The creativity of Tekken 8 players has helped me develop a new respect for character customization

Tekken 8
(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

I’ve spent a lot of time in Tekken 8 since launch, but there’s one element of the experience I’ve avoided up until now. Character customization has been a pretty significant part of the Tekken experience ever since it was introduced in Tekken 5, and each game since has offered more options for players to make their favorite fighters more fashionable. Tekken 8 cuts no corners in offering the most thorough customization experience yet, but it isn’t something I’ve engaged with much.

This isn’t a new development for me. I’ve never really been fussed about character customization in Tekken. I tend to take my favorite fighters as they come and spend no time personalizing the experience since I didn’t really see the point aside from amusing myself. However, after seeing the creativity of some players, and coming up against a variety of entertaining and impressive customized fighters online, I finally persuaded myself to give it a go.  

You look familiar 

Tekken 8 Steve and Law fighting

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Individual player creativity seems boundless in Tekken 8 when it comes to emulating characters from popular television shows, anime, or other games. The sheer array of customized characters I’ve come across in ranked matches is unlike any previous Tekken game I’ve played. One moment, I’ll be up against Jun cosplaying as Tifa from Final Fantasy 7 remake, and the next, I’ll come across a Raven dressed as Blade. There are virtually no limits as to who you may find yourself brawling with, which helps the 32-character roster feel significantly larger than it actually is. 

Character customization doesn’t alter a fighter’s move set (outside of some gimmicky accessories like shotguns), but it does help make matches more exciting. You never really know who you’ll find in your next online match, which is fantastic for players who love surprise and variety when queuing for the next battle.

It’s a chance to show off your skills outside of hand-to-hand combat, which is a commitment I clearly lack in providing. I’d love to have a recognizable customized fighter to accompany my journey up the ranks online, but I always find myself resorting to default Azucena - sometimes forgetting that she has alternate outfits I could pick from. 

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But that hasn’t stopped me from appreciating the work of others. One of my favorite customizations I’ve seen so far is Reina as Sonic the Hedgehog, which has since been paired with an equally impressive rendition of Shadow the Hedgehog for the Tekken 8 debutant. It’s a strange pairing to make, but it is clear that given the right tools, enterprising players will always think outside the box. I can’t help but think my own creativity is relatively lacking here, which is why I’ve always been slightly averse to character customization.

Work with what you’ve got 

Tekken 8

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Frankly, I get a little overwhelmed by character customization and struggle to understand how players have the patience to find the exact match for either outfit cosmetics or physical alterations like hair color and style. For the most part, unlocking the more premium customization options in Tekken 8 costs in-game currency, which you unlock simply by playing, so it’s not even a case of players being bored and wanting to find another way to spend their time - it’s something you have to work for. 

So many of these custom looks are getting viral attention on social media, clearly making the effort worth it. Although I’ve come across a handful of these customized fighters online, the majority of the most impressive ones I’ve seen have been on social channels like Twitter and YouTube, where thousands of players are already sharing their appreciation for such designs. It’s fantastic that the Tekken community has embraced character customization, presenting a more wholesome side to the competitive fighting game. 

As for where I fit in among all of this, I think it’s finally time I gave character customization a proper try. I’ve been inspired by others while playing Tekken 8, whether that be in character customization or in simply learning the game’s robust mechanics. It’s always a case of bouncing off one another, whether that’s by wanting to learn a combo you’ve been on the receiving end of in a match or liking the style of a customized fighter and feeling encouraged to create something of your own. For more casual players, it’s almost as big a part of the experience as the fighting itself, and I can’t wait to take the plunge myself. 

Check out our guide to the best fight sticks if you’re looking for a more bespoke controller for Tekken 8. We also have a list of the best fighting games if you’re looking to try your hand at a different game. 

Kara Phillips
Evergreen Writer

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.