Tekken 8 Preview
Fighting games have always been around, but you could make a case that they are as popular as ever. The Tekken series, originating back in 1994, is an immovable force in the fighting game space. It holds the Guinness World Records for Longest-Running Videogame Storyline and Longest-Running 3D Fighting Videogame Franchise. You could also argue that the franchise’s contemporary popularity exploded with the recent Tekken 7. Now Bandai Namco looks to push the envelope even more with Tekken 8.
We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go hands-on with Tekken 8 at a recent event. Boy, is it shaping up to be a banger. As the first major fighting game to utilize Unreal Engine 5, the game looked spectacular off the bat and performed very well in its current build. At a high-level, Tekken 8 looks and plays like an extremely entertaining action movie. We went hands-on with every single character, including the just-announced return of Ling Xiaoyu. With the new Special Mode of controller style, it is easier than ever to try each character competently.
The Special Mode of controller style builds on Tekken 7’s Assist Button feature, allowing players to toggle the function to enable a set of moves depending on the current situation, such as whether the player is in the air or on the ground. This made it easy to play relatively competitive matches with players at a somewhat higher skill level while making the matches more visually striking as well. While there is always a discussion about a feature like the Special Mode, it made uneven matches more enjoyable but should be a relatively non-factor at high levels of competition as players will know what to expect, and playing without the Special Mode allows for greater control and precision.
That said, I started off my gameplay session with the Special Mode toggled on while trying out each character. Over time, I began trying characters without the Special Mode, and the matches were still enjoyable. I found that some characters were much easier to use than others, which required the Special Mode to effectively utilize. Personally, I enjoyed using Ling Xiaoyu and Jun Kazama the most given my ability to chain together combinations smoothly. Whether I had the Special Mode toggled on or off, matches were incredibly enjoyable and remained close. Though my opponent and I traded win streaks, each match was relatively close, and most rounds were as well.
Coming into my hands-on session with Tekken 8, I would have considered myself a relatively casual fighting game player, having played many fighting games over the years from a variety of series, but never diving in too deeply. Tekken 8 made me feel right at home with the genre, making it extremely easy to hop in and play fun matches. Though I probably lost more than I won, I could feel the improvement in my abilities as each match went on. I would say that the game is extremely enjoyable to watch, and more importantly, simply fun to play.
One of the new features of Tekken 8 is the Recovery Gauge. It allows players to attack their opponents in order to recover health back to a certain point. This was interesting to me because it encourages aggressiveness from players, going back to Tekken 8’s main theme. This also made fights a lot more interesting as it allows for some bigger swings in momentum either way. Likewise, the new Heat System also allows for greater strategy and potential swings in battle. With the ability to turn on a 10-second burst of the Heat System with either a button press or a specific move, players can utilize yet another meter to achieve victory.
While Tekken 8 does not yet have an official release date, the game is sure shaping up to be another exciting entry not only to the Tekken franchise but to the entire fighting game community. In a brief conversation with Katsuhiro Harada, he mentioned his desire to be known as the world’s biggest fighting game fan. We feel that that desire has helped to put Tekken 8 in a great position to advance the genre to the masses.