Published on December 13th, 2023 | by Andrew Bistak
Tekken 8 Hands-on Preview #TEKKEN8 (The King of Iron First Tournament… returns)
Fun Fact: Tekken 8 is the first time the series has been launched directly onto next-gen consoles and the PC without it heading to the arcades first
One of the world’s greatest fighters is about to return after a hiatus of almost 9-years with the highly anticipated and fan-favourite Tekken as gamers from around the globe are invited back to The King of Iron First Tournament on 26-Jan-2024 with Tekken 8. Best of all, Tekken 8 has been designed for the latest gaming architecture (PC, PS5, XSX) and is running on the Unreal 5 engine that will deliver a true next-gen experience.
Courtesy of Bandai Namco Australia, I was given a hands on preview of Tekken 8 and while this is not a review, it is an early impression and by the gaming gods, The King of Iron First Tournament is back! The story behind Tekken 8 is like a Hollywood blockbuster that starts with an epic battle between Jin and Kazuya that is not only over the top with its clichés but features that classic Japanese story telling. Needless to say, when Jin challenges Kazuja in an attempt to change the status quo, both unleash their inner devil as chaos ensues!
Check out the story trailer for Chapter 1 of Tekken 8 below.
As you can see, it’s blockbuster in its presentation and story. Given that, the narrative flows on from the previous game (Tekken 7) well and with the Unreal 5 Engine, this fighting game has seriously never looked this good… and yes, characters from other countries speak their native language which is pure Tekken story telling right there!
Besides the campaign mode (Story: The Dark Awakens), Tekken 8 features a wealth of gameplay modes from versus (local, online), practice and the return of Tekken Ball. Tekken Ball was first featured in Tekken 3 (1997) and is a mini-game that requires players to hit (martials arts style) a giant inflatable beach ball at their opponent in order to win.
Fun Fact: In 2012 Namco opened a Tekken museum in Japan
Given the “serious” fighter content offered to players in Tekken 8, Tekken Ball is a nice light-heated distraction that actually requires some strategy to win. It also makes for fun local play as well!
Another new feature of Tekken 8 is Arcade Quest that creates this “virtual” social media environment where you control a cartoon avatar (think Nintendo Mii) who plays through a story set in a game arcade as you learn about the Tekken 8 battles as you meet new people. Like Tekken Ball, it’s another fun distraction to the core of this fighting game.
Apart customising your “social” Avatar (above), you can also cutomise (below) characters as well.
The main sections of Tekken 8 include the following;
- Story: The Dark Awakens
- Character Episodes
- Tekken Fight Lounge
- Arcade Quest
- Character Customisation
- Tekken Ball
Of course the core of Tekken 8 are the spectacular fights and whether that’s against AI or real-players, the fighting mechanics feel fantastic on the PlayStation 5 DualSense Controller, particularly its responsiveness. Each well-timed punch, kick, grab, throw or special move feels powerful and fast. So when you get your fight mojo happening, battles feel like you are part of some Asian martial arts move with flawless choreography.
Arcade lovers looking for that realistic arcade experience will be pleased to know that Tekken 8 supports Arcade or Fight sticks which creates very different control mechanics. However for me, the DualSense was my preferred “weapon” of choice as the controls were well mapped on this controller and like other fighting games (including the Tekkens), there is a list of moves shown to the player for each character that you play which makes the learning curve achievable.
Fun Fact: Tekken 2 introduced a boxing kangaroo called “Roger”
Speaking of characters, there is a roster of up to 32 that includes fighters such as Alisa, Asuka, Devil Jin, King, Law, Rave and Zafina. Best of all, each character plays differently and as a result, the replay value of Tekken 8 will be fantastic as there is a lot to learn – including lots of fun and each with their own story. They also feature slightly different takedowns and special moves and my favourite (for now) was Zafina, Jin and Azucena who all kicked serious ass.
However if you are getting your ass handed to you, you can enable a “cheat mode” that simplifies the controls by using the left trigger to enable this. This mode is fantastic for newcomers to the series – or family and friends that you want to draw into the world of Tekken 8.
Graphically, Tekken 8 looks spectacular and kudos to the developers for taking the Unreal Engine 5 to new heights. On the PlayStation 5, the frame rate is exceptionally smooth and characters are highly detailed, right down to the smallest texture levels.
Fun Fact: The word Tekken translates to Iron Fist
Also supporting the experience are the excellent facial details, including expressions and emotions. Again, this is the best looking Tekken game to date as everything feels like a Hollywood fighting blockbuster. Lighting, special effects and environments go hand in hand with the fighting mechanics that really draws you into the gameplay.
Then you have the detailed and varied environments that adds to the narrative behind Tekken 8 and where you will have your battles. You can also interact with these arena that again adds to the overall gaming experience, especially when you are in your inner zen-fighting zone- one more hit and you’re about to lose but you manage an amazing comeback and then finishing move.
Check out these detailed arenas below:
Lastly, the upbeat music again pays homage to the Tekkens of yesteryear as does the sometimes clichéd voice acting but the developers perfectly brings this all together.
Fun Fact: Kazuya Mishima collects sneakers, true!
I thoroughly enjoyed my hands-on with Tekken 8 and with the Unreal Engine 5, the gameplay and graphics are spot-on. What I liked about Tekken 8 compared to the latest incarnation of Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter for that matter is that the fighting mechanics feel faster and each punch or kick that lands feels more rewarding. I also like the over the top nature of Tekken 8, including its diverse character roster and different fighting styles that rally increases the replay value. Add in different gameplay modes, online and local play, customisation options and Tekken 8 will definitely keep me totally invested once it is released in January 2024. The only thing that I’m not sold on at the moment is Arcade Quest but when it is released, I will definitely give it a shot.
All in all, Tekken 8 is gearing to be an amazing fighter in 2024.
TEKKEN 8 will launch on 26 January 2024 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and PC, using the power of this generation of consoles to offer a visually stunning experience along with a vision promoting aggressiveness and spectacular battle action.