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Hits and Misses of SOULCALIBUR VI: What Should the Next Game Change?

Alex Samonov
12 min

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Hits and Misses of SOULCALIBUR VI: What Should the Next Game Change?
Image source: Bandai Namco Entertainment
It's not easy to see great games being boged down my misfortune. Let's hope SOULCALIBUR VII shoots for the moon!

Fighting games are probably one of the most diverse genres in the video game industry, where each player could find something to their liking. However, at the same time, the genre is also one of the niche ones, primarily due to the high entry threshold, lots of mechanics which you have to figure out all by yourself, and a heavy focus on competitive game modes. Despite all that, fighting games have probably the most devoted community, with lots of players performing competitively for decades, dedicating themselves passionately to their favorite franchise, constantly attracting new faces to the scene. Titles like Street Fighter, Tekken, and Mortal Kombat are alive and popular mostly because they have a constant ever-growing ardent player base, enthusiastic content creators, and tournament organizers, for whom their favorite fighter means a lot more than just a game. However, some fighting game titles, while still being decent games overall, with a great player base and unique mechanics, for some reason remain in the shadow of the other ones. 

SoulCalibur, while being a well-established franchise with some singular features which you won’t find in any other game, remains a niche game in an already niche genre. It’s a truly unique 3D fighter with a focus on steel arms combat rather than martial arts, with a diverse roster, a full-scale story mode, and rich lore. Today we’ll try to analyze quite a bit, what went wrong and why the last installment never became as popular as it might’ve been, and also will try to figure out what can be and needs to be improved in the possible next title to lift SoulCalibur into the top-tier of fighting games.


Playing online is a big part of fighting games, and it has been before the COVID-19 pandemic too. Let’s agree that players do not compete at LAN events every week or even month, and not everybody has time to go to the arcades or meet with friends to practice their combos or a new character. Fighting games have to deliver a proper online experience for each title for them to stay alive and populated with players. Because despite how much we love live tournaments, 90% of the stuff is still happening online.

A proper netcode is crucial for a fighting game title to succeed nowadays. Of course, the game itself should be balanced and engaging, with cool characters and various game modes. But it all may come to nothing if you can’t experience all that online without terrible lags, enormous connection times, disconnects, and other unfortunate stuff. We now have the most demonstrative example of Guilty Gear -STRIVE-, whose main advertising point for the community appeared to be a rollback netcode. It doesn’t mean that without it new Guilty Gear installment wouldn’t become popular, but the ability to play against someone from abroad or even from the other part of the world without experiencing terrible lags is what probably made -STRIVE- the #1 fighting game title both on competitive and casual scenes.  

So basically, a rollback netcode is a mark of quality for every current and upcoming fighting game. This means we expect that the next SoulCalibur title, if or when it comes out, will treat us with an acceptable online experience. And a connection indicator will also be an excellent addition. 


As it's been said before, fighting games are a niche genre, so attracting new audiences while satisfying the established player base might become quite a task. Either way, you have to draw attention to your game somehow, so it will be discussed throughout the community. The recent Street Fighter 6 teaser had a blast effect despite its announcement being expected for quite some time, and it was just a 30-sec teaser. Of course, the Street Fighter series is one of the sacred pillars of fighting games, and such attention to any news about the fresh installment is no surprise at all. But it's still a good example of what fighting game developers should aim for while promoting their titles.

SoulCalibur is a long-running franchise and has a regular competitive player base, sure, but in the scale of the fighting game scene overall, it’s a mere drop in the sea. And the big problem of fighting game promotion is that it’s oriented, for the most part, towards individuals who are already familiar with the game and just waiting for the fresh title. But the thing is, those who are already familiar with the franchise will most likely play a new game anyway. So a proper ad campaign aimed to attract new players rather than satisfy the old ones might be the way to captivate attention and maybe even draw a big chunk of the audience into the new game. SoulCalibur did a great job with implementing characters from other franchises into the games, which is a step in the right direction. For me, personally, having Geralt of Rivia and 2B in SoulCalibur VI was a buying factor.

