Right, well. I can't sleep, so I might as well and blow an hour writing a giant goddamn essay. You guys like impenetrable walls of text, right? Yes? Cool, thought so.

So, the characters are split between new and old, right? With a cast of, oh, 26-ish characters, that means about 13. With Siegfried, Mitsurugi, Nightmare, and Ivy confirmed, that leaves only about 9 more char spaces. But there are 21 old characters remaining, so that's going to be a lot of trimming.

Keep in mind, of course, I'm not a developer. I love to rant about my opinions, but I'm certainly not proclaiming them as an end-all-be-all-that-cannot-be-fallen. If you disagree, please feel free to post your disagreements and explain why, I'd love to discuss this out. Just...please don't basically say "I like this char and so I think he/she should stay".


Ideal Chance: Almost zero

Bosses rarely return, with the exception of Inferno. Abyss didn't return, Night Terror didn't return. Though Cervantes did return as a playable character, so I guess this "rarely" thing is more 50/50. Anyway, Algol's story specifically dictated his one role in IV. Really, enough said. He's a special dude, his time is up.


Ideal Chance: Almost guaranteed

Counting both of these characters together due to their similar movesets. While Raphael may have been the originator, Amy is a fan-favorite character. We all know the jokes about Raphael--Twilight vampires, DIE MONSTER, pedophile, and how the vampirism came right out of nowhere. Amy, on the other hand, is the one who gets all the fan-art, all the cosplay, all the admiration, and all the love. There is a definite imbalance in who the fans enjoy. That aside, the fencing fighting method experienced a HUGE surge in popularity in the early 1600s, and there were hundreds of schools that popped up left and right. The rapier is a unique weapon compared to what the others wield, and the vampire-esque affliction both of them have means they can shrug off the 17 years easily. While Raphael has significantly more impact on the story than Amy does, I think Amy is going to be the one getting the spot.


Ideal Chance: Almost guaranteed

Axes are one of THE most iconic weapons, and while Astaroth wasn't the original wielder he's quickly become the face of them in the series. Rock may be the original, but maces simply don't quite have the cool factor that axes have. Either way, both of these characters are heavy powerhouses in a series pretty lacking in powerhouses, with Siegfried being more on the technical mix-up side and Nightmare quite likely changing. Story-wise, though, both of them are pretty much just putzing around. Rock was hunting for Astaroth, and Astaroth in IV was just a rampaging pitbull without any direction other than "KEEL EVERTHANG EVUN DER GODZ". I see one of their weapons returning, possibly the axe over the mace, but I don't see either of the actual characters returning. I suspect we'll get someone with a similar moveset, though that leaves the question of whether they'll still be grapple-heavy or whether they'll be more about the actual weapon.


Ideal Chance: Almost zero

I know a lot of fans are going to scream at me ("SHE'S TOTALLY GOING TO BE WIELDING SOULCALIBUR!!!1111"), but Cassandra I think has very little chance of returning. Story-wise, she's done absolutely nothing throughout the entire series except be the genki girl and look cute. Fighting-wise, unless she uses a different set of weapons, there is pretty much nothing she could have that would separate her from Sophitia, Patroklos, and Pyrrha. She may be a popular character, but nothing else is going for her. If she returns, she's going to need some heavy reworking that leaves her without any semblance of her previous character.


Ideal Chance: High

Cervantes is a popular character who's been with the franchise ever since the beginning. Dual-wielding is awesome, pistols are awesome, pirates are awesome, and he's the entire package. Being a zombie goast means that the 17-year-gap means nothing to him, and he's on a never-ending quest to get Soul Edge back--now that Soul Edge has popped up again, you can bet he's going to be interested in it. Plus, with Shura's popularity due to her dual katanas, just toss him his wakizashi/katana combination from the original games, and then they can enjoy her all over again.


Ideal Chance: Medium

I think at this point, the dev team hates Hilde. Okay, not really, but she's been nothing but trouble ever since she was introduced. She was god-tier in IV, and even trying their damndest to nerf her she still ended up being top-tier in BD. Her charges are insanely good, and her ability to fight at short range with the shortsword or long range with the spear have made her a bit TOO good to be the all-around character. That aside, she was vital to the story of IV and her design is both incredibly refreshing and incredibly endearing to the fandom. She's an original character from every angle, but she desperately needs a reworking--the question is whether the dev team will want to figure out how or if they'll just shrug, say "screw it", and throw her away.

