Fighting Games Friday: An Overview of Tekken 7

Bandai Namco is revving up the final advertising blitz for the home version of Tekken 7, a logical decision considering it’s only a month from release. That’s “finally” because they sure took their goddamned time preparing this version.

The game was initially announced way back at Evo 2k14, nearly three years ago, but was only confirmed for an arcade release. This came to the chagrin of western players, who knew they’d have to wait a while to play it, unless they attended a select few fighting game tournaments where Bandai Namco had arcade units available. The arcade business was still big enough in territories like Japan and South Korea that Bandai Namco could make enough money off it there before sending it home. While that’s similar to every previous installment in the franchise, it’s a trend the western gaming market has grown tired of after over two decades.

On the other hand, putting off the home release gave the development team time to substantially improve it before they could purchase copies. The initial release was bland visually, and didn’t look much better than the franchise’s last-generation predecessors. It was also lacking in the amount of playable characters upon release, even compared to previous numbered installments. The arcade release steadily received more characters over time, but that was until the developers put that on hold to release Tekken 7: Fated Retribution. They continued releasing characters here, which started with Street Fighter’s Akuma and Nina Williams, but also substantially updated the graphics so it would resemble a current-gen fighting game, and gave all the returning characters new outfits. It was clear they heard about the issues players had with the previous release, and sought to address most of them.

That logic has followed with the home release upon looking at its feature set in the “Overview trailer,” which shows how the developers observed player disdain from other fighting games. When the game was announced in 2014, it was confirmed that its story would conclude the long-running plotline involving the Mishima family. This will be done in a story mode called “The Mishima Saga,” which will include artwork and CG cutscenes to tell its story when characters aren’t fighting each other in matches. There’s no telling how good it will be, but at least it’s a title coming from a Japanese developer that will launch with a seemingly significant single-player mode, unlike, say, Street Fighter V.

The trailer also goes over the new fighting systems added to this game, and how it differs from previous Tekken installments. The “Bound” mechanic that extended combos in Tekken 6 and Tag Tournament 2 has been replaced with what fans have called “Tailspins,” which send the opponent spinning from the air to the ground for further combo opportunities if they’re hit with one mid-combo. They’re easier to use than Bound techniques, and it makes combos shorter, especially considering they can’t be used in the corner.

While the “Rage” system has returned, which activates when a character’s health drops low enough, it doesn’t provide a boost in overall damage this time around. Instead, characters are given the option to use a “Rage Art” special technique, which are similar to Street Fighter’s Super Combos. It sounds like a strange addition to Tekken on the surface, but players have mentioned how it doesn’t feel too out of place for the franchise in practice.

Also, the section detailing the new gameplay modes and more-traditional online modes showed a series of new stages that will debut in the home version. The glimpses are quick, but they look more impressive than some arcade stages, especially those from the original Tekken 7 version in 2015. The game will also have a VR mode, which looks rather gimmicky in execution. It looks like fun to goof around with, anyway.

It would have been a surprise if character outfit customization didn’t return here, as it’s been a staple for the franchise since Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection. Unfortunately, most additional outfits and equipment sets available are general and generic threads similar to Tag Tournament 2, unlike the outfits that were personalized for each character like Tekken 5 and 6. Some characters will receive classic outfits for the home version, like Nina, Xiaoyu, and Jin, but more outfit sets could come as part of the DLC they have planned.

Also, since my last post about this game, Eddy Gordo was revealed, who’s been part of the franchise since Tekken 3. He looks mostly similar to his old self at first glance, but those who’ve had a chance to play him at various events in the last month have mentioned how he’s a little more difficult to play. It was easy for players to button-mash combos for Eddy (and his daughter Christie, who mostly has the same move set) in previous games, but that will be more difficult this time around.

Tekken 7 will release on June 2nd for PS4, XB1, and PC via Steam, making it the first game in the franchise to release on PC. Sadly, cross-play won’t be supported due to hardware manufacturer politics, but producer Katsuhiro Harada noted that it could come in the future. They should at least have an English version of the Overview trailer coming soon, but keep a look out for more videos leading up to its release.

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