Soul Calibur VI E3 Interview with Producer Motohiro Okubo: Ring Outs, Character Creation, No Guest Characters on Disc Besides Geralt of Rivia
Shortly after getting a brief video introduction to Soul Calibur VI and getting my hands on it for the first time at E3 2018, I sat down with Producer on the project, Motohiro Okubo. For 30 minutes, we talked about the new and returning mechanics for Soul Calibur VI, what’s to come for character creation, and who else might be joining the roster in this fighting game that transcends history and the world.
We’ve also captured some gameplay footage, which you can find below. As a reminder, Soul Calibur VI is set to come out on October 19th for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
This is the very first reveal of Soul Calibur VI in a playable state. How has the fan reaction been to this title so far?
During E3, I was able to meet with many people, both members of the media and fans on the show floor. What we were trying to achieve appeared to be communicated (to the public), so that made me very happy. (There’s) the very satisfying way the characters swing their swords and the 8-way run mechanic from Soul Calibur II, as well as the battle polish that we have established and achieved in Soul Calibur V. We’ve condensed all of that into Soul Calibur VI, so a lot of the feedback we’ve been getting made me happy.
It’s been such a long time since Soul Calibur V and this is the first entry on a next generation platform. The Chronicles Mode is the major campaign to Soul Calibur VI. How much of the timeline does this encompass?
In the story mode, we’re rewinding the timeline back to Soul Calibur I and II, in the 16th Century, and telling the story of Soul Calibur and Soul Edge, light versus darkness. I don’t think we were able to fully depict it as well as we would have liked in Soul Calibur I and II, so we are revisiting that narrative with new episodes and characters.
Across the whole timeline, there’s a huge amount of time between each title and character, such as different iterations of Nightmare. Will we see that affect the story with different costumes or character variations, such as showing up as an alternate or younger/older version of their character?
For Soul Calibur VI, I don’t know if the term ‘reboot’ is the right term to use, but we are revisiting the narrative and retelling the story. Of course, we have the setting of the Astral Realm as well. In terms of characters and their design of which characters are participating in Soul Calibur VI, we tried not to be too bound by their specific era or setting as much as delivering a roster of the most fun characters we thought characters should experience.
Right now, Voldo is a very glaring omission from the roster but hopefully we can see more of him if he makes the cut into Soul Calibur VI.
*laughs* We still haven’t revealed all of the characters yet, so all I can tell you at the moment is to stay tuned.
Will there be the return of ‘Create a Character’ mode in Soul Calibur VI?
I believe the character creator is a very essential part of the Soul Calibur experience, so it will show up in one way or another in Soul Calibur VI. How it will look exactly, I cannot say yet.
To follow up on that, will there be the possibility of alternate weapons for characters? Very similarly, if we look back to Soul Calibur II and Link’s guest appearance, he had different swords but also a Butterfly Net as his gimmick weapon.
Again, this is a very good question. It’s really hard to say at this moment, but in addition to the Chronicle Mode that we announced, there will be a slightly different story mode as well. Only when that has been revealed can I answer that question.
Can you talk about other modes you have in the works, such as training or practice mode? Maybe even a combo training mode like the Trials in Street Fighter V?
There’s a lot of discussion and philosophies about a tutorial mode and that sort of learning progression. You could do a very straightforward information dump on the player, which would often be the most efficient way to transmit key information about the game, but I think players would probably quit halfway because it’s so overwhelming. I think playing naturally and learning as you go is a more ideal way to acquire the necessary information.
There is, of course, a training mode when you need to double check your combos and make sure the moves do what you think they do.
In Soul Calibur VI, we implemented a new mechanic called the Reversal Edge, which is really designed for beginners. When you activate it, you enter this state of Rock-Paper-Scissors mode. In doing so, you have your Horizontal Slash, your Vertical Slash, and your Sidestep/Dodge. I think it will teach the player the basics of a more overarching battle mechanic in Soul Calibur at large. By using this system, they’ll naturally gain that information.
