Tekken 8’s biggest strength is amazingly ‘simple’ path for players to improve faster

Two Tekken experts weigh in on how the game levels players up.
jin and reina in tekken 8 arena
Screenshot by Dot Esports

Tekken 8 has fighting game players new and old hitting the sticks hard early this year, grinding ranked or learning the game to reach that point eventually. While there are still hiccups, T8 has streamlined the process of leveling up your game.

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Tekken 8 brings a lot of firsts to the franchise that makes it the most accessible for new players, whether it be the Special Style controls letting players pull off combo moves with one button press or the replay system that lets you jump into gameplay and test different scenarios. Pair that with improved online and multiple modes designed to help players learn at a higher than casual level, and Bandai Namco may have opened the floodgates when it comes to player growth.

Spag and Tasty Steve working a Red Bull Pindrop set.
Spag and Tasty Steve know their Tekken. Photo via Red Bull

Coming from a game like Tekken 7, where players evolved with the game over nearly a decade from its arcade release in February 2015, T8’s innovations provide some much-needed upgrades for anyone looking to learn the game. During the Red Bull Pindrop T8 event, we got insight from two of the game’s master commentators, Spag and Tasty Steve, regarding the simplified nature of approaching Tekken.

“I’m both scared and excited because Tekken 7 because, through the pandemic and even 2019 people started joining the community and getting good really quickly,” Spag said to Dot Esports. “Mind you, there’s not a lot of features in Tekken 7 that can help you like the way Tekken 8 has tackled like the replays and tips.”

Spag, a high-level player and analyst, pointed out the updated replay options as a key to T8 being incredibly special for competitive growth. For him, being able to visually see the thing that can get you the win can only be useful in ironing out weaknesses for players looking to improve. So, the ability to jump in and practice or experiment with things causing you issues in your matches or visual tips explaining what you could have done differently across several scenarios is a tool built right into the game. “The my replay, tips, and tutorials are really going to ramp up the amount of improvement and the number of top-level play we have in Tekken 8,” Spag said.

Jumping from that to the Special Style, it was originally viewed as an option to help new or casual players see how characters work by allowing easy access to combos and special actions. Since it was reworked during the closed network tests last year, however, even the developers think it could impact high-level play to an extent.

“Special Style is something else that you use to bring in people who might not be as competitive,” Tasty Steve said. “It makes it a lot more fun for people who aren’t tryharding or into training mode. It’s a complete package.”

Spag noted that, as players continue experimenting with the various characters and learning the benefits Special Style can bring to the table, there is a chance they could create their own tier list based on how strong those options are. Even beyond giving players an easy out to pull off technical moves like the Misihimas’ Electric Wind God Fist, it also lowers the barrier of entry for those just looking to have fun and brings another level of simplicity.

All of this doesn’t mean that the highest level of Tekken isn’t just as precise—on the contrary, some things still can’t be pulled off using Special Style, just like Street Fighter 6’s Modern Controls. It just means there is more to work with on a competitive and casual level.

“I think [it adds to] the simplicity of it all. [Tekken is] literally like a boxing match, you see a life bar, you see two people fighting, and then they’re punching, when it gets to zero, boom, that’s it,” Steve said. “Obviously, they have all this other stuff kind of like put in there. But I think that’s one of the draws of it, right? If you compare Tekken to any other game, even still, it literally has the least amount of interactions on the screen with just a timer, life bars, and everybody’s got a heat gauge. There’s nothing else and I think the simplicity of it plays to it.”

With Tekken World Tour’s next season on April 13 and Evo Japan not far behind, we won’t have to wait long to see an early version of how Tekken 8 is leveling up the competition.

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Author
Cale Michael
Lead Staff Writer for Dota 2, the FGC, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more who has been writing for Dot Esports since 2018. Graduated with a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University and also previously covered the NBA. You can usually find him writing, reading, or watching an FGC tournament.