A big part of the fun in fighting games is how much freedom you have to express yourself with a character. But having a wide range of options is also what makes them hard to learn. To help mitigate the overwhelm, create a fighting game character starter pack. Master the best features of a character first then work on fleshing out all of your character’s options later.
Figure out your character’s archetype and game plan
This will help inform you what your character’s general game plan will be. You’ll be able to determine if you want to stay far away to zone, get closer to rush down, or play in the middle to play footsies. You’ll also want to consider if your character has any special mechanics as it will most likely factor into your game plan. (e.g. Street Fighter V G’s presidential level)
If you aren’t sure how to develop a decent game plan, you can visit our guide here.
Find the best normal attacks that your character has
The ones that you’ll absolutely need are the following:
- Consistent Anti Air
- Fast and Safe Poke
- Pressure Normals (typically light normals)
- Overhead Attack
- Low Attack
These normals are the foundation of any 2D character. You should be able to win matches by using only these normals against players below your level.
Pick the best 3 special moves that your character has
You’ll want to choose special moves that help you achieve your gameplan. If you are not sure about which special moves to pick, then the following choices will usually be very useful (if applicable):
- Invincible reversal
- Command throw
- Combo ender
Find 1 block string that starts with pressure normals that ends safely
This is a string of attacks that will force your opponent to block every attack. You’ll want to find one that starts with (usually) the light attacks. It could end up being something like crouch LP, LP into a safe special move. When you get comfortable with this then you’ll want to add a couple more to keep your opponent guessing. Mixing in throws, moving between strings, and staggering attacks will make your opponent start sweating and make mistakes.
Find 1 BnB combo that starts from pressure normals
This bread n’ butter combo oftentimes can oftentimes be exactly the same as the blockstring that we found earlier. Using the same string of attacks will help newer players reduce the info needed to cover a hit or block situation. Once you get comfortable with this basic combo, then you can expand and learn more variations of combos.
Find 1 cheap gimmick to use if your character has one
A big part of competitive fighting games is to win by any means necessary (within the game). So using extremely potent tools that a character has is highly encouraged. Here’s some tools that are typically cheap:
- Fast overhead
- Long ranged low attacks
- Easy cross up move
- Unblockable attack
Against stronger opponents, you’ll want to use these sparingly to avoid being too predictable. At the same time, don’t be afraid to exploit a move if your opponent isn’t able to deal with it.
Find out who are some good players that use your character
As a beginner, you most likely won’t understand the potential that your character has. So watching someone who plays at a high level will help you see that potential and give you clues on what to improve on in your own game. You might see some powerful techniques that you can employ or find answers to things you have trouble with.
Example Starter Pack
Street Fighter V: Laura Matsuda
- Character Archetype
- Unique Traits/Ability
- Multiple v-skill moves for mobility
- Can charge fireballs for extra hits
- General Game Plan
- Use footsie normals to knock down or get in close with LP elbow or vskill dash.
- Make opponent guess with command grab, strikes, and baiting reversals when at advantage.
- Top Normals To Use
- Anti Air: stand MP
- Safe Poke: crouch MP
- Pressure: stand LP, crouch LK, and crouch LP
- Overhead: Neutral V-Skill
- Low Attack: crouch MK
- Top 3 Special Moves
- LP Thunderbolt elbow
- Thunderclap fireball
- Sunset Wheel command grab
- Easy & safe blockstring
- Crouch LK > crouch LP > LP Thunderbolt elbow
- BnB combo
- Crouch LK > crouch LP > LP Thunderbolt elbow
- Cheapest gimmick
- Poke (e.g. st. HP, cr. MK, cr. MP) > cancelled into forward vskill > command grab (many players have a hard time reacting to avoid the grab)
- Players to watch and learn from
- 801 Strider
- El Tigre
Try your best to figure out the answers for the items listed above. If you’re having trouble, don’t be scared to seek out help in the community. Being effective with a condensed set of moves will only make your foundation stronger. If you can play with 1 arm tied behind your back, just think about how well you can do with 2.
Choysauce plays as many fighting games as possible and writes about how to play them. He also helps with management for toptier.gg. Catch him on Twitter @choysauce85.