The new mobile version of Tekken (Free) should come with a disclaimer: This is not a port. Indeed, it’s something new even for one of the most revered fighting game franchises in video game history, an installment designed from the ground up specifically for mobile. As such, it’s not sporting the kind of complexity that once befuddled young arcade-goers (this one, anyway) with a button for each specific limb. but it’s not as dumbed down as you might think either. Also, like Kendrick Lamar might say if he was a bit geekier, it’s got CCG inside its DNA. So while you could just wander free through Tekken and see what it throws at you, it’s always nice to have a guide. Come with us and we’ll explain some of the most important concepts, how you can earn premium currency and unlock more fighters and much more.
What a Waza is and Why You Should Care
Like many mobile fighting games to hit the App Store prior, the basics of combat in Tekken are pretty familiar. Best played with two hands, you use your left hand to control movement, swiping back or forward to dash in or out, and holding down on the left side of the screen to block. Basic attacks are performed by tapping on the right side of the screen — including chained combos that are different for each character — as well as a strong attack that can break through an opponent’s guard that you can execute by holding down on that side.
Tekken goes beyond those touchscreen staples and throws the collectible card game element into the mix with Waza, which are especially strong attacks controlled by a deck of cards unique to every character. There are five general types of Waza cards — Guard Break, Launcher, Strike, Stun and Throw — and every character’s starting deck has a variety of different types.
In a fight, Waza cards pop up in random order and have cooldown timers of various lengths. While in cooldown status, you’ll see them slowly start to fill up with only the general type symbol on them, then the pictured move for each card will be visible when they’re available for use, and you simply tap on the desired card to activate the attack. Waza are even more powerful when chained together in combination, and any cards you have available that make for good combos will helpfully display the numbers 1-3 so you know the order to use those techniques.
Crucially, the right mix of Waza can make a character of any given level better than an equivalent foe simply by having better cards available. Waza come in multiple rarity tiers, with rarer cards typically doing more damage, having shorter cooldown timers, or both. Tinkering with the decks of your fighters gives Tekken a level of strategy you won’t find in many other mobile fighting games.
All of this talk about Waza segues very nicely into the next obvious topic …
How to Get More Waza Cards
There are actually two ways to increase the number of Waza available to any of your fighters, including the primary method you might not expect. Tekken uses a shard system (called fragments here) to unlock new fighters similar to that found in oodles of other mobile titles of various genres. However, the interesting twist is that when you find fragments of a character you already have, they get converted into Waza instead. It’s a nice feature that helps take the sting out of coming up short in the gacha part of this particular game, as extra Waza are always useful, and especially when you’re starting out, the Waza you acquire in this fashion are likely to be rarer and probably better than the ones already in your deck.
Of course that begs the question about what happens when the Waza themselves are duplicates. Even here, there’s a silver lining, as any duplicate Waza are turned into a currency called Essence. That can then be used to craft any Waza available to that character, based on the following cost chart:
- 1-Diamond Waza = 500 Essence
- 2-Diamond Waza = 1250 Essence
- 3-Diamond Waza = 8100 Essence
- 4-Diamond Waza = 40500 Essence
Yep, those 4-Diamond Waza are not cheap, but they also do fairly insane amounts of damage compared to less rare techniques, so if you play often with the same characters and end up converting a lot of Waza into Essence, they aren’t completely unattainable either.
How to Unlock More Fighters
A game like Tekken with a roster of dozens of fighters isn’t much fun of you can’t add a bunch of them to your roster in fairly short order. As we mentioned previously, there’s a fragment system in use here where you need to collect 10 fragments to unlock a fighter, and rarity matters too. For example, a 4-star Panda fragment doesn’t help you at all toward unlocking the 3-star Panda.
That said, there are also opportunities to earn fighters flat out without collecting fragment first, along with a bunch of different ways to gain more fragments without spending any money or necessarily playing for long periods of time. Let’s quickly run them all down.
- Complete a Story Mode level – Finishing off one run through a Story Mode map earns you a prize that often is either a chance at a specific character fragment or guaranteed fragments of some sort. The game says this is the only way to earn some fighters’ fragments, and you also want to keep an eye out for a ‘Featured Act’ within Story Mode that offers specific fragments for a limited period of time.
- Check out the available Live Events – Offered on a rotating basis, Live Events throw different foes and challenges at you with constraints ranging from only using fighters of a certain rarity to funky limits on your Waza cards and much more. In return, you can win coins, tokens, packs, leveling currency, and yes, character fragments.
- Win chests in the Dojo – The Dojo is the Tekken version of asynchronous PvP, as you pick three fighters to go up against three human-owned but AI controlled opponents. Each victory in a Dojo match earns you a chest, the contents of which can include characters or character fragments. Chests can take several hours to open, though you can speed that time up with premium currency or by winning keys based on how much damage your own defensive Dojo squad dishes out to attackers.
- Play every day – Daily rewards? Yep, of course this game’s got ’em. For the month in which this guide is being written, a little more than a quarter of the daily rewards are characters or fragments, which is a pretty decent percentage just for logging in once a day. You’re still at the mercy of the gacha gods here, but at least you’re giving yourself more shots at new fighters just by playing.
- Pick up some packs in the shop – Though you’ll encounter a bunch of ways to win packs, you can cut to the chase by hitting the shop and simply buying some when you’ve saved up enough currency. The more expensive the pack, the better the fighters you might find, with the Epic Pack the lone one that contains 4-star fragments. Note that Tekken allows you to buy packs with either coins or Gems, a nice touch that not every game with a similar system can claim.
How to Get Free Gems
Gems can do a lot of things for you in Tekken, including speeding up Dojo chest opening, purchasing healing items to circumvent the de facto constraint on your play sessions (read: your fighters’ declining health after being used in battle), and as we just mentioned, buying packs in the store. Naturally, you could buy Gems with real money, but why do that when you can simply earn them as you play?
Let’s explore your options here too.
- Them daily rewards again – Devoted enough to play every single day for a month? You’ll get rewarded with some Gems; in fact in the first full month after release, it’s enough to buy a Premium Pack, which isn’t too shabby.
- Fight your way up the Dojo ranks – PvP play is organized by seasons which run for a month at a time. The higher the tier you finish in at the end of the season, the better the rewards — including a greater amount of Gems.
- Knock out some achievements – Tapping on the trophy icon in the upper-right corner of the main game screen will open up the list of available achievements, each of which comes with a reward of Gems upon completion. A helpful notification will appear by the icon when you’ve satisfied any achievement condition and can claim your Gems, but be forewarned that you might have to scroll down a pretty lengthy list before you find the one that’s green.
What’s the best use for your Gems? That’s bound to change the longer we get away from release, but right now, the Premium Pack Bundles look like pretty good value. Not only do you get multiple shots at instant 1- or 2-star fighters, but the Bundles also throw in a guaranteed 2- or 3-star fighter, depending on which one you buy. They’ll take some discipline on your part, but it’s probably worth it to get some very powerful fighters on your side for free.