Tekken 8 Review: King of the Iron Fist Gloriously Continues

As someone heavily into fighting games, Tekken has always been one of my go-to franchises. I’ve played Tekken 7 for an unhealthy amount of time when it first came out. However, that game had minor flaws I wish Bandai Namco someday addressed. Now, as the series turns 30 years old, my prayers have been answered with the release of Tekken 8.

Thanks to an early copy from Bandai Namco, I got the chance to dive into a world that has hooked me ever since I can remember. It is an understatement to say that Tekken 8 tries to reinvent a legacy series. It is a game chock full of so many new aspects and features. Be it online or single-player, I’ve experienced it all. And without spoiling the entire review for you, I will say the devs have managed to create something marvelous with the existing system. With that said, here is my in-depth review of Tekken 8.

Let the King of the Iron Fist Begin

Tekken 8 continues the Mishima storyline, where the world is engulfed gets a war between Jin Kazama’s Mishima Zaibatsu and Kazuya Mishima’s G-Corporation. Taking place after Tekken 7, the game introduces us to a flashy fight in New York between Jin and Kazuya, duking it out while destroying everything in the process.

Tekken 8 isn’t afraid to bank on its legacy. The game excellently maintains the delicate balance between fights and the CGI cutscenes we’ve come to adore. There are some great throwbacks to the old cutscenes from previous games, which legacy players will appreciate.

Tekken 8’s story still carries that flashiness of its predecessor. I had an amazing time fighting on the prettiest reactive stages ever created. However, behind that sparkle, there lie problems. Well, once I got to nitpicking, the plot made less and less sense.

Reina, the brand-new character, has ulterior motives underneath her cutesy demeanor. However, her execution and that of the plot, in general, felt poor to me. In one example, which I won’t spoil, the game dismisses well-established lore for shock value. And sadly it turns out this is a recurring problem throughout the single-player story named The Dark Awakens.

Tekken 8 finally wraps up the Mishima storyline from Tekken 5. However, I felt the conclusion to the saga was rushed and barely made sense with the entire plot taken into context.

Regardless, if you treat it like an over-the-top wacky story, which it is, you can overlook the plot inconsistency and revel in the epic conclusion. And while the Dark Awakens campaign leaves much to be desired, the two other game modes don’t.

Duke out in the Character Episodes

Like previous games, Tekken 8 also features character episodes for every character. The only exceptions are Jun Kazama and Reina. Both will only be unlocked after you finish the main story. Character episodes are fun what-if scenarios, and each injects more life through this fighter-specific lore.

These are separate from the main plot and are still wacky and fun. You finish four matches per character, and their completion unlocks new items in-game. It is a great supplement to rinse your disappointment from the Dark Awakens. I found most of the stories here fun and got reminded of just how stupid Tekken stories can get.

Cutesy Tutorial Is a Nice Change

However, besides the storyline, there’s more new single-player content. Named Arcade Quest, this is a full-fledged game tutorial disguised as a story where you emulate the journey of a new player. You create your in-game character and then go through the process of learning the game and eventually becoming the world’s best Tekken player.

This game mode felt right at home. It helped me to brush up on the core game mechanics. And the newer mechanics were introduced more simply. So, it helped to gear up for the challenges. Plus, on its own, it is a good tool for players to warm up if they don’t have access to the Internet. If you are a newcomer, this is one game mode I would recommend.

Overall, the single-player content in Tekken 8 gave me just enough value. You have the usual customization options and Tekken Ball for the fun moments and the versus mode, among everything else. While it’s not as broad as Capcom’s Street Fighter 6, it is perfect for me. In the end, I almost got my money’s worth out of the plot.

The Brand-New Battle System Spices It Up

Besides the story that might not do justice to the Mishima storyline, Tekken 8 has received an uplift in the gameplay department, and one that immediately changes the entire vibe of the game. Tekken 7 was a risky fighting game. If you try to do anything stupid, you will get punished hard. This pushed players to play the game defensively.

However, Tekken 8 comes with a new feature called the Heat system, and this completely changes how the game works. Your character enters a unique state when activated using 2 + 4 (Triangle and Cross on a DualShock and Y and A on an Xbox controller). During this time, if the opponent blocks any of your attacks, they will lose health thanks to chip damage.

You can eat up to 40% of your opponent’s health on a confirmed hit. Incorporate it into a combo, and you have one hell of a combination. The chipped damage is denoted by a white silhouette on your health bar, and an opponent can enter heat to recover it.

You can also cancel your heat into a heat rush, which helps you extend your air combos. The Rage art returns, bigger and flashier. Each character has them, and it looks more extreme than Tekken 7. The core fighting mechanics are still intact. The legacy characters from Tekken 7 play similarly in Tekken 8, barring some changes.

For instance – Asuka, my main from Tekken 7, has received changes in the moves set. These minor changes have made some existing combos unplayable. And for new players who casually play the game, you have special styles.

These are auto-combos that the game will perform for you at a press of a button. So, you can enjoy Tekken 8 with your friends if they aren’t heavily into fighting games but casually want to enjoy it.

Overall, this new aggressive playstyle is right up my alley. I always prefer going headfirst on my opponents to deal extra damage to them. As such, the Heat system in Tekken 8 completely changes how everyone plays the series.

At the same time, the change isn’t extreme to the point where you won’t be able to adapt to it. Something like this favorably reinvents a series, where you don’t lose its identity but rather improve upon what is already perfect. With that said, I love this new system.

