In Soulcalibur IV, all characters, including custom characters, possess three areas of armor (or equipment): High, Middle, and Low. When a character has taken severe damage in one of these areas (from High, Middle, or Low attacks, respectively), the armor breaks with an audible shattering sound in a phenomenon called Equipment Destruction. After a piece of equipment has been destroyed, it remains so for every round of the battle. Damage taken to the shattered area is increased (e.g. if the head armor breaks, any High attacks deal more damage). The destruction of the equipment is visible on the character's body: High equipment destruction usually breaks the character's hat (if applicable), Middle breaking his jacket or armor, and Low breaking his boots or greaves. Both custom characters and regular characters are subject to equipment destruction. A character without armor (created in character creation by removing everything) is left in his/her underwear (and bra, for women). These items, obviously, do not break during equipment destruction, although the shattering sound is still heard and the character still takes more damage in that area.

Equipment destruction can be used to its best strategic effect by focusing on the destroyed part of the armor. If the opponent's Middle armor shatters, attacks which strike Middle will have the best effect.

Equipment destruction cannot occur while the opponent is guarding. Only an attack that makes contact with the enemy can break a piece of armor. That said, a Soul Crush will automatically cause equipment destruction on the area attacked.

A gauge under the character's Soul Gauge shows what equipment in what area has been destroyed.

This returns in a much more simple form in Soulcalibur V, except the equipment gauge does not return. Clothing damage occurs whenever the opponent is defeated by a particularly strong attack or throw in whatever round. While regular characters will simply lose one or two parts, created characters will lose everything except for undergarments and lower leg equipment. The same mechanic also applies to Soulcalibur VI.

In Soulcalibur VI, As of the version 2.2 update, players can allow and disallow equipment destruction during match from custom characters.

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