How to get into fighting games?

  • It's that time of the year again, in the post EVO cooldown where I feel a spark in my heart to try and enter the esteemed world of fighting games, before realising I have less a mountain to climb and more a brick wall to bust through. I feel very intimidated by both the learning curve and the scene at large. I don't really know where to start. Everytime I begin to try and learn, I get caught up and frustrated with being unable to execute the simplest of moves and combo strings, and in the back of my mind I get flooded with thinking about how I'll even begin to execute upon these if I ever get round to finally being able to do inputs properly.

    I think a large part of the fear is that I didn't really grow up with a local fighting scene. I've lived out in the burbs of South England away from city life most of my 24 years on this planet. None of my friends past and present are into fighting games at all so I don't really have any beginner sparring partners that could help ease me into things.

    So I figured I'd ask the nice folks here at EZA if they have any pointers or suggestions on how to get over this, in my mind, immense hurdle holding me back from a genre that I think I would really enjoy.

  • Reading that brings me back to playing FIFA with friends and then feeling super confident to go out and kick a ball around. We are Canadian so you can imagine how that went. Similarly, try to remember you were watching the absolute best of the best this weekend so don't expect to be doing what they were doing.

    Anyways, I would like to preface by saying I do play a lot of fighting games but I am absolute trash. This could be a help though as I find stronger players tend to talk over beginners' heads when they ask for help. Some of the things I will recommend may seem like baby talk so I apologize if that's the case but a few recommendations:

    1. Try to pick one game to learn first. This is because all fighting games (even those from the same series) have their own unique rules and things you can/can't or should/shouldn't do. I can't believe I'm saying this but Street Fighter V might be a good place to start. The combos are easier than most games, gameplay is not super high-paced, tutorials are readily available everywhere and you will always havenew tournament footage of different ways to use your main.

    2. Try to pick a main. This doesn't mean don't ever play another character but just try to find one character you enjoy and learn as many reasons to play them as possible (lore, look, attitude, voice actor etc). For example, former Evo champion Luffy played Rose in Street Fighter 4 because she had large breasts, Ricky Ortiz played Rufus because he was adorable and Xiao Hai played Yun, Evil Ryu and Cammy because he's a tier whore. Everybody usually recommends Ryu and for good reason but if you don't enjoy him, don't play him.

    3. Learn your main. Whichever character you choose, go to training mode and start with normals (kicks and punches). See what every kick and punch looks like standing and crouching. It sounds so basic and dumb but in SFV, for example, maybe you start with Akuma. You try his normals and realize they all don't go very far. And maybe you're not comfortable with that. Then go into the Command List and try to do every move in there, including command normals, throws, special moves, v-skill and critical art (I would leave V-Trigger alone for now). When you do these moves, try to think about what you can use them for. Let's take Ryu's most famous move - hadouken. The most obvious property is that it can hurt somebody far away without the risk of moving your character closer BUT if you are standing full screen, what are the odds that somebody is going to actually get hit by it? So what else can you use it for? Well if I throw it full screen, the other player now has to do something about it (jump, block, throw their own fireball etc) and if I know what they're going to do, I might be able to take advantage of it and score some major damage.

    4. Start doing combos but think of it like learning a language. That sounds super vikram yoga avocado toast candle making class but what I mean is start with the first part and don't move to the second until you know you can do the first. Back to Ryu, an easier combo into his critical art is crouching medium kick, hadouken, critical art. So we need to press down+mk > down, down-forward, forward, punch > down, down-forward, forward, down, down-forward, forward punch - right? So first, let's start with hitting the down+mk and trying to see what distances it reaches the opponent from and which it misses from. Now we need to add the down, down-forward, forward BUT we have already pressed the "down" to do the crouching mk so we only need to roll to down-forward, forward and press punch. You don't need to wait for the kick to hit, just do one smooth motion of down+mk > down-forward, forward punch. Keep trying that until you get it every time. Then we need to add the critical art. Again, it looks like we need to do down+mk > down, down-forward, forward punch > down, down-forward, forward, down, down-forward, forward+punch BUT the first hadouken already did one down, down-forward, forward motion so we only need to do one more plus punch to get the critical art. So we go down+mk > down, down-forward, forward+punch > down, down-forward, forward+punch. Again, possibly baby talk but this building block method can be used to work up to all combos. Street Fighter V is super friendly with it's combos for the most part so it's mostly a matter of remembering the inputs and order.
      Down+mk (I)
      Down+ mk > hadouken (I like)
      Down+mk> hadouken > Critical Art ( I like tuna)

    5. Try not to mash out combos. SFV allows it for most combos but most other games do not and once you get used to mashing, it's a super hard habit to kick. If you get used to clean inputs in SFV, it will be infinitely easier to transition to other games with tighter input demands.

    6. Watch online tutorials. For Street Fighter, Bafael is usually pretty good.

    7. Go online and lose and be ok with it. Think about why you lost and what tools your character has that could have helped you win. If you think you lost because of one cheap move or a cheap character, play that character online and see how other people deal with that one cheap move/character. Or go into training mode, make a recording of that character doing the cheap stuff and fight the playback dummy until you figure it out.

    Sorry that was a lot and also not very much at the same time. If you have any more questions, let us all know!

