As part of the Tekken World Tour 2022 Global Finals, Tekken 8 game director Kohei "Nakatsu" Ikeda and executive director Katsuhiro Harada gave a keynote on the upcoming game's fighting mechanics. Bandai Namco also took the opportunity to show a new trailer featuring returning character Nina Williams, no long dressed in the bridal gown that was her default outfit in Tekken 7 and instead wearing an outfit more like something Ada Wong would rock in a Resident Evil game.
During the keynote, Nakatsu and Harada emphasized that the keyword for Tekken 8 is "aggressive", which informed all the changes made to the next game in the series. They highlighted four elements that have been changed or added to Tekken 8: the Rage System, the Recoverable Gauge, the Heat System, and Controller Style.
Rage has been part of the series since Tekken 6, where it activated when fighters were low on health and boosted their damage. Tekken 7 added Rage Arts, powerful attacks that could only be activated while Raging, and Rage Drives, more powerful versions of regular attacks. While the Rage Drives have been ditched in Tekken 8, the system still exists, and Rage Arts cause more damage the more hurt you are when you activate them. The main change is that every character's Rage Art is activated the same way. As Nakatsu said, "all characters have the same command, which is to forward diagonal down and both punches."
The Recoverable Gauge is new, though inspired by similar ideas in Tekken Tag Tournament. It lets you get back some of the damage you take while blocking or in aerial combos, but where Tekken Tag Tournament's red gauge represents health you get back over time, here it's a white gauge that is replenished by going on the offensive. "We have made it so that the player regains strength by hitting with an attack," Nakatsu said, "or by making the opponent guard against an attack. In other words, it is as if adrenaline is released from the body to recover from the damage." Though there isn't a time limit restricting how long you've got to recover that health, the white gauge can be reduced by low attacks.
The Heat System lets fighters power up for a short time, entering a state in which they're covered in blue fire and have their specialties enhanced. Examples given included Marshall Law's nunchaku attacks getting stronger, and King's run becoming a Power Crush. While in the heat state, attacks cause chip damage even if blocked (though this chip damage is recoverable and cannot KO), and two special actions are available. The first is Heat Smash, a super attack that seems to be a replacement for Tekken 7's Rage Drive, while the other is Heat Dash, which acts as a cancel and, well, dash.
Fighters can go into the heat condition whenever they want by pressing R1, which is called a Heat Burst, but it's also engaged automatically whenever you use a Heat Engager. These are each character's most important moves, roughly five for each fighter, and the ones players are encouraged to learn first.
Finally, Nakatsu and Harada discussed Tekken 8's two Controller Styles. Arcade Style is described as the "Authentic Tekken traditional play style with a high degree of freedom," while Special Style is an evolution of the Easy Combo and Assist features from Tekken 7. As Nakatsu explained, "Each button has a recommended move for that character, and just by pressing that attack button, you can play the game like an action game."
Tekken 8 doesn't have a release date and is probably a fair way off, but a closed alpha test (opens in new tab) is coming up. It'll be conducted at "selected locations around the world" beginning with EVO Japan 2023.