Evo 2018 preview: The souls begin to burn for SoulCalibur VI

By on July 31, 2018 at 2:00 pm
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Though it’s not quite complete, I think most people expected SoulCalibur VI to make its way to Evo 2018 in some way, whether at Bandai Namco booth or a side tournament. With the announced SCVI Evo 2018 tournament, attendees now have an opportunity to try out the game in a competitive setting — some, for the first time.

It still remains to be seen how the game will perform in a tournament, or even as an esports title. The SoulCalibur series occupies a spot close to its Tekken brother in the 3D fighting game subtype; but as Tekken has shaped up to be a more complex title, SoulCalibur is the more “casual” fighter with a broader appeal. While it has had success as a competitive title, a long gap in development support has given little forecast for its impact.

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SoulCalibur VI is nothing short of a reboot for the series. Rebuilt in the Unreal Engine and soon appearing on Steam’s digital shelves for the first time, The Stage of History never looked better. A weapons-based, 3D-modeled fighter has a lot more visual clarity than say, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, already making it a lot more “watchable,” and with gorgeous stages to match. Bandai Namco producer, Motohiro Okubo, has been the face of the game in many interviews; he often brought up the small development touches that make the game more “esports-geared.” That’s mostly seen in the notable slowdowns during certain techniques like Guard Impact (I really think it unnecessarily slows down the tempo with that one, by the way…) and Reversal Edge.

Reversal Edge is a cinematic showcase, staging a showdown between two fighters, pausing the frenetic action for a moment as players try to outwit (or straight up guess) each other’s next move. Okubo pushes this as an equalizer for the more casual players, since the technique parries attacks of any level and initiates a guessing game. SRK Assistant Editor Crow_Spaceboy isn’t a big fan of the mechanic — and from the perspective of a competitive player, he may be on point. I do wonder though if Bandai Namco can tune up the mechanic a little more; after all, despite the randomness of this mechanic, the one who used it gets slight advantages: like more meter, and a guaranteed win on the second clash. However, a blog post from Okubo teases there might be a bit more to the mechanic than we know, so it’s possible it will get re-tuned somewhat. Still, it doesn’t seem likely that Reversal Edge will significantly change.

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By now, there’s a hefty amount of footage to sift through if you happen to be going to Evo. The 8WayRun forum posters have been busy compiling impressions, move lists, and combos from their brief experiences with the game. Several players have had a chance to play the game at multiple events, sticking with one character, and showing more mastery than those who jumped in. Not to mention, the game still doesn’t have a Command List available, so there still could be moves out there that we are missing. I would particularly highlight ESL Arena gameplay and the CEO 2018 exhibition. The latter especially had great Ivy, Siegfried, and Taki performances. Those players used fairly optimized combos, bringing us closer to the way those characters will be played once the rest of us have had time to grind them out in Training Mode. Even if you haven’t played the game, you can study up quite a bit about your character to be more prepared. I played a Combo Breaker SCVI build that didn’t have Yoshimitsu, but I’m still planning on using him!

Among the 192 entrants who made it into the Evo 2018 SoulCalibur VI side tournament, there aren’t too many famous names (free entry surely enticed many people, and the number is capped). I would point out a couple of names like Fame96, UYU|BeautifulDude, BxA|PartyWolf, and Kayane, of course. I’m not certain how many members from the French scene will make it, but Hayate — who has been making many great overview videos of the game — is not competing.

Hopefully, the Evo 2018 build will showcase the most recently-announced characters, Talim and Voldo. Bandai Namco is playing it fairly safe, trying to please as many fans as possible by returning series’ staples, with Grøh and Geralt the only new characters so far (and both are also rather safe choices). In fact, the only “wild” thing in its character roster is that Bandai Namco unabashedly persevered with Ivy’s outfit despite a change in climate for generally less-sexualized costumes (with a notable shift in the design for the next Dead or Alive game). As you may remember, ESPN wasn’t a big fan of R. Mika’s costume during Evo 2016’s Street Fighter V Grand Finals!

However, SoulCalibur VI doesn’t need to aim for ESPN. The game’s hallmark was always its single-player content, setting a standard to follow for other titles. I think, thanks to that, this series will always be special in the hearts of its fans at large, not just those who actually identify as part of the FGC. Whether the game will get its own circuit or not is in the hands of the competitive scene, streams, and tournament organizers; those influencers have power in shaping Bandai Namco’s esports strategy, if there will be any (and sales numbers do as well, of course). The company traditionally hasn’t supported this series much post-launch.

This will be the biggest testing ground for the game, and there are only three months left before the title’s October 19th release. We might see some more reveals at Gamescom, which is later in August, but I have a feeling Bandai Namco is holding out some hype to show post the Tekken 7 Sunday finals. Will we see Cervantes at last, or maybe Character Creation mode?

Time is ticking by, and soon, all content will have to be revealed.

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Additional source: n0pants

Luke "Woocash" Siuty is a Chicago-based writer who specializes in ArcSys titles. A Guilty Gear veteran, he plays Baiken and commits atrocities by playing Sin when he's not busy pondering the ArcSys Cycle. He's always down to talk on Twitter, so send him tips. He's good at OS-ing in real life, not so much in video games, though.