Tekken 8‘s Closed Beta just wrapped up, and even though it was short, we managed to get an early look at the game’s exciting and fast-paced battles.
The newest entry to the Tekken series promises to continue the Mishima and Kazama intertwined storylines, as Kazuya and Jin are still stuck in their self-destructive family rivalry after the death of Heihachi.
Tekken 8 expands upon the previous game’s rage arts with a new mechanic called heat system, which temporarily powers up characters and gives them access to a high damage special move, as well as chip damage on blocks. Featuring new mechanics, improved visuals, and new characters, Tekken 8 manages to feel both like a return to form as well as a modern upgrade to the series.
I’ve been a long-time fan of the Tekken series, as it was the first fighting game that I really got into, putting an ungodly amount of hours into Tekken 5. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get much out of the previous entry in the series, making me slightly unfamiliar with the current state of affairs.
It’s not like Tekken 7 has some glaring issues or anything, it’s simply because I didn’t have a stable internet connection until very recently. I tried playing an online match once, and it ran like a slideshow because the game was trying to compensate for my moon latency. Thankfully, things are different now, as fiber connection has arrived in my corner of the world.
Tekken 8 is really exciting for me, not only because this the first year in which I’ve been able to play a game from the series so close to release, but also because I can finally play it online. The Tekken 8 Closed Beta ran for three days, and I tried to put in as much I possibly could, doing my best to not waste any of the limited time available with the game.
Unfortunately, my main boy Yoshimitsu was not present in the Closed Beta, so I picked a character that I always really liked design-wise, but never got around to learning.
My time during the closed beta was spent chain-grabbing and dropkicking people from all around the world as King, the Mexican jaguar wrestler that speaks in garbled animal sounds. I was initially worried about tackling online versus, especially with a character I never played much, but thankfully, getting into Tekken 8 was painless.
Maybe it’s because it feels like a clean slate, as everyone is still getting used to the new mechanics, but Tekken 8 feels easier to approach. I was evenly matched in most of my fights, and in fact, I may have left the beta with a positive win rate, getting quite a few victories under my luchador belt.
Feel free to check out some of my King gameplay below:
Tekken 8‘s newcomer, Azucena, was also one of the characters available during the Closed Beta. Her style consists of lightning-fast moves, which pair fittingly with her character, as she’s known to be a jittery caffeine connoisseur. She’s a pretty daunting character to learn, mostly because she keeps cycling between stances when using her moves.
Most of Azucena’s attacks turn her around, and she gains new moves if her back is towards the enemy. This is nothing new for the Tekken series, as almost every character also features that mechanic, but a lot of Azucena’s moves have that back-turning property, and this constant stance dancing can be a bit overwhelming at points.
On top of that, Azucena also has another stance called Libertador, which automatically parries both high and low moves, meaning that most attacks thrown her way will be either dodged or stylishly retaliated against. Players who pick Azucena will get a lot of enjoyment out of reading their enemies like a book, appearing to be impossible to hit during fights.
Balancing-wise, Tekken 8 seems extremely solid. Every player that I fought against during the beta played fair, and not a single character felt too weak or too strong. Tekken 8 is a breath of fresh air when compared to something like Mortal Kombat 1, which even a month after release still feels unbalanced and unpolished.
It’s quite clear that there is a very even playing field here, and even though characters like Marshall Law or Lili can feel overwhelming to play against at points, it’s definitely the player’s responsibility to know what they are doing. Someone who doesn’t understand their character’s fundamentals is bound to be annihilated, regardless of their pick.
As of right now it doesn’t seem like there’s a top tier pick around, although things could change with the release of the full roster and future DLC. Tekken 7 did get a bit crazy at the end of its lifespan with characters like Fahkumram feeling a little too overtuned, but only time will tell if we’ll see a repeat of that.
The Closed Beta unfortunately doesn’t give players any insight into the story mode or character customization, but we do get to customize an avatar. Tekken 8 features a lounge in which you can walk around as your created avatar and you can challenge other players, or simply socialize with other fighting game enthusiasts.
Characters do have a few outfits to pick from, but none of them can actually be freely customized. The first three outfit slots are reserved for the character’s main costume and alternate color, as well as a secondary costume. For most characters the fourth outfit slot is their most iconic appearance, which is usually their Tekken 5 look.
It’s safe to say that this is the best the Tekken cast has ever looked, with incredibly high-quality models and really stylish new designs. There are some duds here and there, like Paul Phoenix with his Karen haircut, but most of the cast looks fantastic, and their outfits look even better in motion.
Overall, Tekken 8 looks like another solid entry in the fighting game franchise. It’s a given that it looks nice, as its powered by the impressive Unreal Engine 5, but it also plays and runs really smoothly, which has been rare for the up-and-coming engine. It’s impossible to get a hyper-detailed look at all characters during the small Beta window, but it’s easy to see that everyone is thriving.
Players looking forward to Tekken 8 can expect a highly dynamic fighting game, with some S+ presentation and a varied cast. Hopefully we can look forward to another beta with more of the game’s cast, as quite a few fan-favorites were missing from the test.