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Arms guide: What am I trying to do?

The basics of fighting and defending

Despite what the motion controls might lead you to believe at first glance, you aren’t going to win at Arms by flailing away and letting the boxing gloves fall where they may. On the contrary, Arms is a much slower and more deliberate affair than most fighting games, likely designed for online play in an unstable Wi-Fi environment.

In the typical modern fighting game, you want to apply pressure and remain on the attack, giving yourself chances to do damage over and over again. Even if the opponent is blocking you at every turn, the fact that you’re putting on pressure puts you ahead in a small way. Games like Street Fighter 5, Guilty Gear and Tekken all have systems that reward a player who takes the initiative.

In Arms, things are a bit different. Defense, not offense, is the key, and most of your damage is going to come from counterattacks. Once players understand the basic defense, it will be very hard for their opponents to crack it. As such, you’re not trying to break through the opponent’s guard with sheer force. Rather, you’re trying to work around the opponent. Trick your opponent into leaving themselves open, and then counter.

At the E3 Arms tournament, the producer said to the champion (who he still beat, mind) that there were no holes in his game. To succeed at Arms, you have to think this way. Play safe, don’t leave yourself open if you can help it, and find the right moments. It’s only once you’ve confused your opponent a little that you can start to take bigger risks. Work from a foundation of safe play and then worry about the fancy stuff from there.

In this guide we’re going to teach you how to do this. If you get a grip of the concepts here, it shouldn’t be hard to beat Grand Prix on level 4 and unlock ranked matches.

Dive in

In most fighting games, where the systems and technical demands are much more complicated, we recommend to hit the training mode and put in some time before attempting to take on other players. In Arms you can set up a training dummy, but because the moves are all so simple there’s only so much you’re going to learn from it.

Jump right into the game with some matches against the computer, or even Grand Prix on a low difficulty: level 1 will basically stand there and let you win, but you won’t get the final boss or real ending. Once you have a basic handle, hop into some party matches and get a feel for different characters and weapons. This game has a small cast and simple characters, meaning you can figure out a lot just by messing around.