Pro-Pain Bear: The mighty Zangief returns in Street Fighter 6

street fighter 6 zangief trailer capcom

The Iron Body steps back into the ring

Last week’s Sony State of Play presentation was notable for its gameplay reveal of the final three characters joining the launch roster of Capcom’s great-looking punchfest, Street Fighter 6 — And alongside the ever-popular Cammy and cutesy new gal Lily, we also saw the return of a true Street Fighter veteran, the wrestler with an iron body and a golden heart: Zangief.

Hailing from Russia, Zangief made his debut as one of the iconic eight playable characters in 1991’s groundbreaking Street Fighter II: The World Warriors. As the key grappler for that game, Zangief made a name for himself with his violent array of throws, dizzying airborne headbutt, and one of the most famous moves in fighting game history, the Spinning Piledriver. Zangief has since appeared in almost every Street Fighter title to date, and is still considered the de facto grappler of the series, eschewing speed and mobility for the ability to crush a cornered opponent with ease.

Thanks to the power of Street Fighter 6‘s RE engine, the Russian powerhouse is looking better than ever.

While still retaining his instantly identifiable shape and trademark beard/mohawk combo, SF6 Zangief is designed in such a way that truly capitalizes on the new engine, turning him into an almost amorphous mass of muscle tissue and Scott Steiner veins. Additionally, the animation on his range of throws is stupendous, with his standard Body Slam and German Suplex maneuvers having an amazing sense of weight and inertia to them. Of course, his gravity-defying supers are present and correct, including his devastating piledriver and double suplex. New additions include a wall-bounce-inducing standing dropkick, a hammer blow Drive Impact attack, and Goldberg’s trademark finisher, the Jackhammer.

We do not know what role Zangief has to play in the world of Street Fighter 6, but our boy has generally always fought on the side of good… well, save for a short period in the Street Fighter movie. A man who only lived for strength and power, the later years have softened Zangief somewhat, and seen him gladly share his knowledge and wisdom with younger fighters such as R. Mika and Laura Matsuda, while forming an allyship with sumo E. Honda, with whose power and form Zangief deeply respects.

Street Fighter 6 launches on PlayStation, PC, and Xbox June 2, 2023. Be sure to check out our other reports on ManonMarisaJ.P.Dee Jay, Lily, and Cammy, as well as 50 things I loved about the beta, our thoughts on how the game is shaping up, and a list of Do’s and Do Not Do’s for the new sequel.

Chris Moyse
Senior Editor - Chris has been playing video games since the 1980s and writing about them since the 1880s. Graduated from Galaxy High with honors. Twitter: @ChrisxMoyse