Tekken 8 Review


Fighting game fans have been eating incredibly well over the past year. 2 of the big 3 in the genre have already received their latest entries and now rounding out the bunch is the latest entry in one of my favourite gaming franchises, Tekken 8. The game features a huge range of modes to provide a diverse fighting experience to match what you feel like playing on any particular day. And whether your a Tekken veteran or jumping into the franchise for the first time, Tekken 8 offers so many amazing features that will help onboard players into the latest entry and also help them continue to improve, regardless of their current skill level. Tekken 8 is not only a great next step for the Tekken franchise, it’s highlights Bandai Namco’s love for the fighting community, welcoming new players and a passion to push the genre forward.

Tekken 8 Review

Upon booting up Tekken 8 you’re hit with one of its greatest features. Player choice. With each session you play, you’re able to jump in and get out of Tekken 8 exactly what you want at any given moment. Want to experience the next step in the long running story? Go for it. Want to jump into arcade mode or complete each fighter’s Character Episode? You can do so. Feel like battling others or participating in ranked fights online? It’s there. Ready to take the next step and work on getting better with a character, or perhaps learn a new one? Practise mode is there to help. Or perhaps you are feeling like something a little more light hearted and fun? Tekken Ball is back and has you covered there. Most of the modes themselves also offer choice too of whether you want to play against the game’s CPU characters or locally against others.

I’ve been a long time fan of the Tekken series, so my first port of call when a new entry launches is to typically jump into the main story and check out where the latest journey takes all of the characters. Tekken 8’s story mode is titled The Dark Awakens and plays out across 15 highly cinematic chapters that cover the initial setup of the main conflict (something you may have already experienced if you’ve played the demo), the new King of Iron Fist Tournament and a high stakes third act that ends with a reveal that is definitely going to have big impacts on the future of the series. The storyline of Tekken has always had a focus on the Mishima bloodline to an extent, but I’d say Tekken 8 is probably focused on this area of the lore to the highest degree. It’s highly focussed around Jin Kazama, and while you don’t exclusively play just as him during the story, for a good portion of it, it is told from his perspective and when you’re not playing as him, the story is still focussed around him. It may not be good news if you’re not to invested in Jin or the Mishima family conflict but given it’s only a few hours long, has some incredible setpieces, animation and cinematics that look incredible on PS5 and provides plenty of in-game unlocks. It’s something I recommend all players experience at least once. The mode does offer some gameplay change-ups I won’t spoil, so not being just traditional fights did surprise me a little but overall I would have loved a main story that was structured a little more like the recent Mortal Kombat games which are still chapter based, but the chapters each focus on a different character’s input to the overarching main story to let us see a little more into the lives of others during this time period given that we probably won’t get another entry in the Tekken series and more new story until close to 2030.

Tekken 8 Review

Character Episodes are a great way to experience a little more of each character’s personality and is where you’ll be able to unlock each character’s Character Movie. As per Tekken norm, these movies are all entertaining and range from being a cool interaction with another character, an action packed conflict and yes there are plenty of silly ones that let the humorous side of Tekken still shine through. The Character Episodes consist of 5 rounds of battles, they’re not random either which I loved, the characters you go up against have some kind of link or conflict with the player character and upon finishing you’ll unlock coins to spend in the areas of the game you can purchase upgrades etc and the Character Movie. Each character has their own Episode and being just 5 battles long they can be beaten in around 10 minutes each which makes this mode something easy to jump in and out of when needed.

Outside of the traditional modes we have come to expect in a Tekken game, Tekken 8 features a new mode called Arcade Quest. This is a new single player mode where you’ll control your own custom created chibi-style avatar and participate in a wide array of battles against other CPU opponents. The mode itself does have a story of sorts that you’re participating in but is nothing in comparison to the action and the high stakes featured within The Dark Awakens. Arcade Quest is a callback to celebrating the local arcade scene where your character will progress through a story that sees you rising through the ranks of multiple arcade locations and also allows for the unlocking of new gear and the in-game currency that can be used to buy further customisations and items from the Gallery area of the game. It’s a fun addition and offers more to do. It’s also a mode that I think over the years may see new quests, gear and guests pop up within to keep the mode alive as the game continues to evolve.

