Last night’s Video Game Awards was a show that clocked in just over two hours featuring world premieres, game updates, and of course, the awards themselves. One of the major announcements, however, was a gameplay trailer for Tekken 8 that was nothing short of a visual masterpiece. As the first current-generation exclusive title, Tekken 8 showed off its newest graphical engine, confirming that the trailer we saw a few months ago lined up with the gameplay footage we see now.
However, there was a lot of information given to Tekken fans for such a small trailer, clocking in at just over a minute. New gameplay mechanics were teased alongside updated visuals to existing moves. Entirely new moves were added, giving existing characters flavor and unique additions to their move list. Tons of explosions and real-time environmental changes can also be seen. Lastly, a twenty-year tease may finally turn into reality for many long-time Tekken fans.
Jun Kazama returns to the main Tekken series for the first time since Tekken 2, although she was playable in Tekken Tag Tournament 2. While she wasn’t playable for a very long time, she remained arguably the most important character in the series. It was announced that Tekken 8 would be the “grand finale” of the Jin saga, so it makes sense that she would return. While she is only featured in trailer cutscenes, it’s safe to assume that her fighting style would build upon what fans saw in Tag 2.
Alongside Jun are other returning characters — King, Law, Jack, Paul, Lars, and of course Jin and Kazuya. Everyone featured in the trailer received an updated outfit, which isn’t as uncommon until you see how dynamic some of these changes are. I’m personally not a fan of Paul’s new design but I’m positive that his original outfit is there somewhere, right? Right?
The first instance of gameplay begins with Paul and Law fighting in what appears to be a coliseum with a cool camera pan-in on Paul using his Phoenix Smasher. Due to the camerawork, it’s safe to assume that Rage Arts return in some capacity in Tekken 8. It may not be the exact same thing, however, as shortly after Law is seen incorporating nunchucks in his attacks.
Characters using weapons are not strange in Tekken as Yoshimitsu uses a sword and he’s been in the game since the beginning. Other characters like Kunimitsu and Raven have also used swords, including the infamous “once per match” cane that Leroy uses. Law brandishing a pair of nunchaku and tapping into his inner Maxi from Soul Calibur was a pretty cool sight to see.
Whether other characters have access to weapons or if it’s a flavor thing is something to be determined. Jin and Kazuya can both enter Devil mode, so maybe each character has access to a unique trait similar to Injustice?
One thing I noticed about Law was that his appearance seemed off. In previous games, he had a more defined look but in this one, he seemed youthful and ripped. Super ripped, almost built like an action figure. After looking at the character renders (Seriously, what did you guys do to Paul?) I noticed the uncanny resemblance to Bruce Lee. While Law was obviously based on Bruce, the only other time Bandai Namco pulled the trigger was Tekken 3.
Forest Law, the son of Marshall Law, was initially introduced as a replacement for his father. He would only appear in Tekken 3, however, making a return in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 much like Jun. This could very well be Forest, as he was created as a clear homage to Bruce than Marshall’s not-so-subtle references. Regardless of its father or son, the Law family returns once more.
During a fight between Jack and King, Jack swoops in with a large plasma rifle, which is already absurd enough. During some of his attacks, you could see the weapon being used albeit very vaguely due to the lighting of the stage. In that same fight, King attacks Jack, sending him to the wall and causing it to explode.
Jack's weapon is one thing, but stages having dynamic changes is another story altogether. The last time a Tekken game had destructible environments was Tekken 4. Tekken 7 did have a floor and wall break mechanic, but this was a stage transition than anything. Whether or not Tekken goes the Dead or Alive route in having stages that can alter in real-time is left to be determined.
Finally, there seems to be a universal mechanic added where it would seem that characters can cancel their attacks into a run or a dash. According to Harada, this is known as the Heat mechanic. Players familiar with The King of Fighters can compare this to Max Mode as it worked the same way. This almost guarantees that the meter mechanic will return in some way.
It could also be a variant of the "Rage" mechanic introduced in Tekken 6 and players can take advantage of this while in rage. Regardless, depending on how Bandai Namco handles this, it may change the entire pacing of a match as unsafe moves can be canceled into a possibly safe run.
Another mechanic that is shown here during the fight with Lars is what could be Tekken 8's combo mechanic. Tekken 6 introduced the bound mechanic, extending combos with a ground bounce while Tekken 7 built on it with the "screw" mechanic. It seems here that certain attacks in Tekken 8 will cause the opponent to skid across the ground. Think of Arizona from Them's Fighting Herds. Certain attacks in previous games had tumbling properties, but whether this is a new mechanic or an added property to some attacks have yet to be determined.
Overall, Tekken 8 seems to be a highly vibrant game, reminiscent of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 but with an emphasis on visuals. The stages are vast, making it impossible to gauge how far certain stages go or if they are infinite. What I would like to see are dynamic stages with elevation changes and obstacles, much like Tekken 4 again. I really want Bandai Namco to push the envelope on what a Tekken fighter should be and throw convention out the window. Also, notice how the time of day is different for Lars VS Jack and Jin VS Kazuya
Ever notice how fights always seem to take place in Times Square? Maybe it's a sign to move elsewhere unless some anime characters (Jump Force, I miss you. Kinda.) or humans with supernatural powers get into an all-out brawl. For now, here are the character renders of the confirmed characters as we muse over the spiraling downfall of New York once again.