It’s been a lean few years for fans of 3D fighting games; with Virtua Fighter MIA and a lot of the smaller indie devs sticking exclusively to 2D fighters, Tekken 7 has a lot riding on it. While it’s been making waves in Japanese arcades for over a year now, the game has yet to receive a home release, and the “Early 2017” release date still seems pretty far off. The good news is that we played it at E3, and it looks well on its way to pulling players away from the struggling Street Fighter V.
It’s hard not to think that some of the new mechanics in Tekken 7 have been repurposed from the "on hiatus" sequel to Street Fighter X Tekken, Tekken X Street Fighter, which is currently exiled to a vague purgatory somewhere with Skullomania. The Power Crush move seems awfully familiar to SFIV’s focus attacks, a super armor move of varying lengths that can absorb attacks, while Rage Arts are clearly the game’s spin on SFIV’s Ultra attacks.
We played around with a few of the new characters, Akuma and Kazumi, Heihachi’s former wife. Akuma plays shockingly close to his Street Fighter counterpart, and players already familiar with the character will have no problem picking him up. Kazumi has more of a regal bent, with measured moves that incorporate her pet tiger.
Tekken 7 is billed as the conclusion to the Mishima clan saga, though we’ll believe that when we see it, as there are still plenty of people to throw into volcanoes. The single player story mode goes out of its way to incorporate between-fight cutscenes into the gameplay, using QTEs and dramatic cues that change the course of the fight. At one point Heihachi countered one of Akuma's moves and began to regenerate his entire health bar. The opening battle between Akuma and Heihachi seemed exceptionally heavily scripted though, and we’re not sure to what extent this will be replicated between the rest of the characters. Either way, it’s a move in the right direction that incentivizes new players into wanting to spend time with the single player, one of the major points Injustice 2 gets right.
Of the two major fighting games on display at E3 2016, Tekken 7 and Injustice 2, Tekken felt like the stronger offering, it looks great, has essentially been playtested in arcades for over a year, and the changes from its predecessor are clear. Will it be able to beat a game with some of the biggest comic book heroes in the world? That’s the rub. Tekken 7 launches on PS4, Xbox One and PC in early 2017.