Want to learn how to play Tekken 7 like one of the best? Of course you do. You’re a King of Iron Fist tournament champion, right?
Before you can go online to prove that you’re the best around, however, it might be worth your while to read up on some of the best strategies we’ve gleaned over the years and put them into practice before hitting tourney circuit.
To that end we’ve assembled a guide of the 10 essential Tekken tips and tricks you need to know, starting with the hardware you need then talking about the moves to know and finishing with some parting advice on how to become the best of the best.
Are you going to claim the top of the tournament ladder after your first few matches? Probably not. But if you heed our advice and spend some time in training mode, you’ll breeze through the ranks and get straight to the heart of the competition.
Get ready for the next battle!
Tip #1: First, you’re probably going to need a fight stick
I know, I know. No one likes buying extra hardware. But there’s a very good reason you don’t see anyone at a tournament using a controller. That’s because they stink for fighting games.
Fighting games, more so than shooting games and far more than adventure games require laser-precise timing and ultra-accurate button recognition. Mistime a button press and you’ve cost yourself a counter. Flub up in the middle of a combo and you’ve squandered the best opportunity you had to deal some major damage. A fight stick may be hard to get used to at first, but learn to play with one of these and you’ll forever be a better fighter.
Need some recommendations on the best fight sticks? Check out the Mad Catz Street Fighter V Arcade FightStick TE2+ – it's a hearty, heavy peripheral with smooth, precise Sanwa Denshi parts, letting you pull off expert moves with ease via a reliable wired connection.
Tip #2: Learn to throw block and low parry
We’re going to skip over the basics. By now, I’m sure you know how to move left and right, dash forward and back and weave in and out. If you don’t know how to do those things, give yourself a chance right now to learn all those, then come back here.
Got the basics? Good.
We’ll spend a good time covering offensive techniques in this guide but, before we do, I want to spend just a minute looking at two of the most important defensive moves in the game: throw block and low parry. Blocking a throw is easy: press your left arm, right arm or both arm buttons at the same time to stop a throw. (On Xbox One, that’s the X, Y and X+Y buttons while on PS4 those buttons are Square, Triangle and Square+Triangle.)
Once you can escape a throw easily in practice mode, turn your attention to the low parry – an essential move that stops low attacks in their tracks. To do a low parry press down and forward on the control stick or d-pad when your opponent goes for a low strike.
Time it right and you’ll knock them off their feet, giving yourself time to either reset your position or following up with a ground move of your own.
Tip #3: Opening and closing that gap
Speaking of, spacing is a crucial part of mastering Tekken. Knowing how far away to be from your opponent and when is absolutely crucial to going pro. Generally, what you want to do here is give yourself some space to control the action when your opponent starts throwing combos by using Dash Cancel (press back, back, down and back). This gives you the best shot of blocking an incoming attack while still moving away from your opponent.
Once you have some breathing room, start a combo of your own to land a few hits on your opponent. Once you’ve knocked them off their feet, press the attack by dashing forward by pressing forward, forward. If you run up on a downed opponent, your fighter gets an attack of opportunity and can throw numerous ground pound moves one right after another – a technique that not only does a ton of damage, but also really throws opponents off their game.
Tip #4: Push ‘em to the wall
The other key aspect when it comes to movement is knowing where the walls are – or, more specifically, how to push your opponents toward the wall without getting pushed back into one yourself. Walls play a key role in the Tekken games by allowing players an extra combo and additional damage every time they knock their opponent into a wall.
So how do you use this to your advantage? Always try and push your opponents to the closest wall – even when that wall is behind you. Use combos and dashes to bring your opponent as close to the wall as possible, throw a staggering move to bounce them into a wall and then be prepared to follow up with another combo. When done correctly you can use walls to take 30-40% of your opponent’s health in two to three combos.
Tip #5: Master an air juggle combo
Can’t drive them to the wall but still want to put a serious hurt on them? You’re going to need to learn how to juggle – and not the pleasant kind that you see at the circus. Air juggling in Tekken involves launching your opponent into the air and following up with a flurry of blows that do damage and lock them out of doing anything except watching in horror as their health bar depletes.
