Hands-On with SoulCaliber VI at PAX East
by Kate Sanchez
It’s been six years since Soulcalibur V was released, and with the exception of a mobile game (Soulcalibur: Unbreakable Soul in 2014) and a free-to-play single player quest game – exclusive to the PlayStation Network (Soulcalibur: Lost Swords) the fighter hasn’t been top of mind for many gamers. There are few fighters that hold my attention, however, the mechanics and character customization (introduced in III) made the Soulcalibur series my favorite of the genre. That being said, even I didn’t know six was set to release this year.
At PAX East 2018 in Boston, I walked onto the floor and was greeted by not one but two areas to play a preview of the game. The first was housed at the Bandai Namco booth and the other was nestled between Detroit and the new Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset expansion. With Sophitia (@Blmaddock) and Zasalamel (@Themikalmosley) cosplayers walking around the Bandai Namco booth posing for photos in front of a Soulcalibur VI promo wall, the publisher made sure that those on the floor knew they were there. This is a solid feat being positioned next to the Blizzard/World of Warcraft booth.
In spite of being on my radar, in an attempt to avoid lines, I waited to play the game until the morning of Day 4. However, this strategy meant that I played at the PlayStation booth and not the Bandai Namco booth — which had controllers I was used to (Xbox) but wasn’t open for play until the doors opened. I have never played a fighter on a PS4 controller, but with the commands taped to the stand in front of me, I got back in the groove easily. Out of the 10 confirmed characters (old characters: Ivy, Kilik, Misurugi, Nightmare, Siegfried, Sophitia, Xianghua, Zasalamel and the new characters: Geralt and Groh), Mitsurugi and Sophitia were the only ones playable in this preview. While I would have loved to see Ivy in action, I played Sophitia. Right away, a Soulcalibur player would know that the mechanics we love are still there, have come back from the founding games, and new additions have made the matches more interesting.
Move cancellation is back, allowing you to cancel a move by using the block button which brings an element of baiting to the fights against Soulcal vets, just one way the game is maintaining entertainment in their fights. When it comes to supers, the Critical Edge is more cinematic and refined and the Soul Charge is redone and the new addition of the Reversal Edge – a move which allows you to counter the super Critical Edge and absorb damage some of the attacks while the player hits attack, dodge, kick to lock in their – will make the fights more technical but not shatter the game-play into a blocking match. Now even though the Critical Edge is easier to perform, the redone Soul Gauge fills slower than in previous games and will hopefully curb any spamming. Even with new the new addition and tweaks, the return to the eight-way movement of Soulcalibur II reinforces dynamic game-play and fights will be a lot more than punch, punch, kick, kick.
All in all, although getting to handle these time-tested characters highlighted the game features but the limited character selection meant that you essentially got to play the announcement trailer. With only eight months left in the year, I’m hoping we get to see more gameplay beyond character highlight reels for the limited ones announced. Without a set in stone release date, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for more information. From a first play, it looks like it’s set to be a great revival of a series that’s been dormant since 2012. It’s available for pre-order now and will be released on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.