Tekken 8’s new mechanics make it the most beginner-friendly entry yet

We got a chance to try out a demo of Tekken 8, and from the looks of it, this is shaping up to be Tekken's most beginner-friendly entry yet.

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A few weeks ago, we got a chance to try out a demo of Tekken 8, the long-awaited next installment in the beloved Tekken franchise. Specifically, two from our team got to try the game, with one being a big fan of the series (you can read his detailed impressions of the game here).

And then there’s me. While I have fond memories of playing Tekken 3 at our local mall’s arcade growing up as well as Tekken: Dark Resurrection on the PSP during my school days, I’m not at all a fighting game expert. In fact, I’d say that I’m a total newbie when it comes to the latest entries. So, I was actually nervous about trying the game out as I didn’t know if I could do the game justice.

It turns out that there was a good reason for me to be there as Tekken 8 is shaping up to be the most beginner-friendly and the best entry point to the series yet. This is thanks to the new control scheme that the developers are introducing, as well as the new Heat System that surprisingly makes a good case for beginners.

Tekken 8 Special Style and how it makes the game beginner-friendly

Before we got to try the game out ourselves, producer Michael Murray gave us a quick rundown of the game’s new features. Among these is the new Special Style which is a control style that they said was aimed at “casual play” and for better accessibility to new players.

How it works is that by pressing the L1 button (on the PS5 controller), the face buttons change to a palette with preset moves. For instance, Square is a powerful specialty move of a character while Triangle will allow you to air combo with ease. This also works with a fight stick, and you can quickly shift back to the standard control scheme with a press of a button (or buttons in the case of a fight stick).

Personally, the sheer amount of moves that each character has is one of the many reasons why I find it difficult to get into fighting games. But with this new control scheme, I was able to pull off powerful moves from the get-go, meaning I was able to focus more on my tactics.

Again, I’m nowhere near an expert, but when I played some matches against my fellow UnGeek writer who is into fighting games, I was actually able to pull off some wins. Of course, he had to use characters that he didn’t play comfortably, and he still mostly won. But still, the fact that I was able to get engaged and have fun meant that the Tekken 8 Special Style succeeds at making the game more beginner-friendly.

Katsuhiro Harada himself said that this was their goal. With the Special Style, the development team wanted to make it easier for players to take that first step into fighting games. After all, that first step is usually the most daunting part of getting into games in the genre.

Now, don’t think that this Special Style will make it easy for beginners to go toe-to-toe with veterans. Newbies will still get defeated as sticking to the Special Style isn’t a cheat code. Not to mention that it does feel limiting to stick to using just a couple of moves. It’ll make you incredibly predictable.

This is actually by design as the developers didn’t want the Special Style to be a crutch for players. It is made in such a way that it will encourage newer players to learn more moves so that they can add more attacks to their repertoire. Even though I only played for around two hours, this was exactly how I felt. While it felt great to pull off powerful moves with ease, I immediately wanted to learn more moves so that I can do more.

One thing to note as well is that, while this control scheme is made with newbies in mind, intermediate and veteran players will still benefit from this as it will allow them to try out new characters much more easily if they want to try out someone new.

The Heat System from a newbie’s perspective

One of the biggest additions of Tekken 8 is the new Heat System. Essentially, players can activate it and get a boost in power and gain some additional moves, including a powerful Heat Smash that can turn the tide of a match. This addition is part of the developers’ push for a more aggressive game.

Having this system might seem daunting at first, especially as it’s a new mechanic that can seem difficult to get to grips with if you’re still a beginner and are still practicing basic moves. But in my hands-on with the game, I found it to be quite helpful.

While it might seem counterintuitive, the Heat System gave me a goal during every round. With this system, my goal during each round is to activate it and be aggressive, and it forced me to learn quickly the limitations and advantages of various Heat moves. Obviously, this strategy won’t work against any halfway decent player, but it definitely helped me engage and have fun with the game as compared to before when I was unsure what to do.

With previous Tekken games, I always get overwhelmed as there are a ton of moves to learn, and I’m unsure what to start with. But the Heat system gave me something to play around with. While I for sure can’t rely on Heat moves all the time, it is a good start as I was already itching to learn more complementary moves just a couple of matches in.

The more aggressive style that the game is going for is great for a newbie like me as it gives me more manageable steps to learning the game. Though this might just be personal preference as I’m usually more inclined with offense over defensive style games (which is likely why Bloodborne clicked instantly with me while the Souls games took a while).

A promising entry point to Tekken

Again, I was quite nervous with the Tekken 8 hands-on given my lack of experience (those Tekken 3 and Tekken: Dark Resurrection button-mashing days don’t count). But when I sat down and played the game, I was impressed with how much fun I had thanks to the new mechanics that it introduced.

The Special Style is of course the highlight given how it gives players easy access to powerful moves. But it’s designed in such a way that it encourages players to learn more moves through the normal control scheme. Plus, the new Heat System works hand-in-hand with this as the powerful Heat moves can be an easy first step for new players to latch on to as they learn the game.

It might be too early to say this, but from what I’ve tried so far, Tekken 8 might be the most beginner-friendly game in the franchise to date, and it will likely be the best entry point for those who want to dip their toes into fighting games.

Tekken 8 will be released on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC, though there’s no word yet on a release date.