It’s been some time since I’ve transcended history (and the world), and experienced a tale of souls and swords, eternally retold. At E3 this year, with a refined and near-final version of Soulcalibur VI for Xbox One on hand, I took some of the classic SC characters for a spin like Sophitia and Siegfried, and new-to-the-roster Geralt of Rivia.
Unlike some fighting games that have you on a 2D plane, the Soulcalibur series features fighters on a 3D stage in which you can shift your character left and right to avoid enemy attack. This same technique can be used to position yourself to counter-attack your opponent, shifting away from their weapon strikes, and landing an attack from behind.
The series is also renowned for having some fantastic-looking stages and well-detailed characters. Many of these stages are inspired the character’s origins on everything from Greek myth (Sophitia) featuring large marble statues, to the high-fantasy world of The Witcher with Geralt’s stage that takes place in an outdoor arena.
These stages also feature “ring outs” that give you another option for victory — if you can get your opponent near the edge of the arena, and time your attacks just right, you can knock them down into the abyss below. In many cases stealing victory from what may be certain defeat, keeping the tension high as the two of you battle it out in first-to-three victories.
It’s all these factors combined that I’ve always found the series to be immediately playable, appealing to everyone from the button-masher to the seasoned vet, with so many aspects in place that allow you to both steal victory or to smash your opponent into oblivion in a flurry of combos and special attacks.
Jumping into Soulcalibur VI felt immediately familiar, harkening back to the days of when I’d hang out with my friends in a dark San Francisco apartment, playing Soulcalibur III long into the night. Character movement and attacks still feel tight and responsive, and the weapon-wielding fighters each feel unique – heavy and powerful swings from characters like Siegfried and Nightmare (yes, he’s still OP); quick and precise from the Greek fighter Sophitia. It didn’t take me long at all to get back to side-stepping, landing attacks, throwing blocks, and – most importantly—having fun again with these weapon-wielding fighters.
At E3, I found the most fun playing Soulcalibur VI against random attendees here at the show. We’d take turns landing a flurry of combos on each of our characters and executing high-animated special attacks – in Sophitia’s case, throwing her opponent high into the air and impaling them with a flying sword as they crashed back down to earth. And then there were the cries of “No.. no… nononono!” as one of us would perform a successful ring out, achieving that third and final victory to win the match. A handshake, following by a “good game,” and we’d immediately dive back into the character select screen to find a new batch of characters to try out.
While having a chance to finally go hands-on with Soulcalibur VI at E3 this year was great, the best part was the reveal that we won’t have long to wait to play the full roster of characters — Soulcalibur VI will be coming to Xbox One on October 19.