Tekken 8 is introducing a brand new gameplay mechanic called the Heat System. When activated, this will give the player new special moves and enhancements depending on the character being used.
Earlier this month, we got to play a build of Tekken 8 in an exclusive media preview event alongside other Southeast Asian gaming press. Afterward, we got to speak with Tekken series director Katsuhiro Harada and game designer Michael Murray for feedback and their own insights regarding the new design choices made.
During Michael Murray’s presentation, he explained that Tekken 8’s design philosophy is doubling down on “Full Power” and “Destruction” with the goal of creating the most thrilling Tekken to date. There have been concerns regarding how all of this will be balanced given that Tekken is already a fighting game series known for favoring aggressive playstyles.
The Heat State has a timer of ten seconds but it can be extended by successfully landing hits on the opponent or if they’re on a downed state. With the right amount of combos, a skilled player can theoretically keep being in a Heat State for the majority if not all of the duration of a round.
When asked about balancing the Heat System so that it doesn’t lead to lopsided matches, Harada explains:
First, we just wanted to kind of correct the impression of the Heat system. When you’re playing against a CPU opponent, or maybe practicing, it might seem like you have a lot of time. But you really have to play against someone who’s as good as you or better to get a feeling for it. Because it’s not just the same amount of time, it’s if you’re doing certain techniques, it decreases really quickly, right? In very rare instances, you can make it longer. Or if the opponent is down, then it stops. But if you’re in an active match, and you activate it, maybe in some instances, your opponent is attacking you, and you have no opening to use your moves. And then you notice that it’s already gone because you were just locked the whole time.
During our preview session, we did try to abuse the Heat system in a way that it’s already activated at the start of the match to try and deal early damage or even pair it up with the Rage State and have both boosts work to our advantage. We’re happy to report that it’s not always possible to do so. While it is very empowering and dangerous in the hand of an experienced player (and very satisfying as well), the opponent can still easily block or dodge any special moves from the Heat state. Maybe part of the reason why we thought it can easily be exploited is that we were trying to play around with it in a controlled environment.
Harada continues to explain that maintaining the Heat Gauge in a normal match setting isn’t as easy as it seems:
So it depends on what you’re doing. In a normal match, it’s quite hard to maintain the gauge or to keep it from decreasing that rapidly. It’s going to take a lot of knowledge and skill and practice, kind of like you could say, in a fighting game, if you don’t get hit, if you block all your opponent’s attacks, you can win the match. Well, yeah, it’s easy to say that, but can you do it? Yeah, I mean, in theory, it seems like something that might be really strong or something that you can manipulate to have a huge advantage over your opponent, but your opponent if they’re human, they’re going to be doing the same thing. So it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Tekken 8 with its Heat system paired with Rage Arts and new control configurations may sound a bit too overpowered but we can assure you that each one also has its own drawbacks and counters. A good Tekken player knows how to be aggressive, and a great one knows how to use both defensive and offensive systems to their advantage and this is exactly what the team at Bandai Namco is so careful of achieving with Tekken 8.
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.