Played on Windows.
Also Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4.
SoulCalibur VI is the latest in the SoulCalibur series. It’s also the first game in five years, and the first on the modern generation of the consoles, so it got a reasonable sized fanfare especially for such a famous franchise. So does it live up to the hype and the franchise that came before it?
Fighting games required a different type of scale. It’s very easy to claim the core mechanic of fighting games barely change, and this is usually true, but it’s the content around the fighting and the small improvements that fans of these series like. However I’m sure most of the fans of the series have already picked up SoulCalibur VI, the question is, what does it offer that deserves the continued support of the fanbase?
Graphics and characters
Without a question, SoulCalibur VI is a beautiful game, but I would argue that it is also expected, most fighting games with the game focusing on two characters in a single location creates a simplistic scene, so the developers can really focus on the look of the environment and characters, and SoulCalibur VI is no exception.
The world is crisp and clean and looks fantastic and all the characters here look amazing. Most characters are returning from the past and there are not huge changes to the character designs, but SoulCalibur VI definitely look a bit better due to the improved hardware and better monitors and TVs.
The amount of detail and the hit detection is incredible
At the same time, I do want to say I’m glad that the Yoshimitsu that appeared in Tekken 7, stayed there with his weird tentacle fetish. While that character design was still odd in the Tekken series, it worked better with that franchise than it would work with SoulCalibur. Every character here is based on warriors from the late 1500s.
Most of the character designs in SoulCalibur VI feel like characters I’ve already played, and while not every character needs to be completely redesigned in each edition of the game, SoulCalibur VI seems to have left most characters with the same look they had in SoulCalibur V.
Speaking of characters, there are only three new characters in SoulCalibur VI whereas SoulCalibur V had 7. The roster is only 20 names long, down from 27 in V, the size is notably different. Of the three new characters, Grøh and Azwel are new characters to the franchise cast, where the third character, Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher is the special guest character for the game.
Geralt does look amazing in the game, and like I said everyone looks fantastic in this, but the lack of characters is a little problematic as part of what has kept me interested in fighting games is trying new characters and fighting styles. This is one of the lightest rosters in the series since the second game and a shame that it’s a step in the wrong direction.
It’s possible that Project Soul thought that their limited offering would be acceptable due to an enhanced Create-A-Soul system. Through this system, you can create a ton of characters and there are a lot of very talented creations out there. You can choose one of 16 different races, which range from human to skeleton to even corrupted humans. SoulCalibur VI’s Create-A-Soul offers a lot of choices, and people enamored with character creators will spend a lot of time here.
There’s a lot of interesting choices, though many work better without customization.
The downside of the character creator is two-fold, the characters created with it are forced to use the same weapons like the characters on the disk, so while my colossus is very cool, he’ll perform the same actions as any other of the other default characters.
Similarly, the characters can look like anything so there have been reports that their different hitboxes change how combos work or how much damage players are taking online from attacks.
Ultimately, while the character creator has been part of the Soulcalibur experience for the past three games, and I think SoulCalibur VI’s implementation is the best, I also feel that it doesn’t excuse much of the rest of SoulCalibur VI from weaker offerings.
Story and modes
Perhaps the biggest issue SoulCalibur VI has is that there is only a limited amount of features for the offline player. There are two main features in SoulCalibur VI which are the Libra of Souls and Soul Chronicles and seem substantial on paper.
Libra of Souls is focused on the player’s created character going through a number of scenarios. As you progress along the way you’ll earn or find different weapons and challenge a number of famous characters.
The Soul Chronicles focuses on the playable characters in SoulCalibur VI and tell their stories. There is a main storyline that stretches over a couple of characters and each individual character is given their own storyline. It all revolves around the Soul Edge, the infamous weapon of the SoulCalibur series. Most of the story though is written for fans of the series so they can see their favorite characters in action.
All the dialogue is written with 2d static screens, though does have voice overs.
However both of these modes suffer from the same problem, SoulCalibur VI is just too verbose with boring and meaningless topics. You might wake up as Asteroth and then fight some guys. Sometimes it feels like the story just pauses because it’s time for a fight. If you aren’t already a fan of the characters, these stories probably won’t change your mind.
