- Tekken 8 is set to bring many changes that will drastically improve the experience of new players.
- Other fighting game franchises have also started to follow a beginner-friendly approach to attract a new audience.
- While there is no release date yet, the Alpha tests have given a pretty good idea of what to expect from the latest entry in the Tekken franchise.
Tekken 8 is just around the corner. While no release date has been announced yet, it is quite obvious that the game isn’t too far from sight. The Tekken franchise has been ongoing for about 20 years, and the upcoming installment aims to adopt a beginner-friendly approach, which is something the franchise desperately needs and could make things a lot easier for a whole new generation of Tekken fans.
The problem with a franchise that has been ongoing for 20 years is that new players face a fair amount of difficulty in getting into it. And the unique thing about fighting games is that your skills from one game carry over to the next iteration. If a person is incredibly good at Tekken 7, they’ll likely be at least half as good at Tekken 8 when it eventually comes out.
A new player who wants to get into the Tekken franchise will either face off against another newbie like them or someone with years of experience in the franchise. Experiences such as this make fighting games difficult to get into for new players, especially when most of the popular titles are long-running franchises, such as Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, The King of Fighters, and Guilty Gear.
It is definitely not impossible to catch up to the other players and successfully get into the franchise. Even if it is difficult, with enough dedication and practice, you can pull it off. However, it can be a little overwhelming for new casual players who just want to have fun. It might even make them lose interest in the game after getting combo’d repeatedly by someone who has been playing for a longer time.
This skill gap, or barrier, is one of the reasons the fighting game genre is not as popular and has been on a decline in the past few years compared to other competitive eSports. Not being welcoming enough for the new casual audience has always been one of the biggest issues for the fighting game genre and the fighting game community.
However, from what we’ve seen so far, Bandai Namco‘s Tekken 8 aims to adopt a user-friendly approach, making the fighting game more accessible to new players while also allowing them to go toe to toe with players with a fair share of experience. While this change won’t affect Tekken’s competitive scene in any way, it will certainly make Tekken more enjoyable for the brand-new audience.
The question is, what does this user-friendly approach entail? Recently, a few popular Tekken 7 streamers and content creators, including the widely popular TheMainManSWE, were invited to Bandai Namco’s HQ in France for Tekken 8’s Alpha test. While these players were not allowed to record anything during the test, they did share their thoughts and impressions on the upcoming fighting game.
According to the content creators who took part in the Alpha Test, the combo assists are still there in Tekken 8, allowing you to pull off combos without the required execution. Then we have Rage Art changes, where all the characters will have a universal input (df,1+2), so the new players will not have to memorize different combinations of inputs for Rage Arts of different characters. Also, Rage Arts will no longer be launch-punishable on block; instead, they will be -13.
In Tekken 7, Rage Art is Tekken’s comeback mechanic. When the character’s health is low enough, they enter the Rage mode, where their character glows red. This Rage can be expanded by using one cinematic move that deals a ton of damage to the opponent. However, if the player blocks a Rage Art, they can then counterattack or punish with almost any move, and the opponent will not be able to block it.
The best way to punish a Rage Art after blocking it in Tekken 7 is to use a combo-starter move to launch the opponent for huge damage. However, that will not be the case in Tekken 8, as you’ll only be able to punish Rage Arts by using faster moves, making it impossible to launch the opponent for a combo, as most combo starters are usually slower, and your opponent will be able to block them easily.
Other than that, we’ll have Heat engagers, a couple of key moves for each character that will allow you to play effectively, despite not knowing the character’s entire movelist. Tekken characters generally have a huge movelist, and not having to memorize 100+ moves of a character to play them efficiently definitely makes the game a lot easier.
An Improved Training Mode
Tekken is a game where you’ll spend a lot of time in training mode if you want to get good. However, the training mode alone isn’t enough in Tekken 7, as you have to look up most of the stuff the character is capable of doing on YouTube or other platforms. But Tekken 8 will be changing that while also making the game a lot easier for new players.
TheMainManSWE stated in his video about his experience with the Tekken 8 Alpha test that the practice mode in Tekken 8 will also feature tips right next to the moves, telling the player what to do if the move gets connected or blocked. This change makes it easier for new players to figure out their character’s game plan and how to approach the opponent effectively without having to look up other places on the internet.
The streamer also mentioned that the grabs in the game also mention how the other player can break them. Tekken has two types of grabs: generic grabs and command grabs. Generic grabs can be broken by pressing 1 or 2, depending on the grab, while command grabs require you to press 1+2. However, certain grapplers have access to multiple grabs and chain throws, which can only be broken by pressing a certain button.
