It’s been over a month now since Street Fighter 6 emerged onto the scene with a view of taking the crown as the best fighting game ever made, and there’s plenty of legitimacy to that claim. The amazing gameplay that allows players to truly express themselves, regardless of their skill level, the fantastic online play or the World Tour mode, which could be considered one of the best single-player modes in all of fighting games; these features combine to make Street Fighter 6 an all-time great.
For many though, the real treat of Street Fighter 6 is the Battle Hub, a Club Penguin/VR Chat-esque lobby that allows players to hang out as their created avatars. Here, they can dance around to their heart’s content, challenge each other to matches on the various arcade cabinets scattered around the hub, or even do battle as their avatars in the center of the lobby. As someone who’s always loved the online modes in fighting games that allowed players to be more social, Battle Hub feels like the ultimate evolution of that, but like all things involving people on the internet, it’s hard to not see the best and worst of people here.
For the most part, Battle Hub is just going to be a means to an end, a virtual space for you to sit in while you wait for people online to challenge you to a match. For some, the most engagement they’ll have with Battle Hub will be to giggle at some of the absolutely ridiculous looking avatars that people have made, with bodily dimensions that’d manage to give David Cronenberg nightmares.
Those who are willing to dig a little bit deeper can find some genuine positivity and instances of people gassing each other up. A lot of post-match chats have led to exchanging compliments on each other’s play, or even providing tips on what to do in certain situations, something I so desperately need as someone who plays Zangief and relies too much on Drive Impacts in Spinning Piledrivers. These moments of help are something you won’t typically get while on the ranked match grind, so it’s amazing that the Battle Hub provides that.
Personally, Battle Hub’s real highlight came for me at a time when Street Fighter 6’s servers were experiencing difficulties not long after the game launched, with players unable to even join matches. People could hang out in the Battle Hub perfectly fine though, so instead of just logging off and playing something else, the Europe 0001 lobby crowded around the DJ booth to start a dance party which lasted for well over an hour. No phones in sight, just a bunch of doofuses hanging out and living in the moment, but it’s experiences like that which help properly showcase the community’s spirit.
Unfortunately, as you’d expect from what is essentially a fighting game forum with avatars, you also have to contend with a fair amount of bad actors and genuinely rotten experiences too. At a base level, there’s your standard fare that you’d typically expect to find on the Scrub Quotes Twitter account, with people complaining that a certain mechanic is broken or that something needs to be fixed, instead of putting in the work to learn how to adapt to an opponent’s strategy.
However, then you reach the more awful sides of it, which can include seeing lots of racial slurs in the chat, to somebody going through the entire effort of roleplaying in the Battle Hub as an alt-right commentator. The amount of times I’ve played a first to five or even ten match set with someone in the Battle Hub, to see the same two people continuing their argument like it’s a forum post in the mid-2000s, is getting to be ridiculous now.
At the end of the day, people like the ones mentioned above are the reasons why block buttons exist in online games, but for someone who’s new to fighting games and looking for an approachable experience, being greeted with hateful content in the Battle Hub is the exact opposite of that. Hopefully, over the coming months, more can be done to help ensure the Battle Hub in Street Fighter 6 is a place of positivity going forward.
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