The year is 2018, and Tekken now has a character roster consisting of Akuma, Geese Howard, and, er, Noctis. Boot Tekken 7 up and you'll see four different company trademarks on the start screen: Bandai Namco, Capcom, SNK, and Square Enix. It's a weird sight to say the least.
Tekken has always had its character roster quirks -- hell, Kuma, a literal bear, is still beating people half to death with his giant paws in this very game -- but Noctis simply doesn't feel like he belongs. In a fighter where every other character uses unarmed martial arts (okay, aside from Yoshimitsu, kind of), Noctis is swinging swords, spears, and axes around like it's nobody's business. He'd look fine in SoulCalibur, but Tekken? It's an awkward fit.
Fortunately, the development team has gone above and beyond in adapting the Final Fantasy XV protagonist so that he functions just like a Tekken character. Even with all of his flashy attacks and constant teleporting, Noctis somehow still adheres to all of the game's rules -- and that's seriously impressive.
And yes, that also means he controls like a Tekken character. Unlike fellow guest fighters Akuma and Geese, Noctis doesn't have a resource bar or any similar gimmicks -- he's a lot more traditional than he may first appear. Indeed, many Tekken staples are present here; he's got a mid jab, a low sweep, a hop kick of sorts, strings that feature unsafe highs, and a bunch of moves that cause tailspin. Having said all that, Noctis still feels very unique, and that comes as no real surprise since he can summon an armoury out of thin air.
His weaponry doesn't give him a damage boost or anything like that, but his various armaments do give him access to a number of unorthodox techniques. Perhaps most notably, Noctis has some crazy range. His warp strike allows him to instantly close the gap on his opponent from almost full screen, and moves that utilise his great sword or spear can hit over large distances. Even if you're just flicking through his move list in practice mode, you can tell that he's got access to some very effective tools.
Relatively speaking, Noctis is also quite easy to use. Most of his moves are simple in terms of execution, and the same can be said of his juggle combos. With this in mind, it's clear that he's designed as something of a beginner's character, and that makes sense when you consider the possibility that fans of Final Fantasy may be jumping into Tekken 7 just to give him a shot.
Overall, Noctis is a solid and satisfying addition to Tekken 7 -- even if we don't think that he's an especially good fit. He's flashy, easy to pick up, and his stage has some top notch music. Seriously, that Tekken remix of the Final Fantasy XV battle theme is superb.
Alongside Geese, Tekken 7's downloadable guest character duo cover two distinct bases. Geese is complex and a sure hit with the hardcore fighting game community, while Noctis is accessible, and aims for a much wider audience. It's been an interesting approach, and one that we think has worked reasonably well, but here's hoping that there's more in store for Tekken 7 down the line.
Have you given Noctis a try in Tekken 7? What do you think of him? Warp strike into the comments section below.