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The most OP character in Street Fighter history is set to terrorize Street Fighter 6 - hands-on

Akuma has always been absolutely disgustingly dangerous. In Street Fighter 6, he has more tools than ever.

Akuma is ALWAYS a problem.

Whether it is because of his traditional moveset that contains everything a Street Fighter character needs to trouble the top of a tier list or his often ludicrous damage output, Akuma is a character who is going to cause problems whenever he appears in a game. Throughout the years, since his first appearance as a secret character in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Akuma is almost always one of the best characters in any game he is a playable character in. Hell, he even ended up in Tekken 7 and was one of the best characters in that series, too.

Akuma is inevitable. And now, he’s on the cusp of appearing in Street Fighter 6 as the final DLC character in season one. May God have mercy on our souls.

During a brief hands-on session with an 'Akuma build' of SF6 ahead of his release into the game proper, everything I expected was confirmed. Akuma is a well-equipped menace of a character, designed around inflicting hugely damaging combos whenever he lands a hit, with all of his usual tools at his disposal. He's a beast.

So, you’ve got things like his ‘Shoto’ moves - fireball, hurricane kick and uppercut - his tricky ‘Demon Flip’, where he flies across the screen at you and can potentially hit you with several possible attacks that forces the opponent to make a quick guess and react accordingly. He has his aerial fireball - the special move that made him so broken in his debut appearance - and a divekick, ensuring that he can pause or change his jump trajectory and deliver an attack, making an approach from the air extremely dangerous and can bait out any anti-air attempts by your opponent.

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He can charge his fireball so it not only hits multiple times but will tank a hit through a rival’s projectile too, making him a dominant force in any fireball wars you may find yourself in too. And, of course, if that all doesn’t sound like enough, he has a teleport so he can get himself out of dodge when the going gets tough. Simply put, he once again has ways that allow a player to control the fight no matter what the situation and constantly provide them with different ways to approach things offensively.

So, it sounds like he doesn’t need anything else, right? Well, Capcom have deemed it fit to hand him a few extra toys for his arsenal this time around.

First up is a new move called Admant Flame, which is perhaps the least interesting but likely the most useful. A big strike that can be done on its own or can have an additional hit put on the end of it, to be used mainly in combos or as a means of punishing an opponent who is throwing out strikes recklessly.

The ‘OD’ version of this move causes the opponent to be put into a stunned state against the corner of the stage, no matter where it is performed, allowing for a combo to continue and - crucially - gives the player immediate corner control, which is an extremely strong position in Street Fighter 6.

His teleport now has a new move attached to it - the Orobo Throw - allowing you to teleport Akuma up to your opponent and throw them. That’s right, they’ve basically given him a command grab! It is, mercifully, pretty highly telegraphed by the initial teleport animation and, after a very brief bit of testing, it appears that the opponent can react to it with a throw of their own and win the exchange. Even so, that is yet another string to Akuma’s pretty bloody well strung offensive bow.

My favourite new addition is the terrifying sounding Demon Raid, a new addition to his Demon Flip move, performed by holding down during the initial flip that causes Akuma to do… absolutely nothing. Instead of tossing a fireball, doing a divekick or slamming down with an overhead strike, Akuma simply lands beside his opponent.

Now, the thing here is that the usual follow-ups to the Demon Flip are going to have a player trying to block an attack, so Akuma now has a way he can catch an opponent out and hit them with a throw, for instance. It adds a whole new dimension to the traditional mindgames around this move - there’s going to be so many clips of people doing full screen Demon Flips, landing and hitting the other player with his legendary super move, the Shun Goku Satsu - or more commonly - the RAGING DEMON. I’m going to be raging at man the first time I get caught out by that.

All these new moves slot wonderfully into Akuma’s usual highly aggressive playstyle, with all of his standard attacks feeling really hard and impactful and, within the session I was doing some pretty un-optimal combos that were knocking 50% plus of my opponent’s health off just because they didn’t block a jumping attack. It was a lot of fun.

However, as is the case, Akuma is what is known as a ‘glass canon’ character and although his potential for deleting health bars is very high, he has the lowest health in the game. A quick test showed that a Punish Counter throw takes off around 30% of his total health. Hit, but don’t GET hit is still very much the character gameplan here.

Although it is impossible to truly tell until some much better players get their hands on him, Akuma seems to have everything you need to be a competitive character in the current Street Fighter 6 meta - which will itself shift upon Akuma's release with a range of character balance updates. He's a fitting shake-up for the finale of the first season - roll on season 2!

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