Katsuhiro Harada discusses Tekken 8’s more aggressive style

Tekken 8 and its new features seem to emphasized a faster and more aggressive playstyle, and Harada explained why they designed it so.

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We recently got a chance to play Tekken 8 in a media preview event where UnGeek and other members of the Southeast Asian gaming press were able to ask questions to Tekken series director Katsuhiro Harada and game designer Michael Murray.

Tekken as a franchise has developed to be one of the most aggressive fighting games in the market. Tekken 7’s excellent Rage System has made for some exhilarating game comebacks from casual play or even the esports side of the series. There’s already confirmation that it’s coming back to Tekken 8 but that’s not all of it.

During our play session, we were given the chance to play around with a build of Tekken 8 and try out the much-touted Heat System. When activated at any point in the match, the player will enter a Heat State where they will gain access to some special moves and enhancements depending on what character they’re using. 

The Heat and Rage systems all combine to make Tekken 8 the most visceral and thrilling game in the franchise so far. There are a lot of offensive play-making capabilities in these systems when in the hands of an experienced player. 

However, this did cause some concerns about whether or not Tekken 8 was going in the direction of being too aggressive. Harada explains the nature of fighting games and how people tend to forget how powerful defensive options can be:

You have to think about how fighting games are unique as a genre. For example, in a shooter, you can’t guard against bullets, right? Or at least in general. Fighting is the only genre that allows you to actually block and not take damage as a core mechanic. So if you’re successful in blocking and dodging, you can win a game by doing mostly that. 

Murray emphasized during his presentation that Tekken 8 was going to double down on the “thrills and excitement” that the franchise has always been trying to provide. Not only are they providing gameplay improvements to ensure this, but they also have the player and viewer experience in mind when developing the new systems. Harada explains:

With that, it can be said that for fighting games, defense has always been really strong. And in some games or in some instances, may be a bit too strong because of the timer running out or whatever. I don’t know if that’s fun for the people playing but is it fun for the people watching? Maybe not either. 

While the Heat System does feel dominating when used perfectly alongside a successful string of combos, we can properly attest that it is not completely impossible to guard against it. Sidestepping and blocking are still very useful in Tekken 8 and we even had instances where both Heat States and Rage Arts were completely neglected just because of good positioning and blocking. 

Harda ensures that even if Tekken 8 is providing more offensive options, defensive playstyles are still very much viable:

More than making the offense oppressively strong, it’s more about taking the genre that a lot of times has defense being a bit too strong and just dialing back a bit because the offensive options are a little bit more than what we had before. You really have to think of it uniquely compared to other genres. It’s not like we have to make defense options stronger because we added more offensive systems. It’s that already, defensive options are already quite strong. 

The new gameplay systems make Tekken 8 one of the best-feeling fighting games to play with. It’s fast, aggressive, methodical, and it hits so much harder than any of its predecessors. We can’t wait to see more of it in the full release. 

Tekken 8 will be released on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC soon. Though there’s currently no word yet on a release date or window for the game.