Tekken 8 (Xbox) REVIEW – Unbelievable Tekkers

Tekken 8
Tekken 8
Tekken 8
Release Date
January 26, 2024
Bandai Namco, Arika
Bandai Namco
Our Score

The current console generation’s crop of fighting games have been pretty stellar so far, with Street Fighter 6 and Mortal Kombat 1 obviously earning most of the headlines. Meanwhile, DNF Duel, The King Of Fighters XV, Guilty Gear Strive and others have achieved their own levels of success. It feels like there’s never been a better time for 2D fighters, but if you like your scraps with an additional dimension, it’s slim pickings.

Soulcalibur has returned to dormancy, Virtua Fighter has mostly been relegated to content fodder for various Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio RPGs, and Dead or Alive has its own problems and stigmas. You can say you play DOA for those sick counters, but no one is going to believe that. Unless you want to play wrestling or MMA games, fighting games that allow you to move more than just left and right are practically nonexistent right now outside of Tekken. Fortunately though, Tekken is usually fantastic, and the newest instalment Tekken 8 is no exception.

The eighth mainline entry in The King of Iron Fist Tournament, Tekken 8 once again sees the Mishima/Kazama bloodline feud threaten to bring the world to ruin, while all the other characters who don’t have the Devil Gene running through their veins fight among themselves. It’s an established formula that’s worked pretty well so far, and Tekken 8 continues that strong run of form, improving on Tekken 7 in a lot of ways.

Fans of Tekken 7’s gameplay will feel immediately familiar here, with much of the same mechanics, juggle combos, moves and Rage Arts all making a return, though each character has a couple of their own new moves and idiosyncrasies to learn. Of course, if you’re a complete novice, you could just mash buttons and hope for the best, and there’s even a dedicated control mode that allows for long juggle combos by just pressing the same button over and over again.

Tekken 8
Tekken 8

As for new mechanics, Tekken 8 champions aggression above all else. There’s a recoverable health system now, which lets you restore some lost health by landing attacks, even if they’re blocked, so it pays to stay on the offensive where possible. However, the big new change to Tekken 8 is the Heat system, which can be activated by either pressing RB or by performing certain moves or combos.

Heat is basically an amplified state that gives characters a lot of benefits, such as the ability to deal chip damage on all moves, but the main one is that you’ll either unlock new moves entirely, or the properties of certain moves will change to give you more of an advantage over the opponent. Again, it’s all designed in a way to let you put additional pressure on your foe, and for those who have the time and passion to really learn a character inside and out, Tekken 8 might just be the deepest game in the series.

The problem with that is Tekken has also always enjoyed a large, casual player base, so the idea of Tekken becoming more complicated might sound off-putting to those people. To be fair, Bandai Namco have introduced a lot of tools to try and mitigate this gap, with tutorials, combo challenges and punishment training for every character, letting you know what the best tools are in your arsenal. You can even save replays and watch them back, and Tekken will feed you recommendations on what to do better in certain situations.

Tekken 8
Tekken 8

On top of that, the Arcade Quest mode is essentially an extended tutorial mode, designed to teach you the mechanics of your chosen character as you create your own avatar and rise through the ranks of the Tekken World Tour. Given how fiercely competitive Tekken can be, Arcade Quest is a weirdly wholesome mode that puts forth the idea that there’s no wrong way to play Tekken, which is a good message for a new player to hear.

On an unrelated note, the premise of rising from an unknown arcade to winning the Tekken World Tour offers a lot of the same parallels as the real life story of Arslan Ash and the emergence of the Pakistani Tekken as a whole. Somehow, a relative unknown demolished all the established players by approaching Tekken in their own way, which in turn inspired countless pro players to ship out to Pakistan to learn how they’re playing. The mode is all about working together to improve, which is precisely what happened in real life, so it’s awesome to see Bandai embrace Tekken’s real history in its own games.

Tekken 8
Tekken 8

Are all these features going to help convert a large portion of the casual player base into competitive hungry server demons, stomping on every 1st and 2nd Dan in sight? Probably not. The reality is going to be more like what happened to me during the review period, where somebody playing Paul battered me with a triple perfect. I rematched and managed to land one (1) hit though, so the moral victory is mine, but other players are probably going to be turned off by an experience like that.

Even if that is the case though, Bandai Namco have done all they can to appeal to both ends of the skill spectrum. Between the training tools, Arcade Quest, fun modes like Tekken Ball and the Story mode, which improves massively on the lacklustre story of the previous game, Tekken 8 feels more like the total package for casual players. Seriously, any story mode that focuses on a steadily escalating series of anime nonsense instead of a nameless journalist talking about his dead family is an improvement in my book.

Meanwhile, the competitive players can still benefit from the almost ludicrous amount of tools designed to improve your play, while enjoying the added depth each character on the roster has. Combine that with decent rollback netcode, something that became a real sticking point for anyone who played a lot of Tekken 7, and Tekken 8 looks like it’ll keep the 3D fighting torch alive for a few years to come.

A copy of Tekken 8 was provided by PR.

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Tekken 8
Tekken 8 appeals to both the casual and hardcore playerbase, with a great selection of modes, training tools and additional gameplay depth. 2024’s fighting games are off to an excellent start.