TEKKEN 8 Preview: “I Must Walk The Path of Carnage Again”

Image Credit: Bandai Namco

The last couple of years have been big for fighting games with the release of the long-awaited Mortal Kombat 1 and Street Fighter 6. Now, heading into 2024, a not-so-new kid is back on the block, TEKKEN 8. The TEKKEN franchise hasn’t seen a new title since 2015, and now, eight years later, fans experience the carnage on current-gen consoles. 

I was lucky enough to fly out to Los Angeles ahead of The Game Awards to go hands-on with TEKKEN 8 for the first time, and I have to say, I’m impressed. TEKKEN 8 picks up where 7 left off, with the story following Jin’s battle against his father and his journey to master his powers. A very badass line stood out in the bit of story I saw, “I must walk the path of carnage again,” and boy, does he! I don’t want to spoil any story beats, but I played through chapters one through four for the TEKKEN 8 preview and was oddly drawn to the plot.

Personally, I never really consider the storyline in a fighting game. It was always jumping in and battling it out or simply beating out every other character to progress through the ranks. With TEKKEN 8, it felt like there was depth to the characters and their surroundings. Watching the scenes with subtitles, I could still feel what the characters were going through. 

I definitely attribute part of this to the stellar graphics now that the power of current-gen consoles is at the dev’s fingertips. Close-ups saw skin glistening and each individual pore on Jin’s face while he battles with flashbacks of his mother. 

The game direction also felt outstanding, best used in these flashbacks, where the team clearly distinguished these memories with a dreamlike effect. It was something you’d see in a blockbuster movie, not a fighting game most well-known in arcades. Even the credits are set over a complete scene. I saw no part of the game that didn’t feel completely intentional. Everything has a purpose.

Something I really enjoy about TEKKEN 8 is the customization. There are tons of options, and you can store pre-set choices and swap between them. You can design your fighter and Avatar and use Fight Money to unlock more. You will earn this throughout the game; your purchases are entirely cosmetic. I fell in love with the new character, Reina, and I made a pretty epic version of her that I will have to recreate later.

Battling is pretty intense and has its own distinct style compared to flashbacks and cut scenes. The audio is best described as electric, and the colors and movement on screen are intense and fast. Fighting games are known for their combo moves, and TEKKEN 8 is no different, but this time around, Bandai Namco and Arika have opted to add a new way to play: Special Style.

Special style will likely outrage the hardcore TEKKEN players, but in reality, it will make TEKKEN 8 and fighting games more accessible to every kind of game. Essentially, pressing the bumper on your controller will move you into a mode that allows you to be a button masher to your heart’s content. There will be a guide on the left side explaining which buttons do what, and instead of more complicated button combinations, you can hit the same button repeatedly.

The team behind the game described this mode a little differently than I do, though. Their aim for Special Style is to allow the player to focus more on spacing and timing in a battle rather than memorizing combos. I’m not a skilled fighting game player, but I always loved it growing up, battling against my brother or at parties with friends. TEKKEN 8 will make a franchise that is often a bit unwelcoming to new players completely playable for the first time, and I’m here for it. This isn’t the only way they welcome new players to the franchise. 

TEKKEN 8 also features a new mode called Arcade Quest. It is essentially an RPG mode where you work up the ranks at an arcade. You start with a trainer, which is a unique way to walk through the game’s tutorial, helping players learn combos or basic gameplay. From there, you battle NPCs, practice, and perfect how you fight, all the way up to the TEKKEN World Tour.

Arcade Quest has a completely different vibe than the other modes. Everything from the cutesy graphics to the very classic arcade-style music is on point. But there isn’t the same attention to detail here as the rest of the game. Because it isn’t as in-depth, you will have dialogue at the bottom of the screen, and the character’s mouths move, but there is no sound since it isn’t voice-acted. 

Small things like this feel a bit strange, but overall, I think the mode will be very popular. You can also run around the map and see other players online in the TEKKEN Fight Lounge. Here, you’ll be able to challenge people online, too.

While battling others, you might need to perfect your craft a little. Thankfully, through practice rounds, you will have the opportunity to learn and grow as a player. One way, called Super Ghost Battle, will have you fighting a copy of yourself that uses AI learning to study the way you play and teach you to fight against, well, yourself, basically. To further hone your skills, there is also My Replay and Tips, where you can watch your videos back, and the game will actually teach you how to improve with tips telling you what you could have done or how you could have avoided something, etc. 

TEKKEN 8 will also let you practice things from the midway point. For instance, say you’re trying to land a combo but keep missing the second or third step. Before, you would have to start at the beginning and run through the whole thing, but in TEKKEN 8, you can start part of the way through to save time and frustration.

So what sets TEKKEN 8 apart from the long list of fighting games? Well, the new gameplay modes are more welcoming to less-experienced players. But the differences are also in the small details. Mortal Kombat 1 features animations and audio that are gorey, whereas TEKKEN 8 feels more vibrant and flashy. And, of course, you can be a bear, so there’s that.

Instead of a left-to-right battle, the 16 battle stages are a full 360-degree stage. Though you’re still only moving back and forth, the screen will often rotate, giving you a different angle to see things from. Your battles also affect the sets, so barriers may get smashed, etc., during a fight. TEKKEN 8 also has the longest-running continuous story (seriously, they have a Guinness World Record), so there is plenty of lore to take in.

Oh, and TEKKEN Ball. TEKKEN 8 is bringing back TEKKEN Ball. Two players beat a ball back and forth, and it accumulates damage. Whoever gets hit first takes it all. I personally found this mode a bit boring, but that is because it is slower-paced than actual fights. You have to take time to save your combos, strategize, and block, where I just want to blow away anything in my path. 

Is TEKKEN 8 flawless? I wouldn’t say so. The graphics and style clearly blew me away, but, as with most games, there were definitely some issues. If you’re knocked to the ground, you can stay down and end up pushed all over the floor. A few times, I would see Kuma’s fur push through his vest or a foot inside another player’s head. However, it is still early, so there is plenty of time to work the kinks out.

And even more good news! Though TEKKEN 8 releases on January 26th, 2024, a playable demo will be available for PS5 on December 14th and Xbox Series X|S and Steam on December 21st! Now is as good a time as any to jump into the TEKKEN franchise on Unreal Engine 5 and experience all it has to offer with current-gen technology. This means you, too, casual fans. TEKKEN 8 is the one for you!


  • Dayna Eileen

    Dayna is an all-Canadian long-time gamer and geek. She absolutely loves introducing the people she knows to her love for gaming and nerd culture. You can often find her writing about tech, gaming and media across the web.

Dayna Eileen

Written by Dayna Eileen

Dayna is an all-Canadian long-time gamer and geek. She absolutely loves introducing the people she knows to her love for gaming and nerd culture. You can often find her writing about tech, gaming and media across the web.

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