With the announcement of Soul Calibur VI, a lot of long-time fans had question. Why are the characters younger? Is this a direct sequel to Soul Calibur V? Will my favorite character be included? Bandai Namco was gracious enough to allow us to ask Soul Calibur VI producer, Motohiro Okubo, some of these questions. Find out how past Soul Calibur games have influenced Soul Calibur VI, how the development team handles system changes, like the removal of Just Guard, and character selection. All that and more in our interview with Motohiro Okubo.
Prima Games: It’s been nearly six years since the release of SOULCALIBUR V. How did you approach such a beloved property to make sure the final product appealed to longtime fans, while still continuing to evolve the series?
Motohiro Okubo: We took a look back at 20+ years of SOULCALIBUR history and we knew we wanted to pull gameplay aspects such as “Free-Sword-Actions”, “Guard Impact”, and “8 Way Run” from SOULCALIBUR II and the great character/fighting balance of SOULCALIBUR V together and add in new aspects such as “Reversal Edge” to evolve the game to appeal to both longtime fans and new players alike. The new battle system in SOULCALIBUR VI takes new players into consideration with simpler controls, enabling new players to the franchise to concentrate on becoming a sword master.
PG: Tekken 7 was demoed at a variety of fighting game events and conventions before the console release. Are there any plans to showcase Soul Calibur VI at similar venues before its eventual release sometime in 2018?
MO: We are going to do our best in regards to displaying SOULCALIBUR VI demos at as many events as possible, we really want to give this latest SOULCALIBUR title the same treatment as TEKKEN 7.
PG: Soul Calibur VI takes place during the time period of the original Soul Calibur. Many fans are worried that characters introduced after the first Soul Calibur may not be included. How much will the new time period effect the roster of characters in the final game?
MO: Character inclusion is a touchy subject for any fighting game, especially for games with over 20 years of history. Players have real attachments to their favorite characters, it’s really an amazing thing to see from the development side. For now, we can’t talk much about the character roster. We are going to announce characters sequentially leading up to the game’s launch in 2018; we look forward to seeing fan reaction to our roster.
PG: The story mode and single player aspects of Soul Calibur have always been a huge draw for the series. Will Soul Calibur VI have a greater focus on the story mode and other single player modes of play compared to the last few entries in the series?
MO: I can’t reveal too much about the storyline content within SOULCALIBUR VI right now. However, you probably noticed from our announcement trailer that both Mitsurugi and Sophitia are both younger compared their last in-game appearances. We’re working hard to develop a storyline which will feature the roots of Soul Edge vs. Soul Calibur as well as themes of good vs. evil. We’re aiming to deliver a truly unique and well executed experience in SOULCALIBUR VI.
PG: In Soul Calibur V many characters lost a large portion of their move list. Will Soul Calibur VI bring back some of these lost attacks, or should players expect a smaller move set similar to Soul Calibur V?
MO: As I mentioned earlier, we’re combining the best gameplay aspects of SOULCALIBUR II with the balance of SOULCALIBUR V and adding new features to create SOULCALIBUR VI. We have a good sense of what players are looking for in the next chapter of SOULCALIBUR and our goal is to fulfill as many player hopes as possible. With that said, we’re still in the development phase for each battle setting, and that means we haven’t settled on the number of skills for each character just yet. But stay tuned for more info to come soon.
PG: Meter was a bit controversial for some players in Soul Calibur V. We can see that a similar meter system returns in Soul Calibur VI. How has the meter system changed? Will Guard Impacts still require meter, or can they be used more freely like in previous Soul Calibur games?
MO: We thought the meter system in SOULCALIBUR V generated special highlights during battles and was eventually accepted by players once they got more used to the system. For SOULCALIBUR VI, we are looking at a narrowed down meter system only effecting “Critical Edge” and “Soul Charge” type movements. We are tailoring the system so that anybody can activate the system easily. “Guard Impact” won’t consume the gauge.
PG: There were significant gameplay changes in Soul Calibur IV (Soul Gauge system, Critical Finish) and Soul Calibur V (meter system, Just Guard). Should series veterans expect a similar evolution of the game system, or will it play closer to Soul Calibur V?
MO: The goal we are trying to achieve is to create “a weapon-based fighting game which anyone can dive into with their own strategy”. SOULCALIBUR V featured closed elements, but moreover, this element would be improved in SOULCALIBUR VI. Players will be able to easily activate “Critical Edge” and enhanced attacks during “Soul Charge” to attack opponents. Additionally, “Reversal Edge” will be activated by just one button, making it much more usable in guarding against opponents’ attacks vs. “Just Guard” which was much more difficult to time.
PG: A bulk of our audience is made up of competitive tournament players. Are there any system changes beyond Reversal Edge that competitive players should be excited about?
MO: Let’s look at the systems contained within SOULCALIBUR VI through a learning curve, starting with “Reversal Edge”, then moving to “Critical Edge”, “Soul Charge”, and finally “Lethal Hit”. Reversal Edge is based upon the foundation of good defensive skills. Critical Edge is the super-attack that can deliver a huge amount of damage. Soul Charge acts to knock opponents back and make yourself more powerful for a limited time. Lethal Hit is a system which slows everything in battle down except for you, this is where a player may break an opponent’s armor through certain attacks. Both Critical Edge and Soul Charge consume gauge energy, so players must devise their own strategy of how and when you use it. When Lethal Hit is activated, opponents slow down, meaning it’s time to let loose and connect some devastating or unexpected combos.
PG: Movement is more important in Soul Calibur than almost any other fighting game. There was a patch shortly after the release of Soul Calibur V (patch 1.02) that removed the ability to cancel a backdash with the guard button. Competitive players were generally displeased with this change. Will you be able to cancel movement with guard in Soul Calibur VI similar to how it was in the launch version of Soul Calibur V, or perhaps similar to the Step Guard ability from Soul Calibur II?
MO: We’re definitely looking to give players as much freedom of movement as possible. So, similar to SOULCALIBUR II, we’re going back to our roots in terms of controls and we believe everyone will enjoy the free battle action in SOULCALIBUR VI.
PG: It’s been many years since Tekken and Soul Calibur were both main games at the Evolution Championship Series. Do you hope to see Tekken 7 and Soul Calibur VI sharing the Evo main stage in the near future?
MO: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. is working hard to bring our games to the eSports community. As you’ve seen from TEKKEN 7, the fighting game eSports community has really given their support to the title. We hope to see both TEKKEN 7 and SOULCALIBUR VI make their way to the EVO stage together, that would be an awesome achievement for both teams. But nothing will be possible without the support of the SOULCALIBUR community so we really hope they’ll be excited to help us grow SOULCALIBUR VI into a big eSports title.
Thank you Bandai Namco and Motohiro Okubo! We’ll have more on Soul Calibur VI in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned to Prima Games and our Soul Calibur VI game hub!