It’s the 30th anniversary of the Tekken franchise, and there’s no better way to celebrate it than to release a new Tekken game. Looking back on the series, Tekken has grown much since the first title’s release in 1994. The gameplay evolved, the story reached new heights, and the visuals continued to be breathtaking. Moreover, the success of Tekken 7 has drawn in a large wave of new fans. Now that Tekken 8 is officially here, fans hope Bandai Namco took a lengthy review of where Tekken 7 succeeded and failed.
The past few years have been bustling with new fighting games, each pushing the boundaries of the genre in their unique ways. It’s been seven years since the release of Tekken 7, and the pressure was on for Bandai Namco to deliver a new installment for the franchise’s 30th anniversary that would advance the genre and evolve the Tekken series. I’m happy to say that Tekken 8 is officially here, and as a longtime fan of the series myself, it blew me away.
Short, Yet Amazing Story
Starting off this Tekken 8 review, I want to talk about the story. Stories in fighting games don’t get the credit they deserve. These narratives allow players to dive into the game’s world and characters, treating it as more than just a competitive game. When you choose a character in a fighting game, you often pick who you liked most in the story. Experiencing the narrative for yourself is a great way to enhance your experience with the game. But, for longtime series like Tekken, new players might struggle to understand events in the story that need more context. Luckily, Tekken 8 does a great job in this area!
Tekken 8 is very friendly to both new and returning players. It doesn’t just drop you into the story without background information. The game’s gallery has a complete recap of the entire Tekken saga waiting for you to experience. It features seven videos that briefly explain the plot of the past seven games. With this feature, players can easily understand the story and enjoy Tekken 8‘s narrative. Moreover, in the story itself, characters give context to events that happened in previous games, so you’re never lost. As a new player, you’ll follow along just fine.
Moving to the story mode itself, it’s a real treat! The narrative consists of thrilling fights, breathtaking cutscenes, and moments that’ll tug at your heartstrings. It’s a masterpiece for both new and die-hard Tekken fans. Additionally, there is a separate mode where you can play different character episodes that show off each character’s story. They all have unique endings with beautiful CGI cutscenes that display the characters’ stories well. Short but sweet, this story mode stands out strongly among the recently released fighting games.
Displaying a Journey Beyond the Fight
Fighting games are more than just battles; they represent a journey of growth for the player. The people you encounter online or at offline tournaments become your friends, rivals, and sometimes enemies. Unfortunately, not every player gets to experience this due to various constraints like being unable to attend offline tournaments, lacking online play options, or not having a group of friends to play with. Tekken 8 addresses this gap with its unique Arcade Quest mode. This extra story mode offers players a taste of the competitive fighting game journey, showcasing the progression, challenges, and community aspects that many players cherish.
Arcade Quest in Tekken 8 is a single-player mode where players create their own avatar and experience the journey of progressing through various challenges. It’s designed as an introduction to Tekken 8, helping players learn the game’s basics and advanced techniques while enjoying a unique storyline. As players progress, they face increasingly challenging opponents and unlock customization items for their characters and avatars. This mode serves both as a training ground for newcomers and as a nostalgic trip for veterans, encapsulating the essence of arcade gaming and the vibrant culture it fosters.
Arcade Quest is a thoughtful addition to Tekken 8, resonating with the journey of competitive fighting game players. As a tournament player, I find that this mode captures the essence of the competitive path beautifully. It takes players through the experience of visiting different arcades, meeting various opponents, and improving skills by facing peers and more experienced players. For newcomers, I highly recommend Arcade Quest. It’s not just about learning your character but understanding the depth and commitment needed to master fighting games.
A Blend of Nostalgia and Innovation in Combat Mechanics
In Tekken 8, the classic 3D fighting style is back, with new and old mechanics arriving. ‘Heat Mode’ is a new mechanic that temporarily boosts your characters’ offensive power, allowing players to turn the tide in a fight. You can activate ‘Heat Mode’ by either using ‘Heat Burst’ or ‘Heat Engager’. ‘Heat Burst’ is an easy way to go straight into ‘Heat Mode’ while simultaneously performing an attack that absorbs high or mid attacks from the opponent. On the other hand, ‘Heat Engager’ is a specific move from each character that activates ‘Heat Mode’ upon contact. From there, you can do a ‘Heat Dash’ and go into a combo.
As stated before, after activating ‘Heat Mode’, you gain quite a few benefits. You can use something called ‘Heat Smash’, which is a technique that deals significant damage, and you can combo it from a launcher. Additionally, some moves are enhanced during ‘Heat Mode’, depending on the character. Because ‘Heat Mode’ is temporary, you must learn how to use it wisely, requiring the player to strategize based on the situation.