Tekken 8 Review

Introduced in Tekken 8 are a couple of new features that are really going to change up the way you approach the biggest aspect of the game. The fighting. Tekken 8 introduces a Heat System, a mechanic that is built around being aggressive in battle and comes with its own layer of risk and reward. You can activate this mode at any time in battle by pressing R1 (or the shoulder bumper equivalent on other systems) or by performing a Heat Engager move in your combo. When activated it allows all your moves to do chip damage to opponents and also opens up new combo routes. Activating Heat mode again whilst already activated will perform a Hit Smash combo that can be combined with Heat Dashing. Doing this does completely deplete your Heat Gauge but can be activated at any stage while you still have meter, so picking the right time to pump out a Hit Smash can make or break your strategy as the Heat activation can only be performed once per round, but as mentioned can be activated at any time during the round, and it resets on round completion so it’s a good idea to use it as needed in each round.

The other big combat change up comes with the introduction of Special Style. This is an optional new control scheme that can be activated or deactivated in combat at any time by pressing L1 (or controller equivalent). This scheme allows you to perform combos, special attacks and low attacks and throws very simply, typically with the press of a single button and can perform variations on these move types by integrating a movement direction at the same time as the button press. It can be fully turned off if you prefer and I know many experienced players with probably call it cheating but I think it’s an awesome new feature that will help bring new players up to speed quicker with the wider mechanics of Tekken and has been designed so that you can learn new characters quickly, or at least be competent with someone you’ve never used as it lets you more focus on positioning and timing rather than having to memorise a whole new suite of combo button presses.

Tekken 8 Review

Another area of the game that really impressed me was the introduction of Ghost Battle and its related features. Tekken 8 uses AI and machine learning to provide a unique type of challenge, help you progress to being a better fighter and also pushes the fighting game genre forward as I haven’t seen this kind technology implemented in this way and with this intent in the past. You’re able to play a few rounds so that the system can learn how you play and then actually fight against a Ghost of yourself, allowing you to essentially fight a digital copy of how you would play, letting you overcome yourself and spot your flaws and opportunities. You can even download CPU Ghosts that have been designed by the Tekken developers and even the Ghosts of other high ranking players. I can see that in the years going forward you could potentially download and play against the best of the best in the world using a replicated Ghost of their data when the yearly Tekken Championships happen etc. Each character is able to have their own individual Ghost profile so the system is able to learn exactly how you play each person in the roster and use that against you. It’s a really creative feature and yet another system that Tekken 8 utilises to try and make you a better player and closing your skill gaps.

And on that same beat, Tekken 8 also features a more traditional Practise Mode too. Letting you practise new characters, combos and strategies against a practise enemy that is CPU controlled, but thanks to the deep customisation menu you can tweak the kinds of moves the enemy can do so you can focus on a particular type of counter or have them do nothing and essentially be a practise dummy. The practise Replays area allows you to rewatch your own saved replays and the game will actually pause and offer suggestions and tips during the replay where it has analysed potential improvements for your playstyle. You can even download the replay data of high ranked players to analyse how they play. There are also Combo Challenges you can progress throug to help you learn the basics and then higher level skills of individual characters along with the aforementioned AI Ghosts so that you can always be bettering yourself. I can’t overstate how much I loved how much of Tekken 8 was designed around making you a better player and offering up varied ways in which you can work on your areas of opportunity to become a better fighter.

Tekken 8 Review

Final Thoughts

There’s a reason that many in the fighting community say that Tekken is the best 3D fighting game and this is another incredible entry in the series. Not only does it have an impressive launch roster of 32 characters at launch that each feel different from one another and cover a wide range of fighting styles, you also have the ability to customise their appearance using the game’s slew of unlockable cosmetic items if you’re into that too. Tekken 8 feels great to play and has never looked better too, being a great showpiece for the power of Unreal 5 for fighting titles. Where the game really shines is in its player onboarding. Whether you’re an experienced Tekken player or someone brand new to the series, the suite of options available to learn to be a better player are the best I’ve seen in the genre. It shows a real love to its community and the passion to see it grow. There was only a limited window during the review period where online functionality was enabled, but during that time the game performed as expected and I didn’t encounter any noticeable issues that hindered my overall experience. This may be something I return to and update in this review if it does become something worth praising or critiquing more as it opens to the public and I’m able to play more matches. But if you’re on the fence about picking up Tekken 8, don’t be. There is so much here to match players of all skill types and various modes to be able to offer something entertaining for you to do whether you want a game session that is 10 minutes or 10 hours long.

A Tekken 8 review code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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Played On: PS5

  • + New systems that make Tekken feel fresh while also welcoming
  • + So many modes to sink your teeth into
  • + Wide roster of launch characters
  • + Amazing onboarding and progression options for players of all skill levels

  • - Would have loved the main story to spend more time with a wider array of characters

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