When Tekken 7 released, it had been a long time since Tekken 6. Not keen to rush it out the door, Bandai Namco gave it room to breathe. In so doing, they made one of the best fighting games of this generation. Similarly, it’s been six years since Soulcalibur V. So far, Soulcalibur VI is feeling like a fresh and newly considered take on the fighter.
Visually the game looks stunning, with a bright, detailed design aesthetic.
We managed to gets hands-on for a few matches at Soulcalibur 6‘s first UK event, and are pleased to report that the game is shaping up very nicely indeed. Sharing a producer in Motohiro Okubo there are some similarities with the design principles between Tekken 7 and Soulcalibur VI — but it’s a game that still feels definitively Soulcalibur.
Visually the game looks stunning, with a bright, detailed design aesthetic that eschews some of the grimier and darker design of more recent entries in the series. The 16th century fighter has never looked so good. Taking the series back to its roots by revisiting the first Soulcalibur in the timeline, the roster seems like it will be stripped back to focus on these original characters.
They all look better than ever, and their personality bleeds out into the matches themselves, Mitsurugi shouting “fight properly” when you give him a ring out. Of the six characters to get hands-on with at the event one was newcomer, Grøh. With an eyepatch, a Darth Maul-esque double-ended sword, and perfect hair he was a formidable opponent, and seemed right at home next to returning favourites.
The focus of the fighter still remains on the combination of movement and weaponry, which really makes it stand out from the crowd of other fighting games at the moment. The button inputs are as accessible and as easy to understand as Soulcalibur has ever been — a series strength.
Two main attack buttons give you a vertical slash and a horizontal slash, with another giving you a kick. A fourth button you need to hold to block attacks, rather than just holding back as in other fighters. Most attacks have a bit of wind-up to them, and the commitment to having to hold down a block button rather than tapping back makes the whole exchange of blows considered by necessity.
Things like the new reversal edge keep things on the offensive, every defensive action a brief pause as players look for that opening.
The ease of movement (arenas are 3D as you’d expect from the series), means you’ll need to consider when is best to block, and when it’s best sidestep for a quicker counterattack. One wrong move and you’ll end up toppling out of the arena yourself — your own attacks can even give you too much momentum and end up with you falling to your doom.
Soulcalibur VI’s new “reversal edge” move gives another option for those on the defensive, by hitting R1. A parry followed by a counter attack, when it connects the fighters will clash and bounce apart, giving you a chance to enter an input rock-paper-scissors style before they clash again, with cinematic camera angles. Even in a game where you need to be careful and really pick your moments to strike, things like the reversal edge keep things on the offensive, every defensive action a brief pause as players look for that opening.
Critical edge moves (cinematic special attacks) also make a return mapped to R2 and using one bar of special metre, but have a long wind-up as with a lot of Soulcalibur 6‘s more powerful moves. There’s a risk/reward to it, and you’ll often want to use it after stunning the opponent.
One of the series’ strengths has always been how simple it is to understand at a basic level, but it also oozes depth. Different characters all have their own quirks to learn, emphasised even more by their different weapon choices, and (naturally) their own strings of situational combos by combining attack inputs.
Consider our souls thoroughly kindled for many more matches of Soulcalibur VI.
Soulcalibur VI is shaping up to be a lovingly pruned new take on the series, better looking than ever, and a perfect jumping on point for newcomers. We only had time to play a few matches (which did result in the total domination of Douglas from Siliconera), but now we’re itching to play more: to dodge, parry, and clash our weapons again and again. Consider our souls thoroughly kindled for many more matches of Soulcalibur VI.
Soulcalibur VI is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2018.