Dead or Alive 6: Tips and advice for beginners

Dead or Alive has never been the most complex fighting game out there. All of its mechanics are based on a very simple rock-paper-scissors system of strikes, throws, and holds. However, underneath this simplicity lies a surprisingly deep game that can be intimidating for beginners.

That’s why we put together this guide. These simple tips can get you out of the newbie swamp and into competitive ranks.

Find your character’s jabs

When I say jab, I’m not talking about a punch, I’m talking about whatever move your character has that has the shortest start-up time. Find a high, low, mid, and throw with the shortest start-up time; these will be your tools in neutral. If you and your opponent are just starting at each other, you want to throw out moves that are hard to counter.

Usually, moves with the shortest start-up time also have the shortest cool-down time, but double check just to be sure. Your moves with the shortest cool-down time will be the best to throw out when your opponent is on defense. Keep these in your mind as well.

How do you figure this all out? If you go into training mode, you can turn on frame data and it will show you just how much startup and cooldown all of your moves have. You won’t have to look through your whole move-list though, as most jabs have very basic inputs.

Find your character’s critical and fatal stun moves

Critical and fatal stun are the backbone of the combo system in DOA6. Landing a move that puts your opponent into one of these special types of stun increases the hit-stun of every subsequent move, making it very easy to land practically any string you want.

However, take note of two things-

  1. Your opponent can still try to use holds and counter you while in critical stun. In fatal stun, they can only spend meter on break holds.
  2. A stun meter will show up on your opponent’s health bar after you put them into stun. If you do enough damage to deplete the meter, then your opponent is knocked down and the combo ends.

In general, the flow of battle starts by having characters trade jabs until one puts themselves into a position to get hit by a stunning move.

That’s when the combo game starts.

Find your character’s launchers

If all you ever did was pummel your opponent until their stun bar runs out, you are going to be doing pitiful damage. Instead, when the stun bar is just about to run out, hit them with a launcher.

A launcher, for the new and unexperienced, is a move that knocks the opponent into the air, ready to be hit by further strikes. DOA6 uses a system called “gravity scaling” that makes them fall faster after every subsequent hit. However, they usually get enough airtime to get one or two strings in.

So the basic combo structure is this: stunning starter – filler string – launcher – filler string – ender.

What’s an ender you may ask? Well an ender can be anything really, but in general you want to use whatever move will do the most damage. You also might want to use moves that take advantage of the environment, or that put your opponent into particularly advantageous hit-states.

Take character weights into account

Not every character is affected by gravity scaling the same way. Lighter characters can be hit with longer launcher combos, while heavier characters tend to fall out of prolonged strings. This is a balancing mechanic that makes it so that bigger and slower characters aren’t punished as hard, since they are easier to punish. In general, you want to have bread and butter combos that work on everyone, mid weights, and light weights at your disposal.

Understand your character’s counter properties

Certain moves produce stun effects or other special effects when countering an opponent’s moves. Take special note of these moves, as these tend to be good choices for when your opponent is throwing out slow and easy to stuff attacks. Even when playing the jab game, it’s easy to overextend yourself, and hitting with a special counter move at that time will usually lead into huge combo damage.

Don’t mash your holds

The hold button isn’t a get out of jail free card. Holds have very specific frames of activation, like any other move. Think of them like parries; you need to have good timing in order to pull them off. If you just mash at them, your opponent will be able to stagger their moves such that they counter-hit you in your hold’s recovery frames, locking you in a spiral of death that will eventually kill you.

Save your big throws for hold counters

In neutral, the best throw you are going to get is a basic throw. Special throws are just too slow to start-up in order to reliably hit without getting punched in the face for it. However, if your opponent is hold mashing and attempting to counter your strikes, bust out the big throws. Their hold recovery will be too much to avoid it, and you can easily do half a life-bar of damage if you land these throws as counters.

Sometimes the best thing to do is wait

Sometimes the best thing to do is press no buttons at all.

Let’s look at an example. Say you are consistently being countered by your opponent’s holds after you put them into stun. Just wait a second and their hold will whiff, allowing you to get a free punish for massive damage.

