Getting into a fighting game like Tekken 8 for the first time can be pretty intimidating for anyone who hasn’t picked one up before, given the many mechanics and button combinations you need to get familiar with. And with how prestigious Tekken has grown to be, it can feel particularly imposing due to how close-knit and competitive its community seems from the outside. Fortunately, Tekken 8 welcomes new players with open arms through several mechanics and improvements specifically geared toward making the experience easier for new players.
Learning the basics of Tekken is one thing, but being able to implement them successfully in online matches is another. It’s easy to master a combo in a training room, but when your opponent is hurling a barrage of attacks at you, finding your own window of opportunity can often feel impossible as a new player. This can lead to pouring hundreds of frustrating hours into practice, and unless you’re incredibly committed that can be a breaking point for many.
But Tekken 8 fully intends to change this, and its Arcade Quest storyline, Super Ghost Battle mode, and My Replays & Tips feature offers more ways than ever to practice and master the core mechanics of the game. Cycling through these is bound to get your skills up to scratch before jumping into online matches, ultimately helping you to ease into the experience.
From the ground up
One of the new game modes within Tekken 8, Arcade Quest, takes you away from the central story and presents a different way to help you develop a deeper understanding of how the game works. Rather than simply whisking you through a brief tutorial before expecting you to learn through doing - much like previous Tekken games would’ve - in Arcade Quest you get walked through combat step by step.
Everything from blocking attacks to performing air combos is broken down into digestible chunks, making it a lot easier for new players to learn at a steadier pace and practice until they feel ready to jump online. Arcade Quest essentially serves the purpose of an in-depth and hands-on tutorial, and you’re free to revisit this mode and practice whenever you want or need to.
Kouhei Ikeda, Tekken 8’s game director, was keen to share how Arcade Quest has been designed to improve the experience and offer a platform to help players develop their skills as fighters rather than being a one-and-done experience. Ikeda stated in an interview with TechRadar Gaming (TRG) that “Arcade Quest and the pacing of it teaches you a little bit at a time and gradually introduces you to the game. When you’re finished with it, you should be pretty up to speed.”
However, there’s still an element of practice required when it comes to perfecting the moves you’re pulling off. Although Arcade Mode will offer a basic training pattern and introduce you to a lot of moves, you’ll still need to learn each character-specific moveset and how to effectively parry oncoming attacks too.
But, to make it easier, a lot of this movement has also been simplified which Michael Murray, one of Tekken 8’s producers, weighed in on. “Up until now a lot of times Tekken has been like ‘this is the way characters move, so we’ll just do it for the next one and tweak it.' [But] for example, my favorite - Devil Jin - a lot of his moves have been changed and simplified.” Murray then added that “the explanation of the game is just a lot more in-depth than it used to be.”
The ghosts of fighters' past
To aid the training that Arcade Quest offers, Super Ghost Battles (AI-powered battles that aims to learn from the player) are the best way to spot holes in your play style and learn how to plug them. Your ‘Ghost’ will copy the combos and techniques you use, playing them back to you in a 1v1 battle. Although it sounds simple, you’d be mistaken if you went into it thinking that you already know how you play and that it won’t be much of a challenge.
The more time you spend fighting against your own ghost, the stronger it becomes, making it a vastly more challenging and more proactive way of improving your skills rather than spending hours practicing combos against a static training dummy. Even though these ghosts mimic the way you attack, they are challenging to predict since they act sporadically rather than perfectly mirroring whatever you’ve just done. This makes practicing against them far more beneficial and conducive to improvement through learning compared to using the training dummy.
When asked about how this new battle mode will aid the experience of a new player, Ikeda stated: “The Ghost [Battle] is going to be quite interesting when it comes out because it allows you to notice your weak points as a player, but then you’re also going to want to make your ghost stronger. I felt this directly because we [referring to Michael Murray and himself], in development, had a match between our ghosts and Michael [Murray] won and I wanted to change my ghost even more so it would be stronger to beat him.”
This is beneficial for new players since it’ll be more obvious to spot holes in your own techniques. On top of this, you can also go up against the ghost of your friends, or even pro players if you’re feeling brave enough, to further hone your skills. Another extra incentive to train against your own ghost since is to provide a challenge to others; players can choose to fight your ghost so the more you practice against it, the stronger it’ll become against others.
During our hands-on preview with Tekken 8, I faced off against my own ghost several times, and I frequently lost to that past version of myself, highlighting the effectiveness of the ghost as a training tool. But, while this does feel slightly embarrassing at first, it helps you understand which areas you need to work on rather than just have you getting frustrated at not being able to pull off a combo when playing online even if you’ve practiced it to death.
It’s a motivation to better your skills that previous Tekken games lacked, and if you’re utilizing ghost battles while working your way through Arcade Quest, you should be able to rapidly improve your skills and master Tekken 8’s core mechanics over time.
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Kara is an Evergreen writer at TechRadar Gaming. With a degree in Journalism and a passion for the weird and wonderful, she's spent the last few years as a freelance video game journalist, with bylines at NintendoLife, Attack of the Fanboy, Prima Games, and sister publication, GamesRadar+. Outside of gaming, you'll find her re-watching Gilmore Girls or trying to cram yet another collectible onto a shelf that desperately needs some organizing.