Having knowledge of both franchises is not really a requirement, but it is preferable to have even though it is still a 2D Street Fighter game at its core. The Tekken characters also can be a little daunting to play at first especially if you look at their command lists that are filled with unique normal moves along with their special moves. I do say however that Capcom did a great job translating these characters to a 2D space as they are able to retain most of what made them great in Tekken from their combo strings along with mixing in core Street Fighter mechanics. The juggle and bound mechanics from Tekken are also in there in some form as once you pull off combos going with those in mind, it is cool stuff and makes "feel yourself" as the cool kids would say in the fighting game world. The Street Fighter characters are pretty much intact from previous games (specifically the SF4 series), but once you kick in the new systems introduced in Cross Tekken, the game is way different than you think.
I won't really break down the gameplay systems in Cross Tekken as they have been explained in other forms if you have been following the game since its announcement. I was able to understand the simple mechanics from doing cross rush combos, but I didn't mess around with the gems that much along with the advanced tag combo mechanics either. Those can be saved for when I play the final game having actual time to myself figuring them out. With the limited time going last night, I didn't want to all be crazy coming up with some gem customization and trying advanced/linked combos out. As Seth Killian said in the Level Up stream last night, Cross Tekken is not another Street Fighter IV as you have to grasp the new systems to be successful and its true. Throwing has bad range even though ticking them can work if your opponent can not tech, which was the case for me at times. I was playing Guile and Paul throughout the night as I can only play keep away as Guile to a certain extent with his projectile game. When mixing up overheads with the chain combos, Guile is a way different character than his SF4 iteration being more offensive than people expect him to be. I rocked Paul as one of my mains from the Tekken games and he is what I expected in Cross Tekken. He is slow and powerful once he gets going especially nailing his strings and wall bounce combos via his EX Phoenix Smasher. He is able to go through projectiles with certain special moves, but I wasn't able to do advanced as the Level Up Your Game guys demonstrated in their video below. For the most part Guile did the work especially I'm able to combo his Sonic Hurricane super after a Paul cross rush combo. Meter management was not in my mind throughout the night as once I have meter, I'm using it on wakeup situations and finishing combos. Paul's Shredder Kicks for example is not as good as a wake up option as they should be (not really a get off move as Ryu and Ken's dragon punches can be). Meter does become useful when doing tag cancel combos and cross art supers with both characters.
After playing it last night, I was finally sold on Street Fighter X Tekken. The game is more fun than I thought and the potential of what sheninegans players can come up with increased tenfold. I didn't play the other modes like the regular 2v2 mode and the chaotic Scramble node as seen on the Level Up stream last night, but it seems that people are hyped about it from a fun factor perspective. Team tournaments can be potentially crazy with two players controlling two separate characters, but the core 1v1 fighting is still gonna be serious time for the majority of people. I'm very impressed how the Tekken characters turned out to the point they're arguably more fun to play despite the learning curve with their daunting move lists, but once you learn them, they are filled with more options than what the Street Fighter characters dream of. Sure, you can still resort to fundamentals with the SF cast, but you have to eventually play the game the way it was designed. It is only three more weeks till the final game gets released, but now I know that this is a fighting game that you can't write off.