An Overview of Basic Game Principles, and General Beginner Tips, (Version 2.0) (2/3/2016)
First off, let’s give off some very needed context about Ultimate Ninja Storm 4.
Revolution, the UNS game that released before 4, introduced a TON of changes to the system mechanics that changed a lot about the meta. This change was mostly represented by the introduction of “Drive Types”, ala CvS2 Groove Selections. In previous games, these three Drive Types were benefits that were available to every single character in the game. There was no need to select between these “grooves” and formulate your playstyle accordingly. In Revolution, they changed how you would need to approach certain matchups, and it also changed a lot of people’s opinions on characters and their viability in terms of balancing. In addition, and probably inadvertently on CC2’s part, these grooves also added a unique sense of depth and uniqueness to each character as an individual. A parry system was also introduced into the game.
All of these changes have been removed in Storm 4.
Well, let me put it a little more accurately. All these changes that Revolution brought forth, have been abandoned or changed in favor of the traditional system mechanics that the past games had followed. This is huge because now instead of choosing a groove and being stuck with a select amount of benefits throughout the fight, every character can take full advantage of every Drive Type advantage at once. That means everyone can use Supers, everyone can use an Awakening, and everyone can use their assist characters in a multitude of ways. Don’t worry, I’ll go into the specific aspects and benefits of Drive Abilities (supers, Awakenings, Assist Types, ect ect), but first it’s important we establish what a UNS game actually is.
So. What The Fuck Is Ultimate Ninja Storm, Exactly?
When you’re first getting into a UNS game, something you have to keep in mind is that it doesn’t work like any other fighter in existence. Sure, there’s a lot of common fighting-game knowledge you can apply here and there that applies to dozens of other games, but for the most part you’re going to have to abandon the norms and get into the mindset this game wants you to operate under.
This game is 40% Yomi, and 60% high-speed resource management. Let me explain what I mean by these two things, because they are the two most important and basic factors to understanding how this game’s meta works.
When I say resource management, it’s actually a lot more literal than you’d think. Think about it. When you fight in this game, what are you doing? Trying to get off one frame links? FADC combos? Roman cancels? No, you are trying to outsmart your opponent at lightening quick speeds by forcing them to make bad decisions and use up THEIR resources while at the same time conserving as much of YOUR resources as you possibly can. The lack of a deep and complicated execution barrier boils the game down to this basic principle. You want to make sure your opponent can’t sub out of your attacks, and you want to be able to keep them on their toes while also intelligently making use of your own subs.
Yomi, which is the art of mind games and trying to be two steps ahead of your opponent, is where this game really shines though. This is where the newcomers are REALLY separated from those who actually understand how these games work. Have you ever watched someone who understands the game on a very intimate level fight someone who knows next to nothing about how the game’s meta works? You can learn 100% combos, have the best reaction time and the most incredible strategies in the world…but it simply won’t matter against someone who has better Yomi than you do because they can break your playstyle down and destroy you like it’s nothing. It’s not because they necessarily have better execution than you, or because the important mechanics of the game are hidden behind an execution barrier, or because they’re picking top tier.
This game is a true test of your understanding of its meta and underlying mechanics, vs another’s understanding. And in my honest opinion, that’s really what more fighters should place the focus on. Not to say execution-heavy games are bad or not fun, but there’s an extent. Things like FADC combos and Roman Cancels are simply unnecessary.
But, I digress.
Now that (I hope) I’ve given you some insight towards the basic principles of the game, I’ll get into some more tangible stuff. General beginner tips regarding the cast, mechanics, and so on and so forth.
-Chakra dashing is literally one of your most important and crucial tools. You NEED to learn how it works, where it doesn’t work and what it’s for. Surely, you’ve noticed the most common and useful function it serves is to put your opponent in hitstun after they sub one of your attacks, which you then lead into some form of attack. How you attack at this point is really just dependent on the situation, but know that you have so many options that vary from character to character. Some people like to go into a grab, some have jutsu’s that are fast and safe enough to be used, some can even get their tilt attacks out. But the most common response at this point in an attack is to just lead into a B/Circle (depending on which console you’re playing) combo and then rinse and repeat.
-Chakra dashing is also usually how you’re going to be maximizing your damage potential, seeing as how it’s virtually your sole means of cancelling an attack. Learn your character to see how exactly their various combos work (there are Up, Down and Side combos. So three for every character) and when you should be chakra cancelling during said combo
-Pick assists with synergy. You’ll have to just experiment yourself to see who works well with who.
-Study your character’s tilt attacks. These are performed by flicking the left stick and then following up instantly with B or Circle. Every single character has a unique tilt, and some of them are even immensely useful (i.e, Itachi’s, Minato’s, Kabuto’s, EMS Sasuke…) and can often be combo’d into.
-Learn what jutsu’s beat out what jutsu’s. One big rule of thumb is that if a jutsu that uses your own body as a part of the attack (i.e, Naruto’s Rasengan) goes up against a jutsu which is more projectile-like (i.e., Sasuke’s Ametarasu) then Naruto would lose out and eat huge damage in that scenario. It takes a little while to learn what jutsu everyone uses, but eventually it just starts becoming a matter of common sense. Keep in mind as well: in Storm 4, jutsu’s can also change and become more powerful depending on the environment they’re performed in. i.e, if Zabuza uses Water Dragon Jutsu while standing in a puddle, it will increase in damage and ferocity. Some moves now also apply burning and lightning effects, which apply damage over time.
