‘Soulcalibur VI’ is intuitive and fun, even if you’ve strayed from the series

It’s been quite a few years since I was a formidable player of Soulcalibur games. For a while there, back in the early days of the series, I was a nightmare with Nightmare and a killer with Kilik.

After spotting Soulcalibur VI at the Xbox Showcase ahead of E3 2018, the question was whether too many years had passed for me to even recognize Soulcalibur anymore. The series has come a long way. Yoda was a thing for a while there. Like many players, I feel out of my depth in fighting games most of the time — it’s a game genre built on esoteric complexity that rewards you for knowing everything about it, which means casually grabbing a controller is usually asking for an ass-kicking. I expected it would be the same with Soulcalibur VI.

I needn’t have worried too much. It’s true that with an Xbox One controller in-hand, it took a few rounds to acclimate to the controls, but Soulcalibur VI largely feels like the series did back in the day. The latest version is a great deal prettier and more cinematic, though, in a way that upgrades the feel to make battles even more tense.

The feature publisher Bandai Namco is touting with SoulCalibur VI is the “Reversal Edge,” a move that can quickly change the pace of a fight in a way that’s always cool to watch. The Reversal Edge is tied to one button, and using it is all about reading your opponent’s actions. Timed right, it executes a counter that doesn’t just knock the enemy back or leave them exposed to an attack — it actually kicks off a killer slow-motion sequence, which allows for a beatdown situation that feels like a quick step into a blockbuster action movie. It’s just enough to put some style into pummeling your off-balance opponent.

Once Digital Trends Gaming Editor Mike Epstein and I got a feel for the Reversal Edge, as well as the returning Critical Edge system that lets you power up giant but easy to execute special moves, we were able to do a fair job wailing on each other. It helps that no matter what you’re doing in Soulcalibur VI, whether it’s a perfectly timed series of attacks, blocks and counterattacks, or just mashing the gamepad with your palm, the game looks great. 

Soulcalibur VI is making strong use of the Unreal Engine, especially in those moments when you activate awesome slow-motion thrashings. The game is also good at coming in tight on its coolest-looking moves, like when you manage to grab an opponent or pull off a powerful Critical Edge move, to ratchet up the excitement. We may not have had the tightest handle on what we were doing, but Soulcalibur VI at least made us look like well-trained fighting game warriors.

Geralt of The Witcher series feels less like a gimmick addition to the roster and more like a natural one.

Our quick couple of bouts included a chance to check out a new character throwing down in Soulcalibur VI: Geralt of Rivia of The Witcher fame. Geralt’s midrange sword couples well with his natural speed, making him a formidable fighter who can quickly chain together a lot of damage. His melee capabilities are accompanied by a few monster-hunting tricks, like moves that let you blast an opponent with magical flame, or briefly stun them to leave them open to slicing and dicing.

Most notable, though, is that Geralt is a strong addition to the Soulcalibur VI lineup. Thanks to his swordfighting chops, Geralt feels less like a gimmick addition to the roster and more like a natural one. His Witcher 3 moves are right at home among the combatants of Soulcalibur.

It’s tough to get much of an overall sense of Soulcalibur VI from just a couple of matches, but grabbing a controller for a few minutes in a crowded convention space led us to some fun, tense matches. Soulcalibur VI was fun even for a couple of players who are out of step with the series. Even with its additions, it’s still intuitive enough that getting the feel for the game isn’t a colossal undertaking.

The new additions clearly add a lot of strategic depth to the package, but it’s a mark of strong design that most of it made sense even within a couple of rounds. At the very least, Soulcalibur VI is even making getting thrashed fun to watch.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Click-to-brew beer, comfy headlamps, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Gaming

The real demons in ‘Devil May Cry 5’ are its microtransactions

Devil May Cry 5 will include microtransactions for players wanting to upgrade their abilities more quickly, Capcom has confirmed. They will be used to purchase the in-game Red Orbs currency.
Gaming

‘Hellboy’ reboot screenwriter could helm animated ‘Diablo’ series on Netflix

Hellboy reboot screenwriter and Boom! Studios founder Andy Cosby has revealed that he's in talks to write and act as showrunner for an animated Diablo series on Netflix. Little else is known about the project.
Mobile

Here's the Samsung Galaxy S9's new Android 9.0 Pie interface

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus are here. The flagship devices boast some awesome new features and a powerful new processor. Here's everything you need to know about these Samsung phones.
Product Review

'FIFA 19' still nails soccer, but don’t expect any surprises

FIFA 19 is still a great way to play virtual soccer, but the changes made in this year’s game don’t push the series forward, and The Journey's story mode stumbles in its final installment.
Gaming

Here’s every Xbox One X Enhanced game that supports 4K resolution

Microsoft boasts that its Xbox One X will be the most powerful console ever released, with increased frame rates, quicker load times, and 4K resolution. These are the games that can take advantage.
Computing

How Razer forged the Blade 15, the slim gaming laptop nobody else could build

With the recent launch of the Blade 15, Razer ushered in a new design language that's cleaner and more angular. We recently visited Razer's San Francisco, California design studio to learn more about Razer's approach to design.
Computing

Detangle your desk with these mighty wireless mice

If you're looking for the best wireless mouse on the market, we've got the list for you!. Here are six models that will give everyone what they need, whether they're hardcore gamers or looking to ward off carpal tunnel.
Gaming

Cancer-fighting 12-year-old Bethesda fan gets chance to play ‘Fallout 76’ early

Game publisher Bethesda recently gave a 12-year-old fan with cancer the chance to try out Fallout 76 early, as well as some cool signed merchandise. The game isn't schedule to officially release until November.
Gaming

Here's everything you missed during week one of the 'Fortnite' Fall Skirmish

The Fortnite Fall Skirmish has begun and in order to stay informed on all the latest news, here's everything you need to know including each week's events, current standings, and the best places to watch.
Gaming

Esports protest sees soccer fans hurling controllers and consoles onto field

Soccer fans in Switzerland annoyed at the game's growing involvement in esports staged a protest on Sunday that saw them throw controllers, consoles, and tennis balls onto the field during a game, forcing the ref to stop play.
Gaming

It looks like ‘Fortnite’ wants to party with a new Season 6 DJ llama skin

Epic Games has begun teasing the skins you'll be able to acquire in Fortnite's sixth season. They include an adorable DJ Llama, complete with a custom mask, as well as an outlaw character.
Gaming

After layoffs, Telltale says it may finish The Walking Dead with outside help

The Walking Dead developer Telltale Games abruptly laid off the majority of its employees last week, but the studio now says the game's final season could still be finished with another partner.
Gaming

Xbox Deals with Gold this week: ‘Destiny 2’ Expansion Pass, ‘Vampyr’, and more

It's that time of the month when Microsoft updates their Games with Gold deals and adds new titles to their Spotlight Sale. Here's our list of the best Games with Gold deals available right now for the Xbox One.