Street Fighter 6 Best Modern Characters to Play

Lily uses her Level 3 Super Art.
Lily gets ready to use her best Super Art.

Street Fighter 6 arrived with several new features and innovations, with Modern Controls being among the biggest and most important among them. The control method allows for complicated techniques to be performed with the press of a button, and for some combos to be done automatically while holding a shoulder button down while pressing the main attack buttons. It’s made for newer players, those less experienced with Street Fighter and other fighting games. But experienced players can have fun with it too.

Anyone who plays a character with the Modern control option might have a hard time learning how to use characters with more complicated motions and some charge attacks. Here, Modern can be a viable alternative to putting in hours upon hours of work in the lab (Training Mode). This is despite the minor damage nerf that comes with the control style, as compensation for the ease of use. Let’s look over the characters that work the best with the control scheme.


10. A. K. I.

A demonstration of how flexible A.K.I. is.

A.K.I. is one of the newest characters in the Street Fighter series, one designed after her mentor F.A.N.G., though she puts her own spin on all her techniques. (That also applies in the most literal sense, as you can see from the picture.) She has multiple options at her disposal for throws and projectiles. A key issue with her is how the player has to put in a lot of work to master her, without enough payoff thanks to her moves lacking priority and other strategies being predictable.

The difficulty issue vanishes when a player picks her up with Modern controls. Having a series of usually-complicated auto combos at her disposal is a huge boon, along with the ability to perform her Level 1 Super Art, Deadly Implication, on reaction thanks to its quick start-up time. She has access to most of her attacks with Modern controls, alongside all her super techniques and Super Arts. It helps that her fireball is only one speed regardless of which button is pressed.

The only setback is the loss of her standing hard kick, which works as a good poke. But the positives for a character lacking great normal attacks outweigh the negatives.


9. Ryu

Kick like a donkey, but easily and smoothly.

Ryu has always remained as the top familiar face in the Street Fighter brand, and for Capcom as a whole. Modern controls were absolutely going to be made to ensure that he, among all characters, controlled well enough with them. He keeps most of his great attacks with them.

Ryu’s special techniques and some of his Super Arts are familiar to anyone who plays Street Fighter, regardless of whether they focus on playing another character. It’s useful to have the Hadouken, Shoryuken, and Tatsumaki Senpukaku available on a single button to get through a round, if not the entire match. This especially works for anyone who hasn’t played a Street Fighter game in a long time, and is looking to ease their way into SF6. Combine this with the auto-combos, and he’s perfectly viable.

The loss of fireballs with varying speeds and a Shoryuken option hurt his potential a bit, but he’s another character where the positives outweigh the negatives. He’s great for anyone just getting into the game.


8. Zangief

You simply have to twirl a bit when you’re this muscular.

Zangief has been a staple in the initial rosters of all the recent Street Fighter games, and Street Fighter 6 is no exception. He’s, in fact, easier than ever to control here thanks to the wonders of Modern controls, for a character known for having some complicated move commands.

The most important aspect of Zangief that makes him formidable with Modern controls is using Spinning Pile Drivers with the press of one button. A move that requires a 360-degree twirl on the stick or directional pad can be performed in less than a second, making him even more dangerous when up close. This is despite the damage being lowered thanks to the control scheme. This unfortunately limits him to one SPD, with the start up for the heavier versions having slower start-up times.

Modern Zangief isn’t quite as good as some players realized just after SF6 launched. He loses some great poking normal attacks thanks to having access to fewer buttons. But those one-button command throws, including the SPD, are difficult to resist even with the damage reduction.


7. Chun-Li

The bird still spins with graceful age.

Chun-Li is yet another reliable face in the Street Fighter series, a faithful character in the franchise since Street Fighter II. She’s noticeably been getting more complicated as the franchise has continued, with her qualifying as one of the hardest characters to play in Street Fighter V and Street Fighter 6. Modern controls help mitigate this… a bit.

Chun-Li retains most of her functions with Modern controls. The auto-combos as part of this control setting will notably help any player adjust to her techniques, by teaching the player which attacks are most reliable for Super Cancel opportunities, and the timing involved with them. She still maintains access to attacks like the Serenity Stream stance, in addition to her traditional special attacks like the Kikoken, Spinning Bird Kick, and the Tensho Kicks.

She unfortunately loses normal attacks that are worthwhile for mix-up opportunities, like her air medium punch and medium kick. Losing the standing hard kick and overhead also hurts. But it’s clear she’s still solid when a player (Haitani) made it into the top 8 at Evo using this control method with her. Just keep in mind that she’ll still need some practice despite this.


6. Cammy

Cammy’s quick reactions are even faster in the hands of a player with Modern controls.

Cammy, returning in another new Street Fighter game since her debut in Super Street Fighter II, has never been a difficult character to learn. But she’s easier than ever to play thanks to the addition of Modern controls in Street Fighter 6.

The mere thought of her having instant access to Spiral Arrows and powerful Cannon Spikes should put fear into the opponent, even if the damage on them is reduced. This also qualifies for her Super Arts, including Super Art 2, the Killer Bee Spin, thanks to its instant start-up. The combination of these makes Cammy very viable with Modern controls.