The reason juggling is such a crucial skill to master is because it’s the only way to completely take control away from your opponent. There’s no countering, no blocking and no moving once you’re in the air. You’re just a sitting duck.
The best way to practice juggling is to go into the Practice mode and find your character’s launch move – anything that lifts your opponent into the air long enough for you to throw another combo before they land. Master this technique and you can pretty easily beat any computer controlled character in the arcade mode and most inexperienced players.
Tip #6: Ukemi is your friend
What happens if you get caught in an opponent’s air juggle combination? Hang on tight. Unfortunately, besides that, there’s not much you can do.
That said, it’s a different story as soon as you’re back on solid ground. The second your body hits the ground, you can use a move called Ukemi (also known as teching in the fighting community) to spring back to your feet, dealing damage to your opponent if he or she is close enough.
Ukemi is useful for two reasons. The first, very obviously, is that it has the potential to hurt and possibly counter your opponent mid-combo. Time your Ukemi just right and you can go from the ground, back to your feet and into a combo of your own in no time flat. The second reason you’d want to Ukemi is that it means you spend less time on the ground – a.k.a. your second most vulnerable spot after being launching in the air.
Tip #7: Use Rage Art and Rage Drive
At this point you should feel comfortable with basic attacking and defending, and outmaneuvering your opponent when situations get sticky. The two next things I teach you are a little more advanced, but well-worth learning.
Rage was a concept introduced a few years back to try and give players with low health in a match one last shot to come back by giving them a small boost in power. Tekken 7 takes that idea of redemption one step further by introducing new Rage Art moves – a set combination of moves that does a ton of damage all at once but in exchange takes you out of Rage mode. To activate it, press R1 on PS4 or RB on Xbox One when you’re in Rage mode (denoted by the glowing red aura around your character).
The other skill worth learning is Rage Drive, which is sort of the opposite of Rage Art. Whereas Rage Art hopes to deal a lot of damage in one big flurry, Rage Drive gives you a blue aura and an immunity to staggering combos while you throw moves of your own. We’ve tended to stick to Rage Arts so far, but Rage Drive will definitely come into play in the pro player circuit.
Tip #8: Combine buttons together
Remember how you might need to press left kick and left punch together to get out of a throw? Well it turns out you don’t need to press two separate buttons to make that happen – Tekken 7 allows you to map the controller how you like.
Want to turn your R2 or RT into a grab? You can absolutely do that. Just go into the settings and change the configuration of the controller.
One of our favorite mappings is actually all of the face buttons to the right trigger. When pressed together, these buttons give you a damage bonus to your next attack. This is especially useful after you’ve knocked your opponent into a wall and you’re waiting for them to stand back up. Map it to one of the triggers and you’ll have it there whenever you need it.
Tip #9: Customize your gear
Look, fighting games borrow mechanics from one another all the time. This year, Tekken’s taken a page out of Virtua Fighter’s book by incorporating items into the mix. Items aren’t just aesthetic upgrades in Tekken 7, either. Some provide unique special effects, while others add a move to your character’s repertoire. They’re handy and worth tracking down.
So where do you find them? Head into Treasure Battle mode to gain currency and unlock special items. If you’re feeling at the top of your game already, you can also enter tournaments to unlock items as well – though these can be potentially much tougher than the one-off Treasure battles.
Tip #10: Get back up again
Here’s our last tip: Get back up again.
In the course of a fight, you’re bound to get knocked down. It’s going to happen. It’s important, obviously, to get back up and keep playing. But what people fail to realize is that losing a fight (or even a whole series of fights) is a lot like getting knocked down. All you need to do is shrug it off and keep playing.
To that end, don’t get discouraged when you’re losing against someone better than you are, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel like you don’t understand what’s happening. The fighting game community is kind and accepting, and more than willing to help work with new players interested in upping their skills. You can do it!
Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.