I believe this comes down to a problem with the writing. The writer clearly loved the SoulCalibur franchise, or at least was deep within the series’ lore, but unless you’ve studied that lore and focused on it, the story here won’t do much for the player. At times I wondered if there was some problem when translating from Japanese to English as the cause of how awkward the story can be.
But at the same time, there seems to be a high quantity of fights, and a low quality of the writing. It seemed like someone wanted 7-10 fights per character in Soul Chronicles, and so the writer started there with the characters he was already familiar with and used them to retell the origin story of the series but didn’t take the time to make it accessible to anyone who hasn’t already studied the series. Similarly, Libra of Souls has very dry dialog and the game feels like it’s all over the place since there’s a focus on a created character. You’ll meet many famous characters in that story, but again the writing lets it down.
After a few hours, I found myself skipping most of the dialogue and story not because of amount, but because of how little enjoyment I was finding there and instead I just jumped to the fights. The fights as part of the story mode varied from fighting a single enemy for best of one, five, or seven rounds, or fighting a gauntlet of up to four enemies with a health bar that only recharges a specific amount per fight.
That’s how most of SoulCalibur VI’s story modes work. It works in that with the character creator options, you’ll always have a number of different enemies you’ll face. A majority of the enemies in these modes will be created by the development team with random names like “Malefested” or “Warrior”. They look good, but ultimately they all seem to run together.
These two modes are lengthy but they aren’t as enjoyable as I expected. Mission modes have worked in Soulcalibur and other fighting games before, but the writing or experience needs to be up to the task. It’s possible both of these modes were created based on criticism of SoulCalibur V’s weak single-player offering, but giving a large quantity of single player content isn’t the same as giving a compelling single-player experience.
You can choose options and there is a morality system but at the end of the day, it’s all just another step to fight.
Though overall this does feel like a substantial amount of content, the fact that the writing is so weak meant that much of the reason for both modes to exist was lacking, and I ultimately treated them both as single-serving battles. In addition to the two story/mission modes, there is also an arcade mode along with a scoring system that awards trophies for how fast the player beats it, but that ends up being a reason to spam the same attacks, as the time limits are rather tight for the fighters.
At the end of the day, I feel like the single player portion of SoulCalibur VI lacks some spark to keep the player interested in it beyond the dry repetition of battle. In fact, in that way Arcade mode shines a bit brighter, even giving a randomize list, with a different mini-boss and boss for each difficulty. Though one of these bosses is not available in the game and is instead sold as DLC isn’t the best look for SoulCalibur VI either.
That’s not to say SoulCalibur VII should drop the single player entries, but the team needs to put a decent effort into making SoulCalibur VII a compelling fighter for single player and multiplayer fans.
SoulCalibur VI is the latest in the established franchise of SoulCalibur. If you are new to SoulCalibur, the basis of the game is to beat the opponent before the opponent beats you. The core of SoulCalibur’s system is based on horizontal attacks, vertical attacks, and kick. Where horizontal attacks defeat sidestepping, vertical attacks are more damaging but easier to dodge, and kicks are faster.
Most of SoulCalibur’s combat is based on the weapons the characters wield such as Mitsurugi’s Samurai Blade, Ivy’s Sword Whip, and Kilik’s Giant Staff or Rod. Each weapon is different but overall most of the combat is based on using the weapon to great effect, and the different fighting styles battle it out.
The combat is great, though the game has these effects that ruin screen shots, but look great in motion.
There’s a huge wealth of knowledge on the SoulCalibur fighting system, but that’s the basics of the system and rather than change this review into a tutorial, I’ll move on to the changes of the system. The fighting engine at its core makes SoulCalibur interesting.
SoulCalibur VI starts with the already established formula of SoulCalibur and attempts to refine it further. While most of the pieces are familiar to fans of the series, and a few pieces have returned such as the Critical edge which are the big super attacks similar to Tekken 7’s rage arts, the Soul charges, which grant chip damage to moves and more damaging attacks.
The biggest change for SoulCalibur VI is the Reversal Edge, which are special attacks that when landed will place both players into a rock paper scissors style combat where horizontal attacks damage kicks vertical attacks, which damage vertical attacks, which damage horizontal attacks. Beyond that, there’s the option for players to attempt a dodge to get an advantageous position to punish the opponent after an attack.
While Reversal Edge sounds like a good system on paper, it feels like it breaks the flow of SoulCalibur VI’s fighting too often. It produces a simple risk versus reward system to Injustice 2’s clash system. The difference is that at most those clashes in Injustice 2 is limited to only occurring once per character in a battle, and only available after the first life bar is depleted as well as requiring some portion of the super bar to be wagered.
My created character using Yoshimitsu’s attacks.
In Soul Calibur VI Reversal Edges are able to be thrown around as desired and affect the flow of a battle. The same is true of many of SoulCalibur VI’s big moves like the Critical Edge, which can be triggered any time a soul meter is filled but Reversal Edges aren’t large moves, but instead, a risk/reward move that can stop combos, or attacks, and reset the flow of a game.
The combat outside of these large moves is solid, though many characters feel similar, likely due to so many sword users. I’m sure most characters are different in small ways, the fighting system doesn’t feel as unique as other fighting games and most characters seem to play rather similar to one of a few archetypes in the game currently.
In addition, Libra Of Souls, the mode based on the created characters add in RPG elements. I’m a little surprised that there are RPG elements or stats in SoulCalibur VI without having microtransactions, and that’s oddly refreshing for the genre. The core of Libra of Souls focuses on gaining levels and getting more powerful weapons.
Each Libra of Souls is a mission which allows you to choose your weapon. There are some stat style minigames.
It’s a shame that none of SoulCalibur VI’s modes really made me want to play more as the fighting at the core of SoulCalibur VI is fun, there are only a few ways to play the game, and most of them are just filled with repetition with a little story then giving the player a reason to fight the next target.
Of course, after the player finishes with the single player offerings, SoulCalibur VI has one more challenge for players, the multiplayer. There are the typical modes for online play, ranked and casual.
Ranked records your wins and losses and gives you ranking points based on who you won or lost against whereas casual is just for fun, similar to most fighting games.
However, I found that most of my matches in SoulCalibur VI ended in a disconnect. I did finish two matches, but that was two out of ten, and at that point, I stopped. Most of these disconnects happened in the first match, and I’m by no means a great player. I could only conclude that there are problems with the connection, rather than rage quitting, but there doesn’t appear to be a punishment for disconnecting in the middle of the match. Whether there is or isn’t, I’ll be honest, the experience that SoulCalibur offers online is lacking.
I later found other matches while making the review video but the results of online play still lacked something, and I found some latency, even after requesting only solid connection matches.
When you do match up with another opponent, SoulCalibur feels as good online as offline, and SoulCalibur fighting engine really works. It’s just trying to find that match will take some work for players, but players will be rewarded when they get into a match.
SoulCalibur VI is the latest in a line of fighting games, but it’s also indicative of the modern look at fighters. It feels that more focus is placed on selling DLC and the season pass than making a fully fleshed out experience. Multiplayer is problematic, but it’s the low number of characters, the weak single-player offerings, and the idea that that’s a quantity of cheap content (written story with 2d images) that really hurts the experience of SoulCalibur VI.
There is also a wealth of fighters that have come from Bandai Namco, with Tekken 7, Dragon Ball Fighter Z, and Jump Force coming out. But with all those titles, it’s not surprising that some would get less attention than others. It’s just a shame that SoulCalibur VI seems to be the title that Namco went cheaper on.
This will keep the series alive, but just barely at that. Fans of SoulCalibur will find an entertaining experience here, but anyone looking for more than just a multiplayer game will find the offerings lacking.
I give SoulCalibur VI a
Final Thoughts: SoulCalibur VI tries to provide a comprehensive package, but the single player offerings are still lacking. The fighting system is solid, but it’s the package that lacks something special.
Stats: 15 hours played 29/49 Achievements earned