Contrary to most fighting games, the characters in Arms are not drastically different from each other. You won’t have to relearn your every move from zero just to try out a new character. Rather, each character has a few unique properties and abilities that might correspond to your style of play.
Don’t think of this as a “tier list,” power ranking or advice on who’s better than who. Rather than looking for the strongest character, think about the way you want to play the game and try and match a character (and weapon) to that.
A basic all-rounder character who’s straight down the middle in all respects. He can be adapted to just about any style of play, but his unique properties favor an aggressive slugger style of play.
First, Spring Man has a parry if you hold a charge for a short period of time. When the charge period ends, Spring Man will emit a burst of energy that will nullify any attacks. Like a parry in a traditional fighting game, this has to be very specifically timed against an attack you completely predicted. This gives Spring Man an intimidating approach: if your defense is predictable, he can dash in on you and shrug off your blows.
Second, Spring Man has a “rage mode” that activates when he’s low on life, similar to the one in Tekken. When he’s under 25 percent life, Spring Man’s weapons become permanently charged. The resulting damage boost and elemental powers make him very dangerous in this state.
Spring Man is for scrappers who want to get in close and aren’t concerned about taking a few hits to get there. Match his abilities up with medium-size weapons. A perfect match for the plain old boxing gloves (Toaster) that are in his default set.
The other all-rounder, Ribbon Girl is also right in the middle of the road in terms of speed. Contrary to Spring Man, though, Ribbon Girl’s abilities are all about aerial movement and evasion rather than brute force.
Ribbon Girl’s ability to jump multiple times (up to four) in the air and fall quickly to the ground defines her. This doesn’t sound remarkable at first glance, but it’s extremely powerful in that it allows her to move around in the air very safely compared to the rest of the cast. Most characters have one jump and one air dash during that jump, meaning that when they go airborne it’s not extremely hard to guess what they’re going to do.
However, when Ribbon Girl is in the air, she has tons of options and you can’t be sure what she’s going to do. She can jump repeatedly in any direction. If you throw a punch straight at her, it’ll be trivial for her to get out of the way and perhaps counter you.
When she decides to land, she will probably air dash and hold the dash button for her “fast-fall” ability. Most characters are very briefly open when they fall to the ground after an air dash, but Ribbon Girl’s fast-fall erases that opening. As such, she’s extremely difficult to catch.
To see this in action, take a look at the “advanced punches” tutorial in Training Mode: It involves trying to catch a computer-controlled Ribbon Girl who takes full advantage of her slippery evasive abilities.
It is hard to overstate how powerful Ribbon Girl’s ridiculous air and evasion abilities will be in a heavily defensive game like Arms. Take advantage of her evasive power, and pair Ribbon Girl up with fast weapons that will allow you to harass your opponent as you jump circles around them.
Another kind of slippery, evasive speed-based character. The first thing to take note of about Ninjara is his very fast walk speed. It’s really easy for him to get around the stage. In some cases, all he needs to do to evade punches is simply walk rather than dash.
The second point is, of course, his warp ability. When Ninjara air dashes, or when he successfully blocks an attack, he will disappear and teleport. Ninjara is great at punishing careless attackers with this ability.
However, the warp is not an unstoppable move. Ninjara is vulnerable immediately after a teleport, more than most characters are after their air dashes. If you can anticipate the teleport and wait for it to happen, you can hit him as he reappears. Given that his air dash is a teleport, he’s also even more vulnerable after air dashing than other characters.
As a particularly glaring example, Ninjara cannot block many Rush attacks. He will disappear and then reappear right into the flurry of fists.
Use Ninjara’s abilities to control position and constantly stay a step ahead of the opponent. Boomerangs and other long-range weapons are a good fit for this character.
The game’s biggest heavyweight character, Master Mummy has very little mobility and plays a slow, turtle-style game, waiting for the perfect moment to overwhelm you with a heavy strike.
His first passive ability is that, after he guards for a certain amount of time, he heals a tiny bit. This sounds like a very strong skill, but keep in mind that 10 HP is just one percent of a character’s total 1000 HP. You have to be clever and sneaky about using this. Use it when your opponent is down and can’t do anything about it. Don’t use it out of the blue: The time it takes to start healing from a guard is just enough time for the other player to figure out what you’re doing and punish it.
However, at long ranges, Mummy’s healing ability forces the opponent to try and run in on him. Use it to goad the enemy into approaching the range of your heavy weapons.
Also, Master Mummy’s sheer size allows him to take small hits without flinching. He will still take the damage — one effective strategy against Mummy is to chip away at his health with long-range weapons — but he won’t fall down. This means that you can force punches through in situations where smaller characters would get knocked over. Mummy is an intimidating presence who you can’t ignore when he gets in on you.
This, of course, makes heavy weapons like the default Megaton an excellent choice for him. Between his natural armor and the heft of the Megaton, Mummy can push through smaller opponents’ lesser punches with ease. Fighting as Master Mummy calls for the patience to let the opponent come to you, and fighting against Master Mummy is about not giving him what he wants and staying just out of his reach.
Finally, Master Mummy has the game’s highest throw damage at 200 HP.
Despite appearances and her reasonable speed, the ramen girl’s play style also lends itself to big, slow strikes. Min Min sets up opponents for big hits — like for example the dragon laser — that she will trick them into walking into.
When Min Min charges for a little longer than normal, or after she lands a throw, her left arm turns into a dragon. The dragon holds a charge for a long time, allowing you to fire multiple charged shots. This means you should pay particular attention to what weapon you equip on the left side. Big-hit weapons like the Dragon (surprise) are a good match for Min Min’s dragon arm because you can be a little less predictable with when you set up that charged shot.
