Poised for release on the 19th October, Bandai Namco makes its current-gen debut, which will make long-term fans giddy with excitement. With the last game in the series being released in 2012, SoulCalibur VI is the first in the franchise to be released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, as well as PC.
For anyone who isn’t too knowledgeable of the SoulCalibur games, it’s a 3D fighting game based around the much-beloved arcade styled fighters, implementing rock/paper/scissors gameplay. Being the first in 6 years, the game is in a good position to gain new fans playing on current gen and it’s combat tutorials make this a joyful breeze for new players.
Do not be mistaken, though, as the game boasts a deep combat system which will make new players doomed against longtime fans of the game – no matter how good you think you are at the start.
Practice is key to besting your opponents – but the grind is hugely fun and rewarding when those K.O’s come rolling in.
Starting off with the game you are greeted with two types of adventure, the ‘Libra of Soul’ mission and the ‘Soul Chronicle’ story.
Upon the Libra of Soul, you are given the character creation – which is a low point of the game considering the developing power we have in 2018. Small aspects like picking a facial expression, or a hairstyle, requires you to not simply hover over the option, but then click the option to view. This then leads to a loading sign on your character, and you getting backtracked to the previous navigation menu. It’s a small gripe, but if you’re like me and put too much time in assessing customization options, it’s fairly tedious. It is something I wasn’t expecting to be frustrated with.
Good twists are taken within Libra of Soul though. Spirit scales weigh the good and evil within your character, with the choices you make altering that balance; changing the fate of your character and the story itself. This brings a nice amount of life into a story which is a seemingly a somewhat engaging book.
With the ability to change weapons for your created character, as well as equipping food for your fight to gain a percentage bonus, it incorporates RPG elements in a meaningful and enjoyable way.
Changing weapons is possible before you start each fight, but be warned, the loading of the weapon selection screen is a long wait. You may find yourself selecting it again mid load, then equipping a weapon without even realising, but when you get used to the small pause, it’s a worthwhile feature to have. Hopefully it’s something that is improved with a patch in the future, along with the other loading problems mentioned.
The story for the main mode, Soul Chronicle, is what long-term fans have come to expect. The story arc continues with the search to acquire the soul swords, laid out in a timeline in which every character on the roster is included.
The story for each character starts at different points in the timeline and all have relevance to the narrative, each one explaining the characters involvement with the swords over time.
The story is told through the use of storyboards, with different types each solo game mode. Within Soul Chronicle we get voice acting (which is fairly average), but we are expected to do a lot of reading in the Libra of Soul adventure.
These storyboards are partnered with some good artistic drawings, but begs the question, will we ever get more cutscene visuals from SoulCalibur, as opposed to primarily storyboards?
Graphics & Gameplay
SoulCalibur VI is running on the all impressive Unreal Engine 4 and is a big jump forward for the graphical capabilities the series. Character design is beautifully crafted and brings even more depth into a constantly impressive roster.
Old fan favourites can be found within the character selection, such as Kilik, Sophitia and Nightmare, while new characters Groh and Azwel are introduced. The guest appearance comes from Geralt from the popular Witcher games, a fitting addition to the game and immensely fun to play as.
The beloved Tira can be picked up within the first pack of DLC, with other characters and more goodies to follow in the future.
The graphics are also impressive in the varied amount of stages we play on. Playing through battles is a mesmerising experience of bursting colours and some awesome looking sword sweeping visuals.
This further screams to me the need to have more cutscenes within the single-player campaign, it feels like by doing so, it would really do justice to these incredible character designs.
The core of any SoulCalibur game is the respected combat mechanics, and VI improves vastly on the latest offerings. Going back to more a fast-paced feel, it feels reminiscent of the much-beloved originals.
You will soon get a feel of the changes implemented, and even though it’s a good pick up and play for new and old players alike, it really pays to take some time with the new changes in the system. Guarding has always been a big part of gameplay. A parry-type move which, when timed right, will deflect most of your opponent’s attacks.
This mixed with Critical Edge moves, an attack in which requires a full meter to execute (something found in most new fighting games now), provides for a really fun and tactical type of experience. You’ll find yourself trying to assess what the other player’s plans are and act accordingly with your next move.
Even if you’re not so brilliant at fighting games, SoulCalibur VI will make you think and opt for a more thought out play, rather than the lacklustre button mashing technique.
The sixth instalment of the series adds to the depth of gameplay by introducing the Reversal Edge. By implementing a rock/paper/scissors mechanic embodied in an awesome looking animated sequence, it provides a luck based parry and attack. Gameplay advantages seem to be altered after the sequence, so even though it can be seen as a flash looking, easy option – it provides a new threat on the stage that needs to be carefully played out.
What you can expect from SoulCalibur VI is a brilliantly engaging fighting game that will test and captivate all players who pick it up. The solo game modes are engaging enough to keep your interest till the end, and the arcade mode gives you a great roster of characters to play with. Ranked online matches will test the best of the best and make sure players always come back for more.