How Tekken 8 Brings The Fight To You

This ain't your average fighting game!

We first got our hands-on with the hugely-anticipated Tekken 8 this past March, where we got a preview of the Heat System that is new to the series this time around. Heat can be activated once per round for 10 seconds, providing a power burst in attacks as well as causing damage even when blocking. Heat can be activated in one of two ways; the first being Heat Burst, which is set up with a slam attack and is a simple button press.

The second is Heat Engager, where Heat will activate mid-combo and cause your character to dash forward, engaging in a faster and more aggressive attack. But the Heat state doesn’t end there; leading to more tactical advantages such as the Heat Smash which utilises the entire gauge to deal major damage, or the Heat Dash which continues your speed into combos and makes your opponent extremely vulnerable. Regardless of how you use it, the Heat System is a guaranteed game-changer that can turn the tide of a match instantly.

When the Heat System was first previewed it did seem that the game had skewed heavily towards the attacker, preventing those with a defensive style to have to rethink their entire strategy – but credit to Bandai Namco throughout all of their testing and feedback, to be able to balance the game out between attacking and defending and really allow the new features to shine without breaking the game. Despite taking damage while defending, the Heat System can be blocked or parried like most other attacks, and skilled players will be able to punish those who leave their recovery frames open post-attack.

In tandem with the Recoverable Gauge feature which allows you to recover portions of health that haven’t completely been beaten out of you, Tekken 8’s deeper fighting mechanisms make for a more rewarding and enjoyable experience in close matches. Combine all of this with the Rage system introduced in Tekken 6, and Rage Arts introduced in Tekken 7, and you’re not truly out of a match until you hear the announcer call K.O.

Tekken 8 also introduces the Special Style for new players, simplifying the control scheme to single buttons for recommended moves and combos. Like most fighting games, Tekken’s standard control scheme is easy to learn but difficult to master, and Special Style keeps the fun in the game while removing a certain degree of difficulty to execute combos and attacks. The best part of it is that it doesn’t need to be selected for an entire session and can be adapted on the fly – so if you find that you just can’t pull off that combo to get yourself back into the match, simply pressing a button or trigger switches the control style over.

The layout also adjusts depending on what state your character is in (Heat, Rage, etc) to ensure you’re not falling behind. Just be wary of your button-mashing, as a few times in my frustration with characters I didn’t know, I mashed buttons and ended up with Special Style on, leading me to lose even worse as I’d forgotten how to change it back.

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With Arcade Quest and Super Ghost Battle, you can continue to deepen your expertise in controlling your favourite fighters. Arcade Quest gives you a rundown on performing certain moves (though you can skip the tutorials) and sings your praises when you do things correctly or manage to pull off something difficult. Transferring this into Super Ghost Battle, the AI of the game learns how you fight and creates a ghost based on your style which can then be downloaded by other players to fight against. I play as Jack-8 with a consistent barrage of powerful attacks and low sweeps to see if I can knock a player off guard, and coming up against myself in battle after teaching the AI was a very strange feeling – essentially knowing what I play like but having to find ways to counter it with other characters feels very rewarding.

Ghosts are not a new thing for Tekken – any online-connected console would show you other players’ ghosts in various offline or online modes, but the AI learning exactly how you fight and including your quirks is definitely a big step in the right direction, especially with the lack of arcades and public testing compared to previous years.

The game goes a step further with its Practice mode, allowing targeted attacks and blocks to get you thinking frames ahead and avoid being punished. Practice mode for me was always about trying to pull off the 10-hit combos, and eventually just sticking with the silliest-looking moves or seeing how much damage I can deal, but Tekken 8 wants to reward you for any steps you take in advancing your skills. It’s scary how good some of the modes are when it comes to fighting against the CPU, and how difficult it can get when the CPU learns from you and acts like a human player, so you have to evolve with the game to get better.

As a long-standing fan of the Tekken series, I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited for a release as Tekken 8. It’s clear that it aims to welcome new and veteran players alike into an experience unlike anything you’ve had before, with tons of different modes and content. The hard part now is the wait until its release, only to get excited again when we see the roadmap for future characters. Get ready for the next battle!

Tekken 8 launches on January 26th for PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC. Standard and Ultimate editions are available to pre-order here.