SoulCalibur VI Review by FlaminNips
Brought to us by Project Soul and published by Bandai Namco, SoulCalibur 6 is the newest entry in the fighting game franchise that goes back more than 20 years. Many favorites are back with more available as DLC, and a second season of DLC was confirmed to be in production. It is a spectacle to watch or play at all levels with fun moves that are easy to pull off, and accessible gameplay makes it easy for newcomers to the genre to join in on the fun.
SoulCalibur 6 is a fighting game that allows for three-dimensional movement. It features 12 stages that players can face off in. Most stages are bordered by open space or low walls, allowing a player to end a match early by knocking another player out of the ring. Each character has a gigantic toolkit of moves and combos, and most are not particularly taxing to pull off, especially compared with other fighters out there. There are only four buttons to press beyond the joystick. Most attacks are done by inputting a direction plus a button or two. Some combos require tighter timing, but thankfully training mode has enough options for every scenario to be explored to the fullest.
There are many mechanics at play, including meters that allow for super-moves (called Critical Edges) or a temporary buff (called Soul Charge) to be applied. There is also an invisible stun meter to prevent people from overly relying on block, which is visualized with the health bar’s border flashing different colors. If you are falling behind, the game gives you a full meter when you are one round away from losing a match.
With just the base game, the roster stands at 21 characters, including Geralt from The Witcher franchise as a guest character. With the first season pass, that number grows to 25. Four more characters were declared to be in production for the second season, including a guest character from Samurai Shodown, Haohmaru. All the characters are beautifully animated, with flashy moves that just look impressive and feel good to land. Each character has a weapon that they fight with, and different weapon types necessitate different playstyles. Someone with a short sword is not going to do well from a distance if their opponent uses a sword that is as long as a third of the screen.
If none of the existing players appeal to you, you can go into a mode called Creation, where you can tweak the clothing and cosmetics of existing characters, or even create your own from scratch! There are a huge amount of options available, and people have certainly been able to create some unique original creations. Each of these completely new characters uses the moveset of one of the existing characters, however. When you’ve finished creating a character, you have the option to share that creation online.
Some people like fighting games for the single player content. There is a lot to be found in SoulCalibur 6’s arcade mode, story mode, and Libra of Souls mode. Arcade mode is standard in that you pick a difficulty and face off against a varying number of the cast depending on the difficulty. Story mode lets you get a glimpse into the backstory of each character, but these are not very long. They do have cutscenes, which are art stills with voice lines reading the text between fights. Libra of Souls is the most time-consuming part of the single player content, since it requires you to create a unique character and then travel around the world. You’ll meet all the members of the cast (who were in the game at launch), fight them, side with them, make choices, and progress. Libra of Souls has RPG elements in that your weapon has stats, and you will find better weapons (or upgrade the one you are using) as you progress.
Lastly, single player includes the Museum. The Museum houses character concept art, music from the other games, basic text tutorials about specific game mechanics, and pages and pages of lore. There is a lot to unlock, and no rush to do so.
The core of any fighting game is the ability to go head to head against another human. There are several ways to do this in SoulCalibur 6. First and most simply, you can plug in a second controller and play against someone locally. Once you’re online, you have the option to play a casual match or a ranked match. Ranked matches pair you with another player somewhere in the world, and you fight for points. The higher your rank, the more points you stand to lose from a defeat. Joining a lobby is how you participate in a casual match. Creating a lobby gives you many options, including how many players can join, whether or not they can be from a different region, and even if the room is invitation only or not. In the case of more than two players in a casual lobby, the players who are waiting for a turn can watch the fight play out, giving you even more insight into your eventual opponent’s playstyles.
Connection online depends on you and your opponents’ internet connections. In my experience, I have been able to play seamlessly and without lag from players in Australia from the East Coast of the United States. For an optimal experience, I recommend closing all unnecessary applications on your PC. An important thing to note is that no matter the type of online match, SoulCalibur 6 allows you to view replays. This is important for identifying where a match went wrong for you, and then you can recreate that scenario in the training mode. There is no shortage of players online at any time, and you can easily find people to add and compete for long sparring bouts in a casual lobby.
A fighting game is never complete without the ability to lab combos, and SoulCalibur’s training
lets you pick the stage, the characters, the dummy’s behavior (to include recordings or spamming any specific move from that character’s entire tool kit, resetting the scenario to a specific location, and even the setting to search for a ranked match online if you want to fight in between bouts of training. On the topic of training, there are a plethora of resources available online in the form of fan-run websites, Youtube videos, and even discord servers for each member of the cast. There is no lack of documentation regarding frame data, so anyone can learn as much as they care to. 7/10
– Incredibly diverse cast that will allow someone to find a playstyle they like
– Robust training mode that covers all of the options someone needs
– Great community to learn from
– Very accessible execution for moves
– Gameplay mechanics work well together
– Online experience regarding lag can vary from match to match
– DLC is not cheap when not on sale
– New players can find online competitors daunting at first
– Rage quitting is not adequately punished
– Stage variety needs work
Written by @FlaminNips
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