SoulCalibur makes its long-awaited return on the current gen systems, the last being SoulCalibur V back in 2012 (excluding remasters and mobile ports).  So with it being six years in the waiting, does SoulCalibur VI live up to previous instalments?  The short answer to that question is a resounding yes and I’ll naturally tell you why.  In terms of story, SoulCalibur VI is more of a reboot to the series, telling the origins of the almighty and dangerous Soul Edge sword.  Taking place in the 16th century between the years 1583 to 1590, we have fresh tales for each of our favourite heroes (and villains) as they fight to claim the cursed sword, whether that is with good or bad intentions.  If you’re familiar with the series, then you’ll know the plot is about as wacky as it gets for this genre and if you’re not, well, embrace its goofiness, because story-telling aside, SoulCalibur VI is one of the best fighting games in recent years.

In a time where the 2D fighter is as popular as it’s even been, Bandai Namco has been leading the charge in the 3D fighting realm with the likes of Tekken 7 and SoulCalibur VI joining that charge.  Back in September I briefly got to play the game at EGX and despite being somewhat of an earlier build, I was enthralled with the smooth gameplay and fast paced action, and that is still certainly the case here.  Due to its perspective, its perhaps a little more difficult to pull-off lengthy combos to that of a 2D fighter, but between the two in my humble opinion, SoulCalibur VI is certainly a little more easy to pick-up-and-play to that of Tekken 7.  Don’t get me wrong, while beginners will be eased into this instalment, there is still a lot to master with each and every of the 20 characters and 11 stages included in the base game.

In terms of new tricks, SoulCalibur VI will have fans feeling very much at home, however, there is a new gameplay mechanic introduced with the Reversal Edge.  When trigged, the action will go into slow-motion and in somewhat of a rock, paper, scissors format, you can turn the tide of the fight in your favour or it can go against you, but that’s an added strategical risk that brings an extra element into the fight.  As with previous games, the Critical Edge move returns, which will unleash a powerful attack to your opponent, however, it will slightly weaken your weapon for the duration of the fight, so use it wisely.  Likewise, Soul Charge also returns which will give your character a power boost, but it will leave you vulnerable whilst you charge the attack, so timing is of the utmost importance.  Another return that I welcome is visible damage to your armour from certain attacks.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not to the level of depleting damage seen in other genres, but the visible wear and tear brings an added visual dynamic to the battle.

In terms of overall visuals, for obvious reasons, this is the best looking SoulCalibur to date.  It’s bright and welcoming graphics are easy on the eye and despite being so fast paced at times, the framerate performs exceedingly well, at least on the PS4 Pro, though I imagine that should be the same across the board.  The sound design is also superbly implemented, with the cheesy dialogue that we know and love from each of the characters, as well as the narrator before you head into a fight.  Likewise, the soundtrack makes you feel that more triumphant as you win an epic battle and marvel in your victory.

In terms of gameplay modes, SoulCalibur VI has two story modes to participate in.  We have the Libra of Soul, which will require you to create your own fighter as you embark on your destined journey.  Speaking of character creation, SoulCalibur VI offers the most in-depth and varied creation suite that I’ve seen in the series and certainly one of the best for its genre.  As long as you have unlocked the parts via the various modes and you have a good imagination, you can pretty much create what you want.  I’ve even seen characters from Destiny and Donkey Kong, I kid you not. The second story mode is Soul Chronicle.  Here you can play a short sequence for each of the characters on the roster, telling their origin stories from the very first SoulCalibur, right up to this present instalment.

However, as much as I’m enjoying both story modes, it does disappoint me a little that the stories are told with art stills (at the time of writing), rather than full-on cut-scenes, like we have seen in Tekken 7.  That said, the art is beautiful to look at and each character is well supported by their representing voice-actor.  Other modes include the general Arcade, Versus and Training modes for offline play, and for online, we have the usual Ranked and Casual match, as well as online leaderboard stats and a replay theatre.  There are also tons of unlockables to acquire in the gallery, featuring art-work across the six main entries, background information on each characters and much more.  So if you’re the type of player that likes to unlock everything, there are tons of goodies to acquire here, as well as with the unlockables for the creation suite.

With all that being said, during my first impression when playing SoulCalibur VI at EGX, I said that this game has the potential to be the best in the series.  Now I’ve been a devoted fan since Soul Edge on the original PlayStation, owning every entry in the series since that moment, with my favourite at the time being SoulCalibur II.  Yet, SoulCalibur VI offers everything that I’d want from the series, a sublime gameplay experience, beautiful visuals, a wealth of modes and unlockables, as well as a very impressive character creation feature and an added dose of signature cheesiness.  Oh and I almost forgot to mention that SoulCalibur VI’s guest character is none other than Geralt of Rivia from the fantastic The Witcher series and he feels very much at home in SoulCalibur VI.  So with that in mind, I can hand on heart so that I genuinely believe that SoulCalibur VI is the very best of the series and if you’re a fan of this genre, this game needs to be in your collection.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake