Today sees the release of Dead or Alive 6: Core Fighters, the free-to-play version of Team Ninja’s latest fighter. It’s the full game minus story mode, with only four of the 26 currently playable characters. The idea is that players download the free version, then purchase additional fighters and story mode a la carte. That’s a dumb idea.

Offering a free version of Dead or Alive 6, as Tecmo Koei did with Dead or Alive 5 before it, is a great idea. It gives players who might otherwise skip a Dead or Alive game based on the series’ racy reputation a chance to see how toned down the sexy stuff is in the latest installment. Core Fighters players get access to four characters: Kasumi, Hitomi, Bass, and new character Diego. They can play all the training modes, local versus, the excellent Quest mode, and even ranked online multiplayer. The biggest limitation of Core Fighters is only being able to access the opening chapter of story mode.

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The “dumb idea” is purchasing any portion of the game piecemeal after trying the free version. Based on the prices Tecmo Koei is asking, buying the full game will almost always be a better deal, especially as it starts getting discounted from its current $50-60 asking price.

Here’s what Tecmo Koei is now selling alongside the free Dead or Alive 6 Core Fighters starter pack.

  • $39.99 Female Fighters Set: Includes Ayane, Tina, Leifang, Helena, Christie, Kokoro, La Mariposa, Mila, Marie Rose, Honoka, and NiCO. That’s around $3.64 per character.
  • $33.99 Male Fighters Set: Adds Hayabusa, Hayate, Jann Lee, Zack, Bayman, Brad Wong, Eliot, Rig, and Raidou. Average $3.78 per character.
  • $49.99 20 Character Set: Adds all fighters but bonus characters Nyotengu and Phase 4. $2.50 per character.
  • $3.99 Single Characters: While I don’t expect anyone is silly enough to buy all 20 characters (21 with Nyotengu), if they did the game would cost around $80, and that’s not counting ...
  • $19.99 Story Mode: Entertaining, a fun way to unlock entries in the game’s library, separate from character packs.

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Right away it’s plain to see buying either male or female fighter sets is stupid, as cost per character drops dramatically with the $50 option. At that point, one may as well purchase the full game. The story mode is very good. Hell, Amazon has the PlayStation 4 version of the game on sale for $52 as I type.

Of course, there’ll be players out there who only want to get online and fight battles as a single character. If you only play Ayane and don’t mind lacking access to characters outside of her and the four free ones, then $3.99 isn’t a bad price to pay. Just be sure, because buying one character and then deciding to fill out the rest of the roster means the price paid for the single character is lost. If you buy Ayana for $3.99 and then decide to get the full game, that four bucks is gone.

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My advice is this. If you’re interested in Dead or Alive 6 but aren’t sure it’s for you, grab the free Core Fighters pack for PC, PS4 or Xbox One. Give it a taste, and if you like it, grab the full game. Think of it as a demo with benefits, and you’ll be fine.