She does lose a few moves, however. The biggest knock is losing the crouching medium punch, one essential for starting and extending combos. But she still has enough tools to win matches, and remains formidable at the lower and mid-tier levels.


5. Kimberly

Nothing helps to assist a quick character like Modern controls.

Kimberly was introduced in Street Fighter 6 as the new Chun-Li equivalent among the brand-new faces. (The new Ryu and Ken equivalents are even higher on this list.) But she inherits a bunch of moves from previous Street Fighter/Final Fight character Guy. Most of them work well with Modern controls.

Kimberly has several stringy chain combos that are similar to Guy’s, and Modern controls makes them possible to execute with single consecutive button presses. This makes her resemble a character from a more recent Arc System Works title like the Persona 4 Arena games and Granblue Fantasy: Versus. These are in addition to the auto combos that are a bit more complicated to execute normally. These alone make her strong with this control method choice.

The minor setback here is how her techniques following her Sprint have to be executed differently. Anyone who started playing her with Classic controls, or likes to switch  between both, will need to adjust their muscle memory to prevent from making too many mistakes.


4. Jamie

Talk about a Modern spin on drunken kung-fu.

Jamie is the Ken equivalent among the newest characters introduced in Street Fighter 6. It makes sense, then, that Capcom would make extra sure that he would work well with Modern controls. He indeed does, as his placement on the list shows.

Jamie loses very little between Classic and Modern controls, with him retaining all of his drunken kung-fu stances, attacks, and combos. This also means Jamie’s flaws have little to do with whatever control method the player is using, because… well, the man could use some buffs in general. But those combined with having the uppercut-style Arrow Kick mapped to one button press makes him formidable and fun with Modern controls.

The only setbacks with Jamie involve the damage nerf on his Bakki breakdance, especially if he’s consumed two drinks to power it up, and the loss of his very good crouching medium punch attack. But those aren’t enough to prevent him from being formidable and a lot of fun with the control method.


3. Marisa

A character made to be easy to use and is strong in general was bound to work well with Modern controls.

Marisa is new to Street Fighter 6, and one of the two main characters made for beginning players, with simpler individual attacks and combos that hit hard as they look. This also means she works well with the Modern control scheme.

Marisa brings most of her powerful attacks to the control scheme, with both the individual attacks and combos being made far easier to perform thanks to largely being mapped to one button. The most powerful difference maker is having a one button level 3 Super Art, Goddess of the Hunt, thanks to its incredible start-up time. She also has some of her most powerful combos as her chosen auto-combos, in addition to those the player can input themselves.

Modern Marisa has several setbacks, like the loss of her Quadriga kick outside combos and the removal of her standing medium kick and hard kick attacks, all of which work as solid poking attacks. But she’s such a powerful character that the other attacks and combos still make her very formidable.


2. Luke

Capcom had to make sure the dude on the cover art was perfectly usable with Modern controls.

Luke is the new face of Street Fighter, one who Capcom noted would take over when he arrived as the final character in Street Fighter V. As the main face, you’d think the Modern controls would be designed to work extremely well with the character. And you’d be… completely right.

Luke brings everything to the Modern control style, including having an easy one-button Sand Blast and especially a one-button Rising Uppercut. The commands are changed to accompany a three-button play style, but it’s very easy to switch between the two methods with the character. He even still has all of his Flash Knuckle variants, with the ways in which the player executes them being the only aspect changed.

The only issue with Luke here is the loss of some normal attacks used for longer combos. The auto combos he’s been given also aren’t the best around, with the player being capable of using longer strings after minutes of practice. These are nowhere near enough to stop him from working great with the control scheme.


1. Lily

Lily almost feels like she was made FOR Modern controls.

Lily is another new face in Street Fighter 6, essentially Capcom’s way of taking T. Hawk’s move set and putting it on a younger female character. She’s also explicitly made to be easy to play for beginners, which is why she works extremely well with Modern controls.

There’s a reason why Lily has the highest contingent of Modern control players, thanks to her simpler move set fitting the simpler control style like a glove, like poetry. She brings most of her tools to the three-button setup, including all of her special techniques and most of her unique normal attacks. Having access to a one-button Tomahawk Buster alone is enough to get the opponent to stop in their tracks and keep them guessing as to how to best approach a Lily player. A one-button Mexican Typhoon whenever the opponent gets too close is also beautiful to have.

Lily, again, loses very little with the Modern control method choices. The only setback here is how you’re still playing Lily, who desperately needs buffs as of this writing. She still remains nearly perfect and perfectly viable with the Modern controls.


Modern controls are still commonly referred to as a mode that should only be used for inexperienced Street Fighter players starting with Street Fighter 6. This is under the logic that they’ll eventually switch over to Classic controls when they have more experience. But the number of players who’ve placed high in tournaments using Modern controls should be proof that it’s a viable method to stick with. That also depends on the characters being used. Lists like this one prove that some characters work better than others -- with some being FAR better.


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Geoffrey is the lowest-level Druid imaginable who read too many gaming magazines as a child. This made him decide that he wanted to do this video game journalism thing professionally.
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