It came as a big surprise when Bandai Namco announced SoulCalibur VI at The Game Awards in December last year, since the series seemed left for dead. There wasn’t much hope after the company mostly ignored the anniversary, outside of paying lip service that wasn’t satisfactory enough for its ardent fanbase. The chance of them not giving up on non-Tekken fighting games increased slightly when Dragon Ball FighterZ was announced (which released a week ago), but “slightly” because that was based on a popular worldwide property. Yet it was clear they were merely playing with the emotions of their fans during the anniversary period, as it was around that time when this game was in the planning stages.
As established shortly after its announcement: SCVI will be a reimagining of the original SoulCalibur in terms of its themes. It’s the development team’s way of ignoring the controversial changes made to SoulCalibur V’s story and character lineup, which will establish an alternate reality similar to what Mortal Kombat (2011) did for that franchise. Mitsurugi and Sophitia were the first characters revealed, with the former being young again, and the latter making a grand return to the franchise instead of her not-as-likable children. The four newest reveals show that this game’s promotional cycle will resemble other fighting games, with Bandai Namco slowly pulling the curtain back on the remaining cast.
Three more characters are returning from previous installments; among them, one hasn’t been seen in a while, and two are returning in familiar forms. Xianghua joins Sophitia in being a character who was missing from SCV, and was instead replaced with a younger counterpart through her daughter Leixia. She wasn’t as badly received as Sophitia’s children, but she didn’t have the appeal of her mother. Since this game takes place in an alternate timeline, some fans no longer have to be hopping mad that Xianghua had a child with someone that’s not Kilik.
Speaking of him: Kilik is one of the characters returning in a familiar form. While he was present in SCV, he was included as a mimic character who had nothing to do with the story and apparently didn’t recognize any other characters. Here, he once again has his own style. But the trailer shows how he’s also capable of a darker transformation this time, as he becomes possessed when he uses the new “Soul Charge” technique. Also returning is Nightmare, who’s been in every installment. But his form is familiar here because unlike his last three appearances, he’s once again a possessed Siegfried. There’s no confirmation about whether Siegfried will also be a separate playable character like the original Soulcalibur, but hopefully that’s the case.
Meanwhile, a new character name Grøh was revealed, the mysterious figure teased in the announcement trailer from December. He’s a Norwegian character who was once part of a secret group known as the Aval Organization, though his actual background is shrouded in mystery. He wields a dual-sword capable of being unattached during certain attacks and rejoined, meaning he’ll exhibit a fighting style new to the franchise. In appearance, he has white hair that includes a purple streak, and wears an eyepatch on his left eye, and he mostly wears all black for his default outfit. Outside of how he resembles Raiden’s appearance in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance from a few angles, it’s nice that the team is creating original characters for this game instead of reusing concepts.
I highlighted the “Critical Edge” super techniques each character will have in my last post, a returning feature from SCV, which shows how they’re not discarding everything from that game. I also went over the new “Reversal Edge” technique, which allows for players to counterattack the opponent with the press of a button. There’s another new feature called the “Lethal Hit,” where landing a powerful attack at just the right moment will thrust the opponent into the air for further combo opportunities. The “Soul Charge” feature has also returned, though it’s been overhauled. Here, some characters will undergo a drastic transformation. There’s the Kilik example mentioned above, but Grøh will also undergo a subtler change.
Six characters are currently known for the game, and the image of the character select screen suggests there are 14 more to be announced. That could mean its character count will be lower than previous installments, but that’s a good amount for a 1-on-1 fighter. There’s a possibility the screen could be misleading, and that it could be adjusted later, so don’t take this as anything definitive. The Character Creation feature will also return, and will hopefully be as robust as SCV’s.
Like any fighting game, expect more characters to be revealed over the coming months, leading up to its release later this year. Now that Dragon Ball FighterZ is available, Bandai Namco will shift their main fighting game focus to this game, even though that title still has DLC characters left to be announced. It also shouldn’t be too long before tournament players give us a much better look at it, particularly when more characters are revealed, so keep an eye out.