Or maybe it’s the other way around. You know your opponent is going to wait and attempt to punish, so you wait instead and simply fall out of their hit string, ready to block and counter attack.

Vary your wakeups

You have a lot of wakeup options in DOA6. You can roll forward, backward, side to side, get up on the spot, delay your wakeup, or even wakeup with semi invulnerable attacks. Simply put, use them all. Even using them at random is better than mashing buttons and doing the same thing every time. This is a one way trip to getting punished by a smart opponent. However, if you really want to level up your game, think about what your opponent is going to do and wake-up in a way that beats them. If they are going to throw out a meaty attack or throw, use a wake-up attack. If they are going to try and out space you, roll in a way that puts you in an advantageous position.

Don’t spam fatal rush

Fatal Rush is kind of the “auto combo” mechanic in DOA6, but it’s much less useful than other auto-combos. About the only time you want to use it in its entirely is when you are trying to build meter. Otherwise, it does awful damage, ,and it starts up with an incredibly vulnerable attack.

That’s not to say you should ignore the Fatal Rush button, however. Its first move is always a fatal counter, which is a perfectly fine punish to use when your opponent is being sloppy. Also, break holds are the best defensive tool in the game and they are activated by the fatal rush button as well.

When countering multi-part throws and holds, don’t look at the character, look at the U.I.

Some characters are capable of doing combo throws and holds, moves with multiple parts to them that deal an extreme amount of damage if they hit in their entirety. Of course, these moves come with a bit of risk-reward play, as they can be escaped if the opponent has good timing, ending your momentum and resetting both characters to neutral.

If you are finding that you are having problems countering these multi-part throws, you might be looking in the wrong place. The specific timing window for countering multi-part holds and throws is the moment when the words “combo throw” or “combo hold” show up on the screen. This is usually completely different from when the throw animation actually executes. So, if you find yourself getting hit by these moves, stare at the U.I. not the character.

It’s also worth noting that you cannot mash buttons to escape. If you mash the throw button when attempting to escape a combo throw, the game simply will not register your input. Hit it once, and only once with good timing, otherwise you are going to eat a lot of damage.

Understand the difference between 2D and 3D high-mid-low systems

This is more of a general tip, but it will help out anyone who is used to 2D fighters.

In 2D fighters (in general), high attacks have to be blocked standing, mid attacks can be blocked standing or crouching, and low attacks have to be blocked crouching.

3D fighters are TOTALLY DIFFERENT!

In 3D fighters (usually) high attacks can be blocked in any position, and can also be avoided by ducking. Mid attacks can only be blocked while standing, and low attacks can only be blocked while crouching.

It’s an important difference, but a difference worth keeping in mind if you find yourself getting hit out of blocks by mid attacks. In general, the default blocking position in 2D games is crouching, (changing to standing when you see a high attack coming) while the default blocking position in 3D games is standing (changing to crouching when you see a low attack coming.)

Use the hold button to cancel your input buffer

“Don’t mash” is a pretty universal piece of fighting game info, but it’s doubly important for DOA6. This game’s input buffer is obscenely long, and mashing will cause you to execute strings you never wanted to execute.

Luckily, there is actually a safety button: the hold button. Pressing the hold button will immediately clear the input buffer. In lay-man’s terms, this will ensure that your character stops attacking after whatever move they are currently executing. This will allow you to execute combos with accuracy if your fingers are a little overzealous.

Offensive holds are some of the best moves in the game at low levels

What is an offensive hold? It’s an attack that counters strikes, but actively attacks the opponent at the same time. These attacks are usually quite slow, and are reserved for grappler characters. However, they are some of the best moves to use at low level play.

Why? Well many players at low levels simply mash out attack strings and offensive holds will blow right through them. However, they will also still hit if they do nothing, or block. They have to actively dodge or counter with a throw and this is not immediately apparent.

Note, as you get better this will work less and less. It is specifically a noob killing strategy, but it will aid you in climbing your first few ranks.