Yes, and it should be very dynamic. This should be exciting to watch on the main stage at EVO!
I hope that will happen!
In addition to the Reversal Edge, there are also mechanics returning from previous Soul Calibur games. What was the inspiration to pull all of these systems together for a new fighting game?
There is a lot of reasoning behind each system and mechanic, but I think it’s hard to identify a single instance where we chose one mechanic and not another. We have a foundation or base and upon that, once we decide to go in one direction, one system will present itself and we naturally have to implement other mechanics that are all related to each other. In doing so, I think all of the brainstorming and ideas that we’ve discussed culminated in the result that you see now, as opposed to very fine picking one mechanic over another.
Do you view the Soul Charge as a comeback mechanic, or something that you’ll use more to enhance your combos and do more damage?
In terms of Soul Gauge management, there are two moves you can do: The Soul Charge, which you just mentioned, and the Critical Edge. For the Soul Charge, when you activate this move, it has multiple functions but one important one is to push the opponent back as you activate, so it serves as a defensive mechanism when the opponent is comboing you.
After you knock your opponent back, your character powers up and each character can have a unique attribute. For example, Kilik becomes strong, so strong that we have to lower his HP during Soul Charge so that it diminishes over time. Each one is very different and unique.
Can you use the Soul Charge to knock someone off the stage and force a Ring Out?
I don’t think you can do that on the knockback (since) it’s a fast knockback. I’ve never really had someone go this deep describing the Soul Charge to anyone so far, but it depends on the character because of the knockback mechanic. With Nightmare, you want to stay really close to your opponent so it could be a disadvantage to shove the opponent away. In his case, it’s actually more beneficial to use it at the edge of the stage where you won’t be pushed back as far. That’s a little pro tip for you.
Ring Outs have been a very contentious parts of tournaments. Some people love it for the hype, others think that they are a very cheap victory. How do you feel about Ring Outs, Okubo-san?
I certainly understand the various perspectives on Ring Outs. From a very early stage, we decided that Ring Outs would be a part of Soul Calibur VI.
Having said that, with Soul Calibur, your characters are able to move freely in 3D space. You have the 8-way run which allows you to go in any direction. We believe that gaining an advantageous position on the map is a part of the strategy in Soul Calibur. You need to consider what space you want to occupy, the range on your weapon, the knockback range of your weapon, etc. With all of these, including your matchup, these elements are compounded into split seconds of what you should do. In doing so, I feel the Ring Out is a very important mechanic and identity of Soul Calibur.
Will there be stage variations in Soul Calibur VI?
There will be lots of stages, some on the E3 show floor and some that have not been announced yet. I think if you ask in terms of ‘Is there a Ring Out or not?’, there are various stages and a lot of calculations have gone into how we do this. [Sorry, this answer was incomplete.]
With Soul Calibur VI, Geralt of Rivia is the main guest character to come join the roster. Do you see other collaborations for other characters or new costumes to arrive to Soul Calibur VI? Right now, the characters have two costume colors but no other costumes. I was wondering if there might be cross-franchise costumes to come.
For guest characters, Geralt is going to be the only guest character on the disc. In terms of costume collaborations, there aren’t any plans at the moment but there will be the character creator, so I think that opens a lot of possibility for tweaking a character to your liking.
I loved that Soul Calibur III hid in the character creation mode a full armor set to play as KOS-MOS from Xenosaga.
I certainly see that and we had to make a choice to focus on the character creator or go after these other costumes. We opted for strengthening the character creator aspect and even now, we think that decision was the correct one.
What are your DLC plans to keep Soul Calibur VI updated with new content after release?
Along with the release date that we announced at E3, October 19th, we announced a season pass for Soul Calibur VI. What players can expect from that is four additional characters at a later date as well as over 100 items for the character creator which will both be revealed at a later date.
Thank you for your time.