At last, I’ve revisited the latest Stage of History for Bandai Namco’s upcoming SoulCalibur VI. An enthusiast of the series since Soul Edge, I’m not particularly competitive in the game, nor have I played in many tournaments. Nonetheless, I’m passionate for this title, and have high hopes that the developers will reclaim the spirit that once dwelt in the series — and at least so far, they seem to be on the right track.
Unfortunately, even though more characters are ready (as evidenced by the trailers for Yoshimitsu and Taki, and the latest one for Maxi), Combo Breaker 2018 featured only the “base” demo cast we’ve seen in prior builds. I don’t particularly gravitate to any of the characters in this build (Sophitia, Mitsurugi, Nightmare, Grøh, Kilik, and Xianghua) and though I tried each one at least a little bit, I mostly stuck with Mitsurugi and Grøh. I’m awaiting the chance to play as my favorites: Setuska (not yet confirmed), Yoshimitsu, and Taki!
My first impression: this game isn’t quite as fast as it looks. Having watched hours of footage up to this point, I kept expecting the crispness of SoulCalibur II. Granted, it’s not quite as fast — however, you won’t be disappointed. Movement, finally, is relevant again, and actually surprisingly strong. It’s really easy to avoid vertical attacks; as long as you didn’t start the movement too late, you should be able to dodge anything. I noticed that my first opponent defaulted to moving around, dodging even quick BB slashes, so I had to make a very conscious commitment to spam horizontal strikes (despite wanting to try out various moves). The overall pace feels close to SoulCalibur V, with heavy, impactful swings, but quicker and with more explosive gameplay than before.
What’s great for those returning to the game is that most of the movelists for the characters are callbacks to their previous incarnations, but not without additions. It’s great to see stances return to Mitsurugi’s repertoire; I really enjoyed just sitting in Relic stance and then using the forward G counter to surprise the opponent. His B strike is also a Guard Break, and so is AA. He’s really looking like a strong character; he has most of his old tricks back. I tried doing the just-slide move, bA, but failed at triggering it. Maybe there’s a different function. He even has 9+A+B back, that high-jump move, with a Guard Break attached as well — and as I learned, there is a reason why characters have so many Guard Break moves.
Grøh stands out with his teleportation attacks. I aimed to go into Soul Charge just to see more of them. It’s really easy to pull them off, too – I’m fairly sure 3 BB automatically pulled one off. He’s both accessible and flashy, which seems to be exactly what Bandai Namco is going for. The cinematic Soul Charge and Critical Edge moves are incredibly easy to pull off, and I happily mashed away and discovered moves despite the inability to customize buttons or view the command list. Can’t wait to be able to see the full command lists to discover the expansive potential of Soul Charged moves.
A few words about balance and mechanics. I don’t think I share Crow_Spaceboy’s critical opinion of the Reversal Edge mechanic. I do see how it’s mostly a “guessing game,” but there are some factors to it that are in favor of the one who used it. The one who activated it does have a few advantages: they receive meter (though in this case, the enemy does as well), hit the opponent, break up the opponent’s offensive momentum, and win if the characters clash twice (select the same options two times). Again, I think the most significant thing here is turning the tide against an opponent who keeps assaulting with unpredictable attacks. It is possible to out-think the opponent in the guessing game. If the one who started using Reversal Edge had a bigger advantage, the mechanic would be too strong, I believe. I’m not going to completely disagree that it doesn’t need work — or that it high-level players may not use it much — but I don’t think it’s that bad.
Similarly, Guard Impacts do seem very powerful, but trying to Guard Impact too much made my lifebar flash very quickly, drawing me nearer and nearer the Guard Burst — a free punish after blocking. I also didn’t initially realize that neither GI nor Reversal Edge work against Guard Breaking moves, which are plentiful in every fighter’s arsenal this time around. That’s a good deterrent to the stronger-than-ever Guard Impact, and the fact that Reversal Edge works on moves of any level.
That’s it for now; I can’t really go into much more depth, because Combo Breaker featured only two setups, limiting my time with the game. I have learned, though, that we will see the new build very soon, so make sure to stay tuned to Shoryuken for the latest SoulCalibur VI news.