Min Min’s air dash is a spinning kick that will deflect punches, so don’t bother trying to attack her during an air dash: Wait for just after instead.
An orthodox setup for this character would be a heavy weapon on the left side for big strikes and a light weapon on the right side so that she can still strike quickly when she needs to. Mix up your fast and slow strikes to mess up the opponent’s rhythm and set up that big hit.
The other heavy in the game, Mechanica rides in her homemade robot, reminiscent of Tron Bonne from Mega Man Legends and Marvel vs. Capcom.
Like Mummy, Mechanica will not flinch from lighter hits, but her tolerance is a little lower than his.
In exchange, Mechanica gets the mobility options that Mummy entirely lacks, particularly her unique flight mode. Jump and hold the jump button to continue hovering in whatever direction you first jumped. You can get a wide range of flight speeds depending on your movement right before the jump. During this drift, you can air dash out in any other direction you like. This allows Mechanica to approach and to retreat very quickly at very unusual angles. At this early stage in the game, players are overlooking this movement, but we believe it may come to define the character.
Combine these abilities, and you have a character who can fly in and attack at strange angles, shrugging off stray bullets, as well as escape quickly. A guerilla war play style — moving in fast, striking, and retreating — might work out for Mechanica. Plowing through with heavy weapons is one way to run Mechanica, or she can take advantage of her mobility and use missiles and explosives from afar.
Twintelle is the character we personally put in the most time with and took into ranked matches. Named for her twintail hairstyle, she’s an average all-rounder character who works well with any game plan.
Twintelle has a unique charge mode: If you hold down a charge, a field of flowers grows around her, slowing down but not deflecting incoming punches and throws in a “bullet time” state. However, it doesn’t stop them: You need to react appropriately and shut the move down with a punch or dodge of your own or they will still hit you.
If an opponent attacks you while you’re in this state, it’s trivial to react and counter, so don’t bother attacking Twintelle when she’s in this mode. If she opts to do this over and over again, Twintelle can be very annoying. But at the same time, the worst thing for Twintelle in this situation is actually that the opponent does nothing. The field wears off eventually by itself, and opponents can use the opening to attack.
Holding down her dash in the air starts an extra-wide dash and also allows Twintelle to charge in mid-air. As on the ground, you can hold dash down and hover with her flower field in place. This is highly vulnerable, even more than the regular charge.
It’s easy for Twintelle to charge up, and she can dictate the flow of the fight with her flower field. However, just like with other similar tricks in this game, she’s vulnerable as soon as it stops. Don’t rely on this one ability. Mix it up with regular charges and dashes, and use it to make sure the opponent is never quite sure when you’re going to attack, or whether it’s OK to attack you.
Byte And Barq
Byte has no special properties of his own: It’s actually all about his interactions with his buddy Barq. (A lot of what we learned about Byte and Barq comes from this excellent tutorial video.) Barq leads in front of Byte and supports him depending on what Byte does. If Byte blocks, Barq stands in front of him. If he punches, Barq punches a second later.
Furthermore, Byte can hop off Barq like a trampoline, an action which deflects incoming attacks at the moment of contact and charges both characters. He has a surprising range of aerial options from this action, like varying the height of the jump or a fast dash off.
Barq also supplies a small measure of cover for Byte, but if he takes hits he’s out of action for a few seconds. When fighting Byte, you’ll probably want to take Barq down as soon as you can and take things from there. Playing as Byte, give Barq cover while letting him harass and distract the opponent. The key is to put your opponent in a position where they’re taking attacks from multiple confusing angles. Pack mid-range weapons that will do that for you.
A raw speed character for players who want to run circles around the opponent and annoy them first and foremost. To that effect, Cobra has an excellent jump. It’s fast, it’s low, and it covers a lot of space. Compared to the floaty, high jumps that the rest of the cast have, it’s much harder — but still possible — to punish.
Cobra’s regular dash is slow and weak, but if he charges up it becomes fast and wide, making him very strong at evasion in general.
You’re going to play a harassment game with this character. Because you can cover so much space at once with the jump, use it as your primary escape tool. If you hop away from your enemy safely, you’ll get a charge for the dash, which is even better for evasion than the jump is. You’ll constantly be slipping out of the enemy’s attacks, and eventually they’ll push too hard going after you. That’s the time to punish.
The snake is suited to swatting with weapons that cover a lot of space: Try boomerangs and whips.
Helix is the weirdo. In addition to being equipped with all of the weirdest weapons by default, Helix also has strange ways of moving around.
You can hold down both dash and jump for unique dodge moves that give Helix a lot of tricky evasion options. Holding dash will sink him into a puddle, evading many attacks that float above the ground like gloves or horizontal missiles. Holding down jump will stretch him upward like the balloon man outside of a used car dealership, allowing him to wobble from left to right to avoid attacks. (Of all the moves in the game, this is probably the most “I’m styling on you” thing you can do to someone.) Release the jump button and Helix will jump.
Of course, if you guess Helix’s dodges wrong, you’ll simply get hit. Due to his very specific mobility options, Helix feels like the game’s one “expert” character. It’s going to take a lot of work and an intimate understanding of the flight paths of other weapons to use him effectively.
We won’t get to go hands-on with the boss character Max Brass until he drops as free DLC in July, but we can make some assumptions from E3 videos and his appearance in Grand Prix mode. Max is a heavy who’s less mobile than Mechanica but a little faster than Mummy. He gets huge when he charges up, allowing him to take hits without flinching like Master Mummy can. Additionally, like Spring Man, he gains a permanent charge (and thus permanent hugeness) at low health.
It sounds like Max Brass players will be playing an in-close brawler style with heavy weapons, attacking aggressively.