Tecmo

Dead or Alive 6 is Here!

Having put over 700 hours into Dead or Alive 5: Last Round with who knows how many in its 2012 vanilla release, it’s safe to say DOA 6‘s pre-e3 announcement was calculated exactly for people like me. 700+ hours may not sound like much from a competitive player’s standpoint, but as a person that never intended to enter tournaments, that’s a lot of playtime as a casual fighting game player.

While I do appreciate the fighting game genre for what it does and the communities each series fosters, they require too much of an investment to see tangible results. Unless you’re naturally gifted or have consistently played fighting games your entire life, the investment is too significant. By their nature, fighting games are hard. If you want to get good, you need to spend far more time than I am willing to with so many other games constantly releasing. Past any fighting game’s first month, the truly competitive players keep that beating heart alive.

The same holds true even for Dead or Alive. Players like SonicFox and MC Kwiggle kept Last Round relevant in the tournament scene. That level of dedication is likely part of the reason Team Ninja even bothered with a sixth entry rather than focusing on just the Xtreme spin-offs or butchering Ninja Gaiden even further. Even with DOA‘s accessibility, it’s never managed to break sales record. Rather, Team Ninja and Tecmo Koei have made their cash off overpriced DOA 5 DLC. This does leave me apprehensive about how complete DOA 6 will end up being launch, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Interactive Stages

I could go on for ages about what makes DOA special, but interactive stages are its most integral pillar. Dead or Alive, in 1996, pioneered the “danger zone” concept for fighters. Whereas fighting games typically took place in a ring, with an automatic loss if you were knocked out of that space, Itagaki had other plans. Stages were still defined by arenas/borders, but rather than losing entirely, you’d take damage. This was known as the danger zone.

As a simple addition to differentiate itself from the series it ripped-off, danger zones have since become synonymous with DOA. Dead or Alive 6 has the potential to go wild with its interactive stages. Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is such an exciting, dynamic game to watch and play partly because of the environment. Other 3D fighters have relatively boring stages. Maybe they’ll have a slope that effects combos, or a wall that can be broken, but they’re usually very boring.

3D fighters very rarely utilize that extra dimension in the same way as Dead or Alive. One needs to look no further than Tekken 7 as a point of comparison. Aside from one stage with multiple breakable floors and two or three stages with two levels, there’s not a lot going on. Compare this to some of Dead or Alive 5‘s stages and danger zones:

Danger Zones
  • Being knocked into a train, which takes the fight from the roof to ground level. The normally roomy ground level becomes cramped due to the destroyed train’s wreckage.
  • Knocked against a pillar, which triggers an RPG, allowing further juggling.
  • Breaking a branch, holding a raft in place. The fight continues as the raft careens down a river, resting on the edge of a cliff. With a very steep slope, the fight can end there, or continue on the rain-forest down below.
  • Collapsing a construction building’s roof after knocking an opponent into a power generator. The fight continues as the roof’s slope changes with all manner of miscellaneous items falling, which can cause stun. You can then knock the opponent to the now-destroyed cityscape below, with a crater in the arena’s center.

Dead or Alive 6, Koei Tecmo

Give us More

With DOA 6 built around current generation hardware, Team Ninja has the ability to push nonsense to its extremities. With more complex stage interactions, better animations, and much higher visual fidelity, Dead or Alive 6 can inspire casual players in ways no other fighting game can. As long as DOA 6‘s core gameplay remains unhinged, it can be the series’ best. Pushing the visuals and danger zones will make Dead or Alive 6 an awe-inspiring spectacle.

 


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