This is not to say that Tekken 7, at launch, wasn’t a great game. It was fantastic from the get-go, but the game’s biggest issue was a lack of significant game modes. The Story mode featured a few interesting moments (pretty much any moment Akuma was on screen), and the Arcade/Treasure Battle modes are decent if you’ve got no friends to play with or you’re on that customisation grind, but aside from that, Tekken 7 seemed barren for things to do.
Now that Tekken 7’s fourth season is about to start, which might just be the game’s last considering that it’ll only feature two characters, the game has never looked better. Sure, the modes are still crap, but that doesn’t matter. Tekken Bowl still rips though, just saying. As obvious as this might sound when talking about a fighting game, the modes don’t mean too much when the gameplay is as fantastic as Tekken 7’s is.
Quite simply, Tekken 7 is the best 3D fighter on the market today, and I say that as someone who grew up predominantly playing Soulcalibur, Virtua Fighter and Dead or Alive (I was a teenager, once). The movement options, the pokes and footsies, the combo potential and opportunities for mind games; Tekken 7’s gameplay is utterly incredible.
At a base level, Tekken is one of the simplest fighting games to understand, with all four face buttons controlling two punches and two kicks. Entering left punch and left kick, or right punch and right kick together will perform a throw, and that’s pretty much the basics. The beauty comes in how these four buttons are used to create movesets that often hit 100 entries, giving you plenty of tools to win in any given situation.
New to Tekken 7 were Rage Arts and Rage Drives, certain moves that only become available once your health drops below a certain threshold. At a simple level, Rage Arts (which are tied to an RB/R1 shortcut) offer a one button comeback mechanic that new players can use to reverse their fortune, but there are more advanced strategies to consider if you’re willing to put the time in.
Rage Drives are easier to incorporate into existing combos, allowing you to amplify your damage potential, but you could also just not use any rage attacks. Once rage has been unlocked, you earn a damage boost for all attacks which you lose once you use a Rage Art or Rage Drive. Simply just letting your opponent sweat on the fact that you have these options can allow you to turn a fight back around naturally, even if the damage boost helps.
With a roster of 49 characters across four seasons of content (50 if you want to include Lee and Violet as two separate characters), players are bound to find a character that caters to their needs. Those who prefer slow but strong will love Jack-7, Marduk and Gigas, while players who prefer swift attacks and long, intricate combos can choose from Lucky Chloe, Hwoarang and Bob.
Tekken 7’s value comes from the fact that it’s one of the most experimental fighting games available, arguably just as much so as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Alright, maybe I don’t see Tekken adding Minecraft Steve at any point soon, but Bandai Namco have certainly played around with new concepts and ideas that don’t often appear in 3D fighters.
While his implementation might have been a bit broken from a balance perspective, introducing Street Fighter’s Akuma to the game allowed for a brand new style of play in Tekken 7, incorporating more jump-in attacks, low sweeps and meter management into your gameplay, all staples of the 2D fighting game genre. These concepts were also applied to SNK guest character Geese Howard, who also added his own flair to how a Tekken character is supposed to be played.
It’s no secret that I love fighting games, but I often struggle to find the time. However, at the top of the year, I swore to play more fighting games, and the one that I kept coming back to was Tekken 7. Sure, Mortal Kombat 11’s single player modes managed to steal many hours as well, and I still consider Killer Instinct to be an incredible fighting game, but for a competitive online experience, Tekken 7 satisfies that itch, even if I can’t seem to make it past Brawler in Ranked play. If anyone has tips for me to do better with Negan, let me know.
As the PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles are launching next month, we’re still waiting on Bandai Namco to announce some kind of next-gen upgrade for Tekken 7. While Tekken 7 is incredible, the game’s loading times could be reduced massively on consoles, so fingers crossed we won’t be leaving the seventh King of Iron Fist Tournament behind.
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