Who is this guide for?
This guide is for players who tried playing fighting games and don’t exactly understand why they lose. We’ll re-learn the genre from a clearer perspective so you’ll be able understand what exactly is going on as you play. Most of the concepts here are applicable to most games in the genre, but I’ll use Rising Thunder for specific examples. I understand it may seem like a chore to read a million pages of text just to play a videogame, so my goal is to condense each aspect into a short, concise paragraph, like a sniper bullet, just to give you that “twist” you may have not thought about, and you can continue exploring by yourself from there. The guide is still work in progress, so any feedback would be appreciated.
How to approach the game
Your goal is not to win. Your goal is not to increase your ranking. Your goal is to learn and explore the game. Make mistakes and learn from them. Encounter problems and try to find solutions to them. Do that and eventually winning will come by itself as you see real improvement.
L,M,H- Light, Medium, Heavy. The 3 normal buttons. Each characters has different normals for standing, crouching, jumping neutral, and jumping forwards/backwards. They also have unique standing normals when done very close, and several command normals, done with either back or forward+button, and also an aerial command normal, jumping down+H for crossups.
S- Every character has 3 specials, each with several different variants. So for example “S2.3” is a short way to say “Special 2, variant 3”, based on loadout menu orders. In Rising Thunder, special moves have cooldowns and we’ll get into what this means later.
O- Overdrive, the super move.
Some specials can be charged by holding the button down, or produce a different version. Some specials and supers also have 3 different versions, done by either pressing the button on its own, or while holding either backward or forward.
T- Throw. Back+T is a back throw, which is a different throw and only the front one can be Kinetic Canceled (back throw for Crow). Throw escape is done by throwing back immediately as you are being grabbed.
KC- Short for Kinetic Cancel. We’ll get into this later.
While the names normal, special and super can imply that one type of move is “superior” than the other, this is false. All of them are “tools”, regardless of name. Each tool has a specific role to serve, depending on the situation. So a normal may be able to do something better than a special or a super. This is why learning how and when to utilize each of your tools should be one of your goals.
Blocking may seem unexciting, but it’s the most important of the basic concepts. So important that I’m starting the guide with it! Hold back to block overhead attacks, and hold down+back to block low attacks. Most attacks can be blocked either way. As you play the game you’ll learn which moves are overheads and which are lows, but a general rule for starting out is that while the opponent is on the ground block low, and while the opponent is in the air block high. Being patient and knowing when a string of attacks ends will come with character familiarity and is key to stop losing. Being a good, patient blocker will force opponents to take risks they’d otherwise would not have. Players who don’t have the patience to sit on their asses and block until the right moment, or who play risky in general, are giving their opponents free damage, so don’t be one of those.
You have 2 main forms of movement, walking and jumping. Walking is slower and safer. Jumping is faster, more evasive, but risky because you cannot block. In the same way that you need to be patient and block a lot, you also need to rely on walking as your method of movement, while saving jumps only for specific, calculated scenarios. For example, it may be pretty safe to jump forward to gain ground while evading a fireball at full screen, but not at half screen, as you’ll land right into an anti-air attack. Overall the safest method to move around is to walk while blocking incoming attacks. Specials do some chip damage when blocked, but don’t let it chip at your patience as well! It’s a very small price to pay compared to doing something stupid and getting hit for it.
The Goal – Space Control
Depleting the opposing lifebar while preventing yours from depleting is the obvious technical win condition. But how do you reach this goal effectively? The answer is space control, or in other words, maintaining favorable scenarios where your available options are better than the opponents’. These situations are heavily dependant on which characters you and your opponent are using.
For example in the matchup of Chel vs Talos. Chel’s would like the match to be played from afar, where she can shoot fireballs and keep attacking with normals that have superior range compared to Talos, while Talos wants to keep the fighting at point blank range, where his throws and stubby normals can reach and enforce deadly mixups.
This is also why pushing your opponents to the corner, or knocking them down, is important, depending on the matchup. Both of them give you extra options, and remove options from the opponent.
Note that the advantageous scenarios are not always space dependant (close range, far range etc.) but can also be time dependent. Creating frame advantage means that the opponent won’t be able to stop your next attack and will be forced to block it. This in return can create a condition for mixups. A knockdown is simply a better form of frame advantage, which is why scoring knockdowns can be so important.
But let’s go back to talking about space. You can divide all your moves to 2 angles they cover. Forward, and the diagonal of forward+upward. These are the angles you’ll be attacked from, and the ones you need to learn how to cover. So Chel’s crouching H and fireball both serve a similar role- Controlling the horizontal angle, just in different ways. So let’s call these 2 groups of moves “ground control” and “air control”.
So what moves are you using to prevent horizontal approaches? Make sure to explore the unique properties of each one of your available moves. The range, the speed, the speed of recovery on block, the speed of recovery on whiff — when the move does not connect, the reward on hit, etc. etc.
