It’s hard to believe that TEKKEN 7 has been around for almost 9 years and still has a devout playerbase. TEKKEN fans will be pleased to know that TEKKEN 8 is finally here and it’s every bit as great as its predecessor. In fact, saying that is an understatement, since it seriously raises the bar for fighting games in general and truly excels as a TEKKEN title.
So what exactly makes the game so good and is it worth picking up at launch?
TEKKEN 8 follows on from the events of TEKKEN 7 so there are some mild story spoilers to follow so if you want to go in blind! In short, Kazuya defeats his father Heihachi Mishima and continues his global conquest using G Corporation. However, this isn’t the end of everything as we know it because Jin is still around and he has a score to settle. TEKKEN 8 is very newcomer-friendly since it includes various story scenes which can be viewed from the gallery. These recap the story so far and help onboard new players into the franchise’s rich history.
Additionally, Bandai Namco have also uploaded a recap video onto YouTube which covers the events of the previous games in around 5 minutes. It’s narrated by Brian Cox, I highly recommend giving this a watch before diving into the game.
TEKKEN 8’s story is about what you’d expect from the series, but they’ve really dialed things up a notch with regards to the cinematic flare applied. The intro scene alone is enough to grip you and, without spoiling too much, the rest of the game follows through with some entertaining fights and plenty of absurd visual spectacle.
Moving on to the gameplay, TEKKEN 8 slightly changes up the formula by introducing a new mechanic known as “Heat”. This new system allows players to trigger an enhanced fighting state before pulling off extremely flashy and powerful moves against your opponent. Of course, they can do the same thing too and this makes for some very intense fights. Each character in the game will be able to use the Heat system and you can use it offensively or defensively in battles.
While in the Heat state, you can recover a portion of your health and pull off an attack that ends the heat state while dealing massive damage to your opponent. As a result, victory in TEKKEN 8 is not just about timing blocks and landing attacks on your opponent, but also using the Heat state effectively in both an offensive and defensive capacity to hold out or turn the tide.
Successful fighting games tend to be either extremely complex or extremely simple, but TEKKEN strikes the perfect balance of both, with the game now including a “Special Style” mode that can be toggled on or off in battle. This mode allows newcomers to the franchise or those unfamiliar with fighting game mechanics to still enjoy the game since it massively simplifies how the game plays.
While using the special style controls, you can simply press any of the face buttons on your controller to trigger a special move or a combo attack. You can then string together combos fluidly without worrying too much about more complex button inputs. This is truly great for those who have issues with more hardcore combos, while not detracting from the game in any way. If you don’t want to use the special style, you can simply choose not to toggle it on and continue to play the game with the more technical button inputs listed in the move’s list.
Another highlight is how each character in TEKKEN 8 plays differently. Yoshimitsu can still use his sword in flashy combos, while Xiaoyu’s “Phoenix style” attacks flow together perfectly while dealing tons of damage. Players can easily spend hours and hours getting to know their favourite characters and how each character plays and responds to other characters in match ups is a huge part of the competitive scene. TEKKEN 8 is going to keep gamers enthralled with its hefty roster of 32 playable characters.
It helps no end that each character in also looks fantastic and is quite customizable. In fact, the entire game looks visually stunning with Unreal Engine 5 powered graphics. You can really see the love and care put into this game with character models that are incredibly detailed. Attack animations feel great and the effects have really been amped up, with destructible environments and special attacks that both look and feel great to pull off.
There’s 16 different arenas to fight in, each one featuring a lot of additional environmental embellishments that make them feel more alive – such as a mountaintop arena where alpacas are walking around while you’re battling adding that little bit extra to the scene.
Multiple game modes
The game modes on offer in TEKKEN 8 also offer a lot of longevity and “Tekken Ball” makes a triumphant return. In this mode, players are only be able to deal damage to their opponent by smashing a ball into them. It makes fights a completely different affair where you have to focus on a ball instead of your opponent themselves. Players are definitely going to have a ton of fun playing this mode, especially if you played the original Tekken Ball mode way back in the TEKKEN 3 days.
The TEKKEN 8 Arcade mode features a cartoony customizable avatar and a side story to that involves fighting through literal TEKKEN arcades – a great mode to assist newcomers to the franchise while learning how to play with multiple fighters. This mode is great fun and has a tonne of unlockables to obtain which scratches the sense of achievement itch. There’s also character episodes dedicated to specific characters that expand upon the story of main game, and for professionals, the “Super Ghost Battle” mode, once unlocked, allows them to fight against their own fighting data, or the data of others, for even more of a challenge.
Lastly, the Versus and Practice modes round off the package and will be a staple of the fighting game community and those who enjoy couch coop. The Practice mode in particular is the place where most gamers will find themselves dedicating time to learning how to pull off the best combos before moving to the online scene. Of course, match ups online against human opponents will often depend upon your internet connection as much as your skill, so your mileage with these modes will vary.
TEKKEN 8 features voice acting in a variety of different languages, with each character using their own language from the region they hail. It’s a nice touch and TEKKEN 7 did the same, so anything less here would feel like a downgrade. The voice acting is great with characters sounding believable despite the ridiculous premise. TEKKEN 8 also features a soundtrack packed with hype music that’s not only catchy, but really enjoyable to listen to while practicing. Bandai Namco have done a great job here!
On PC, I found the game ran smoothly with no crashes on my now mid-tier rig. That said, be sure to check out the recommended specifications or lower some of the graphics settings if you’re getting some frame drops in the heat of battle though as consistency is more important than visual flourishes.
Overall, TEKKEN 8 is another exceptionally good entry from Bandai Namco Entertainment. It might have taken almost a decade, but what we have here is a game that fighting game fans will be playing for another decade given its extensive roster of characters and the sheer amount of content available. There is a season pass planned for the title too, so more characters will be added over time, further enhancing the game’s staying power. If you’re a fighting game fan, TEKKEN 8 is a game you really should consider and there’s a demo available too which might shift your opinion if you’re still on the fence.
TEKKEN 8 was reviewed on PC using a code provided to gameblur by the publisher. It is also available on Xbox Series S|X and PS5.