-Parries are no longer a mechanic like they were in Revolution, meaning you can plan a lot more powerful of an offense on average. Parries now cause knockback instead of stun, so shield breaking becomes a lot easier now that this mechanic has been altered, which forces you to be smart while blocking while also allowing a player on the offense to apply more consistent pressure, as it should be. No longer do you have to worry about dashing into 10 seconds of stun, or getting punished for attacking while your opponent is sitting in neutral stance.
-Instead of one battle to decide the winner, matches are now done in a “Best of 3” format similar to Vampire Savior or Killer Instinct. If you lose the first round, you will gain your second round of health and the opponent’s health will remain the same as it was last round until defeated. Whether or not you find this change to be good or bad, it undeniably allows both players a lot more leg room when trying to figure out their opponents. The first round is used to feel each other out, the middle round lets players make changes accordingly, and the final round allows for a climatic clash of two players who have hopefully by now adapted to each other’s tricks. Utilize this change, because it’s important. No longer will your opponent’s strategy be a mystery to you until it’s already too late: you now have a chance to get the runback and apply the things you’ve learned in a separate round.
Now, for a detailed breakdown of the more intimate mechanics in the game. Let’s start with this game’s equivalent to Supers/Ultras.
This ability allows your character (or team, if in Team Battles) to do a “Secret Technique Attack”, which is basically an extremely damaging super at the trade-off of usually being fairly easy to avoid. In Revolution, these attacks received a universal damage nerf because they were so easy to land on the opponent. This has changed now, and while the damage isn’t as extensive as it was in say UNS3 or 2 it does a lot closer to the amount that it did in those previous games. It’s also important to note that some teams have unique Team Ultimate Jutsu’s which change the animations entirely. Study which teams work together to see how they differ. Learn how to combo into your character’s super as well; it’ll be important to know once your opponent is out of subs because you can land MASSIVE damage.
These allow your character to switch between two forms, sometimes changing their moves but always giving them a speed and strength boost. It’s similar to Street Fighter V’s V-Trigger Mechanic, but with much more devastating and lasting effects. Your opponents should be scared to block your combos because you do a massively increased amount of shield damage. Take advantage of this. Awakenings usually last no longer than 20 seconds or so. You have to learn to optimize your damage output and apply as much pressure as humanly possible to give you the biggest edge over your opponent. Usually, when a character awakens, they also gain access to specific “Awakening Abilities” that normally aren’t available to them, but are very powerful. These actions used to be mapped to L1/R1 (or Right Bumper and Left Bumper if you’re on Xbox) but are now mapped to the 4-way D-Pad icon that is usually reserved for ninja items.
It is also important to note that many Awakenings increase the player’s size, which might sound like a good thing, but can often end up backfiring against the player. Especially if you’re low on subs. Often times, characters have fast and rapid attacks that will still put you in hitstun even if your Awakening makes you larger. This means that you are simply a bigger target for the other player to hit, and if they can get you down to zero subs while in this form you might as well kiss a large portion of your health goodbye. Learn the startup frames for your character’s normals in Awakening Mode and it’ll go a long way.
*** Support Types***
Oh boy. This has undergone some major changes.
Support types, which dictate the actions and purpose of an assist character in battle, have been changed completely and now work differently than they have in any other UNS game. Previously, you would be forced to pick between three types: Guard, Attack, and Balance. Assists would behave according to the type of Support you chose. Their names should be self-explanatory in itself, with Balance being a combination of the first two.
Now, every single character you can pick as an assist has a specific function in battle. You can tell by looking at the icon placed on them when selecting all of your characters. These are the various effects your assists can have:
Strikeback: after knock back, opponent bounces back before your feet, allows you to extend your combo or UJ.
Cover Fire: if you use chakra shuriken, your support will too
Carge Assist: Allows you to charge chakra faster
Break Guard: Support assist you with combos while attacking
Charge Guard: Support covers you while charging chakra
Secret Technique Substitute: Support will take a super for you, if it would have hit you
Dash Cut: Support will cover you, when the opponent dashes at you
You will need to study these abilities in battle and find out what works best for your team’s synergy. I actually like this change because it makes every assist feel more unique than they already did, and now choosing assist character will require careful calculation to get EXACTLY what you want out of your team. You not only have to take into consideration the move your assist will perform when you call them out, but also how their Support Ability will benefit you and if it even will benefit your team’s playstyle.
For instance. You want to play keepaway? It probably wouldn’t hurt to have a Charge Guard or ST Substitute assist on your team. You wanna play super offensively and apply constant pressure? It’d be a good idea to take along a Break Guard type character so they can add damage onto your combos. So on and so forth. It will probably take a lot of experimentation and ass kickings before you find a team you really like. The trial and error is necessary though, and is also part of the fun.
That’s a good portion of the basics, off the top of my head. I can’t really think of anything else I really need to go over at the moment. Simply playing and learning how shit works is gonna be the biggest part of leveling up in this game. Just be ready to accept defeat fairly often when you’re first starting out, it’s all a part of the process. Learn from mistakes and start understanding why the shit that happens, happens. It all starts molding together and becoming easier to comprehend the more you see different things happen.
In regards to the character breakdown videos below, I will be testing the characters individually once the game releases to see if the information within them is still accurate. If a character hasn’t received changes in Storm 4 that makes their corresponding video inaccurate, then I won’t remove it. If the information happens to be outdated, the video will be removed and replaced with an updated version ASAP.
Character Breakdown Videos, by Character
Edo Tensei Minato
(NEW) EMS Sasuke
Chakra Cloak Naruto
Four Edo Kages