There is a common trend nowadays in video games that center around competitive gameplay where the developers want to provide some way for newcomers and more casual fan to have a better experience. Bandai Namco has been experimenting with this a lot, but Tekken 8 seems to have struck gold with a new approach to its battle systems.
For fighting games, making a title approachable is challenging because the gameplay relies so heavily on stringing together combos and learning the intricacies of how different characters interact in motion. Simplify things too much though and devs run the risk of stripping away at the depth that keeps players invested and coming back years after release.
As a result, Bandai is taking what Tekken 7 started with its Easy Combo and Assist features a step further in Tekken 8, combining the two into a new Special Style of controls that could revolutionize how players approach learning the game.
How does Tekken 8’s Special Style control scheme work?
T8’s Special Style is a toggleable feature that players can turn on and off mid-battle at any time—even while being hit. It will display a set list of commands on screen that are mapped to the four main buttons on a controller or arcade stick, giving players instant access to certain moves that might otherwise be locked behind certain strings of inputs.
For example, mid-match, a player can toggle the Special Style controls on and quickly hit a button three times in succession to juggle a player through an Air Combo without having to memorize the combo themselves.
As game producer Michael Murray put it, this is a way for players of all skill levels to get right into the action with any character on T8’s roster without having to spend too much time looking at a move list or learning commands when switching between fighters.
It will greatly reduce the learning curve for entry-level players and emulates a type of action game style that could potentially be more appealing to newcomers.
“This was not [made] just to be accessible for newcomers to the series,” Murray said. “The thinking is that if we’re going to make something special, no pun intended, we wanted it to be something that would be appealing to intermediate or advanced players as well. Something that they would want to use.”
Murray specifically pointed out that just because this gives everyone easy access to strong moves, it won’t make it so any player could challenge Tekken world champion Jae-Min “Knee” Bae. Instead, it can be used by players of all skill levels, including top players, like a tool found in other types of games like a shooter.
This decision was also paired with a distinct development focus on making it easier for anyone watching or playing to understand the momentum of a battle through various visual and character enhancements.
“In other games like a shooter, for example, there are mechanics common across the entire game,” Murray said. “You can switch guns and it’s not radically different, but fighting games are such that when you change characters, everything is drastically different and there is a lot you have to learn for each one. This is supposed to take that main obstacle of learning something like that out and make the barrier [of entry] much lower.”
The hope is, with access to a control scheme that will streamline the process of getting the hang of new characters, newcomers will be more likely to have fun just hopping in and trying out new things. Meanwhile, for more experienced players, this can be used as a tool to quickly convert specific moves or as a training tool when picking up new characters.
It is also important to note that, unlike Street Fighter 6’s Modern Control option, T8’s Special Style won’t have a penalty either. Every move performed through this set of menus will deal just as much damage as it would if it was input normally—which shows Bandai’s commitment to it being a useful tool rather than just an accessibility measure.