For the first time on PC comes one of the best fighting games of all time, Soulcalibur. First released as Soul Edge in 1995 in arcades and ported to PlayStation, I had my first dance with Soulcalibur in 1998 on the Sega Dreamcast, a console that many agree was well ahead of its time. Of course, the game looked amazing for something back then, just as Shenmue did, offering stunning weapons-based fighting on par with arcades. Twenty years later the franchise finally comes to PC, available on PS4 and Xbox One as well, the first since Soulcalibur V in 2012.
Soulcalibur VI isn't overly different from the original, in truth. That could either be a good thing or a bad thing, but there's definitely an argument to be made that Soulcalibur has declined in quality with each successive outing. Getting back to its roots should be no bad thing. The original was exceptional on Dreamcast, from the graphics to one of the best gaming soundtracks around.
In SC6, all the main categories are still there, from the story mode where you play each character through the timeline of the story, as well as a main story that can be completed as well. It's a fighting game with an actual storyline and those don't come up too often.
Of course, this being 2018, Soulcalibur VI has to have an online multiplayer option. If I'm not mistaken, this is the first Soulcalibur with a ranked matchmaking option. SC5 had ranked play but random matchmaking, leading to some odd mismatches. In Soulcalibur 6 I had no problems finding casual and ranked matches on release day right at around 1am. There doesn't seem to be any lag, high ping issues, or anything like that. Some of the animations for an attack/defense move do seem to have a bit of lag but it's not FPS lag so hopefully it'll get patched. Otherwise, all the same PvP and PvE options are still present and correct. SoulCalibur 6 pretty much the classic Soulcalibur just remade for a modern age.
SCVI can be played on a keyboard and of course on gamepads as well, it plays very well with an Xbox one controller. While I haven't got an arcade stick, SoulCalibur 6 likely supports a wide range of these right out of the box as well.
When it comes to visuals, the original on Dreamcast was leaps and bounds ahead of its time. The game looked incredible, and that's not changed for SCVI. Upon launching SoulCalibur 6 it became apparent that although the ultrawide resolution was present, the game still played in 16:9. It's a real shame because the in-game arenas look incredible and could stand to benefit from an ultra-wide view. There aren't exactly loads of graphical options either, it's very basic in terms of settings. Soulcalibur VI is locked at 60fps with no way of changing it as of yet, but that's all par for the course when it comes to competitive fighting games. As far as the ultrawide option, someone on wsgf.org has already edited the .exe for it to work in ultrawide resolutions, although I haven't tried it yet as i wanted the game to stay unmodded for the purposes of the review.
Soul Calibur VI runs very smoothly on PC. It's really well optimized and not very demanding. There seems to be some stutter when some of the attacking and defending cutscenes happen but the frame rate stayed at a solid 60fps during my time with it. Bandai Namco usually doesn't disappoint in the optimization department so it was good to see such a classic game running fantastically. A few more graphical options would be great but as it should be able to run on maximum preset on most dedicated gaming PCs it shouldn't be an issue.
The fantastic and brilliant soundtrack and audio is probably the best part of the Soulcalibur franchise and SC6 doesn't disappoint. From the sound effects of the weapons hitting your enemy, to the brilliant music in the background of a fight. You can now also select which track plays with which arena. It is the one thing I was really looking forward to and it did not disappoint one bit, me being an audiophile this was a symphony to my ears. It has a very Japanese instrumental tone to it and is absolutely beautiful. You can even go into the museum option, pick a track and let it play while tabbed out doing other things. I'm very pleased they haven't changed it much since the original. Now, of course, one of the best options is still around, having your characters speak Japanese. The English subtitles are still there, however, your characters will always be speaking Japanese, which can help Soul Calibur 6 feel more immersive.
Is SoulCalibur VI worth buying? If you're into fighting games with more of a storyline, absolutely. Normal difficulty seems to be a touch too easy so I'd recommend returning fans try it a few times then knock it up to hard or very hard. Playing online will be a total mystery though as it always is. The difficulty level will change quite dramatically depending upon player skill, especially with each character having their own totally different weapon.
The only major con is the lack of ultrawide support, and besides the small stutter that can be fixed with a patch, SoulCalibur VI is fantastic. I'm hoping the multiplayer doesn't die off like most multiplayer games, but early signs suggest SoulCalibur VI has been shifting a lot of PC copies so it should maintain a healthy and committed fanbase.
Overall Bandai Namco did a fantastic job resurrecting the Soulcalibur franchise with the 6th version. Finally something other then Tekken or Mortal Kombat on PC. SoulCalibur VI is a fantastic addition to the series that's made it the best it's been in years. It's also great that Bandai Namco finally brought Soulcalibur to PC after all these years. Be warned though, some people have been having too much fun with the male genitalia on the crazily in-depth character creator...