Top 10 Best Ways for How to Get Better at Fighting Games

Despite its longevity, many gamers struggle with the basics of fighting games. Let’s learn how to improve!

Image via Netherrealm Studios

Since the 80s, fighting games have been around to give players everywhere a swift kick in the butt. Despite its longevity, many are still using the tried-and-true button-mashing technique to overcome the lack of fundamentals that are required to compete at higher levels. Even now, game developers are trying to find ways to teach newer players the basics.

Know that the road to improvement is difficult, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes. You won’t be winning Evo or other big tournaments, but you can definitely improve enough to beat your friends and local tournaments. Some mechanics and executions are based more on natural reflexes and reactions, so don’t be discouraged if you meet someone better than you. The objective should always be to have fun! Here are some tips to help you improve your skills at fighting games.

Related: Top 10 Best 3D Fighting Games of All Time

1. Learn the Buttons

Image via Arc System Works

This point may seem like a simple request, but writing it is easier than understanding and mastering it. Fighting games are a lot like rhythm games. What you press is not as important as when you press it, meaning, getting the timing right is crucial if you want all your attacks to come out when you want them to. The main idea is to go not too fast and not too slow, so a good way to learn this is to count in your head the amount of time it takes for your character to reset after each action.

2. Learn How to Utilize Distance

Image via Capcom

Similar to real life, the closer you are to your opponent, the easier it is to hit and be hit. This method can, of course, work against you if you’re not careful. Learn the range of your chosen fighter so that you can think through your engagements rather than relying on blind luck. For example, a character like Dhalsim from Street Fighter has nearly unlimited range with his stretchy arms, while someone like Bullet from Blazblue has a shorter range as she likes to invade her opponent’s personal space. Another thing to note is that some grabs are good at creating space, so make sure you get comfortable using them.

Related: Tekken 7 Tier List – The best characters in Tekken 7

3. Get Familiar With Special Attacks

Image via SNK

Special moves are probably the coolest part of fighting games if you ask the average fan. For actual gameplay, it’s much more complicated than busting out cool moves and neat tricks. Each special move has a utility that’s useful in battle, for example, Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury uses his power wave attack to control range and manipulate his opponent into moving into a position that’s advantageous for him. You must learn the special moves for each character, even if you’re not playing them, so you can know how to counter them.

4. Understand Which Playstyle Suits You

Image via Red Venom Corp.

We’ve all been there before, the character select screen pops up, a bunch of unfamiliar faces pop up, and you’re scrambling around for whoever looks the coolest. While this is cool for the first few times, after a while, the inner voice in your head will likely tell you to settle down with the one you’re good at. You should listen to that voice in your head, as picking one or two characters to focus on is crucial to learning the game properly. Some characters are grabby, while others do most of their damage from a distance, but the one that suits your tastes is one you should stick with until you learn enough to decide if they’re still for you.

5. Don’t Focus on the Big Combos

Image via DashFight

To keep this topic brief, combos are the lifeblood of modern fighting games. With that said, long combos are not necessary for high-level play. Long combos can be detrimental if used recklessly because your opponent can and likely will interrupt them before they can get going. Instead, focus on things that work and quickly get back on defense.

6. Do Focus on Basic Combos

Image via DashFight

There are many ways to do damage in fighting games, but the bread-and-butter method that you should aspire to is basic combos. For example, Blanka from Street Fighter has access to a simple combo that requires only three face buttons. This type of combo is important for doing consistent damage, and the more combos you save in the memory banks, the easier it becomes. Finding these simple combos can be a pain, but the reward is well worth it.

7. Pay Attention to Your Life Bar

Image via Atlus

This title may seem like a “duh” statement, but you’d be surprised about the difference in tactics whenever you or your opponent are low on health. For example, you may be rushing down your opponents, pressing buttons frantically, and trying to intimidate them with constant attacks, but then you realize that they’re picking you apart slowly in the process. This situation can be a life-altering moment where you realize that the smart plan may be to hold back a little and pick them off instead. There’s no telling how many times even experienced players have fallen prey to aggressive play.

8. Learn How to Defend Yourself

Image via Bandai Namco

It took a long time to get to this point, but make no mistake, defense wins fights and potentially championships. The objective of fighting games is to deplete the life bar of the opponent before they do the same to you. One of the best ways to prevent that is to block your opponent’s attacks while creating openings to counterattack. Be careful, some games have chip damage, and almost all of them have grabs that can take you out of your defensive shell while doing big damage.

9. Learn the Rules for Each Game

Image via Capcom

While the basics for each fighting game are similar, some titles put their spin on the genre by adding certain gimmicks and features that shake up things. A game like Marvel vs. Capcom has multiple playable characters that players can control in battle, so it’s important to learn mechanics like switching characters. It can be chaotic to see characters flying around on the screen at a breakneck pace, but the more you know about the game’s rules, the better prepared you’ll be.

10. Keep Grinding But Have Fun

Image via Netherrealm Studios

It’s a bit cliche, but it’s important to remember why many of us play games, and that’s to have fun. It’s a long road for those who are looking to improve, but it should never be boring or overly frustrating. If it ever gets to that point where it’s unbearable, you should try putting the game down for a minute. It’s crucial to give yourself time, so rest up, pull out your phone or laptop, and look up some gaming news to keep yourself in the know for future guides.