Depending on what happens in the match, you might also need to use a new mechanic called ‘Special Style’. Like Street Fighter 6‘s modern controls, ‘Special Style’ simplifies the execution of complex combos through more accessible input commands. This feature is designed to make the game approachable for players struggling with traditional, more complex input requirements. This mechanic can be toggled on and off mid-battle, offering flexibility for players during a fight. Sometimes, your main character might not fight well against a particular character, so picking a better character for the matchup along with ‘Special Style’ makes the transition easier for you. This also helps if you are trying to learn a new character, as ‘Special Style’ simplifies the control scheme to where you can get a general idea of how that character plays.
Rage Arts and Slow-Motion Knockouts Are Back!
Additionally, Tekken 8 brings back Rage Arts and slow-motion knockouts from Tekken 7, much to the delight of fans. When your health is low, you can unleash a Rage Art, a powerful attack that sends your opponent flying across the screen. It’s still incredibly awesome to watch the dramatic cutscene unfold when you pull off a Rage Art. Additionally, the much-loved slow-motion knockouts are making a comeback! The slow-motion occurs when both players are in critically low health and about to hit each other. This feature not only excites players but also gets spectators jumping out of their seats, eager to see who will emerge victorious in these nail-biting exchanges.
I really appreciate how Tekken 8 focuses on giving players more chances to change the course of a match. The Heat system and Rage Art mechanic give players the power to swing the momentum in their favor. In fighting games, the shift in momentum is a key element. Watching a player who was once losing make an incredible comeback and win is exciting. These mechanics in Tekken 8 not only add depth to the gameplay but also ensure that matches remain unpredictable and exciting, keeping players and spectators engaged till the very end.
Flawless Online Experience
Rollback netcode has recently become a big deal in the world of fighting games. This beloved netcode predicts players’ inputs to make games run smoothly online. If it guesses wrong, it quickly fixes itself, so players hardly notice any lag. This is really important for games like Tekken, where every frame counts. Tekken 8 has embraced rollback netcode, and from my experience, it’s been nothing short of impressive. When I play Tekken 8 online, every match is just flawless. There are no problems with the game registering my moves, and I don’t encounter any frustrating connection issues. It’s almost like playing the game in the same room with someone.
A really neat feature in Tekken 8 is the Wi-Fi indicator. This shows if the other player is using a Wi-Fi connection. If they are, you can choose not to play with them. This is important because playing with a wired connection usually means a better game for both players. So, with Tekken 8, whether you’re playing on Wi-Fi or wired, the experience is still top-notch. Thankfully, the game is cross-play between console and PC/Steam. You’ll most likely run into a lot of wired users due to a lot of PC players.
Another thing I love about Tekken 8 is how you can pick who you play against online. Before you jump into a match, you can set filters for the kind of connections you want your opponents to have. For example, you can choose to play only with people with a strong connection, like 5 bars, which is the best. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can have no filters at all and play against anyone, regardless of their connection strength. If you’re worried about how Tekken 8 will play online, don’t be. The online experience is fantastic, and the game does a great job of ensuring your matches are as smooth as possible.
A Brand New Online Lobby?!
Tekken 8 introduces the Tekken Fight Lounge, an online avatar lobby where you can meet up with people, play matches, socialize, and do much more. It’s a large area with different locations you can easily fast-travel to from the pause menu. There’s even a dojo area where you can chill in training mode before you plan on playing against others. These areas will consist of many players with awesome avatars that you can approach and talk to at any moment.
Many fighting games recently have implemented online avatar lobbies into their games, but Tekken has never done this before. It’s great to see that Bandai Namco recognizes the appeal of these types of lobbies. They took a nice review at how other fighting games used online lobbies and applied it to Tekken 8. It’s an easy way to make friends and ask for advice after losing against someone. Part of the appeal of fighting games is the helpful and friendly community they foster, so you’ll be sure to enjoy the experience these lobbies provide.
A Plethora of Tools to Train With to Become the Strongest
In Tekken 8, the training mode has really stepped up its game. In Tekken 7′s training mode, you can read frame data, make a dummy character execute attacks, and check out your character’s move list. The same applies to Tekken 8‘s training mode, but there are some cool new things that fans will love. For example, there’s a new mode called ‘Punishment Training’. This feature shows block strings and moves by other characters that are punishable, and the game teaches you how to punish them. This is super helpful for getting better against certain characters in online matches. Also, there are combo challenges and sample combos within the training mode. The game suggests combos for you to learn, so you don’t need to look up basic combos online. The game has it all right there for you!
