Tekken 8 Preview – Demonstrating High-Fidelity Fun

Tekken 8 Final Preview

For as long as my memory serves me, fighting games have held a special place in my heart. Whether engaging in spirited battles against family members during gatherings, challenging friends in dark arcades, or facing off against the CPU in an offline mode, the exhilarating intensity of competition in fighting games has been a constant source of joy. Throughout the years, various fighting games spanning different sub-genres have managed to capture my attention, and the latest addition to that esteemed list is none other than Tekken 8.

Having participated in a prior preview event and the Closed Beta Test, I recently had the opportunity to experience the evolution of Tekken 8 over the past year during a preview event held in early December. In addition to Versus Mode, I also had the chance to play Story Mode, Arcade Quest, Super Ghost Battle, and Tekken Ball, now with the privilege of exploring the full character roster. My focus, however, was primarily on the new characters introduced for Tekken 8: Azucena, Reina, and Victor.

A consistent thought lingers with each session I spend playing Tekken 8 — the gameplay is simply enjoyable. Irrespective of the match outcome, I find myself having a blast every time. At the heart of all games, especially in the realm of fighting games, the emphasis should be on fun, and it is evident that Bandai Namco Studios has successfully achieved this delicate balance. As a gamer who revels in fighting games but grapples with the time commitment required for mastery, the Special Style of controls provided me with a seamless entry point, making it easy to dive in with any character and understand their playstyle before committing more time.

Something Special

Essentially, the Special Style of controls assigns each button to a recommended move or combo that adapts based on a character’s state. For those who prefer traditional controls and seek more freedom, the Arcade Style remains available. What’s noteworthy is the seamless switch between the two styles with a single button, offering players the flexibility to choose their preferred approach in any given scenario. In a discussion with Kohei Ikeda, the game director, and Michael Murray, the producer, it was noted that the feedback from closed tests prompted an expansion of the Special Style controls to include more actions. This enhancement provides greater flexibility to players using this style, ensuring that both control styles function adequately.

While the Special Style facilitates easy entry and success, it’s impossible to ignore the inherently rewarding nature of Tekken 8’s gameplay and its feedback loop. Initially grappling with the challenges posed by the Normal difficulty, by the end of my session, I found myself achieving success even on the highest difficulty level in Versus Mode. The satisfaction of ascending ranks after triumphant matches further reinforces the sense of improvement. Although I don’t consider myself to even be “good” at fighting games, the palpable progress I felt match after match was undeniable.

Exploring the various game modes, several thoughts crossed my mind. The Story Mode, with only a glimpse of the early chapters, proved to be highly engaging. As someone with limited Tekken narrative knowledge, I found it remarkably easy to immerse myself in the Tekken 8 story. Arcade Quest, a single-player experience with a meta, arcade-style narrative, provides newer players with additional offline content without thrusting them into competitive play immediately.

Intriguing Super Ghost Battle

Super Ghost Battle emerged as perhaps the most intriguing mode, as the game learns from your tendencies to create a Ghost that you and others can face. This Ghost evolves using AI learning from your fights, allowing you to track your improvement over time. Finally, Tekken Ball makes a triumphant return, requiring players to attack a ball that releases accumulated damage if not properly blocked or returned. Initially conceived as a mini-game for aerial juggle practice, Tekken Ball serves as both a valuable training tool and a welcome break from intense battles.

With the Closed Network Test and Closed Beta Tests now completed, Tekken 8 looms on the horizon. If you remain undecided, I strongly recommend checking out the Tekken 8 demo before the official launch in January 2024. Personally, I eagerly anticipate the final build of the game, marking it as one of my most-awaited titles for the coming year.