The team at Bandai Namco has had a lot to say and a lot to reveal through the weekend's Tokyo Game Show. Among the items on the agenda is the future of Tekken 7, which has grand plans for its upcoming Season 4 of content. Tekken 7 players have a lot to look forward to, including all-new moves, a new character, and heavily-requested online improvements.
One of Tekken 7's biggest criticisms to this point has been its netcode. With COVID-19 forcing many people to stay home, good online play will only become more essential going forward. Series Producer Katsuhiro Harada initially became aware of this back when Season 4 was first revealed. Over the weekend, he went into more details on how the Tekken team is looking to address the netplay issue. Most interestingly, Harada appears to have discussed the netplay issue with another game producer who's having online play issues of his own, Super Smash Bros. series lead Masahiro Sakurai.
"I spoke recently with Mr. Sakurai who worked on Super Smash Bros. and he showed a keen interest in our conversation about online features," Harada said. "He even asked me whether he could use what I said about the ratio of wired and wireless players. Well, I did follow-up on it later on Twitter. We have a lot of fighting games here such as Dragon Ball, SoulCalibur, and Tekken. And they've sold well over a million copies throughout the world. In particular, Tekken is really strong in Europe, with a strong following in Latin America, Oceania, the Middle East, and the U.S. This allows us to see how players play our games online. When I think of fighting games, I assumed people played the games wired, but when I checked the worldwide data, about 60 percent were playing games wired, so Wi-Fi was, you know... and naturally, Steam players were mostly wired. There are regional differences, too. In particular, players in Japan and Korea were mostly playing our games wired, but Wi-Fi use was a lot more significant toward the West. We have a robust library of games besides Tekken, so we have a lot of gameplay data outside of fighting games, too. When looking at things in total, a lot of people are using Wi-Fi now, especially with how Wi-Fi is a lot more powerful than before. Even then, there are packet losses and errors, so from a response perspective, I'd still recommend using wired. Oh, and one thing. One of the concept [sic] of improving online play. Everyone talks about 'netcode.' Of course, that is one aspect I'm thinking of improving."
Harada goes on to explain that Tekken 7 does incorporate variable rollback netcode, but because of the game's frame setting, it often leads to janky animation, processing issues, and rubber-banding. The goal is to create a smooth online Tekken experience for American players playing on opposite coasts, but Harada notes that this will take time. To help cut the time down, American Tekken pros are assisting with playtesting. The more immediate update will come in the form of the Wi-Fi indicator, which is set to be included soon. The new online improvements will come just in time to usher in a new top level rank for online players called Tekken God Omega.
The Tekken 7 Season 4 update will do more than address online play. The roster as a whole is set to receive balance changes with the Tekken team targeting underutilized characters specifically. Citing which characters have been overused at pro tournaments, Harada and his team will look to buff up the rest of the field and bring them in line with the game's more popular fighters. On top of that, all characters will receive new moves that will be slotted in with the rest of their arsenal.
Season Pass 4 holders will have something to look forward to in the months ahead, as well. Remember that hidden figure at the end of the initial Season 4 announcement trailer a few months ago? That character has indeed turned out to Kunimitsu, who is making her return from Tekken Tag Tournament 2... sort of. Harada actually notes that this is the character's daughter, as evidenced by her youthful appearance as she removes her mask for the first time.
Tekken 7's Season 4 is set to launch this fall with various online improvements (something we hope Sakurai is also working on for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate), a new user interface, new fighter moves, and more. We'll have our eye on this story as it develops, so stay tuned to Shacknews for the latest.