Bandai Namco has dropped a few clips of Tekken 8, but didn’t fully detail what players were seeing, leading many to speculate what intricacies its fighting system had this time around. But now the company has lifted the veil and released a 36-minute breakdown of what its mechanics are and how they have changed or stayed the same when compared to past entries.
Executive Director Katsuhiro Harada and Game Director Kohei Ikeda led the video much in the style Capcom uses for its Street Fighter breakdowns. Harada reiterated that “aggressive” was one of the key terms for the game and that he wanted players to “experience their greatest exhilaration within the series” through the fighting mechanics, “evolved visual expression,” camera, and effects. Ikeda then said that the team had three main points: make battles more enjoyable for the aggressor, make it easy to understand momentum shifts and exciting moments, and enhance each character’s specialties and characteristics.
The Rage system, which started in Tekken 6, was the first system covered. It will still give players boosted attacks when their health hits a certain threshold, and Rage Arts (super moves like Mortal Kombat 11‘s Fatal Blows or Ultra Combos in Street Fighter IV) still exist. They can even be triggered with just one button or down, forward, and the two punch buttons this time around. However, Rage Drives (which were used during Rage for longer combos) have been taken out for balancing reasons because it would have been “too complicated” otherwise.
Tekken 8 is also bringing back the health recovery system from Tekken Tag Tournament. A small chunk of damage taken from aerial combos or blocking big moves can be recovered, but since this game doesn’t have a tag functionality, players can gain this small bit of health back by attacking the opponent. It doesn’t matter if they guard the strikes or get hit by them. This was made a mechanic after the team decided that aggressiveness would be a key tenet.
“If you don’t take aggressive action, your health will not recover,” said Harada.
The Heat System, which Harada spoke of at an earlier event, also got its own lengthy section. Ikeda said that it was a “period of time that is overwhelmingly beneficial to an attacker.” By pressing a shoulder button to activate a Heat Burst or using certain Heat Engager attacks (most characters have around five), players enter a state where they are covered in blue flames for 10 seconds. That time can be extended if players attack, once again encouraging players to stay on the offensive. Heat Burst attacks slam the other character on the ground, allowing the aggressor to continue their aerial juggle, which is similar to the Bound system in Tekken 6.
The Heat System has a currency associated with it that players have to strategically gain and spend. Heat Smash uses all Heat Energy and sends the opponent flying. Heat Dash also spends energy and cancels the attack but leaves the attacker in an advantageous state, allowing them to keep up the pressure. Heat Bursts gain one energy pip. Heat Engagers gain two energy pips. Players can create their own playstyles around how they choose to gain and spend Heat Energy.
Activating Heat also means the attacker causes chip damage every time their attack is blocked. However, players can’t die from chip damage.
While there are some commonalities across the cast, Heat also activates differently among different characters. For example, some of Paul Phoenix’s attacks can break the opponent’s guard. Marshall Law’s nunchacku attacks are also stronger when Heat is activated.
And finally, Harada and Ikeda spoke about the new control system. In a somewhat similar move to Street Fighter 6, Tekken 8 will support a few control options: Arcade Style and Special Style. The former is what Tekken has always had and the latter combines the Easy Combo and assist features from Tekken 7. Singular buttons can hold certain moves, making it easier for newcomers, and these moves change depending on if the player is in Heat or Rage mode. Special Style can also be used in any mode, online or offline, which is in contrast to Street Fighter 6, as its most newcomer-friendly control setup is locked to offline play.