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SoulCalibur VI Hands-On Impressions

by Dylan Siegler

The classic SoulCalibur gameplay is there, with some new characters and features.

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I was never a big fan of fighting games, but for some reason I’ve always liked SoulCalibur. Maybe it’s because when I was a kid, most other fighting games seemed like they were just a bunch of buff dudes duking it out with their fists and SoulCalibur has a much more noticeable emphasis on giant swords. Regardless, when I was younger and frequented arcades more often, I always made it a point to play whatever version of the game was available any time I went to an arcade. It’s been a while since I’ve played a new game in the series, but seeing as how I was attending E3 this year, I thought it’d be worth my time to head over to Bandai Namco’s booth and check out SoulCalibur VI.

First of all, SoulCalibur VI is certainly SoulCalibur. Getting familiar with the arcade cabinet-like setup of SoulCalibur VI felt like no time had passed since I was playing the arcade version of SoulCalibur II as a child. And the new game felt just as good now as the old one did then. I used to like playing as Nightmare a lot, so I of course had to try him out in this new game. As far as I could tell, SoulCalibur’s gameplay is just as great as it has always been. Those who’ve played a game in the series before probably know what to expect.

For those looking to get into the franchise for the first time, this new game is probably a good entry point, since it features many of the games’ classic characters and the narrative will apparently retell the story of the first SoulCalibur. The series is known for featuring a bunch of characters who are all differentiated from each other by the different weapons they possess. Maxi uses nunchaku, Kilik uses a bo staff, Siegfried has an enormous sword… Ivy uses this sword-whip thing that has incredible range and is really annoying to go up against. There’s a ton of diversity and you’re bound to find a character you have fun playing as.

For veteran players, eleven fan-favorite characters have been confirmed on the roster: Nightmare, Siegfried, Sophitia, Taki, Maxi, Kilik, Xianghua, Ivy, Zasalamel, Yoshimitsu and Mitsurugi. Additionally, there are two new characters: Grøh and this game’s special guest, Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher series. Geralt primarily uses his sword while Grøh uses this double-edge sword thing that can come apart and become two smaller single-edged blades. Both new characters seemed to specialize in attacks that were fast but weaker, while also obviously having moves that were a bit slower but a bit stronger. It seemed to me that Grøh had an advantage in that he can pull off combos of a bunch of moves in a row that may not be super strong individually, but that definitely stack up. Geralt, meanwhile, has magic attacks taken from The Witcher that have more range than his sword and many other characters’ weapons, while also adding some more versatility to his moveset. Geralt fits right in with SoulCalibur VI’s roster of fighters and you definitely don’t need to be a fan of The Witcher to appreciate him as a fighter in this game. I also counted ten empty spaces for characters yet to be announced in the roster. I would imagine other fan favorites like Cervantes, Rock, Astaroth and Lizardman will eventually be confirmed, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

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The other big distinction between this new game and older games is the addition of the Reversal Edge mechanic. The Reversal Edge mechanic basically slows down time, allowing the player using it to either block, dodge or attack. If they choose to attack, their opponent will have a brief moment to determine whether the attack will be a Horizontal, Vertical or Kick attack, and then attempt to counter with whichever type of move trumps their opponent’s attack in a rock-paper-scissors-style matchup. It will be interesting to see how this new mechanic changes up playstyles for both casual and more competitive players.

One thing is for sure: SoulCalibur is still fun. Whether you’re a lifelong fan of the series or someone curious about checking it out for the first time, this new game is definitely worth looking into. SoulCalibur VI will launch for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on October 19.

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