After more than 20 years, five mainline games, and plenty of special editions and spinoffs, the Dead or Alive series of fighting games is very much a known quantity. Women (and some men) in suggestive costumes beat each other up and down in a fast-paced 3D fighter built on a basic but sound tactical framework. Dead or Alive 6 does not deviate from that top-level formula at all, but manages to spice things up with some interesting changes spread throughout its gameplay and modes. It’s polished, it’s fun, and it’s keeping the series alive and active without rocking the boat too much.
Viewed through that lens, Dead or Alive 6 deftly blends fresh and familiar to appease long-standing fans while offering an interesting array of single-player modes that serves as an onramp to competitive play online. Its single-player modes are predisposed to training you up past what you’ll learn by simply fighting AI opponents. Its storytelling, while not as expansive or novel as a Mortal Kombat or Injustice, gives its roster an essential sense of character. From determined tournament fighters in training to lovably foolish drunken masters and melodramatic ninja warriors and assassins, every contestant has a strong vibe and is itching to fight, which makes it easy and fun to hop in and wail on somebody.