Kilik/Seong Mi-na:

Ideal Chance: Medium-High

What has Kilik done for the story? He's provided a lot of backstory, but not much else. What has Seong Mi-na done for the story? Absolutely nothing, aside from keeping Yun-Seong from killing itself. Which probably should be considered a war crime. But that aside, polearms are one of the most popular historical weapons, and like the rapier experienced a surge in popularity in the 1600s. Be it a blade on a stick, a hammer on a stick, a pick on a stick, or whatever, either way having something on a stick was all of the rage. Also, aside from being fan-fond characters who are definitely recognizeable, polearms are quite iconic and staple weapons that always get a spot in a weapon fighter. I'd say there's a 50/50 chance that either one of these two will return or someone wielding their weapon will show up instead, but either way I think there's quite a chance of their presence.


Ideal Chance: Almost zero

This is pretty painful for me to write out. Much like how I doubt a lot of people would be fond of my thoughts on Cassandra, this is hurting me to write on Lizardman. I love Lizardman. But there is very little incentive for him to come back. At this point, we already have two quick shield-and-short-weapon users. While Lizardman does use an axe instead of a shortsword, quite a lot of his moves still have shades of the Athenian style from Cassandra/Sophitia that he was based off of. Story-wise, Lizardman has done nothing--hell, in IV he was demoted to the role of a joke character. Unless the beastie boy can get a revamp, similar to Cassandra, I don't see any incentive for Lizardman to come back.


Ideal Chance: Medium

Nunchaku have been a part of the game series ever since the beginning, and Maxi is most certainly a fan-favorite, as is Li Long. Still, nunchaku are very niche weapons that pretty much only got popular because of Bruce Lee, and their peasant background has gone entirely ignored. While there's nothing particularly WRONG with Maxi or Li Long as characters, they don't quite have the star power that other characters do. People think of Mitsurugi and Siegfried before they think of Maxi. While it's certainly very possible considering all the other iconic weapons, I don't see the nunchaku breaking their streak of appearing in the game. Even if they don't, though, I'm not sure it'll be specifically Maxi or Li Long that carries them.


Ideal Chance: Low

We already have a katana character. Two of them, in fact, and Mitsurugi already has several iaidojutsu moves. While Setsuka is in and of herself a good character, there are several key things against her. Her JF-heavy style of play is quite unique, but with Daishi's vision of trying to make the game more accessable that fighting style plants itself firmly at the exact opposite direction. Combine this with how her story has absolutely NOTHING to do with either of the Soul Swords, and how we already have two katanas, and I don't see her unique playstyle being the deciding factor in bringing her back. Sorry, girl, there's gonna be lots of new chars, I'm sure your JFs will be inherited by them.


Ideal Chance: Low

See Cassandra, for the most part. While Sophitia has far more relevance to the story than Cassandra does, and there's that popular theory floating around about how Sophitia is Nightmare now, Sophitia is still a shortsword/shield user when we already have two. Hell, Pyrhha already has most of Sophitia's moves and was said in an interview to be her successor, so that's another reason. A lot of people are going to be unhappy with this, considering her status as one of the biggest fanservice girls of the series, but unless that theory about her being Nightmare is true then Sophitia's best course of action is just to let her children take the helm.


Ideal Chance: High

This one is a no-brainer. Taki has been with the series ever since the beginning, every fighting game needs a ninja, her story is a heavy part of Soul Edge, she's a MASSIVE fan-favorite, and her dual-wielded daggers are unused by any other characters (with the possible exception of Talim). The biggest question is how she'll handle the 17-year age gap. I'm not one of those people that think the female characters are suddenly unable to fight once they breach 30 years of age, but it's still quite possible that her style will get exported into a new character. Either way, I think it's safe to bet her presence will be felt somehow.


Ideal Chance: Medium-High

Talim is a relatively minor character who has a lot of things going for her. For one, her young age means the 17-year-gap won't hit her as hard. For two, she has a very unique weapon set that nobody else can touch. For three, she is the sole representative of an often-forgotten nation. For four, I'm sure the 17 years will help her voice drop a couple pitches so the constant cries of WIND! WINDS! WIND! WINDS! WIND! SWIRLING! SPINNING! HEEEEYAAAAH! won't be so ear-raping. While she doesn't have a lot of presence in the plot, those first three factors, combined with her holy priestess status (which effectively gives her ample reason to be in any vaguely mystical-y role or do any such actions) make her a very versatile character--one I think will have a definite chance of appearing.


