Soulcalibur VI is in the middle of making some huge changes to its core gameplay after only being on the market for a year. Bandai Namco is putting a lot of effort into making sure its fighting games never feel stale by reworking key mechanics, adding new systems, and ensuring that fans will have new characters to play.
Motohiro Okubo is one of the lead producers of the game after being in a similar role with Bandai Namco’s other major fighting game title, Tekken 7. His experience from Tekken shows since the flow of combat and attention to detail for Soulcalibur VI has several similarities, including these upcoming changes.
Initially, the game was released to high reviews and a warm reception from the fan base that waited six years for a new title. But even though this is Okubo’s first time working on a game in the Soulcalibur series, he stressed the fact that his team is focused on balancing both the casual and competitive experience.
As the next season of DLC fighters and combat system changes begin to roll out, Okubo talked with Dot Esports about the selection process for DLC, balancing key gameplay elements, and how important the community is to the developers.
How much has the community support meant to you and the developers of this game? It’s the first game in just over six years, but the community seems to have latched on early and really stuck with it since release. How does that sort of early support make you feel?
Okubo: I think I can openly say that for us (developers), the community is everything to us. Without their support, we would not be able to do anything like this. If we focus just on Soulcalibur VI, it took a long time after releasing Soulcalibur V. And looking over the history of the franchise, sadly some people left the community, and that always happens.
I do think that maybe if we released a little earlier, we would have at least a little bit bigger community. But the good thing is that the people who stayed and waited for the game really love Soulcalibur. They have big passion and we are happy to see that the community likes and enjoys playing Soulcalibur VI very much. We really appreciate the current community and we want to keep it going by supporting it with whatever we can do.
This is the most depth put into a Soulcalibur game in a competitive sense and that’s really helped boost the esports scene for the game a lot. How does that kind of stuff affect your outlook on development in balancing the game? Does it have a big impact on your team’s mentality?
There were many requests that we received, but obviously we cannot achieve all of those changes. But some of them we understand and are working on, but they will take time to implement because it is not always easy. If we input one system for just one move, it could break the overall balance.
The changes we focused on and showed are the new Reversal Edge and a new system that will use gauge. We are aware of the risk of implementing the new systems, so what we will do and are currently doing is take our time while implementing them to make it work. Even when just working on the Reversal Edge, we had a lot of users saying that it could be a balance breaker for the game and there are still some who don’t like it (Reversal Edge).
We took a lot of time approaching season two, and I think most of our users will be satisfied with how we balanced it. This whole process is a balance of important communication with our users and how long we take with the implementation.
How does the crossover portion of your game weigh on you? There are obviously so many characters people would love to see in the game, but how do you go about picking fighters that fit Soulcalibur? How exciting is the process of choosing and what goes into the decisions?
I think knowing the character that will be the guest, knowing and respecting the original is important. We want to add and have fun with each guest character and balance is last. The character has to be fun and needs distinct characteristics for us to use. And as a result, seeing how players use the character at first before we add a little bit of balance work is the best case.
I am quite relaxed as I sit here today because you have seen the results already and how things are balanced. The most important thing is how you characterize each guest and what kind of strategy could be made against all of these other characters. How you play and have fun is the most important part of the battle mechanics.
What’s one message you would like to say to your community if this interview could reach all of your players?
My gratitude to the community is very hard to say in English. I can’t express with my words how great the community is and how great the players are.
After we released the game, the game itself is up to each user. Of course we discuss and we design around this theory we had of how Soulcalibur VI would be, how we wanted it to be. I think every player knows what we wanted to implement into Soulcalibur VI and how they use the battle system has overcome our expectations. So all I have is a thank you for the community.
What we need to do for the community is to keep providing new content and news so the community can expand more. I hope season two will let that happen and everyone will be happy with it. So we will keep on adding new things. Not only the characters or the creation parts, but we want to add more new stages, new game modes, and improvements.
Because we want to add so much, it may take some time for the new things to come. So I am sorry, but please know that we are working hard on developing everything for season two, so please be patient and await it.