Dead or Alive 6 Review

Richard Walker

A fighting game perhaps noted for all the wrong reasons, the Dead or Alive series has nonetheless built itself a solid reputation as a deceptively simple but devilishly deep versus brawler. One with big wobbly boobs in it. Dead or Alive 6 picks up the baton from its forebears, and runs with it, without straying too far from the series' established formula of pendulous bosoms and streamlined combat.

Adopting the (sort of) rock-paper-scissors 'triangle' fighting system, Dead or Alive 6's core mechanics remain fantastically accessible, placing an emphasis on timing over memorising strings of combos. It's dead easy to pick up and play, as ever, using one button to punch, one to kick, one to throw, and one to hold and counter. If you've ever played a Dead or Alive game, you'll be well-acquainted with the basics, but Team Ninja has chucked in some new stuff to freshen things up a bit.

The main new additions are the Fatal Stun and Break Blow, mapped to the right bumper/R1, enabling you to bust through an opponent's incoming offensive or deliver a devastating assault with very little effort. These are nice, simple tools to have in your DOA arsenal; something that a newbie can break out as a finisher or a flashy combo, while more seasoned players will have the Break Hold reversal to master, among other things. It's really rather good.

Team Ninja has really nailed the fundamentals in Dead or Alive 6, making this arguably the best entry in the series to date, before you even take into consideration the wealth of modes on offer. Among them is the returning Story mode, a load of old bobbins that's not really about anything in particular. Story mode is complete rubbish, bouncing around between characters, piecing together its uninteresting narrative chapter by chapter.

Not that past Dead or Alive games have really managed to muster a good story, but even in the grand pantheon of crap fighting game stories, DOA 6 can hold its head high as being among the most anodyne and pointless. Thankfully, there's the DOA Quest mode to pick up the slack, with a selection of objectives to complete, each corresponding to one of three stars. Earn all three stars for each task, and you'll unlock new costumes and other gubbins, like new BGM.

You'll find all of this collected in DOA Central, your go-to hub where you'll find a wardrobe brimming with unlockable costumes for all 24 characters, as well as glasses and different hairstyles you can deck each fighter out in, if you like. All of this can be earned through progression (across whichever mode you choose to play) and by accumulating coins that you can then spend on the bits and bobs you've unlocked.

For solo play, DOA Quest proves the most enjoyable of Dead or Alive 6's modes, alongside the usual suspects like Arcade, Versus, Survival, Time Attack, and various tutorials including Combo Challenge and Command Training, so you can hone your skills. And there are plenty of stalwart characters to get to grips with, including new faces Diego and NiCO, ensuring even the most ardent of DOA fans will find their favourite, or maybe even grow to like one of the new fighters.

You'll possibly need to master just one fighter if you're going to take the fight online, and DOA 6's competitive battling is restricted to only Ranked Online match-ups. This rules out friendly PvP skirmishes in which to cut your teeth against human opponents, which seems like a bit of an oversight. There are battle requests in training mode that can be toggled on and off, matching you up for casual fights online, but this isn't immediately obvious.

It perhaps goes without saying that Dead or Alive 6's main draw is it's straightforward, no-nonsense fighting mechanics. The intuitive nuts and bolts of the game still work remarkably well, Team Ninja choosing an iterative approach that retains what makes the series unique in a genre largely dominated by Street Fighter, Tekken and the like. DOA has always had something of a secondary status to the genre's big hitters, but this latest version ups the ante.

Cinematic moments that slow down the action for a split-second and zoom in on a weighty impact make fights more dynamic and exciting than they've ever been in previous DOA games, while the series' signature interactive environments are also back and incredibly outlandish. A pirate ship with a massive kraken tentacle that breaks through the hull and chucks you around is nothing next to a pterodactyl hatching out of an egg and flying off with you in its clutches. It's all a bit daft.

And yet that silliness – as incongruous as it is to the rest of the game, which mostly plays it straight (mostly) – is more than welcome. This also imbues DOA 6 with a much-needed dose of personality, because it certainly doesn't convey much of that in the woeful Story mode. There's so much here to like, though, from the satisfying fighting systems to the new Break Blow combos, the DOA Quest mode, and the general air of offbeat weirdness.

Dead or Alive 6 is a robust and enjoyable fighting game that's a step up from its predecessor, let down by a scant online offering, (again) a lacklustre Story mode, and a handful of slightly bland characters. As face punchers go, however, you could do a lot worse than DOA 6.

Dead or Alive 6

An improvement over its predecessors, Dead or Alive 6 is an accomplished fighting game with some neat new tricks and cool cinematic touches up its sleeve. Also, boobs.

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The music with its wailing guitars is maddening, and the voice performances are not the best, but the game's aural landscape is still perfectly serviceable.


A very attractive fighting game with exotic backdrops and pleasingly detailed character models. Possibly the best-looking Dead or Alive game to date, and the series' tradition of wobbly mammary glands remains untouched.


Accessible for newbies but intricate enough for seasoned DOA players, the game's simplicity is only skin deep. You'll have to get to grips with timing and combos to truly master it.


All of the usual modes you'd expect from a fighting game are present and correct, although the Story mode is nonsense. DOA Quest is a nice addition, but the online options are as scanty as the underwear on show.


A fairly easy list with a good spread of tasks to complete across all of DOA 6's modes, there's only the slightest hint of grind in all the Ranked Matches you'll have to play for the full 1,000G.

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