game preview2023 promises to be a big year for fighting game enthusiasts. After a period of shortage, new episodes arrive for the undisputed top 3 of the genre: Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Tekken. We recently tested the 8th edition of the latter and experienced firsthand that offense really is the best defense.

Like most long-running fighting games, Tekken’s origins go back to the arcade. In Japan, each new episode still appears there and even precedes the home console version. The first in the series dates back to 1994. Now, 50 million copies later and 8 years after the well-deserved success of its predecessor Tekken 7, there will be a number 8. You have to give it to the developers of this genre: they don’t force the fans every year to a next edition.

Colorful and blue… and fuchsia, gold,…

Sometimes it seems like these games are populated by a gang of eccentric masked wannabe singers. Exotic figures made of muscles, graceful breasts, and a handful of lugubrious dialogue lines. That is completely correct. But just like the over the top violence with which they attack each other, none of the millions of fans care about a single idiot. After all, they are too busy with extremely precisely timed attacks, parries, and counterattacks. With the tactical use of special combos and training your muscle memory for dozens of moves, which also differ for each character you play.

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© Bandai Namco

More than a cosmetic update

All of that (including that wrong dialogue) is also present in ‘Tekken 8’. The basic formula is largely retained, but the differences are certainly not trivial. First of all, there is the switch to a new technical engine that makes this edition a visual gem and therefore immediately reserved exclusively for PC, PS5 and Xbox Series S / X. A considerable cosmetic improvement, but in the end that will also be the worst for enthusiasts. They especially hope that the new ‘Heat system’ means a big step forward.

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© Bandai Namco

the attacker wins

You can also literally take that step forward. Because that ‘heat system’, along with a few other tweaks to known fighting game mechanics, is all about aggressive, offensive gameplay. Heat represents a temporary state that each player can activate once per round, granting them additional or special hitting power. That heat state’s timer runs out in about ten seconds, but can be stopped (and thus extended) with each successful hit or block. The Heat state also grants access to one or two ultra moves, depending on whether you activate it by pressing a button or through one of Heat Engager’s five special moves, again unique to each ruff.

bandai namco
© Bandai Namco

break rust

The Rage system is also back. A classic that allows you to activate an all or nothing super counter when your health bar is almost empty. Guaranteed show! Tension too, because it can go in any direction for both parties. Another old acquaintance: the recovery indicator, with which you can recover a part of the damage suffered recently. Only you don’t do that anymore in ‘Tekken 8’ by not taking any hits for a while, but rather by hitting life and opposition members yourself. The umpteenth mechanism with which the game encourages offensive play.

bandai namco
© Bandai Namco

That “only” friend can now also play along

One last cool thing is that you can switch to a control called ‘Special Style’ at any time. This makes it much easier for the beginner or clearly outmatched player to master the more complex combos. A choice that would also have been made to persuade veterans to try out the other characters in addition to their favorite two or three and thus convince them of their potential more quickly. We primarily see it as a way to keep players of different levels engaged during ‘couch co-op’.

bandai namco
© Bandai Namco

Spectator sport

Even after thirty sessions with ten characters, we have few real criticisms of ‘Tekken 8’. The game actually seems to be almost done, though behind the scenes there are probably still a few things to tweak to get that balance just right. Especially considering the growing esports side of the “Tekken” story. The creators also know very well that today’s games are more than just a spectator sport and have ensured with light colors and other effects in ‘Tekken 8’ that not only the players but also the spectators always have a perfect idea of what is the course to the match. Because he can repeatedly do a brutal 180-degree turn over the course of a match.

bandai namco
© Bandai Namco

‘Tekken 8’ will be released later this year for PC, PS5 and Xbox Series S / X