Running on a brand new engine, Dead or Alive 6 introduces more refined and realistic visual details, including dynamic facial expressions. Notably, DOA6 is also Bloodier and Gorier compared to the previous games, while averting Beauty Is Never Tarnished. Characters make a fierce grimace as they execute combos, sweat is more prominent than in 5, and wounds appear when the characters take damage.
Apart from the visual overhaul, DOA6 features new gameplay mechanics with Fatal Rush and Break Gauge (which introduces the Break Blow and Break Hold mechanics). These are high-powered attacks that require simple commands, but proper timing to be most effective.
The game's playable characters include:
- From Dead or Alive: Kasumi, Ryu Hayabusa, Zack, Jann Lee, Leifang, Ayane, Bayman, Tina Armstrong, Bass Armstrong, Raidou
- From Dead or Alive 2: Hayate, Helena Douglas
- From Dead or Alive 3: Christie, Hitomi, Brad Wong
- From Dead or Alive 4: Kokoro, La Mariposa, Eliot
- From Dead or Alive 5: Rig, Mila, Marie Rose, Honoka
- New to Dead or Alive 6: Diego, NiCO
- From Dead or Alive 5: Nyotengu note , Phase 4 note , Momiji, Rachel
- From Dead or Alive Xtreme: Venus Vacation: Tamaki
- Guest Fighters: Mai Shiranui, Kula Diamond
The game has examples of the following tropes:
- Anachronic Order: The story mode appears to be structured this way, for instance NiCOs part of the prologue doesnt unlock until the D.O.A. tournament begins in chapter 4 of the main story thread.
- Beat the Curse Out of Him: Kasumi's fight with Ayane in the last chapter is basically this when the latter is being controlled by NiCO.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted, or subverted given what the series is known for. Being female will not spare you from having visible injuries from an intense fight.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Visible blood and injuries are the order of the day. Past games earned their M-rating through sex appeal, but this one is earning through intense violence as well. Downplayed for the most part it's small bruises and cuts and only appears after a cinematic Break Blow.
- Bookends: If you know the ending of DOA 1, the final boss fight against Raidou is really something. Even Kasumi herself lampshaded this.
- Clothing Damage: Landing a full cinematic Break Blow will cause your opponent to sustain some damage to their clothes.
- Combo Breaker: Break Holds deal minimal damage, but they counter high, mid, and low strikes, making them versatile.
- Composite Character: This time around, Eliot uses both his own moves and his master Gen Fu's, which actually serves as a Call-Back to Gen Fu stating he'll train his apprentice in his own style back in 5.
- Continuity Cavalcade: The "Unforgettable" stage is a museum that has portions of stages from older parts of the series. Playable areas of the stage include the original Danger Zone, The Miyama from 2, Gambler's Paradise and the staircase from Eternal Helix from 4, and Fuel and Hot Zone from 5. The corridor linking the exhibits together looks like the top level of the Hong Kong DOATEC Headquarters from 3.
- Cameos in pictures include the following:
- From 2: Two fighters in Danger Zone 2 and Tengu in Sacred Miyama.
- From 3: Kasumi and Lei Fang fighting in Snow and Omega in Hellfire.
- From 4: Alpha-152 in Biolab Core.
- From 5: Fighting Entertainment, Street, The Tiger Show, and Zack being fired out of the clown nose cannon from The Show.
- Cameos in pictures include the following:
- Darker and Edgier: Fighters get injured, both male and female alike. Characters are also shown fighting dirty by resorting to using weapons and special attacks (for ninjas), as well as the general powerful blow (for everyone). The tone overall presents itself far more seriously than before.
- Double Unlock: Unlocking more costumes is a two-step process. First, get enough points for it by playing in certain single-player modes and online. Once you gather enough, you then have to go to the Wardrobe and purchase the costume to use it.
- Guest Fighter: Mai Shiranui from The King of Fighters series, who was a guest in 5, returns for this game alongside Kula Diamond from the same franchise.
- Hit Stop: Nail someone with the Break Blow (tied to the Break Gauge) and the camera will zoom in and slow down at the moment you crack them in the jaw, unless it's Marie Rose or NiCO.
- Lag Cancel: Break Blows can be cancelled after the initial hit, before the cinematic plays, allowing players to extend their combos, while benefiting from the Fatal Stun that prevents the opponent from using normal counter holds.
- Limit Break: Replacing 5's Power system is a Break system, which functions similarly to super systems of most other fighting games. Each player has a meter that fills by taking and dealing damage, and when it's full they can execute a powerful Break Blow.
- Ornamental Weapon: Averted for the first time with the ninja characters who can now use their weapons such as swords and kunai during matches. Played straight with Rachel who wears a sword on her hip that she cannot use during gameplay.
- Palette Swap: Many of the characters' costumes are recolors of other costumes they already have. Some DLC costumes for the new characters are palette swaps of costumes that other characters had in DOA5 (one example of this is Tamaki wearing the same style of school uniform as Mila).
- Reality Ensues: After Tina announced in her DOA5 ending that she was going to run for governor, Zack points out that she doesn't meet the minimum age requirement.
- Scenery Gorn: The street fighting stage looks downright hostile to be in, but is still rendered in as much loving detail as the rest of the game.
- Scenery Porn: The new engine lends itself to some breathtaking stages such as DOA Coliseum.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: Much like its predecessor, the storyline eventually bottlenecks into the ninjas and a few others.
- Take That!: Team Ninja reminding fans that frame data in this game is absolutely FREE and is also included FREE in Core Fighters. This directly throwing shade at Tekken 7's frame data for being paid DLC in Season 3.
- Tamer and Chaster: Though fanservice is still present, it's not being treated as the primary focus of the game. Zig-zagged because the outfits that allow for more fanservice are still available, but they must be unlocked by the player by achieving objectives.
- World of Action Girls: Being a series know for their girls' predominance, the females outnumber their male counterparts by a near 2:1 ratio.