Tekken 8 Is Shaping Up To Be A Worthy Sequel
Tekken 8, the latest installment in one of the most revered fighting game franchises, is generating considerable buzz, especially following Bandai Namco’s recent closed beta test. Scheduled for official release on January 26, the beta provided a glimpse into some of the game’s new features, including the Tekken Fight Lounge and Ranked online multiplayer modes.
The closed beta test ran smoothly on PC, offering a comprehensive tutorial that outlines the game’s new mechanics alongside established ones. While the Rage Drive mechanic returns from Tekken 7, the Heat gauge is a novel addition designed to reward aggressive gameplay. Although I did not have the opportunity to experience earlier iterations of the game, it appears that the Heat gauge has undergone significant refinements since its initial introduction.
The revamped Heat gauge now offers players greater strategic flexibility. It can be activated to capitalize on opponents who are in vulnerable positions, such as being pinned against a wall, or to execute high-damage combos. Activation of the Heat gauge is as simple as pressing a button, after which the gauge begins to deplete over time. While the gauge is active, even blocked attacks will inflict chip damage on the opponent. This feature is particularly effective when the opponent is low on health. When combined with the Rage Drive mechanic, the Heat gauge opens up the possibility for a highly aggressive and dynamic Tekken gameplay experience.
As a casual fan rather than a professional Tekken player, I found the introduction of the Heat gauge to be a welcome change. It lends the game a faster, more aggressive tempo, contrasting with Tekken 7’s emphasis on solid defense. Traditional mechanics like Wall Breaks and Juggles remain, making the process of mastering a character’s nuances an enjoyable aspect of the Closed Beta Test. Each character has been enhanced with new moves that are not only effective but also enjoyable to execute. While a comprehensive evaluation will have to wait until the full roster is revealed, the current selection of playable characters is quite satisfactory.
The Tekken Fight Lounge is an innovative feature brimming with potential. It places an online avatar of the player in a virtual lobby where various activities can be undertaken, from battling other players to engaging in mini-games or playing Tekken Beach Ball. Although the Closed Beta Test did not showcase all these features, my exploration provided a good sense of how they would function in the final version. Intriguingly, the lounge also allows for battles against the “ghosts” of other players, offering the tantalizing possibility of facing off against renowned professional Tekken players or even the game’s developers.
Another noteworthy improvement is the game’s netcode, which has been significantly upgraded for this sequel. The online matches I participated in were largely smooth, with low latency when paired with players from the same region. Even in instances where ping rates were elevated, between 200-300, the gameplay remained largely unaffected by lag. This is attributable to the implementation of rollback netcode, a technology that has proven effective in other fighting games like Street Fighter VI. Overall, these enhancements contribute to a more robust and enjoyable online experience.
Tekken 8 On Steam Deck
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Tekken 8 is compatible with the Steam Deck. While the Closed Beta Test did not offer options for visual adjustments, it did feature an auto-benchmarking system that assessed the hardware’s capabilities and provided a score. My PC received a score of around 700, whereas the Steam Deck scored 62. Despite this significant disparity, the gameplay on the Steam Deck was smooth, maintaining a frame rate of approximately 60 FPS. There were some frame rate drops during effects-heavy moves like Rage Art and Heat moves, but overall, the experience was quite satisfactory for casual gameplay.
The inclusion of offline modes such as Story and Tekken Force suggests that Tekken 8 could offer an engaging way to pass the time on the Steam Deck. It’s commendable that Bandai Namco has provided support for Valve’s handheld device right from the start. I am optimistic that further optimizations will be made to enhance the Steam Deck experience prior to the game’s official launch.