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Free-to-play Soulcalibur: Lost Swords coming to North America this winter

Namco Bandai will release the free-to-play fighting game Soulcalibur: Lost Swords on PlayStation 3 in North America this winter, the company announced today. The Soulcalibur spin-off will feature an emphasis on single-player, mission-based modes, and will not include competitive or online multiplayer.

Soulcalibur series producer Masaki Hoshino said at a pre-Tokyo Game Show press event that the decision to focus on single-player missions in Lost Swords was due to players' interest in the characters and world setting of the series, not the game's versus modes. Namco's marketing research, Hoshino said, showed that many Soulcalibur fans were not into competitive play.

Soulcalibur: Lost Swords will use the fighting game system of the most recent entry, Soulcalibur 5, but will also include a few new additions, Hoshino said. One of those is a new elemental system that will allow players to customize weapons and forge new weapons with five elements, such as wind and fire. Each weapon in Lost Swords will have an element associated with it, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Players will find those elements (and other loot) through drops when defeating enemies.

Hoshino didn't provide insight into how Soulcalibur: Lost Swords' monetization model will work, but the option to purchase new elements and new characters seem like likely options. Currently, only three playable characters are confirmed: Mitsurugi, Seigfried and Sophitia, who returns from Soulcalibur 4.

Soulcalibur: Lost Swords service is scheduled to begin Japan "soon," Hoshino said.

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