In any case, the leaked artwork is pretty good and (if it is legitimately a part of something) raises a lot of questions about the featured characters. I'll post the images below (click to make them bigger of course!) with my own thoughts. On a side note, I'm fairly certain that the artist for the 'finished' pieces is not the series' veteran artist Takuji Kawano but there is a faint resemblance there, almost as if the artist were influenced by Kawano's previous magnificent work?
Maybe it's just the perspective here but in the first image, it looks like Nightmare is wielding a scythe in place of his oversized, evil sword? He looks pretty bad-ass in any case but also a little insect-like with those wings on his back and definitely even less human than last time. He looks cool anyway and I wouldn't mind a Nightmare like this at all.
I can't admit to ever being a Kilik fan so I have limited enthusiasm for these images! However, it's interesting that he retains his SCV mask. Hopefully, if there is a sixth game, they give him his proper moveset back and erase what happened in SCV where Kilik was just another 'mimic' character.
Another character I'm no lover of, largely because I saw her as a poor anime-styled replacement for the series' ONLY female ninja - Taki. Natsu looks a little more grown-up in the top image but still has stupid hair and...heck, I just don't like the descendant/disciple characters in SCV. The most interesting thing here is that the second piece of art shows Natsu wielding different weapons soooo...was somebody thinking of completely altering her style (leaving the door open for Taki to return) or is there a chance that a sixth game will feature multiple fighting styles and weapons for each character? Speculation is dangerous but fun.
My favourite Soul Calibur character! I was properly pissed when they ditched her for SCV and replaced the original Greek Goddess with her whiny daughter and THEN added insult to injury by introducing yet another mimic character by the name of Elysium who just happened to resemble Sophitia. I love the concept for her outfit in the top image and the blue/white version in the image below needs to be a 2P costume if any of this turns out to be legit. But please, just keep her fighting style the same so I can kick ass with Sophie once again.
It's impossible to forget how disappointed I was with Soul Calibur V, a sequel that boasted stunning graphics, an amazing character creator and perfectly serviceable gameplay but spoiled it all by swapping out favourite characters for crap replacements, meddling with the core mechanics (Guard Impact should not be meter-dependant!) and having a truly rubbish story mode. It was no bad game but I felt distressingly apathetic towards it. With that in mind, I will be very cautious around a sixth installment if it DOES happen at any point.
The gameplay needs to return to how it was right up until SCIV and even the finishing moves from the fourth game are a debatable inclusion. Re-instate Guard Impact as free-to-use (it was very risk-reward anyway and not overpowered), retain the character creation utility and bring back the characters we know and love. That last one might be a bit of a tricky one considering that the game does have a set timeline and that there was a big gap between the events of SCIV and V but how about a 'Dream Match' installment that doesn't need to adhere to plots or timelines? Include all of the characters - old and new - and treat the fans as was the case with the spot-on fanservice in Tekken Tag 2.
I will not at all be surprised if this artwork is a forerunner to a new SC reveal this year. As I said earlier, this year is the 20th anniversary, Namco themselves have dropped a teaser on the Facebook page and this art just looks too tidy and final to amount to nothing. It's also worth noting that Passion Republic have only ever collaborated with developers/publishers before so there need not be any fear of the series being outsourced. Perhaps this art was 'leaked' on purpose to test the waters before September's Tokyo Game Show...