This week I had the chance to play some of Bandai Namco’s upcoming titles at a press event in San Francisco. One of the biggest games I had the chance to play was SoulCalibur VI. Though still somewhat early in development (only six characters were playable on two stages), the game is looking to be quite a step up for the series as it enters the current console generation.
At first glance, everything about SoulCalibur VI is pleasantly familiar. The combat is still smooth and weighty, armor still shatters after taking enough of a beating, and the audacious narrator is still throwing out some wondrously melodramatic monologues before each match. It’s been a long time since we had some classic SoulCalibur to sink our teeth into, so this familiarity is quite welcome.
This is especially welcome because of the minor but enjoyable additions the game seems to have received since its last installment. Seemingly taking inspiration from the Tekken franchise, SoulCalibur VI has moments where, after using a Focus attack, two characters initiate a slow-mo face-off that, rather impressively, blends into the rest of the fight. The result of each clash was different and seemed to be influenced by rock-paper-scissors button inputs. These moments in battle added a cinematic element to each match without feeling forced, and I’m excited to learn more about them.
Transformations seem to be taking on a larger role than previously seen in the SoulCalibur series, as series regular Kilik and newcomer Groh both had easily accessible transformations that substantially changed their appearances and moveset. Kilik turned into some kind of dark version of himself with glowing scars and long hair, while Groh transformed into a glowing Godot-esque version of himself. Both of these forms seemed far more powerful than their regular selves, and could only stay transformed for a set period of time. I think having a variety of character transformations could add an entirely new feeling of energy into the series, so I’m looking forward to seeing if others in the roster receive similar transformations.
Overall, SoulCalibur VI is certainly off to a good start. The tried-and-true spirit and base mechanics of the series are present, while there are hints of change that could prove to be quite exciting for the series. If the full game can balance this feeling of old and new that I got from the demo, I think fans of the series would be in for a treat. Now we just need to wait for a guest character announcement.