Test Your Might Online

Note: We couldn’t experience the Tekken Lounge mode and the new lobby as intended. Because of the limited netplay population and limitations, we never found anyone to test these features with. As such, we are refraining from making any particular comments on these game features. However, we will update you on these game modes once Tekken 8 goes live.

Modern fighting games these days are all about being online, and a pleasant experience that helps sustain interest. Tekken 8 has its rollback system and crossplay to thank for that. It works as intended, and I am happy to report that most of the limited matches we played during the review period were playable without any input delays. There were a few exceptions, but indicators were in place to help with the issue.

Out of the five matches we played, most of them ran flawlessly. We have played against a player with 65ms on Wi-Fi. We also battled against a wired player on a PC with a ping of 280ms and one playing on their PlayStation on Wi-Fi with 130ms. In all three cases, we experienced zero lag. However, there was an instance of 400ms, and that game felt painful.

The point is that the rollback performs its magic as it should. It has its limitations but gone are the painful Tekken 7 netplay days. After experiencing such an amazing online experience, I had a smile on my face. When you barely have any worries about slowdowns and stutters, you will immediately enjoy the gameplay.

It seems Bandai Namco’s partnership with Arika for the net code development worked in favor of both companies, and fans of the series will love what the team has in store for them.

Improve Your Knowledge in Practice Mode

The practice mode also gets a solid upgrade in Tekken 8. Everything previously featured in Tekken 7 has returned. You have every tool you could ever need. And you can take advantage of that based on your skill level.

Don’t understand the numbers mentioned in the frame data? Use the visual instructions. Do you want to learn some basic combos? Try out sample combos. Want to gain knowledge about punishing a character’s attacks on the block? Try punishment training. You don’t have to scour the internet for details. You always can, but the tools allow you to learn the fundamentals.

Once you’ve brushed up your knowledge on a character, you can start ranked or quick matchmaking directly from the practice screen. Such QoL changes always make me happy, and this is no different. Plus, the training mode has come a long way from the heydays of pre-Tekken 7.

Back then, the players had to rely on passionate groups of people noting every tiny detail about the game. So, seeing such accessible changes in the practice mode coming out on launch is appreciative. Honestly, I spent numerous hours in practice mode to learn Reina. So, find me in the Asia 1 lobbies when the game drops.

Tekken 8 Graphical Performance

Given that Tekken 8 runs on Unreal Engine 5, Bandai Namco ensured that they aim for the best visuals. Tekken 7 was criticized for dated character models, which happened because of the home versions carrying the arcade models.

Thankfully, that isn’t the case for Tekken 8, and utmost care has gone into fine-tuning every portion of the visuals. This has to be one of the best-looking fighting games on the market by a long shot.

For our review, we used a gaming rig with these components: CPU: AMD Ryzen 5600
Ram: 16GB DDR4 @ 3600MHz
Storage: WD SN570
Running the game on 1080p, 75Hz

Right off the bat, you get various graphical settings for the game. But, in the case of Tekken 8, you will get a maximum of 60FPS all the time, regardless of what hardware you choose. The difference here is maintaining a consistent frame rate. Otherwise, the netplay experience deteriorates, even with rollback.

Fortunately, Bandai Namco has added upscaling options. You get DLSS, FSR, and even Intel’s XeSS to use. These ensure that the game maintains its visuals without losing out on performance. We’ve played the game on both DLSS and without upscaling, and in both cases, we’ve had consistent performance.

For CPU-GPU utilization, we had variable CPU utilization where we saw ranges going from 16% to 32%. We experienced the GPU utilization jump from 20% to 39%. These numbers remained pretty much unchanged with or without DLSS.

Overall, the answer’s simple. If you have a PC with lower-end specs, it will be able to run Tekken 8 effortlessly. While the minimum specs say the game will run 60FPS low on a 1050 Ti, I doubt that. In that case, I suggest ditching the PC and getting a PS5.

Verdict: Is Tekken 8 Worth Fighting For?

Ultimately, Tekken 8 is a well-deserved sequel living up to expectations. The new battle system elevates the game experience, ensuring players can play aggressively. While the single-player story left a bit of a sour after-taste, the character stories retain the wacky fun the series is known for.

My biggest fear was how Tekken 8 would tackle the netcode and online experience. Thankfully, the title proves itself there and then some. The rollback implementation and crossplay support ensure a seamless experience. Furthermore, Bandai Namco has gone out of its way to make the training and tutorial the most accessible experience ever.

Tekken 8 successfully joins Street Fighter 6 and Guilty Gear: Strive, among others, ushering in the modern-age fighting game renaissance. And with years worth of content and updates ready to go at launch, it will only get better. With that, I recommend everyone to get Tekken 8 and enjoy the new combat experience.

Pros and Cons
The Pros
Brand new fighting system feels unique
UE5 backed visuals are gorgeous
Improved netcode over Tekken 7
The Cons
Conclusion to the Mishima saga is rushed
Plot-points pulled out of thin air
Final Verdict
Tekken 8
Tekken 8 introduces brand-new gameplay that reinvents the series, and creates a brand-new entry for newcomers and experienced players alike. While the main-story feels inconsistent, and at times rushed, the online experience, and the game-modes makes up for everything else. If anything, this is the best Tekken has ever been in its illustrious thirty years.
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