Street Fighter 6 may be brand new, but a lot of the core mechanics and lingo you’re going to hear and see while playing dates back to the origin of the genre. Blocking moves will be one of the first things you need to learn to get “good” at SF6, but the depth of this game goes way beyond that. And it’s that depth that frightens new players. So how do you actually get better at games like this? We’re going to break multiple elements of core gameplay down into various guides so that you can easily digest them. This latest one will cover basic defensive concepts and explain some jargon to help you understand the deeper mechanics of how Street Fighter 6 operates.
You might also want to check out our guide on the Ranking System in SF6, Or maybe you want to be more familiar with how to defend against Drive Impact. If you’re brand new, you might want to try picking a main from some of the most beginner-friendly Street Fighter 6 characters.
How to Get Better at Defense in Street Fighter 6
The saying goes, “The best offense is a great defense.” And that’s very much true in fighting games. Just going ham on your opponent might work if their inexperienced, but a more seasoned player will absolutely know how to beat raw offense. By biding their time and exploiting weaknesses that are invisible to a new player, a pro can easily turn a seeming loss around. That’s the trick of fighting games like SF6, learning that minutia is the real secret to getting better. This guide will help smooth out the rough edges of your playstyle by explaining more advanced concepts as simply as we can.
Defense in Street Fighter 6 is More Than Blocking
This might surprise some players, but blocking is harder than you might think. In defensive play, blocking is only one piece of a larger concept. You need to be able to apply damage, sure, but knowing when to do what moves is actually the most important part of your defensive gameplan.
This is a big part of what makes up the “Neutral” game in Street Fighter 6. A lot of new players make the mistake of thinking that executing combos is more important. And sure, there’s some amount of necessity to learning solid combos to get good damage output, but it’s far more important to know when to use more basic attacks. “Poking” your opponent, or using basic kicks and punches, for small amounts of damage can easily pressure a fighter and turn around a bad match. But neutral game is a bit more than that, it’s all about knowing when to attack, and knowing what moves to open with.
Footsies is one important aspect of playing the neutral game, and you’ll often hear people talk about “the neutral”. For example, “Ryu loses the neutral in that matchup” means that Ryu has a hard time finding a place on the screen where he can start his gameplan without putting himself at risk. (For those not in the know, footsies is using position and distance of attacks to control how movement is used in a match.) By controlling the space in front of your character with long-range attacks like fireballs, you force them to respond. By then immediately using movement to apply pressure after a fireball, you add another layer of decision-making for your opponent to deal with. Footsies become vital to actually getting in on an opponent to hit them. And you wouldn’t use Supers in a lot of cases to play Footsies, so that’s why learning to poke properly is key.
There are a lot of options beyond footsies and blocking for defense in Street Fighter 6, too many to cover in super detailed depth here. But instead of going in hard on each of the potential options you have, we’ll offer a basic list of the most common defensive methods beyond blocking that you will need to know. Here are some examples of the most common defensive layers in SF6 and what kinds of situations they might be used in.
- Armor – Armor allows players to absorb or ignore incoming attacks. Drive Impact has two hits worth of implicit armor. This means a player using DI needs to be hit three times to be knocked out of it.
- Footsies – The act of controlling distance between opponents, as well as using movement to trick or force opponents into certain actions.
- Invincibility – Some moves have frames of immunity to attacks. A lot of “anti-air” moves have what’s called frame one invincibility. This means that if you time your anti-aerial attack to just before your opponent connects, you can knock them out of it.
- Parries – The Drive Parry system is a way to a more advanced block that consumes Drive Gauge. You can automatically block Drive Impacts and other powerful attacks by parrying at the right time.
- Reversals – Certain moves in SF6, like Ken’s Dragonlash Kick can only be escaped by using parries or reversals after you block them. Supers and other certain moves can be used coming out of block or knockdown, and are immune to being hit, that’s a reversal.
- Throw Escapes – (Throw Tec) This is the system that allows throws to be escaped since they can’t be blocked. By pushing the inputs for a throw just before an opponent’s throw connects, you can avoid being tossed.
There’s one more element that you’re eventually going to need to understand if you want to compete at higher ranks online, and that’s Frame Data.
Frame Data is Important
Sure, learning to hold back at the right time is key, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. This is where esoteric concepts like frame data come in. A frame is a unit used to measure time in a fighting game. In a 60 FPS game, where most fighting games exist, this is a set amount of time. And every attack takes a certain number of frames to complete. A frame is the core unit used in frame data, which measures both how long moves take to complete their animation, and how moves interact when used against each other.
There are other elements that go into this as well specifically concerning defense. For example, you can’t block when you’re also mashing other inputs. Controlling that impulse to mash against an enemy attack is a big thing new players struggle with. In tandem with that, learning how frame data works is key.
The next most important thing about defense is knowing when are where to get in on your opponent. Frame Data ties into this because it will inform who gets their attack out first if they press a move at the same time. Let’s say move A starts up in 3 frames and move B starts up in 4 frames. In this example, move B is “1 frame slower” than move A, so in situations where both fighters get to attack at the same time, move A is going to hit first. SF6 even has a Frame data meter in the Training mode that shows you all this in detail. This is where you’re going to need to go to learn frame data. That means practicing against CPU characters of many types to learn what moves work in what situations. But as a general rule, faster moves can often beat out slower, heavier, ones. And when you take the time to learn how your chosen character works at this level, you will get insanely good at defense in Street Fighter 6.