What the closed network test reveals about “Tekken 8”: We tested the high-gloss brawler extensively and reveal why the heat system turns the series upside down.
“Tekken” and “PlayStation” – This has been a partnership for almost thirty years now. The first part of Namco’s series of beatings was released in 1994 for the first generation of PlayStation. At that time, the game was one of the absolute flagships of the platform and impressed with polygon brawlers and three-dimensional arenas.
Now “Tekken 8” is in the starting blocks. The game was announced on Sony’s State of Play in September 2022, but an exact release date is still missing. From July 21st to July 24th, however, the closed network test raged and gave us the chance to test the new brawl game in detail.
Crossplay and fighter selection
Similar to “Street Fighter 6” recently, “Tekken 8” also tries to draw newcomers into the game. For this purpose there is a tutorial and a simplified control mode, with which you can carry out powerful actions faster and easier. The game contained 16 characters, which of course all have different styles and actions. Leopard fighter King, for example, relies on wrestling action, while MMA expert Martial Law relies on traditional martial arts and is heavily inspired by Bruce Lee.
In the closed network test, only ranking battles were possible in online mode. Conveniently, you didn’t stare at a loading screen while scouting for potential participants. Rather, the game switched to the arena, where you could beat up a defenseless computer opponent in sparring.
This mechanic made sure that you could warm up again before the actual match. By the way, “Tekken 8” supports crossplay between the different platforms. In the closed network test, we were able to filter other players based on their level of experience and their connection quality.
“Tekken 8” is staged with an enormous amount of bombast: the characters are modeled down to the smallest detail and are therefore bursting with recognition value. In the course of the fight itself, the brawler repeatedly relies on powerful effects and even on smaller cutscenes – for example when triggering the rage action. Fortunately, the right balance can be found here so that effects and overlays don’t damage the action or completely destroy the overview.
do you feel the heat
In terms of play, “Tekken 8” remains true to the tradition of the series: two buttons for punches, two buttons for kicks. In addition throws and of course combo and special actions with the help of complicated key combinations. Due to the shorter distances, it is even worth switching from the analog stick to the digital cross in “Tekken 8”. Professionals grab an arcade controller anyway and have all the actions combined in the smallest space.
The most important innovation is undoubtedly the heat system. There is now a blue bar under your energy display. If you have filled these up, you can activate the heat mode once per fight. On the one hand, this strengthens standard attacks and also increases the chances of blocks. On the other hand, the heat mode also brings new moves into the repertoire. For example, you have an air attack with which you first throw an opponent up and then ram it back into the ground.
In addition, there is the so-called “heat engager”. After a powerful blow, your character switches directly to the sprint and can attack the opponent who is still battered directly. The “Heat Dash” or the “Heat Smash” prove to be similarly fast and aggressive. Both actions cause a lot of damage and, above all, throw the player off balance.
That’s where I get angry!
In the preliminary round, it quickly became apparent that waiting a long time and, above all, individual actions do not lead to success. Instead, it is about recognizing and countering attacks, but above all about the right timing for counterattacks.
In “Tekken”, “juggling” – i.e. juggling a defenseless opponent in the air – has always been considered good manners. In the eighth part, this aspect is even more dominant. And so we are literally driven through the arenas in the first matches and hardly find a gap for counterattacks. The learning curve is therefore steep, especially in online mode, but at the same time it is immensely satisfying to keep an opponent in the air with a powerful punch combination.
If your energy supply drops to a minimum, you gain access to Rage mode. Your own game character then shimmers red and by pressing one of the shoulder buttons you ignite a last act of desperation, with which you steal a quarter of your opponent’s life energy. For our taste, however, this action is (still) too powerful. Too many matches in the closed network test boiled down to who could get their rage move on target. While this may make for exciting showdowns, it also feels very unsatisfying at times.
All in all, however, “Tekken 8” already makes a very good first impression. The game looks absolutely first-class and, with its powerful effects, once again underlines the more aggressive and offensive gameplay compared to its predecessors.
Nevertheless, Bandai Namco still has to work on the balance of the game: “Juggling” in particular was still too powerful for our taste. And after we went down, the game didn’t give us enough chances to get back on our feet safely. Evasive steps weren’t nearly as effective as we would have liked, either. But as we all know, there is still time for such details.
I confess: In the first five or six matches in the network test, I just got my snout. But this lesson has paid off. Apparently my tactics were wrong.
So I adjusted my strategy. I blocked more, waited for combos and, above all, looked for time windows for my own combinations to whirl opponents through the air and thus cause permanent damage. I always kept an eye on the heat and rage display. Because they often decided about victory or defeat.
Underneath its glossy shell, “Tekken 8” is an extremely demanding, but above all strategic, fighting game. As much as it rewards offensive action, it also punishes careless advances. So you always have to find the right balance and that’s what makes the fights so exciting.