Hands-on: Tekken 7 at E3 2016

Tekken has always taken a long time to come to consoles from its arcade release. It's been seven years since the last numbered title was released for home play, and four since Tekken Tag Tournament. So to finally see Tekken 7 so close to release at E3 2016 was a big surprise -- but it ended up being a pleasant one.

Crossover family drama

Billing itself as the end of the Mishima saga, Bandai Namco is really taking the story of Tekken seriously this time. Everything dirty Heihachi has done to his family in the past is coming back to get him as his wife Kazumi calls on Akuma from Street Fighter to get rid of him once and for all.

That's right; Akuma from Street Fighter is not only on the roster but is an integral part of the plot.

A scene shown from the story mode shows a battle between Heihachi and Akuma and transitions almost seamlessly from CGI to gameplay. Story mode seems like it will be CGI heavy, with use of quick time events to keep players on their toes between fights.

A cast of newcomers

While what we were shown from story mode only focused on the Mishima family and Akuma, there were plenty of other characters available for the other modes. This roster is closer to the one in Tekken 6 rather than the smorgasbord presented in Tekken Tag Tournament. There are a few new characters, but some are old styles in a new body. Taking Bruce Irvin's moves and giving some of them to Josie Rizal transfers them to someone with more personality and makes sense, but giving some of Christie and Eddy's capoeira moves to Lucky Chloe is like replacing Ryu with Dan (and likely to be just as unpopular).

Akuma carries over his super meter from Street Fighter IV and can throw fireballs, which aren't as advantageous as they may seem with the ability to move in 3D space. Although Kazumi is the story mode's boss, she is also playable and calls in a tiger to assist her during some moves.

Gleaming my Iron Fist

While not going as far as Soul Calibur V did, Tekken 7 has a few additions to the fighting that are obviously influenced by 2D fighters. Some attacks now have armor, which means that damage taken will just be absorbed instead of canceling out the attack. Players near KO will also go into a rage state, which makes attacks stronger as less health is left and opens up two more moves that deplete the rage: Rage Moves and Rage Arts. Rage Moves make your character glow blue and allow you to make one move or a few moves stronger, while Rage Arts are cinematic super moves.

I wasn't able to do much with Rage Arts, which are flashed across the versus screen currently. The easiest one to use was Akuma’s Super, but as I said, its borderline useless here. You really have to work with the Shoto character. The hurricane kick is infinitely more useful here now. Throws seem to have changed and it’s extremely easy to break out of them, although the animations for breaking them seem unique. It was a tease to think my piledriver was going to damage the enemy only to see them get out somehow.

The move over to Unreal 4 makes the graphics look mostly better, although the series' infamous hair doesn't look like it used to. The game still has the same feel as the older games do, proving the versatility of the Unreal engine.

While early 2017 seems a pretty long time to wait for something that looked basically complete at E3, I suppose after seven years of waiting a few more months can’t hurt.