As one of the biggest anime properties in recent years, odds are you’ve heard of Attack on Titan. But many of you likely just associate it with vague images of skinless giants and screaming teenagers with jetpacks, so here’s a brief explainer to help you not only adjust to the new game, but the concept as well.
Grasping the lore (sans spoilers)
In a world that's similar to our medieval era, Titans have mysteriously appeared. They’re essentially harbingers of the indomitable will of death, similar to zombies in many western tales. They attack and eat humans without any reason, terrifying people so badly that people built three giant walls to protect them, housing miniature cities inside.
For 100 years these walls held, until the Colossus Titan appeared (thus kicking off the current story). This gigantic creature that utterly destroyed the innermost wall. Forced to act, humanity calls upon the three branches of their military. That’s where the hero, Eren Yeager, his sister Mikasa as well as a whole host of other playable cast members come in.
The army has figured out a way to fight these beasts, by attacking their only weak spot — the napes of their neck — with blades, finesse and the Three Dimensional Maneuver Gear, which basically amounts to a jetpack with optional wires that act like Spider-Man’s webbing.
It’s all a little heady at first but that’s basically what the plot amounts to: figuring out where the Titans came from while trying to survive.
Before you even dive into Attack on Titan, be sure to go to the options menu and jack up the camera sensitivity. No joke: The camera can get a little out of control at times due to the nature of how wild the Three Dimensional Maneuver Gear can get, and you’ll need to manually manipulate it constantly to get a good angle on the action.
Master the claw
If you haven’t already, master the claw method of holding a controller.
First, place your middle finger (which is usually resting behind the controller) on the face buttons. Place your ring finger on the triggers as a substitute.
What you’ve just done is allowed yourself to simultaneously control the right analog stick (the camera) with your thumb, and the face buttons (most notably the square button, used for anchoring your Maneuver Gear) with your free fingers. Now you can swing around, attack Titans, and flip the viewpoint around.
Understanding the Three Dimensional Maneuver Gear
Remember, since Titans can only be taken down by attacking the nape of their neck, it’s imperative that you focus on this area when striking. Using the lock-on feature (R1) every time will alleviate a lot of headaches, and make sure you’re boosting towards (X) and anchoring onto (Square) their neck before you move in. Since you’re using the claw method you can swap targets on the fly (the right analog stick changes your target, including body parts, in lieu of controlling the camera while locked-on).
There are exceptions though. Abnormal Titans (bosses) and larger Titans, it’s wiser (and safer) to take out their legs first, as you don’t want to put yourself in a vulnerable position that often. If a Titan grabs you and you fail to escape with the subsequent button-mashing minigame, it’s an instant game over, so don’t take unnecessary risks with more formidable foes — slow and steady wins the race.
As a note, the taunt feature actually is more than just show, as it will anger a nearby Titan and cause it to attack you. Use this if you’re playing online and are going with a more agile build, allowing other players with a stronger Strength rating to do most of the work.
What stats should you focus on?
While it’s not the most complex game, changing up how you approach each stat in Attack on Titan can drastically alter how each character caters to your playstyle.
As the most straightforward stat in the game, strength influences how much damage you deal out. It’s arguably the most important value, because every mission no matter what the objective will involve killing Titans, which can be taken out instantly with one neck strike with a high enough strength value. Focus on this stat whenever possible.
Dexterity decreases the level of gas you’ll use while manipulating the Three Dimensional Maneuver Gear, which can come in handy on some of the more open-ended levels. Even if you’re relegated to using horses because of a lack of anchor points, it can be useful to have lots of gas to get out of a jam, as it takes precious seconds to use an item to recover it in battle. (That’s time you may not have if you’re under siege by a Titan.) Since you’re going to be using Three Dimensional Maneuver Gear quite a bit, elevating your dexterity level is always a great idea.
While it also influences the amount of gas you consume, concentration also increases the amount of Focus Time you have.
This is basically a last-ditch mechanic that’s triggered when your character is in a near-death state and struck by a Titan. Concentration amounts to a get out of jail free card that slows time down to a crawl so that you can survive and get on with the mission.
If you aren’t dying often, don’t focus on concentration. In fact, focusing on other stats can help you die less, as you’ll inherently have higher base attack and defense values spreading your points elsewhere.
Whereas dexterity lets you jet around for longer periods of time, stamina governs how long you can actually stay tethered to one anchor point (like a Titan).
The catch is you can just re-anchor constantly, so as long as you’re boosting into a Titan and attacking while locked-on you shouldn’t have too much trouble with a limited window of opportunity.
Instead of increasing stamina, try to just practice your timing in Expedition Mode (the freeplay gametype).
As the second-most important stat next to strength, health serves two purposes.
- It allows you to take a bigger beating before you enter a near-death state, avoiding the entire Focus Time endeavour and letting players get on with the fight without having to take a breather.
- It increases your chances of escaping the grip of a Titan, which, as we talked about previously, spells instant death.
Along with boosting your ability to one-hit kill Titans, this is the next most important stat to increase.
Since this solely influences damage for AI team members, don’t invest in leadership if you’re a lone wolf type of player.
Think of teammates like a super move that you call upon every once in a while to make a certain fight easier by causing distractions or chipping away more damage.
If you’re having a lot of trouble during boss fights, it’s a good idea to try to pump up this stat. Otherwise, avoid leadership in favor of making other stats better. You are always going to be more effective than AI.
Earning the best rating
Attack on Titan has a very straightforward set of criteria for reaching the highest S ranking for more experience, but it's easy to forget all of the qualifiers in the heat of battle.
The first thing you're going to want to keep track of is time. While each mission is different, you generally don't want to waste time wandering about, mostly because the maps are more like arenas than open world exploration fests, so you won’t find a whole lot hidden about. Instead, focus on the mission at hand, and try to follow a straight line from objective to objective if you're going for an S rank.
With that in mind, there are a few other aspects that impact your rating.
For one, completing side missions (denoted by green gas ejected from flare guns) will help cement your mission category. You don't need to finish them all. Just to try to do at least two or three while you're moving about. To keep track of this, keep your eye on the minimap in the top right corner.
Finally, the "subjugations" section is straight-up "kills." You can pad this stat by taking down every small Titan (though roughly the size of your character) every chance you get. The reason for this is that if you get quick with the lock-on feature you can fling yourself toward an objective, quickly shift perspective to a small Titan, take him out in one fell swoop, and continue moving toward your goal.
Remember, speed is key, and creating a critical path to each objective is a great way to facilitate that mentality. Just don’t forget to cause some carnage on the way there.