How Soul Calibur 6 Could Be a Watershed Moment for Fighting Games

Soul Calibur 6 feels like a watershed moment for the fighting genre. It doesn’t add anything particularly new or ground-breaking in terms of mano-a-mano mayhem, nor does it reinvent the wheel when it comes to its own franchise, but it might just be one of the best fighting games I’ve ever played. Everything has (already) been polished to an absurd degree: the fighting is supremely slick without ever being overwhelming, the characters as good as they’ve ever looked and – as we enter a new stage of history – Bandai Namco has proved they’re still the ones to beat when it comes to ring outs and all the rest of it.

As bright-hued fireworks seemingly leak forth from the screen after every deadly hit and sword swipe, I – Yoshimitsu, because I can never pass up the chance to play as my favorite maniacal swordsman – dodge, weave and sidestep past thrusts and other thunderous attacks. I’m not particularly well-versed in the intricacies of fighting games but, here, you don’t need to be. Anything from button-mashing to basic combos come across as an epic duel for the ages. It’s so wonderfully impressive that it’s hard not to get hooked within the first couple of rounds. Others stare as I pull off a spinning tombstone piledriver to end my opponent; people wait (im)patiently behind me for their turn with the game. This is the fighting genre utterly perfected – and one that makes October seem like an eternity’s wait. You’d imagine it’s only going to get better too.

Soul Calibur 6 Preview: The Witcher Debuts

The build I was able to get my hands on came equipped with 10 or so characters and, as you’d expect, the larger-than-life combatants bring their own edge to proceedings. Nightmare is, well, a nightmare to bring under control, but can pay dividends with his hard-hitting, brutal style, Kilik’s long-ranged prowess makes him unstoppable in the hands of series veterans and there’s even Geralt, from The Witcher series, who doesn’t miss a beat on his franchise debut. So far, so very Soul Calibur. It all adds up to an extremely satisfying mix of fighters to match your own play style, which can’t always be said for some its peers.

Speaking of Geralt, Soul Calibur has had a mixed history when it comes to crossover characters. Not so here. This is far more Heihachi than Link or Spawn, a figure whose moveset immediately transfers to the rough-and-tumble of the 3D space that relies heavily on quick reflexes and even quicker swordplay. The witcher may, from what I’ve played, be a tad overpowered with his rangy Igni being able to quell even the most dangerous of foes with relative ease, but – whisper it – Bandai may have topped CD Projekt RED when it comes to the overall ‘feel’ of Geralt. The white-haired one’s swagger and sense of style is almost unparalleled here. His accompanying stage, Kaer Morhen is a looker, too, with the specter of the castle overshadowing what would otherwise be a fairly generic-looking stage.

Soul Calibur 6 Preview: Yes, Those Physics are Back

soul calibur 6

Do I have any complaints? Honestly, not really. Ideally, the game would scale back on its ludicrous outfits – Ivy’s scantily-clad getup is a little uncomfortable to look at in this day and age – and I have no idea why boob physics are still a thing, but you’d hope they get toned down upon release.

I’m always wary of gushing too much about games but this feels truly special. If you’re looking to finally get into the genre, this is going to be the one that converts you. And if you’ve already slapped down your pre-order, rest assured that your money is in safe hands.

Soul Calibur 6 was previewed by GameRevolution in a hands-on demo during an event held by Bandai Namco.