Ideal Chance: Low

We already have two crazy freaks. Gimmicky playstyle that works against her rather than for her. Weapon straight out of fantasy rather than any historical context. Chakrams did not work that way. Killed by Nightmare to power Soul Edge, supposedly. In her own ending, runs into hiding following Soul Edge's collapse. Target of a lot of creepy fanfics trying to "redeem" her to make her their love interest, despite being underage. Yeah, I think that speaks for itself.

I'm not saying it's impossible, of course. Despite being loonier than Daffy Duck's/Harley Quinn's schizophrenic offspring, she's very original and there's really no other character like her. But because of that, I think she has a very niche appeal--and when you have to choose between the niche and the broad, developers will always go with characters that have a broader appeal.


Ideal Chance: Medium

There's some incentive for Voldo to leave. One, his age is getting to the point where it's going to be quite a liability. While I have no doubt people can kick ass even as an elderly old geezer sittin' in a rocker (please don't punch me Heihachi), it's still quite a possibility that Voldo's bones don't have what it takes. Two, it was established that he is currently looking for a successor to defend Vercci's loot for him once he passes on. Voldo is one of THE most iconic crazy freaks in gaming, but they've been hinting for a while that he might need to take a break. So I'd say it could go either way.


Ideal Chance: Medium-Low

We've got plenty of swords already, the only thing that really differentiates her is her fighting style. Her fighting style is very smooth, very elegant, and very unique...but when it comes to mix-ups and mindgames we've already got several characters that can fill her role. Add to this, she dies in all her endings in IV, though death never stopped people before and it's quite possible neither Kilik's nor her ending is canon. She just really stopped being that important a character, both to the game and to the story. Like Tira, I'm sure she's got a lot of fans, but also like Maxi, she's just not that important. She's not BAD, there's just nothing that stands out.


Ideal Chance: Medium-High

I hate Yoshimitsu. I really hate Yoshimitsu. And yet, Yoshimitsu has been a staple ever since Soulcalibur I. I can hazard a guess why--Tekken is an incredibly popular franchise, and Namco likes cross-promotion. While he wields the same weapon as Mitsurugi, there is absolutely no similarities in their styles. In fact, considering his frequent use of a second katana, his flagpole, or other crazy items, you could say that he doesn't even use the same weapon. Between Yoshimitsu and Voldo, both of them have a handle on the "crazy freak" spot of the franchise.


Ideal Chance: Almost zero

The only people who like Yun-Seong are fangirls. He is a shirtless bishounen who needs a woman to temper his fiery nature and settle him down before he kills himself. That is his entire character. People are more interested in Hwang to return than Yun-Seong, and Hwang is an ancient relic by now who was already confirmed isn't going to return. Add in a generic weapon that doesn't even represent his homeland (why is a Korean wielding a Chinese Dao?), and you've got a recipe for disaster.


Ideal Chance: Medium-High

Not only is Zasalamel a reincarnating immortal, meaning the 17-year-gap really doesn't bother him, but also wields a very popular weapon. While useful more in fantasy than in an actual historical context, scythes are nonetheless just as iconic as swords and axes. They're the weapon of choice for more "dark" characters, in order to cement the idea that their power is beyond mortal comprehension so they don't need a traditional weapon, and so there will be a lot of people clamoring for one. Combine this with his unique fighting style and how important his roles in SCIII and SCIV were, and I think there's a lot of incentive for him to come back.

tl;dr who I expect to return, either as returning characters or newcomers utilizing their styles:
Amy/Raphael (Almost guaranteed)
Astaroth/Rock (Almost guaranteed)
Taki (High)
Cervantes (High)
Kilik/Seong Mi-na (Medium-High)
Zasalamel (Medium-High)
Yoshimitsu (Medium-High)
Talim (Medium-High)
Hilde (Medium)
Maxi (Medium)
Voldo (Medium)
Xianghua (Medium-Low)
Tira (Low)
Setsuka (Low)
Sophitia (Low)
Cassandra (Almost zero)
Lizardman (Almost zero)
Yun-Seong (Almost zero)
Algol (Almost zero)

Using the end of Medium as a cut-off, who I expect will return as:

The Same Character:

A Similar Newcomer:
Kilik/Seong Mi-Na

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