Struggling to choose a character as a new Tekken 7 player? We run down our eight picks for beginners in this list of newbie-friendly fighters.
Choosing a beginner character in Tekken 7 is tricky. With over 70 moves per character, multiplied by 54 playable fighters, things can get confusing real quick. Worse still, the characters best for new players aren't immediately apparent.
But that's what we're here for. In this list, we'll be running down the top 10 best characters for Tekken 7 newbies, and why they're great for first-time players.
These characters all have a few things in common: their key moves are few but effective in online play, their skill floors are all catered to the lower ranks in ranked matches, and their strengths lend well to playing standard while learning the basics. However, we will not be including any DLC characters here, for the benefit of those that aren't interested in buying any of them.
- Playstyle: balanced, with a focus on offense
- Strengths: insane damage, generally low execution requirement, great 50/50 game, powerful Rage Drive/Rage Art
- Weaknesses: limited range
Paul Phoenix is perhaps the quintessential beginner-friendly character in Tekken 7. His execution barrier is practically nonexistent, especially when it comes to dealing combo damage. Phoenix Smasher (QCF+2) is extremely easy to pull off as a combo ender, dealing a crapton of damage in one blow.
His d/f+2 is a great keepout tool as well, which helps discourage overly aggressive players from just approaching him recklessly. It's also completely safe on block, which is rare for a launcher. He also has the frighteningly powerful low mixup tool Demolition Man (d+4,2,1+2), which functions similarly to Kazuya's Hell Sweep (cd+4,4).
Overall, Paul is very solid, and helps new players learn the fundamentals from the ground up. He can still mix it up with the best of them, though, thanks to a strong 50/50 low/mid mixup game. And if his back is ever put against the wall, he can always rely on his Rage Art and Rage Drive to facilitate a comeback.
- Playstyle: all-rounder, "compact" Tekken
- Strengths: large number of safe mid pokes, slide mixups from FC (fully crouched), has generic hopkick for whiff punishment
- Weaknesses: lows aren't that great, pressure game is weak due to bad frame data on key moves
Shaheen is one of the newest characters to the franchise, having arrived in Tekken 7 before any other title in the series. Though many will be quick to call his design boring due to his short move list, Shaheen is perfect for beginners because of that fact.
His list of key moves is small. His d/f+1 is standard fare, coming out at 13 frames and being around -2 on block. This alone helps him pile on the pressure at close range. His d/f+2 is also conventional and is great for newbies learning how to launch punish properly.
Whiff punishment is also one of Shaheen's strengths. His hopkick (u/f+4) has good range, and is honestly quite a spammable move in the low ranks if your opponent doesn't react and punish you for it. And even then, it's -13 at worst — making it only punishable by low to medium-damage strings.
If you wanna learn Tekken and fighting games as a whole from scratch, Shaheen is the perfect character to start with.
- Playstyle: pokes, and lots of them
- Strengths: oppressive mid pokes, strong pressure in the open thanks to WR2, some of the best offense in the game
- Weaknesses: no real good lows, launch punishment is below average
Kazumi Mishima is a tried and tested offensive poking-heavy character. EVO 2019 double champion Arslan "Arslan Ash" Siddique popularized her in the competitive scene, relying primarily on her incredible mid pokes to shut down movement and create immense pressure.
Her d/f+1 is probably the best in the game. It tracks well, comes out at 13 frames as expected, and is only -3 on block at worst. Like her husband Heihachi Mishima, though, it has a follow up in d/f+1,2 — which also causes wall splats. This is extremely powerful in the beginner ranks, where players like to press buttons in between strings. Though it is unsafe at -13, you can sprinkle this move in every now and then to keep your opponents honest.
She does lack fast lows, though, which hurts her mid-pressure potential somewhat. It takes her more effort to get people to crouch (and thus eat her mids), so just keep that in mind when you pick her up. Other than that, the fundamentals are definitely in place, and you can bet that they will serve you well in your early days in Tekken.
- Playstyle: balanced with a powerup that allows for some mixup potential
- Strengths: insane keepout with the best hopkick in the game, powerful pressure from long range, Starburst (STB) mixups
- Weaknesses: kinda mediocre outside of Starburst
Claudio Serafino has some things in common with Shaheen and Kazumi, with the keepout potential of the former and the long-range pressure of the latter's WR2. In fact, we'd say that his WR2 is even better than Kazumi's, despite it being high. It leaves Claudio at a huge +7 on block, and deals a massive amount of damage on hit.
If it connects, he gets access to Starburst instantly. Starburst is a powerup stance, which adds unique properties to some of Claudio's moves. For example, d+2,2 in Starburst is a low that is practically impossible to react to, that also results in a knockdown. STB d/b+1+2 on the other hand is a mid unblockable that's actually threatening, but very punishable on whiff.
His hopkick is stupid good. It evades lows like nobody's business, allowing you to throw it out on a hard readout in the open. If it lands, you get a full juggle combo. If it's blocked, you only get punished slightly. Also, Claudio getting a launch basically means he gets a Starburst charge at the end of the combo, so it's worth doing YOLO hopkicks every now and then.
