Tekken 7 has been a long-awaited, highly anticipated installment in the Tekken franchise since Tekken Tag Tournament 2 came to consoles three years ago. Tekken 7, lacking the tag-team elements, now introduces other gameplay changes to make the game more accessible for neophytes—yet still rewarding for higher-skill players.
Historically, Tekken has been considered an incredibly difficult game to get into, even for seasoned players. Its complex mechanics, incredibly long command lists, and third dimension are just a few of its challenges. However, the game has garnered a lot of acclaim; it was even featured at Evolution 2015 while only being out in arcades (and the occasional location test).
Facts and observations aside, Tekken 2 was the first video game I played—at the ripe age of six—and the rest is history. I played and beat Tekken 3 dozens of times with each character, even when I didn’t have a memory card. I was the only kid in class playing Tekken 4 when Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy X, and whatever-the-hell Madden were out at the time. Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection was the ONLY game I owned for PSP.
I love this franchise, plain and simple.
With all that said, there’s a large group of Tekken players who don’t think this game will change what Tekken has become.
As I said earlier, Bandai Namco sought to make Tekken 7 easier for newer players to pick up. When researching this article, I spoke to a number of seasoned Tekken players, and there was a prevailing opinion: “To be good at Tekken, you would have had to start playing from Tekken 5.” What’s more, you would’ve had to have been playing Tekken with metagame and competitive techniques in mind. This remains true, as Tekken 7 appears to be largely built on concepts from Tekken Revolution, available on the PlayStation Network. Three new mechanics were added: Rage Arts, Power Crush, and Screw Attacks, which seek to make gameplay more interesting and less oppressive than in previous installments, with other changes added in to drive that point home.
Rage Arts are Tekken’s new Super/Overdrive moves, complete with dynamic camera angles, flashy attacks, and massive damage. Power Crush is effectively a Focus Attack: you take some damage to both parry and counterattack, letting you punish the hell out of your opponent. Screw Attack is meant to replace the Bound mechanic. It serves the same purpose of extending your combos, except your opponent is about two dash lengths from you. This appears to be designed to limit your options for long, devastating combos, but you can still deal satisfying damage.
Also worth mentioning: there are loads more things you can do when waking up from a knockdown. A big stumbling block for newer players is getting up after taking huge damage and not having any viable defensive actions on wake-up, aside from waiting. Now, these changes are all largely good things. Power Crush and Screw Attack definitely check the power of oppressive play at the door, with a potent offensive tool and limiting the ever-prevalent one-sided, 10-second long combos.
However, Rage Arts are something of a miss, in my opinion. While Tekken has always been a visually impressive game, Rage Arts add an aspect of flair that will appeal to those who might’ve been on the fence with the series and who might’ve enjoyed Street Fighter more. However, when polling the same players, another popular opinion was that Rage Arts aren’t accessible enough to see much use in competitive play. I watched hours upon hours of gameplay, from arcade tests to mainstage tournament play, and that opinion definitely held true. I could count on both hands the number of Rage Arts used, and rarely was it used in tournament play.
Compare Street Fighter, where the Super and Ultra Combos are an integral part of the game—not using them makes you an overall weaker player. In Tekken 7, you’re no worse for the experience by electing not to use Rage Arts. That said, not even Power Crush was relied upon in competitive play. Really, it was more of the same: footsies, poking, and punishing whiffed attacks. There are videos of people using Rage Arts and Power Crush in glorious fashion, so it isn’t fair to say that neither technique is totally unusable. Tekken 7 is a VERY new game. Maybe, just maybe, the player population has had very little opportunity to truly cut their teeth on the game. Which means it’s possible that they didn’t do enough homework and learn how to integrate these abilities into their core playstyle. I’m extremely doubtful of this, however. The fighting game community is feverish when it comes to unveiling and discovering the secrets of new gameplay mechanics, regardless of limited access to the game. While Tekken 7 is only in arcades in Japan, the technical changes are pretty well documented (for the time being anyway, as the game isn’t in its final form).
Ultimately, there are a lot of veteran Tekken players who are excited for the game, as well as those who aren’t, and for good reason. Some are looking forward to shorter combos and better defensive options. Others think that Tekken 7 won’t change the metagame and won’t appeal to new players. Personally, as you could tell by the content of this article, I’m of the latter contention. Because of its level of difficulty, Tekken has long since become a discouraging game for both players new to fighting games and seasoned players of other fighting games. The major additions, objectively speaking, may kind of sort of pique the interest of a potential new player base, but then again Tekken is what it is: a complex, difficult beast of a game that’s scary on the onset and even after that. I love the franchise and I will play Tekken 7, but the conversations I have with my counterparts will be the same: “Have fun playing Tekken by yourself lololol.”