Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, fighting game fans. You invite a friend to play the fighting game of your choice. This buddy is rusty or has never played it, but that’s okay; they just want to have a good time throwing hands. To accommodate them, you deliberately assume a weaker form, only unleashing 5% of your true power to avoid annihilating them as they sadly mash buttons in a vain attempt to stay competitive.
We can laugh, but holding back that much isn’t necessarily fun because you want to go all out. If you’re in this friend’s shoes, you’d like to be able to play with more skill much faster to avoid feeling inferior and babysitting. As a fighting game fan, I’ve been on both sides of this, and neither is ideal. That’s why Street Fighter 6’s modern control scheme is a great solution to this age-old problem.
For those unfamiliar, the upcoming Street Fighter entry introduces an optional button layout called “Modern.” While I’m not a fan of the name (“Simplified” or “Simplified” would better communicate its purpose), I love the concept. This option makes it easier to execute by mapping special attacks to a single button combined with directional input. The in-game description states that the modern scheme is “designed for players who want to fight without memorizing and practicing special move combinations first.” It is a fantastic remedy to facilitate newcomers to the typically intimidating genre.
Unsurprisingly, some smug hardcore fans have expressed outrage at the modern controls, as they think it makes Street Fighter 6 too easy. “I’ve spent years training to perform the Spinning Bird Kick, and so should you!” Instead of debating an optional fighting game mechanic like you’re arguing over student loan forgiveness, recognize that if you’re so good at Street Fighter, fighting a modern player shouldn’t matter much.
Anyone who’s hit an opponent who clumsily spams fireballs and psycho crushers knows that memorizing a flashy attack is far less important than knowing the optimal time to use it. All the Modern option does is minimize the execution factor, a historical barrier for more casual players. By breaking down that wall, they can focus more on learning the nuances of timing and reading an opponent instead of fumbling about how many quarter circles and high punches to hit. If you feel threatened by this, well… maybe you’re not as good as you think?
I played many games of Street Fighter 6 during Summer Game Fest against my less experienced colleague, Alex Van Aken. Thanks to the modern controls, he could follow me and I could do everything, which made it a pleasure for both of us. Also, I noticed that the longer we played, the more Alex improved his strategic game; he even began to train me in his assaults. Honestly, I was amazed at how quickly he adopted more advanced behaviors – probably because he wasn’t stopping every few seconds to say, “Let me check my move list real quick.”
Above all, I felt relieved. Street Fighter is up there with Mortal Kombat when it comes to mainstream recognition and appeal. Some people are willing to pick up matches even if they’re not so great because it’s a familiar face from simpler, perhaps happier times. Now when I try to convince friends to play with me and they say “I used to love Street Fighter, but I forgot how to play” I have a solid ace in the hole to draw them in. dark side.
As an experienced player, I myself have found advantages in using the modern scheme. It made it easy for me to pick up combos that I may not have yet understood, giving me a frame of reference for how to chain moves together. Street Fighter 6 isn’t the first game to implement a simplified control scheme. Still, I hope it popularizes the concept because I think every fighting game could benefit from a similar feature.
Street Fighter 6 has impressed me in many ways so far, from its gorgeous presentation and animation to its well-tuned gameplay. But what I like the most is how the modern option brings rookies up to my level so we can both have a good time without me having to hang out with them firing my shots. Veterans and newcomers better watch out; the kids gloves are finally coming off for good, and I can’t wait.