  • @e_zed_eh_intern Thank you for the long and comprehensive breakdown. I was worried people were just gonna respond with "practice in the lab then go online" and that's about it. You mentioned Ryu for SF but I think I find him too vanilla in most aspects to be wanting to start out with him.

    One of my largest problems right now is that I sometimes seem unable to pull off the inputs for certain moves and feel like the games aren't giving me the correct feedback to know what I am doing wrong, like I need a human perspective to be able to identify what I'm doing wrong. It doesn't help I get very confused over what move lists when when they use commas and pluses to indicate multiple presses. Does a comma mean a pause between inputs? Does a plus mean both buttons at the same time or the first button before the next button? It's stuff like this that just makes my head spin before I've even got to the point of actually getting into a match scenario. You talked about your description of combo breakdown being akin to baby talk, but to me it's like I've barely understood how to write the letters of the words, let along string entire words together, within your analogy.

  • @smoothrunes My pleasure!! Totally fair on the Ryu critique. What game/character are you interested in?

  • I always wonder the same thing. I just know that the answer is to stick to one game and master it and I just rarely can bring myself to do it anymore. I used to play SOCOM II online (PS2, Third-Person Tactical Shooter) and it has a HUGE learning curve. Hours until you get remotely good. Then every map played completely different and every game mode played completely differently, and even which team you were on played differently too.

    I put that game in my all time favourites because I took the time to master its systems until it finally clicked and I was sold on tactical shooters forever. Kinda like what E_Zed_Eh was saying about using a main, I'd mainly play two or three maps that I was very very strategic at.

    The reward is worth it - a genre you learn to love and great memories. But damn, the barrier of entry for fighting games is something I don't think I have in me at this time.

  • @e_zed_eh_intern For SFV, I'd probably go for Urien. I would go for Akuma but I bought SFV before AE was a mote in Ono's brain so I only have Season 1 characters.

    As for any other potential game, been thinking of getting into Tekken 7, but a person I asked about it said it was probably a bit too technical to be starting out with.

    DBFZ might be another one to look into getting. I think once Cooler drops I will be more inclined to try it out.

    Soul Calibur 6 is something I'd be interesting in trying to get in at on day 1 and figuring out stuff along with everyone else.

  • Pretty much what @E_Zed_Eh_Intern said, and you can usally find like Facebook groups for local groups or events in your area (helped me find a few)
    As for finding a game it will come down whatever strikes a cord with you, I remember when my local arcade was still a thing MvC1 got me hooked because it had Mega Man and X-Men, Tekken 3 because it was the only fighting game my cousin had for his PS1, SF3 for its Sprite work, Soul Caliber 2 for Link, and so on and so one. Another thing while not cheap is pick up a handful of games and give them a shot and see what clicks, I remember grabbing DOA2, and it's Hold system really convinced me to get future titles (Well ones that weren't Xbox exclusive) or picking up Def Jam as a blind rental.

  • Banned

    If you don't want to play Ryu, check out Ed. Most of his attacks are directionals, so for somebody who sucks at most traditional fighting games but is decent at Smash, the transition is a little easier and you can worry more about timing over complex execution.

  • Global Moderator

    @smoothrunes If you are interested, I got Tekken 7 and also based in southern UK. So if you want a sparring partner and someone to try out things with, give me a shout!

  • @lotias What platform do you got it on?

  • @smoothrunes Urien IS quite cool. Did you have any questions about him in particular? I would be glad to play online but, being a world apart, the connection may be awful. I have it on PS4.

  • @e_zed_eh_intern Don't think I have any questions about him really. As for playing, I suppose we could give it a go, though maybe another idea would be for me to stream my gameplay for you to watch and comment on what I'm doing wrong.

  • Global Moderator

    @smoothrunes oh yeah sorry, should of said! Im on PS4! (same name)

  • @lotias Ah, that's a shame since I was planning on getting it for PC.

  • @smoothrunes Don't think I can swing that. With a newborn around, I have very little in the way of free time and prefer to use what I have to play rather than watch. If you do come up with any questions about SF, don't hesitate to ask.

  • I'll co-sign everything e_zed offered you and add a couple pieces of advice of my own.

    After reading your introductory post I see some hesitation on your part over execution. You may want to look at 3D fighters like tekken and soul calibur over 2d like street fighter and dragon ball fighterz.

    The execution barrier is far less in 3D games, but there is always a character or 2 that have high execution so if you eventually do get a taste for that, it's still available.

    There is a lot more knowledge and memorization/move recognition in 3D fighters just because of the sheer number of moves available. While this feels daunting at first it really allows for individuality to shine through in ones play style.

    This also allows "bad matchups" to feel more manageable in 3D fighters because while they do exist they don't feel as daunting as 2d where character design and limited move selection really create some rough 8-2 scenarios.

    Like e_zed mentioned, learn to be ok with losing and try to identify why you lost. There is always something to be gained from a loss. Finding newer players who are just learning the game as well is a good tool to level up without feeling overwhelmed by a veteran.

    My expertise is soul calibur so when 6 drops if you have any interest let me know!

  • @kab Funnily enough I have been trying my luck at Tekken 7 for the past few days. Mixed results. I did quite well rising up the kyu ranks, but once I reached dan it was clear my opposition knew the game better than I did. Think it's going to take some time before I start turning Ls into Ws again.