The training mode in Tekken 8 will tell the player the correct input to break the grab or throw. There is no such thing in Tekken 7, and you have to manually try different inputs to check which one breaks the throw or refer to the internet for advice. This is a massive game-changer and improves the game’s overall quality, as you don’t have to refer to outside material for basic stuff.
Heat mode is the new mechanic that will be introduced in Tekken 8. The heat mode will enhance your character’s capabilities for a limited duration, providing the player access to certain moves and abilities which are generally inaccessible. The heat mode also removes the execution requirements on certain moves, such as Kazuya’s Electric Wind God Fist.
Kazuya’s Electric Wind God Fist, or EWGF in short, has a massive execution requirement where you have to do a frame-perfect input. Otherwise, the character throws out a weakened version of the move, which is punishable in Tekken 7. However, in Tekken 8, the frame-perfect input requirement is removed, and the character will throw an EWGF as long as the heat mode is active. The same applies to Jin and likely other Mishima characters too.
Tekken is a franchise that has a multitude of characters catering to both beginners and advanced players. However, it also has several characters that grow with the player. These characters are easy to use but have some execution requirements, and as the player continues to improve, the character also grows exponentially to the point that an expert-level player who has put years of effort into the game is easily distinguishable from someone who has only played the character for months.
Marshall Law is a great example of this. Law is an excellent character that is extremely fun to play for beginners. However, if you put time and effort into him, the character will grow with you to the point that you’ll be able to turn him into a monster even at high-level and competitive play. The character rewards you for getting better at the game. Or, so it was until Tekken 8 brought a few huge changes to him.
Marshall Law has a mechanic that allows him to transition into a stance from multiple moves. This stance gives him access to a lot of powerful moves which can’t be used normally. However, transitioning into this stance, called DSS or Dragon Sign Stance, required heavy execution and complex input in Tekken 7 and older games. But, from what we’ve seen so far from the Tekken 8 Alpha tests, the DSS only requires you to press the forward button after using a move that would allow you to transition into DSS.
This change not only removes the skill ceiling that has been there for about two decades, but it also makes the character less interesting while making it easier to use. We might also see similar changes with a few other characters in the future, but the issue with such changes is that it ruins the character for players who have put years of effort into mastering them.
While the beginner-friendly approach is an excellent initiative, changes like this do affect a lot of franchise veterans negatively. Removing heavy execution from certain characters might make them more attractive to beginners, but one of the things that make Tekken an excellent fighting game franchise is the fact that it features characters for multiple skill sets.
The game already has many characters that are extremely easy to play but are just as good as others that require heavy execution. This variety is what sets Tekken apart from other fighting games. And dumbing down characters that grow with the player to make them more attractive to beginners take away the real charm of the franchise.
But the game is still in Alpha. We might see Bandai Namco reverting some of the changes they’ve made to the characters after seeing how the older fans are not happy with those. It will also give them more ideas on how to make the game less challenging without making experienced players unhappy because a character that grows with you and your skills is drastically more attractive to a new player.
Other Fighting Games Adopting The Beginner-Friendly Approach
All of these changes work in favor of making Tekken 8 an easier game to get into compared to its predecessors. Other fighting game franchises, such as Street Fighter and Guilty Gear, have also adopted this beginner-friendly approach. Street Fighter 6 is set to introduce Modern Controls, which allows the player to throw special moves with a single button press instead of doing motion inputs.
The Classic Controls option is still there for experienced players and franchise veterans. However, Modern Controls makes Street Fighter 6 a slightly easier game to get into, as the motion inputs can be fairly difficult to learn for players new to fighting games as they require you to move the directional pad in a certain way (half-circle and quarter-half circle).
Guilty Gear’s developers have also shown an interest in making their franchise easier to get into in an interview with IGN. According to the developers, they understand that Guilty Gear is a difficult franchise for new players to get into. They also stated that they would be working towards a solution to this problem in the next entry of the Guilty Gear franchise.
Fighting games are a much less popular competitive eSport compared to some FPS and MOBA titles. Part of the reason is that fighting games have a skill ceiling that can intimidate new players. While practice makes everything perfect, not many people would stay around playing a game where they aren’t having any fun. But, Capcom and Bandai Namco are working towards making the genre more accessible to the new audience.
The only way for the fighting game genre to gain more recognition is by attracting new players. Tekken 8 is set to bring many changes that will allow new players to enjoy the game to its fullest while also making the game more enjoyable for experienced players. Other fighting game franchises will follow in their footsteps and, in turn, make the genre as popular as it should be.
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