By focusing on these aspects that differentiate each move from the next, you’ll quickly find a suitable role for each move. Just note that there’s no real clear answer. Some players may end up favoring one move over the other, and that’s fine, as long as you as a player can make it work. There’s a lot of room for personal views and styles, as long as it flows well with the actual game, rather than try to fight against the cold hard results.
But maybe sometimes attacking back is not the best solution. Maybe there’s a specific move that you’ll want to avoid instead of trying to beat. Backdash away from it with your invincibility frames, or neutral jump to evade it and punish as you land…
This is where we go back to discuss blocking. While you are outside of the range of the opponent’s lows, high blocking is superior to low blocking, because high blocking allows you to evade backwards while also blocking if an attack does reach you. And if the attack didn’t because you walked out of its range, you may be in a good position to punish the whiff, or at least have time to start your own offensive momentum.
Make sure to let people know you won’t let them jump at you for free. While each character’s second special (S2) can work as a dedicated anti-air, it does not cover all situations, and there’s also a cooldown period. So make sure to explore your moveset for other possible anti-airs. For example, Chel’s far standing H can function well at farther ranges. Her close standing H may do well against angles right above you, or even against crossups. Try creative solutions. Why not charge Talos’ S1 to absorb the aerial attack, and grab them as they land from the jump?
Anti-airs don’t always have to be grounded. You can jump and meet them in the air with your own normal, which usually requires them to attack earlier than usual just to try to stop it. Jumping forward, backwards, or neutral, and attacking while rising into the air are all valid here. Which one to choose depends on the range and timing. Again, go and experiment!
And like I’ve previously mentioned, sometimes a better countermeasure is to simply evade the scenario. So backdash away, or maybe even dash forward to evade an attempted crossup.
A note about the anti-air special moves: Since you don’t need a motion to do them in Rising Thunder, get used to doing them from a crouching position. This gives you more time to act before the opponent can reach you with the jump-in attack, and allows your character to do the anti-air in the correct direction in case of a crossup attempt.
A lot of the damage you’ll inflict will come from doing well in the space control aspect, because the opponent cannot block at the time while trying to get closer or attack, and ends up getting hit. But smarter opponents know when it’s time to just block and wait for the disadvantageous situation to pass. Against a defensive opponent, mixups come into play. They work because you mix between 2 options, where each option needs to be defended against in a different way.
The 4 main forms of mixup are overhead/low, left/right, hit/reset and hit/throw, Let’s go through them one by one.
Overhead/low is based on mixing between moves with different attack levels. In Street Fighter style games like Rising Thunder this type of mixup is usually very limited, because it’s really easy to block high against aerial attacks, and then switch to blocking low against grounded attacks. But some characters have specific methods to enforce this type of mixup. Edge and Dauntless have grounded overhead attacks that are pretty hard to react to, and they can mix them with lows. Vlad can use his flight cancel to cancel a blocked jump-in attack into a 2nd overhead, this time hitting with a similar timing to the 2nd option of landing and attacking low, which creates a real mixup.
Left/right is based on the fact that blocking is done by pressing a direction away from the other character, so if it’s not clear which side the character attacks from, it can create a scenario of trying to block the wrong way. This is usually done by hitting just before or just after you switch sides by jumping above the opponent.
Chel, Edge and Crow have great j.d+H crossup attacks that can utilize this. For these characters there’s a specific range where the can jump and mix between j.H and j.d+H, and both of them are able to connect, but have to be blocked differently. Just be careful of various invincibile moves!
Crow may also be able to pull it off by setting up a projectile, and jumping above the opponent as it’s about to hit, in 2 different timings in order to mix the direction the opponent will have to press in order to block.
Hit/reset and hit/throw are actually the 2 more common forms of mixup in a game like this, because they don’t require a unique move or a special setup. All they require is some frame advantage, which can be achieved relatively easily by either connecting with a specific move that gives +frames on block (usually light attacks) or by connecting a jump-in attack, as blocked jump-in attacks give big frame advantage upon landing. But not that even though I said “relatively easily”, trying to enforce this situation can be risky. i.e. Getting into light attack range, or jumping at the opponent.
But let’s say the move is blocked and you have the advantage. The opponent knows you have the advantage and therefore won’t try to attack you. This is where you use this moment to convert the opponent’s justified hesitation into positioning, and get in close, and once you get in close you capitalize on it by either attacking and resetting the pressure into more frame advantage, or by throwing and doing some damage. Next time you’ll try doing it again, the opponent will expect it, and either escape the throw by attempting a throw as well, or stick out a quick you as you try to get closer and/or throw. But when it happens a third time, you fake an approach attempt and stick out an early attack of your own at the right timing, to catch his retaliation attempt and score a hit, preferably leading to a damaging combo. That’s the mixup in a nutshell, either an option that beats waiting and blocking, or an option that beats mashing.
