The game features 22 playable characters and many multi-tiered and interactive fighting arenas. There are six modes in the game. Story Mode offers the player to play with the character and learn its backstory. In Time Attack, the player must defeat a set amount of opponents in the shortest possible time. In Survival mode, they player must defeat many opponents as possible. Team Battle has a team of characters fighting each other, and there is a total of 8 characters on each side. Versus mode depicts two players fighting each other, without needing to plug in the second controller. Players cannot select Tag Battle but it is still available for use by selecting Time Attack, Survival or Versus. DOA Online, available via Xbox Live, is similar to the Versus mode.
DOA4 has a number of updates in reference to previous titles. Characters' move lists have been vastly updated and four new characters have been added to the fighting roster, with returns from a couple of past characters as well. The counter system has been tightened, making the window for counters shorter and more difficult to execute, and the amount of damage that counters inflict has been changed.