We went hands-on with Namco Bandai's returning brawler and came away wanting more. Here's why.
SoulCalibur VI’s roster is growing rapidly. While last year’s announcement was only headlined by series veterans Mitsurugi and Sophitia, they were swiftly joined by Kilk, Xianghua, Nightmare and new fighter Grøh. And late last week, familiar faces Ivy and Zasalamel were revealed to be returning the stage of history.
Those last two sadly weren’t part of a preview build I had hands on with earlier in the week. But I did manage to spend several hours putting the rest of the currently announced roster through their paces and try out the new game’s mechanics.
Here’s 12 random observations from an evening with the returning fighting franchise.
1.There are so many memorable one liners
Not that Soul Calibur ever flirted with realism, but VI favors – consciously or not – fabulous one liners that have the soul of the 80s action movie era.
New man Grohl’s an early quotable favorite. His taunt (kick + block) goes from whisper to roar: “I have… THE ANSWER”. Then there’s his pre-fight hope of a decent match (“Try and resist your inevitable fate”) and mid-fight anger at his opponent not offering a challenge (“curse your weakness”).
Even the round commentator can’t help himself. Take his intro to the snow-covered stage for example: “A single slash can even cut the frozen air in two”.
2. Reversal Edge is a risky rock, paper, scissors duel that can go either way
Available to either fighter at any time during a match, Reversal Edge is a risky QTE-style attack. Here’s why: it takes a few seconds to charge, it needs to connect to initiate and it can be blocked. And even if you do land a successful strike, the move doesn’t necessarily favor its initiator.
Strike and a cut scene kicks in: both players have a second to tap an input, be that an attack or dodge command. Weapon reach and attack angle both dictate whether one fighter will have the advantage and land a hit, or whether a weapon clash forces a stalemate.
3. You can shatter multiple armor parts off your opponent
Every character has multiple pieces of armor (or clothing) that can be destroyed through a powerful combo called a Lethal Hit. The effect’s cosmetic, but permanent. A shameful reminder the battle’s not going your way.
4. Nightmare should leave his helmet off during fights
Shattering Nightmare’s helmet with a Lethal Hit reveals an untarnished and familiar face beneath: the long haired Siegfried. Confirmation then that not only is the franchise veteran once more host to the Soul Edge, but that his corrupted and mutated persona should keep the helmet off: it’s a badass look. Here’s hoping it becomes an alternate costume.
5. Alternate costumes are worth switching out the defaults for
Alternate costumes are color palette swaps that – in my eyes – work much better than the defaults. Grøh gets an all-white outfit coupled with a rose gold gauntlet, Nightmare ice blue armor plating and matching color light trails from his glowing eyes.
6. Where SoulCalibur VI sit in the series timeline: the Beard theory
As the Soul Calibur franchise continued, samurai sword-wielding warrior Mitsurugi gradually became a grizzled, bearded vet. In SCVI, the beard’s gone, and our favorite fighter looks practically baby-faced. Does SCVI skip backwards in the franchise timeline, or is this just how fresh-faced you look after buzzing off the facial fuzz?
7. Fighters’ shared histories add story flourishes to SCVI’s fights
Perform a throw on Kilik as Xianghua, and she’ll apologise as grapples him. Fight Nightmare as Kilik, and the bo staff master will grip his heart in pain in the pre-match preamble, affected as he is by the lure of Soul Edge. Little touches like this help flesh out the connections between the roster.
8. You’ll get a Soul Charge buff if you’re losing
Lost two rounds in a row? The game will automatically fill one level of your two-tier Soul Charge (stationed by the round timer at the top middle of the screen). This auto-buff is to give you a fighting chance. Soul Charge is important to match flow, as it allows you to activate Fury mode (back and R2, briefly super-charging your standard attacks) or perform your character-specific Critical Edge
9. Stages have different layouts
The Stage Select screen offers a top-down view of your selected level. If the two stages from the preview build are anything to go by, expect a variety of different layouts that could provide strategic advantages.
10. The replay camera can be controlled
The round winner gets control of the replay camera, letting you pan round the arena or tap a button to focus in on a specific fighter.
11. Grøh offers instant gratification when playing him
It’s easy to pull off some flashy combos with SCVI’s new combatant from the off. His weapon(s) is dual swords joined at the hilts, which detach and can land individual hits during particular combos. He’s instantly showy in the way Kilik was way back in the original Soul Calibur, and like the bo staff master, this guy’s move set will be worth digging into come release.
12. Grøh is pronounced “Gruh”
Now you know.