Virtua Fighter 5 has been given a new lease on life with Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown, which recently launched on PS4 as part of either PlayStation Plus or PlayStation Now subscriptions. This puts the game into the hands of millions of players instantly, and millions of people who have never had to put their skills on the line in a competitive online fighting game.
Well the good news is that VF5’s netcode is broadly great, with my own experiences of losses I can blame on my connection being few and far between. This is a great place to jump in, and since it’s part of your PS+ subscription, there’s more reason than ever to give it a shot. Now all you need to do is learn how Virtua Fighter 5 works.
While the game will give you a basic tutorial, learning how a Virtua Fighter game works can feel like an uphill battle. In this guide we’re going to lay out some basic tips to help you adjust to a 3D fighter like VF5, and instruct you on how to start stringing together short combos that can carry you through the lower ranks in online play.
Your Three Buttons
Virtua Fighter 5 is a game that can be played with only three buttons, which might seem like it limits your options, but instead, it just makes it easier to understand and execute combos in. You have Punch (P), Kick (K), and Guard (G). I will not give you any advice on what each button does, because I’m hoping you will have already figured that out.
Having a block button makes this more similar to Soulcalibur than Tekken, but only having two attack buttons also makes the combo system more approachable. Now it’s just a case of pressing those buttons at the right time.
In the lower ranks of VF5 you are unlikely to find many players that are blocking, to be honestly. This might actually be more difficult to fight against than players who are going to stop pressing attack buttons constantly, but this is exactly why you need to learn to fend it all off.
Attacks in VF5 come in three varieties, High, Medium, and Low. While in Training Mode the game will tell you what type of hit each attack is. When an opponent is standing they cannot block a Low hit, but they will block all High and Medium attacks. Conversely, High attacks will never hit a Crouching opponent, Low hits will be blocked, and Medium hits will always make contact.
While blocking you will stand in place and not move. You essentially need to get a feel for when your opponent will use Low or Medium attacks, and block appropriately. If you want to sidestep an attack, you will need to let go of the Guard button. This means if you see an opponent is moving, they cannot be blocking.
If your opponent isn’t very good, they’ll likely be using a lot of High attacks, rarely going Low or throwing out Medium hits. You will be able to crouch under the attacks, and then counter while they’re whiffing (hitting the air).
Know Your Attacks
Yes, there are only two attack buttons, but there’s plenty of depth hidden behind them. You should start by getting used to what each button does in isolation. Try tapping the button multiple times, try pressing it while crouching, try pressing it while holding the stick in any of the eight cardinal directions, and then try pressing it while hitting a direction at the same time, which can often result in an entirely new move. Finally, press both buttons at the same time while experimenting with directions.
All of this can produce unique moves, and you will want to adjust to them quickly. Once you’ve learned a few basics, decent moves which hit Low and Medium, it’s time to find some slightly more effective and lengthy combos. Every character in the game has unique combos and framedata which mean it’s impossible to sum it up in a single paragraph, but for a good example we’ll focus on Lau, who has excellent scrub-killing tactics that can carry you through the low ranks as you learn the fundamentals of the game.
Focusing on Lau exclusively, we can see how combos are formed in VF5. A perfect example is a simple jump in combo which can be performed repeatedly, and even carries the opponent a bit, allowing you to push opponents closer to a Ring Out.
Here’s how to combo is performed:
- Up-forward Kick
- Punch (up to three times)
- Crouch Kick
It’s as simple as that. The first attack will send Lau spinning forward into the air, and will hit any enemy in the way as a Medium, hitting even Crouched and blocking opponents. This will send them into the air somewhat, and a quick burst of punches will strike them. As soon as your punches are finished, press your stick low and hit Kick for a final sweep, knocking the opponent to the ground.
Pretty much every character will have a combo that is similar to this, allowing you to quickly string low and high punches and kicks together rapidly. Try a variety of combinations with your chosen character in Training Mode, and keep an eye on how high the hit counter goes to find true combos.
Getting Up Off The Ground
In 3D fighting games, getting up off the ground is surprisingly complicated. Sure you can just get up, but you can also roll in a direction, or attack while getting back on your feet. In VF5 you have two get up attacks, and a variety of rolls, depending on how you landed.
If you just want to get back on your feet, you should hit your G button immediately. To roll with it, you should press G and a direction but be warned that the directions you can easily roll in are limited by the position you landed in. Your character can easily roll forward, back, and to their side, but which direction is that in, considering where they landed? Small things like this can hamper your efforts.
You can also Kick back opponents on get up, punishing enemies that are sticking too close without blocking. Pressing K on wake up will have you delivering a High kick, which has decent range and can keep back enemies. Pressing K and holding down will deliver a Low kick, which will hit opponents moving to the sides more effectively, but also has a more shallow range. In the low ranks you can abuse get-up kicks for great success, but in the higher ranks players will work around your wake ups and factor it into your gameplan. A get-up attack can leave you wide open for a whiff punish, so be careful, depending on who you’re fighting against.
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