A couple of upcoming fighting games are making the most impressive ‘next-gen’ leaps this generation so far. Tekken 8 was recently showcased at the PlayStation State of Play and it blew everyone’s minds to find out that it was actual gameplay. Additionally, Capcom has also been pushing Street Fighter 6 back into the mainstream eye and it’s looking superb too. Compared to the last games in those franchises, the leaps are pretty astounding.
Tekken 7 originally launched in 2015 and was built in Unreal Engine 4. While certainly no eye-sore, it’s clearly showing its age today. The same can be said about Street Fighter V, which launched in early 2016 but its art style and severe lack of content didn’t sit well with fans. Developers Bandai Namco and Capcom went back to the drawing boards and after some scribbling, came back with showcases for new entries that both look the most ‘next-gen’ this generation has seen yet, not just for fighters but in all of gaming.
This isn’t to discredit some of the excellent work done to games like Horizon Forbidden West or even Bluepoint’s eye-wateringly beautiful remake of Demon’s Souls. Those titles attempted to push the boundaries and deliver experiences worthy of the current generation of consoles. However, Forbidden West‘s leap from Zero Dawn is superb but not quite what you’d expect for a showcase of current generation technology. For many, Demon’s Souls still sits at the pinnacle of games that feel truly “next-gen” and it came out two years ago.
That’s where Tekken 8 and Street Fighter 6 come in. The differences when compared to their last games is basically night and day here. From the brief glimpses of gameplay (albeit gameplay intercut with some cinematics) that we got to see in Tekken 8‘s reveal trailer, the quality of the visuals are incredible. Tornadoes and waves bash the background scenery and a giant tanker crashes to earth raining debris, while strong gusts of wind sweep heavy rain on the battlefield. It’s dizzyingly cinematic and gorgeous.
If this is any indication of what Tekken 8‘s final gameplay is going to look and feel like, then it will easily be one of the biggest leaps we’ve probably ever seen between franchise games.
We’ll have to see some raw gameplay for Tekken 8 to really draw conclusions, but at least on the visual quality that it’s promising, there’s a reason why the fighting game community and gaming world is in googly-eyed awe right now. “This is not footage created solely for trailer purposes, but an actual real-time rendering of what is happening on the game screen,” said Bandai Namco’s Katsuhiro Harada in a PlayStation blog post.
“Although this was captured from the story mode, it is not a pre-rendered movie made for the trailer but rather real-time rendered footage, running at 60 frames per second, similar to how you would experience the game in versus battle modes.” – Katsuhiro Harada on Tekken 8
As far as taking the battle stage effects a few steps further with Tekken 8, everything we saw in the reveal trailer is a reflection of the big spectacle we’re going to see in the full game. Stages already looked great in past games but never on this scale before. Character models were also rebuilt for the game and coated with fine details like skin blemishes, muscle-flexing and water drips in real time. This is exactly the graphical facelift Tekken needed.
As for Street Fighter 6, Capcom appears to be leaning into the series’ high-octane, flashy style while adding creative bursts of energy through splash-paint effects and explosions of particles. The soul of the character designs remain unchanged, but there’s now a more polished and detailed quality to the models (thanks in large part to the brilliant RE Engine). The gameplay is also seeing vast improvements over its predecessor. According to media who got hands-on with the game, it has a fine balance of being simplified yet complex if you’re willing to dig deeper.
Additionally, Street Fighter 6 is cramming a ton of content into the package, which is ironic considering Street Fighter V was slammed for its lack of content. This includes a plethora of modes, character creation, an expansive story mode, callbacks to Street Fighter‘s history and so much more. It’s astounding how much Capcom has seemingly learned from the last release. Street Fighter 6 is primed to be one of the most “complete” new entries that we’ve ever seen in the franchise.
To address the elephant in the room, we need to talk about the platforms that these games are aiming for. As of writing, Street Fighter 6 is planning to launch on PS4 as well as PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. Tekken 8, on the other hand, is ditching the last generation and focusing solely on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. We’re almost three years deep into the current generation and, due to complications caused by the pandemic, developers are still making games for two generations. It’s a transition that’s a lot slower than what we’re used to, but understandably so.
As with all generational transitions, this will eventually phase out and developers won’t need to optimise games for older hardware anymore. If cutting the cord on last-gen is the necessary evil for us to get games that look as good as Tekken 8, then by all means, cut away. Of course, with console shortages making it difficult for consumers to get their hands on newer products, it’s a difficult call to make, but one that might progress the gaming industry forward and start delivering on the full potential of PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.
Tekken 8 and Street Fighter 6 might go toe-to-toe next year if Bandai Namco makes the release window, meaning we’re about to see big legacy fighting games feud for the mainstream spotlight. If this is what’s possible between these studios, we can’t even begin to imagine what NetherRealm Studios is cooking up right now for Mortal Kombat. Fighting games are taking the most tremendous leaps into the current generation so far and if anything, it’s a sign that the potential of PS5 and Xbox Series X/S is simply waiting to be cracked wide open.