SOULCALIBUR VI - Geralt of Rivia Reveal Trailer | PS4, X1, PC


This point is coming straight from the previous one. Having an official tournament series organized and funded by the developers or with their support is also a major factor of a game's success. Capcom Cup, Brawlhalla World Championship, Dragon Ball FighterZ World Championship, Tekken World Tour, you name it - each of these tournaments is not only extremely entertaining to watch, but it also a great opportunity for players of any level to compete and grow in their skill to fill the fighting game scene with more bright talents. Not to mention significant prize pools, which also provide a great chance for players to benefit from their favorite occupation. Imagine, one day you’re playing ranked matches, and the other you’re in the top 8 of a major tournament, and thousands of people are watching you play. I believe lots of fighting game players are aiming for such heights and even more,  so developers just need to provide the circumstances. 

The competitive scene of SoulCalibur, however, has unfortunately passed its bright days a long time ago. Back in 2019-2020, the game shined at Evo, Evo Japan, and other well-known fighting game conventions. It also had several invitational tournaments with significant prize money over the last few years, such as SoulCalibur World Invitational or WePlay Ultimate Fighting League. But all of that had very little support from the game developers, if ever had at all. SoulCalibur World Tour and SoulCalibur Online Challenge never attracted a decent amount of competitors nor a significant audience. So for the next title to succeed, we strongly believe it is necessary to host more tournaments of any format and cover them everywhere possible so people would see that the game is alive and well, and, most importantly, has support from its creators.

$150k | WUFL | Soulcalibur VI | Day 4 | TOP8


Here we come to a more grounded point of the material. But first, we have to agree that fighting games are hard. It requires not only game knowledge and practice but also a sometimes nearly inhuman reaction and the ability to make a decision faster than a blink of an eye. Learning a fighting game from scratch might become a challenge that neither of From Software games will provide. However, for some reason, the genre with probably the highest learning curve lacks a proper tutorial for the most part. Of course, there are a lot of content creators who got us covered, trying their best to explain in open language the core mechanics of each game and character. God bless them. But in the end, when you’re learning a fighting game, you have to do everything with your own fingers, and here the YouTube tutorials will hardly become handy. 

A lot of fighters suffer from lacking a decent tutorial section, so every player who just opened the game had the ability to learn not only the very basics like press X to punch, but also practice with certain situations that may occur during a match and be prepared for it in some capacity at least. And it might be quite frustrating as you’re jumping into the match and have no idea what to do, despite the fact that you’ve just learned which button does what. I believe a lot of newcomers dropped a game simply because they failed to pass through the entry threshold. 

A good example of a tutorial is a relevant category in Mortal Kombat 11, where you can not only go through all the basic and advanced situations and practice them but also go through character-specific sections, which will also help you to pick your first character which suits your playstyle more. The tutorial is kinda the same in the recent Guilty Gear -STRIVE- where you have so-called “Missions” with increasing difficulty levels, and each mission represents a certain situation that might happen during a real match. 

SoulCalibur VI has "Libra of Soul," which is basically a full-scale story mode, which is also considered a long-ass tutorial section. And it is, for some part. You can pick a certain weapon, try fighting the AI with it, then pick another one, and so on. Indeed with time, you will learn what moves are effective and what are not, which weapon do you prefer, and so on. But what if one simply doesn't want to spend quite some time playing through story mode just to learn the game? Then you have a Practice mode. This is a universal tool for probably every fighting game, where you can practice your moves on an AI dummy or set up some situations and learn how to deal with them. However, if you’re a complete newcomer, you definitely don’t know which moves are viable even if you mastered them from the Move list, and you can’t set up a situation for practice simply because you don’t know what usually happens in a real match.

SoulCalibur also has a full-blown Wikipedia-like section, where you have every mechanic, both overall and character-specific, covered in dozens of pages of text and icons. But you definitely don’t want to sit with pen and paper to learn how to play a fighting game. Your skill gets better only with practice.

So a proper tutorial section is also a way not to scare but rather to encourage new players to learn and play a fighting game. 


The list of what can be improved and what can be done differently may go long beyond what we have subjected here. Here we placed, in our opinion, the key points of success of the modern fighting game, using SoulCalibur as the recoil spot.

SoulCalibur, the latest installment, in particular, is a great game with beautiful character and arenas design, a godlike soundtrack, diverse combat mechanics, and a decent amount of both single- and multiplayer content. However, for some reason, it never reached the popularity of other well-established titles. We sincerely hope that the next installment will only multiply the good stuff, avoid the mistakes of the predecessors and make the game accessible to both experienced and new players, increasing its popularity and support.

Maybe you have a SoulCalibur VII wishlist of your own? Let us know! Follow DashFight on Twitter and YouTube to stay tuned to everything regarding your favorite fighting games, players, characters, and events. Have a good one!

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