Tekken 8 – Hands-on Preview

Tekken 8 – Hands-on Preview

In just over a month, the eighth entry in the long-running Tekken series will be upon us. Though I have absolutely no experience with the series, Bandai Namco were kind enough to invite me along to preview some of the game’s most exciting new features – and thankfully, it turns out this game might just be the perfect entry point into the series for a beginner like me, while still having plenty on offer for longtime fans. Across Tekken 8’s multitude of game modes, I’d be surprised if there isn’t something for everyone to at least dip their toes into.

Story Mode

I was able to experience the first four chapters of story mode, and let me tell you – it looks like it’s going to be wild. Did I have context for the fact that what seem to be the two main characters grow devil wings and shoot lasers from their forehead? No. Do I think the game needed me to have context, or that it would have helped? Also no. For those a little more intune with the lore – the game centres around a longstanding fight between Jin Kazama and Kazuya Mishima, the latter of which seems hell-bent on ruining the world. The two both possess a ‘devil gene’ which gives them otherworldly powers when activated, and while Kazuya seems able to tap into his at will, Jin’s is a little more unpredictable. This sets the scene for what I’m guessing is a sort of good vs. evil deal that involves a massive tournament and a long-term feud. Honestly, whether or not you understand the lore, the cutscenes are over-the-top in an extremely fun way. Just let yourself be along for the ride.

The Characters

You can check out the full roster of characters and some backstory for each one on the game’s official website. Some of them seem to be literal animals. In the parts I played, the game didn’t feel the need to offer an explanation for this, and I kinda respect its confidence. The new characters – Reina, Azucena and Victor – are all great fun to play, especially Azucena who is very light on her feet and Victor who brings an interesting spy energy.

New Fighting Features

There are a few ways that Tekken 8 is spicing up the action. The first, which will be of more interest to seasoned fighters, is the introduction of the ‘Heat’ mechanic. Both fighters start each round with a full Heat Gauge that allows them to perform a special move while also increasing their power. These special moves seem to be unique to each character, and are only available once per round. After that, Heat can be built up again over time and activated to give increased power, but without the added special move. 


For newcomers, the real drawcard is the introduction of ‘Special Style’, which simplifies its combat by assigning combos to simple button presses. Instead of remembering complex combos for each character, you can perform impressive takedowns with one button. It makes you feel awesome from the moment you step into the arena, and gives you a fighting chance against those that have been playing for years. You might not win the fight, sure, but you won’t get completely ruined without a shot at getting a few hits in. 

Arcade Quest

Perhaps the most intriguing mode (particularly for a newcomer) is Arcade Quest – a solo mode that allows you to create an avatar and play around in a cute, fictional world where Tekken fandom levels are at an all-time high. Your character is new to the game, and as they try to make it big in the competitive Tekken world, the game will also teach you (the player) the ropes. It’s almost like an immersive extended tutorial with customisation elements, and it has an undeniable charm to it that pulls you in and makes you want to learn. I didn’t get to play through to the end, of course, but even after playing the first few challenges, I did find my fighting improved in the other modes. Also, the avatar you get to make can sport some seriously cool styles – I wish I looked as good as the mini-me I made.

Super Ghost Battles

Ghost battles allow you to basically learn to fight against yourself, and in doing so, can help you learn to counter specific fighting styles. Over time, your ‘ghost’ will learn any and all attacks you use against it, so you can train it in any style you particularly want to practice against. If you don’t want it to learn something, you simply can’t use that attack against it – it introduces an interesting new level of strategy to your training.

Practice and Vs Mode

As always, you can jump in and battle it out against friends or a computer-controlled opponent and build your skills with (or against) any character you like. This is the playground for seasoned players, and where you go once Arcade Mode has taught you how to actually execute combos.

Tekken Ball

If you haven’t experienced it before, TEKKEN Ball is like a weird, extremely violent volleyball, in which players execute their moves against a giant ball that they then pelt across a court at their opponent to inflict damage. You haven’t experienced life until you’ve experienced stepping into the shoes of a giant, kind-eyed panda and swatting a huge beach ball at a giant demon man. It’s truly absurd, in a way that I’m learning only Tekken can be.

So Tekken is... fun, actually?

It looks like it! I’m not a fighting game person, so I was skeptical stepping into this preview session. I expected to be impeded by an impossibly steep learning curve that could only be overcome by years of practice. But that wasn’t what I found. Tekken 8, it seems, is ready to welcome newcomers with open arms – and I hope it finds an audience of people willing to give it a try.


Tekken 8 is set to release on January 26th for PS5, PC and Xbox Series S|X.  

Time Until Launch (January 26, 2024)


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