One of the world’s most popular fighting games is punching its way back onto PlayStation — Bandai Namco’s Tekken 7 entered the E3 2016 ring to prove its worth. We had a chat with Game Director and Chief Producer Katsuhiro Harada who offered some hard-hitting reasons why it’s a game you should be keeping an eye on.
Interactive Cutscenes Change the Way You Fight
Pumped up by Unreal Engine 4, Tekken 7 not only looks like it could take most games in a scrap, it also packs a wallop in the gameplay department. Expect a combo of dynamic weather and destructible environments, but better yet: when a fighter’s health is low the battle will slow down during a dramatic blow, driving home the potentially bout-ending strike.
And that’s not all — vital moments during story mode seamlessly break into cutscenes which sometimes require you to make a quick decision to avoid additional damage.
“We wanted to bring extra intensity without taking the player away from the fight, but also make the game even more fun to watch for when you’re not playing,” says Harada-san.
Akuma Brings the Heat from the Street
You’ve most certainly seen that popular Street Fighter psycho Akuma has crossed over into Bandai Namco’s series — and while it’s not the first time the two franchises have mixed, the red-haired shoto fighter now brings all of his moves to Tekken, something which provided its own set of challenges.
“Most people think that it may have been difficult to include Akuma because of things like his projectiles, but lots of Tekken characters have them, and there’s also the ability to sidestep to allow you to get away from them,” explains Harada-san.
“The real challenge was portraying him in a similar manner to how he is in Street Fighter because of the difference of how certain moves look in 2D, so we had to work hard to recreate that style, look, and feel in full 3D.
“Akuma plays a vital role in the story mode — he’s entered a deal with Kazumi to rid the world of her hateful spouse and son, Kazuya and Heihachi, and by the end of the game the Mishima family’s tale will be over.”
Your Rage is Your Strength
The super powered Rage mode attacks aren’t new to Tekken, but here they’re expanded in two ways — the first are Rage Drives, an attack which can be also used in a combo, resulting in increased damage.
“Some Rage Drives can be more defensive than others,” says Harada-san. “We’ve also made them harder to guess as they can be used in high, mid, and low ranges.”
Then there’s the Rage Art, which is a powerful finishing move designed to put your foe on his back or, if his health is low enough, deliver a fatal blow. However, there’s a risk involved.
“You can deliver massive damage, but only in proportion to how low your health is,” explains Harada-san. “So it can be a life-saver, but you really have to think about when you should use it.
More Than Crushing Blows
Another new feature is the introduction of the Power Crush, which is a brutal armored attack that allows you to complete a move even if you’re taking damage. When used at the right time, it’s a potent force that can change the battle in your favor, with its own risk/reward mechanic.
“Skilled players can use this to their advantage, but it won’t go so well for them if they try against low attacks of throws, so you can’t just power your way through each time,” says Harada-san.
The World Just Got Bigger
Arcade players of Tekken 7 may be already familiar with some of the new characters, but Harada-san gave Katarina (Brazil), Claudio (Italy), Lucky Chloe (Japan), Josie (Philippines), and Shaheen (Saudi Arabia) a full outing at E3. With such an eclectic selection, Harada-san explained the team’s character creation process:
“We look at the total fan base and divide it into segments to work out what may appeal to certain audiences across the world, or other factors for example female fans, newcomers to the series, or higher end players.”
But even with the newer characters, Harada-san still has his old favorites.
“First of all, I’d pick Feng Wei, because I’m very comfortable with him and he can adapt well to a variety of different opponents,” says Harada-san.
“Then I’d choose Katarina because she’s very intuitive and at first it’s great to feel like you can land attacks successfully on a more advanced player.”
Although this also meant Harada-san had an admission to make: “Sometimes I go for Heihachi, although he’s a bit more difficult to master and I’m not a top level player. I’d say I’m actually more an intermediate player!” he laughs. “So I don’t mind being a Devil [Jin] as well…!”
The latest instalment of the King of the Iron Fist Tournament is coming out in early 2017 on PS4.