A key point to all of this is that the 2 options are not equal. One nets lesser reward than the other. So from a defender’s perspective, most of the time you’d rather to take the throw damage compared to a hit which starts a combo.
A combo is a string of attacks that cannot be blocked as long as the first move scored a hit. Combos are flashy and fun, but most importantly, they are used by developers to sell their games.
This may create a misunderstanding among new players, who treat the combo as the goal in itself, while in reality it’s just a mean to achieve a different goal. The goal is not to do a specific combo. You do a specific combo in order to maximise damage from a given situation. Not every combo fits into every situation, and you’ll end up losing if you don’t understand this.
It’s really not that complicated. You don’t have to memorize a list of combos, just to understand the logic behind each one in order to understand the situations it’s used in.
I’d say the 2 main principles are positioning and hit confirming.
Close positioning lets you use short ranged normals which usually lead to much better combo routes. Let’s use Chel as an example. Her far standing H does not cancel into special moves, but her close standing H, a different move, does. This means that upclose you’ll be able to do a strong combo of close H->Special, while from afar you’ll have to settle for something less damaging like crouching M->special.
Hit confirming allows you to commit to to moves that are unsafe when blocked but provide bigger combos on hit. Using Chel as an example again, her S3.1 launches in the air for more guaranteed damage and strong combos, but only if you can hit confirm before using it. So when poking on the ground, it’s risky to try to go for crouching M->S3.1, so you’ll settle for a crouching M->S1. But let’s say you are punishing a blocked dragon punch up close. You know for sure you are going to hit since it’s a punish, so you can go for close H->S3.1 and do a big damaging combo. But most of the time you should rely on actual hit confirms. This usually at least 2 safe, lengthy hits before having to press the S3.1 button, giving you time to see what’s going on and react accordingly. A jump-in attack into a close H upon landing can provide you enough time to confirm a hit (continue with S3.1) or a block (continue with a safe fireball.), but it doesn’t have to involve a jump-in. Chel’s links also provide enough time to hit confirm. Examples are forward+H->crouching M->S3.1, and even close M->crouching M->S3.1.
You have 2 extra meters, the Super bar, and the Kinetic bar, which can be used for either a combo breaker (Kinetic Deflect), or a “roman cancel” (Kinetic Advance).
Kinetic Deflect is done by pressing 2 special buttons while blocking or getting hit, and save you from eating a combo. But currently it seems to be overshadowed by Kinetic Advance so I’ll focus on that.
Kinetic Advance allows you to cancel any move when it connects, or projectiles during startup, into either a forward dash, backwards dash or a jump, and it’s done by doing the movement during the execution of the move. (There’s no specific timing, just keep holding the direction and it will come out ASAP.)
It has many uses, the most basic of which is to extend combos. The problem with that, and with the super moves, is that the scaling of the game reward short combos over long ones. So using resources to expend the combos, unless to get a guaranteed kill, is often not worth the resources invested into them. If you want to combo into a super, there are short combos that use the super as the 3rd or 4ft hit and do just as much damage without wasting Kinetic.
So in my opinion it would be better to utilize Kinetic Cancels (KC for short) in tactical ways. Here are some examples:
- Cancel out of an invincible move to make it safe on block: It’s always good to have the option of 1 safe reversal. The mere threat can make the opponent hesitant to attack and save you the guessing game, while you get to keep the resources for next time. Just remember to be careful of whiffing the moves, as you won’t be able to cancel then.
- Cancel a projectile: At jump-in range projectiles become riskier to use. Keeping this option in mind, and letting the opponent know any fireball has a chance of being a KC’ed one, will allow you to play more aggressively with them. In some cases you may even be able to KC on reaction to an early jump, that happened right as you pressed the fireball button.
- Create a mixup: Probably Vlad’s best utility for a KC. The slow projectile will keep the opponent blocking and prevent the option of a dragon punch. Now Vlad is free to jump in and mix between j.H flight j.H and j.H land crouching L, as I’ve mentioned already in the mixup section.
- Enhance an existing mixup. Remember how I said that some mixups have a high damage option and a low damage one? You can use resources to increase the damage of the weaker option, usually a throw. If the opponent knows you can cancel the throw into ⅓ life via KCs and supers, he/she will be more afraid of it, which will allow you to hit with the other option more often.
- Instead of using supers in combos, use their invincibility frames as a threat: Vlad’s can anti-air better than his DP, which will make opponents afraid of jumping at hit. Daunltess can pass through fireballs on reaction, which will prevent the opponent from throwing fireballs at her. (Just be careful of KC’ed fireballs as bait!)
That’s all I can think of right now. Did I forget anything? Is something still unclear? Please let me know.