Have you ever lost a match online and wondered what went wrong? Tekken 8 has an amazing replay system to help with that. When you watch your old matches, the game points out times when you could have punished an attack or used a better combo. Additionally, it lets you practice these moves separately and then jump back into the replay. This is a big help in understanding where you might have missed chances to win. The best part of the replay system is the ‘Take Control’ feature. During a replay, you can take over your character to try different things and see if you could have done better. This replay system is like having a super smart coach right there with you whenever you lose!
Play Data System Is Excellent but Could Use Some Work
Lastly, the ‘Play Data’ system in Tekken 8 is something players trying to get better shouldn’t miss. It shows your win rates on different stages and against different characters. This helps you see where you might struggle, like on a certain stage or against a certain character. The game also keeps track of your battle performance in a menu called ‘Performance Stats’. It rates things like offense, defense, technique, spirit, and appeal. However, some of these stats are a bit unclear. For instance, what exactly does ‘spirit’ mean? And under technique, there’s a row called ‘discerning’, but it’s unclear what this means. If you’re trying to improve in all areas, this can be confusing. I hope Bandai Namco explains these terms better in a future update so players know exactly what to work on to be the best.
A Unique Accessibility Feature For Colorblind Players
Making games accessible to colorblind players has been a growing focus in the gaming community for some time. Many recent video games have introduced features to help players with color vision deficiencies, such as Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part II. These features often include colorblind modes that adjust colors and contrasts, making it easier for players to experience the game. However, this kind of accessibility has been notably absent in fighting games, a genre that relies heavily on visual cues. That is, until the arrival of Tekken 8. This game has broken new ground by introducing features specifically designed for colorblind players, a first in the fighting game genre.
Tekken 8‘s new ‘Color Support’ feature is specifically designed to assist colorblind players. This feature includes two types of filters: a mask filter and a color filter. The color filter allows players to change the overall color scheme of the screen in various ways, with adjustments available for the intensity of these colors. It caters to all types of color blindness, ensuring that colorblind players can enjoy the game comfortably. Additionally, the mask filter offers the flexibility to change not just the color of the characters but also the background color of the stages and the outlines of different items within them. Options for outlines include white and black, and players can choose backgrounds that are all black, all gray, or all white. Customize your settings to whatever is comfortable for you!
Tekken 8 Wants YOU To Have Fun
Tekken 8‘s character customization offers various options for personalizing your fighters. You can change everything from their body to their clothes and accessories. This feature lets you see your character in action, using the model viewer to display their match intros and outros with your customizations. A standout addition is unique accessories for each character. For instance, you can give Kazuya his iconic ‘Evil Eye’ for a sharper look. Remember, these custom items aren’t free, so you’ll need to use the fight money earned from playing the game. Be sure to save up for those special accessories to make your character look stylish!
The beloved jukebox feature from Tekken 7 returns in Tekken 8, and it is huge! It’s packed with songs from the entire Tekken series, from Tekken 1 all the way to Tekken 8. You can choose to listen to soundtracks from a specific Tekken game or create your own playlist, mixing songs from various games. It’s the 30th anniversary of the franchise, so this is a great way to get into the Tekken spirit!
‘Tekken Ball’, the fan-favorite mode from Tekken 3, is back and as fun as ever. Players use their characters’ moves to hit a ball back and forth in this mode. Be careful, though, as getting hit by the ball causes damage. The match ends when one player loses all their health or has less health than their opponent when time runs out. For those wondering, you can indeed play Tekken Ball online in the Tekken Fight Lounge’s Beach Area. Just sit next to your friend at an arcade cabinet and dive into an intense and hilarious game of Tekken Ball!
Tekken 8 Is Everything Fans Asked For and Much More!
During the writing of this Tekken 8 review, I was absolutely impressed. Bandai Namco went above and beyond to deliver an experience that would satisfy Tekken fans of all types. If you want to be a strong player in Tekken 8, there are plenty of tools to help guide you on that path. If you aren’t interested in competition and only want to play offline modes, you have so many options to choose from. The strategic combat system and the fantastic rollback netcode make the game comfortable and enjoyable to experience. The state that Tekken 8 is in right now is something that all fighting games should strive to achieve in their launch form. I think the game could improve the ‘Performance Stats’ menu to make it less vague, but other than that, Tekken 8 is a perfect fighting game!
Also, if you are planning on trying the game out on Steam Deck, check out our guide on it before you install it:
Bandai Namco provided Final Weapon with a PlayStation 5 copy of Tekken 8 for review purposes.