Outside of Starburst, though, Claudio is quite limited — especially when it comes to his poking options. Still, there are multiple ways of getting Starburst charges, so it's not the end of the world when he doesn't have one. Regardless, his kit is very potent in online play, especially for and against beginners.
- Playstyle: high risk rushdown offense
- Strengths: good range, high damage moves and combos
- Weaknesses: offensive toolkit is highly unsafe, very punishable if facing someone who knows the matchup
Katarina Alves is an explosive Savate practitioner with powerful long-range kicks. She is notorious for being a "scrub character", due to her annoying 4,4,4,4,4 string — which is just a set of right kicks done one after another. Players also deride her for her "autopilot" combo potential with the very same string; launch someone with something, then end with the right kicks for easy damage.
Her offense is inherently risky, though, with many punishable moves and strings in her arsenal. Someone who knows how to play against her can easily stifle her attacks, or collect free damage with easy punishment. The aforementioned string, for example, has multiple gaps in between the kicks that an experienced player can exploit.
Nevertheless, new players will not want for sheer simplicity with Katarina. Her offense is extremely damaging for very little effort, which works wonders in the lower ranks where nobody really knows how to play against her. Katarina's playstyle doesn't require a lot of execution, and her high-risk, high reward moveset lends well to lower-level play.
- Playstyle: 50/50s all day, every day
- Strengths: has one of the most frightening 50/50 mixups between Left Splits Kick (f,f+3) and Hell Sweep (cd+4,1), fantastic comeback potential, top tier block punishment both standing and crouching
- Weaknesses: high execution barrier in higher ranks, very weak to sidestepping left (SSL), weak pokes
Experienced players would laugh at us for suggesting Kazuya Mishima in a list of beginner-friendly Tekken 7 characters, as his skill ceiling is as high as it gets in the game. But truthfully, his skill floor is actually quite low, making him one of the easiest characters to learn as a purely new player.
His Hell Sweep (cd+4,1) is an extremely fast knockdown low string that catches lower-ranked players off guard all the time. You could honestly get to Brawler just spamming Hell Sweep, as most players before that rank don't realize they need to block low at all. It is however ridiculously punishable on block at -23, so those that actually block low can shut down Hell Sweep spamming quite easily.
That's where Left Splits Kick (f,f+3) comes into play. This move is a safe mid launcher that complements Hell Sweep perfectly, as both create a natural 50/50 mid/low mixup. Both moves already make a deadly combination in the lower ranks, but there's more to Kazuya than just his guessing games.
His block punishment is among the best in the game, which is very important to learn the fundamentals of Tekken. 1,1,2 is a knockdown string that comes out at 10 frames, with the last jab being quite hit confirmable. b+1,2 gives him more reach and damage when blocking moves at -12. And when you finally level up in execution, his Electric Wind Godfist (EWGF) destroys people who dare to throw out moves that are -16 or worse.
Until then, though, you can reliably get by on his less demanding moves.
- Playstyle: balanced offense with some tricky stuff in the bag
- Strengths: good pokes, fantastic pressure, some scary mixups from FC
- Weaknesses: highly popular character, so matchup knowledge is common, low overall damage
Marshall Law is an iconic Tekken character that a lot of new players may gravitate towards. And it's easy to see why: he's a Jeet Kune Do practitioner modeled after the late, great Bruce Lee — complete with the high-flying moves you'd expect from someone inspired by him.
Law is very safe and poke-oriented, making him one of the best characters in the game at learning how to play in a more reserved manner. His generic d/f+1 is the bread and butter of his playstyle, and complements his d/b+3 low poke perfectly. Meanwhile, his Dragon Hammer (f+1+2), is a slow power mid that launches opponents on counter hit. On block, it leaves Law at +3, and forces the opponent to crouch. Overall a very oppressive mid, especially at the wall.
Though Law is one of the safest characters in Tekken 7, he certainly has a pretty deep bag of tricks to pull from. His FC slide mixups put opponents in guessing situations, though most of the options that stem from it are punishable on block. This is great for learning how to mix people up online, which is still an important component of the game even at lower ranks.
- Playstyle: solid poking combined with the absolute best throw game in the cast of characters
- Strengths: a million throws with chaining options to boot, good pokes and punishment, decent counter hit moves
- Weaknesses: lows are very lacking
King is the quintessential Tekken grappler, with a massive array of single throws and chain throws at his disposal.
Completely new players will find it very difficult to deal with his throw game, as unlike in games like Street Fighter, throws in Tekken are 33 percent mixups rather than 50/50s. For example, one throw may require breaking with a 1 input, another with a 2 input, and another with a 1+2 input. It's also difficult to react to throws in this game, as players have to see the animation and discern which arm King is grabbing them with to know which input to use.
When you take his chain throws into account, King becomes an instant newbie killer. His infamous Rolling Death Cradle chain throw deals over 100 damage if all three throws land. Only players that actually do their research and take note of the proper break inputs will be able to avoid this chain throw. Or those that just duck versus King a lot.
Outside of his throws, though, King is still solid as they come. His pokes are standard fare but highly effective in Brawler rank and up, his counter-hit tools can shut down button-happy players that don't respect your frame advantage, and his punishment is above average. King is also really easy to pick up and play for the first time.