Tekken 8 comes out on January 26 for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S, and reviews are popping up ahead of the game’s release date. It’ll be the eighth mainline entry in Bandai Namco Entertainment’s long-running franchise, and it seems critics are enjoying the game, with Tekken 8 currently boasting a score of 90 out of 100 across review aggregators Metacritic and OpenCritic.

Read More: Tekken 8 Will Fix A Potentially Dangerous Feature After Outcry
Pre-order Tekken 8: Amazon | Best Buy | Humble Bundle | Target

The Tekken franchise has such an intricately layered story and difficult-to-master mechanics that it can be hard for new players to get into the games. While Succession’s Brian Cox recently did an excellent job breaking down the events that lead up to Tekken 8, critics are saying that the latest game’s various features, such as the combo-extending Heat system and the health recovery mechanic, make this one of the most approachable entries in the Tekken series. That means it’s one that both newcomers and veterans will be able to enjoy.

Kotaku plans to review Tekken 8 once we can get our hands on it, so we can see for ourselves if the fighting game is indeed more welcoming to newbies. But until then, let’s take a look at what other publications have said about the latest, highly anticipated installment in the iconic franchise.

That’s what Tekken 8 is all about: There are surprises around every corner. Characters I never cared about ended up being my favorites. Gameplay mechanics I felt might be too overtuned actually brought even more depth to the series. And the only thing I can say about its wildly entertaining story is to let out a positive, “bruh.” Though a few bum modes weigh down the package, Tekken 8 is another victory for the long-running series. — DeAngelo Epps

Tekken 7 was the epitome of these frustrations for me, a game that only taught you a sliver of what you could actually do during the main story mode, didn’t feature a tutorial outside of this, and then had the gall to try to sell players frame data for its practice mode as DLC after the fact. When compared to Tekken 8, the two games could not feel more distinct, and it’s all the better for it. For the first time in the series history, I can confidently say that I finally feel like I know what I’m doing. — Lewis Parker

The Heat system is the big new addition, adding a new gauge that, when activated, adds chip damage to attacks, buffs your blocks, and even adds follow-up moves to extend certain combos. My favorite use is spending the full meter to unleash a unique and powerful combo attack, and weaving this into an assault can be devastating. Heat offers a fun and effective new trick that rewards aggression while also providing a solid counter to an opponent’s relentless assault. Combined with the returning Rage system, it’s another way to help turn the tide of a one-sided battle without feeling like a protective crutch—pure skill still wins the day. — Marcus Stewart

With Heat being so important throughout Tekken 8, you’ll quite quickly begin to understand Heat Engagers, where you enter Heat mid-combo instead of activating it with a single button – not only giving you more meter to begin with but also allowing you to close the gap and get stuck in quicker. Tied to each fighter’s key moves, the fluidity of this system makes using and discovering Hear Engagers feel natural. — Oscar Taylor-Kent

The Heat Smash attacks are some of the flashiest in the entire game. They’re similar to Rage Arts—the one-time-use super move only available at critical health—but they no longer require waiting until you’re near-death to use them, so they can be strategically employed at any time rather than being akin to a comeback mechanic employed in desperate and dire moments. They also inject more of Tekken’s personality into each match; one of my favorite Heat Smashes belongs to Kuma, the massive brown bear, who bludgeons his opponent with a comically large fish, only for said fish to then hopelessly flop around the arena for the remainder of the round. It’s a powerful move with funny execution at the end, and I’ll always appreciate that. — Jason Fanelli

Movement, spacing, block punishing, and whiff punishing all remain as vital as ever, but two significant additions also twist those mechanics in exciting ways: recoverable health, and the Heat System. For the first time in Tekken history, other than the Tekken Tag Tournament games, recoverable health plays a major part in matches. Blocking big attacks and taking chip damage, absorbing them with a Power Crush, or being hit after getting knocked airborne will do partial gray damage. The only way to get this health back is by throwing out your own attacks, as you won’t recover at all by just standing still and blocking – you have to go on the offensive to reclaim your life, and this made me adapt my mindset in a wonderful way. — Ronny Barrier

A more drastic onboarding change is the inclusion of Arcade Quest, which functions as both an extended tutorial and as an esports story mode where you climb the ranks in the Tekken competitive scene. It does a good job at breaking lessons down into bite-sized chunks, having you apply these learnings in a procession of matches before moving on to the next point in the curriculum. Another smart move is that each of the different arcades you visit while trying to reach the Tekken World Tour finals (which is the series’ real-life tournament circuit) has opponents with different playstyles that can be countered by applying the most recent lesson, allowing the tactical implications of these techniques to sink in. — Elijah Gonzalez 

Tekken 8‘s story is filled with little callbacks to previous games and references that long-time fans will absolutely eat up. It doesn’t do a fantastic job of tying up every loose end, but it gives nods to a ton of stuff that I think veteran Tekken heads will be happy with. Even if this is your first Tekken game, it’s a story that’s action-packed enough to find plenty of drama and entertainment in, and there are primers to catch you up on the story if you need a refresher. — Mollie Taylor

Unfortunately, there’s not much here to keep you playing after you wrap up the brief story, and the tutorials still leave a lot of important fundamentals unexplained. It’s not bad, by any means, and its inclusion is a net positive. Not every fighting game needs to be painstakingly crafted to be the perfect first fighting game, but it’s still hard to shake the recent memory of Street Fighter 6’s joyous, deep story mode and comprehensive tutorial systems. Tekken is my favorite fighting game series, and I wish Tekken 8 had the beginner-friendly appeal needed to pull all my friends into its orbit. But I don’t think it’s quite there. Thankfully, training mode has seen some helpful upgrades since Tekken 7. — Patrick Gill

If this review appears glowing, frankly that’s how I feel about the game. It’s without a doubt my favourite fighting game out right now, and I’ve been fiending to get back online ever since they took the pre-release servers down. The one scratch on the game’s spotless form is online infrastructure that doesn’t quite live up to other games on the market right now, which makes it hard to recommend to those with separated friend groups or subpar online connections. If neither of those apply to you, Tekken 8 is absolutely worth picking up at your earliest convenience. — Connor Makar

Read More: Let Succession’s Brian Cox Serenade You With Tekken 8 Lore
Pre-order Tekken 8: Amazon | Best Buy | Humble Bundle | Target

It certainly sounds like Tekken 8 is the best the series has been in a minute. Between the improved training mode and new mechanics that make comebacks more feasible, Bandai Namco Entertainment seems set to release a banger Tekken game that’s not as “anti-beginner” as many of the previous entries. And when it joins the ranks of Granblue Fantasy: Versus, Mortal Kombat 1, and Street Fighter 6, we’ll really be in a golden age of fighting games. And that rules.

 



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