HOW TO: BECOME A COMBO KING
Fighting games can be intimidating, but our step-by-step guide will make you a winner in no time
Fighting games are home to some of the most intense and electric competitive multiplayer moments you’ll ever experience – but the genre’s scary reputation puts far too many people off. If you’re tempted by the thrill of deadly one-on-one combat, but fear you’ll never be able to pull off a winning combo, this guide is for you.
Make no mistake – fighting games do demand precision and practice to succeed. But they’re not quite as complicated and inaccessible as they might appear, especially once you understand the core concepts common across the genre, and with a little patience you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can get caught-up.
And those commonalities mean that, once you’ve built your foundation in one game, those skills are easily transferable to others. Before you know it, you’ll be a genre devotee, kicking butt in every title going.
So read on and let our step-by-step guide smooth out your learning curve. While we don’t have the room here to get into the nitty gritty of frame data, special move cancels, and other jargon-laden subjects, these tips will point your research in the right direction, and set you on the path to fighting game greatness.
01 Choose your game
There are loads of fighting games out there – if you’re just starting out the best thing to do is pick just one and focus on it. This year’s Mortal Kombat 11 is a great choice that’s especially accessible for beginners, while Xbox-exclusive Killer Instinct has the benefit of being free to download. Street Fighter IV is a modern classic, but also very precise and difficult – be ready for a challenge if that’s your pick.
02 choose your character
Finding your feet is a lot easier if you commit to learning one character fully, though it may take a bit of experimentation before you find your ‘main’. Much as it may feel dull, it’s often a good idea to pick one of the game’s ‘mascots’, such as Ryu in Street Fighter or Scorpion in Mortal Kombat, as they’re usually simpler and more well rounded – perfect for getting a foundation in the game’s ideas and mechanics.
03 learn the lingo The fighting game community uses lots of slang and technical terms, which can make even a beginner’s guide seem impenetrable – but really they mostly have very easyto-understand meanings. A quick online search will give you a glossary of the more common terms. Look up an explainer for fighting game notation, too – understand that, and you’ll be able to crib combos from other players. 04 understand your normals A common beginner mistake is to concentrate too heavily on special moves. While they may be less flashy, your basic punches and kicks – or ‘normals’ – are a vital part of your arsenal, and one of the keys to improving is learning the properties of each. They’re usually much safer to lead with, too – specials are often ‘unsafe on block’, meaning you’ll be left vulnerable if your foe deflects the blow. 05 defend yourself Another error too many players make is ignoring the defensive side of the game. Mashing out attacks isn’t going to get you anywhere, you need to learn how to block and play conservatively. Try to stay on the ground, too – jumping in too much is a bad habit that gives your opponent easy opportunities to punish you. Sometimes you do need to go all-in, but save your aggression for when the time is right. 06 practiSe your combos There’s no getting round it – ultimately, all fighting games demand practice. The key thing is execution. At the very least, you need to be able to consistently perform your special moves. If you’re whiffing your fireballs, get to the training room and throw ‘em until you can do it ten times without a mistake from both sides of the screen. Then you’ll be ready to commit your combos to muscle memory.