Over the last year, we have had some great fighting games coming out. Both Street Fighter 6 and Mortal Kombat 1 hit the market in 2023 and both were amazing games in their own right. Now, we start of 2024 with yet another entry in a venerable fighting game franchise with Tekken 8 from Bandai Namco Studios. The Tekken franchise hits 30 years old this year, and I have been playing every version of the game since 1994. It never ranked higher than the Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat franchises for me, but Tekken does have a very special place in my heart. So let’s take a deeper look at Tekken 8 and how it stacks up to today’s competition.


The story of Tekken 8 begins just six months after the death of Heihachi Mishima. Jin Kazama, along with Lars Alexandersson and Lee Chaolan, attacks Kazuya Mishima in Manhattan, in hopes of stopping Kazuya once and for all. However, the attack fails and Kazuya kills millions in New York, as well as Jin losing control of his devil powers.

After the attack on New York Kazuya, now openly showing off his devil powers, announces the new King of the Iron Fist Tournament. This time, if a fighter loses in the tournament, then their nation will be destroyed. The tournament is to cull the weak and to reward the strong in a world that Kazuya feels has become too soft for its own good. 

The story of Tekken 8 is probably the best story for a Tekken game in ages. The story mode was interesting and flowed quite nicely, broken up into Chapters that made sense. There was even a series of short videos that outlined the story for every game since Tekken, so if it’s been a while you can catch up on everything. 

Tekken 8 has 3 new characters for players to get to know. Really, it’s more like 2.5 characters since Jack-8 is one of the new ones. Jack-8 is the newest version of the Jack android and plays pretty much the same way he has always played. The other two new characters are very interesting and quickly became two of my favorites to play. The first one is Victor Chevalier, an older gentleman that works for the United Nations and feels like a John Wick type of character. The other new character is Reina, who is Heihachi Mishima reincarnated with many of the same or similar style of moves. 


Tekken 8’s fighting mechanics have been some of the cleanest in the genre. With the emphasis on much more grounded combat than Street Fighter 6 or MK1, Tekken 8’s gameplay relies much more on button combinations and punishing opponent behavior, then just spitting out fireballs or spears. A typical Tekken game is much more defensive than any of the other fighting games out there, with each opponent waiting for the other to move and miss before punishing them.

Tekken 8 honors this game play, but has also innovated a few items to help push more offensive and aggressive styles of combat. Two new systems have been introduced in Tekken 8, Recoverable Health and Heat. Recoverable Health first made an appearance in Tekken Tag Tournament, and similar to that game, health can be recovered by going on the offensive. Once your player takes some damage, a portion of that damage can be recovered by attacking your opponent. This encourages the damaged player to switch tactics and become more aggressive in a chance to gain some of that lost health back.

This also fits in well with the other new game play feature, Heat. Heat can be activated by a series of button presses, or by simply pressing one button. Heat will then give you another bar that will deplete naturally. This bar gives your offensive moves more damage, allows you to extend combos even farther, and can add huge finishing moves to your combo chains. Heat is usable each and every round, but only once per round, so there isn’t a reason not to use it. It’s finding out the proper timing and application of Heat to either put the round away or rescue you if the round is getting away from you.

Tekken 8 also boasts some of the best training programs to learn how to play the game that I’ve seen in a while. Not only do you have your typical practice and challenge settings, but you also have the Arcade Quest, a fun way to slowly be introduced to the nuances of the Tekken fighting system. While Arcade Quest may not find some fans amongst the die-hard fans out there, it becomes the best way for anyone new to the system to learn how to survive, to fight, and eventually to conquer Tekken 8.

Final Thoughts

Tekken 8 is amazing. Not only is the story mode fun to play, but each character has their own mini story modes that you can play through as well. Tekken 8 is full of features, training programs, characters, and can be played both offline and online to extend your competition pool.

What has been added to Tekken 8 serves to enhance the amazing game that is already there at its core. The recoverable health and the heat system both help encourage more aggressive game play, but that game play has to be tempered with great decision making as many of the online players play very defensively. You’re going to have to pick your openings very carefully, but when you do hit, you are going to hit hard.

For any long time fan of the series, Tekken 8 feels just right. It feels like Tekken but also feels new and improved at the same time. If you have never played a Tekken game before, there isn’t any better time to jump in than Tekken 8. The game will train you on how to fight properly and, with practice, you will be a Tekken veteran in no time. Tekken 8 is the best version of Tekken out in a very long time. Tekken 8 is available now on Playstation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

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John "Judgeman" Dugan is a long time contributor and Gaming Shogun's resident fighting game expert. Judgeman has appeared on G4's Arena, including season 1's Tournament of Champions, and was a regular in the early days of Street Fighter 2 tournaments.