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Injustice 2 guide: long-range combat (neutral)

Before you can land a punch, you have to get close enough to do so. Your opponent won’t make this easy, and you shouldn’t make it easy for them, either.

Every fighting game starts off in a stage of play players like to call "neutral." We call it this because neither player has a big advantage. Think of the moderate distance that both players begin the fight at: It’s not enough space to rush in uncontested, but it’s a little too close for a long-distance character to safely start throwing projectiles.

In the neutral game, players are jockeying for position and trying to score a small hit that will lead to bigger hits. Understanding this is a crucial skill in any fighting game.

The player who lands the first hit scores some damage — and perhaps a knockdown. The knockdown is vital: In this moment, the defender is forced slightly off balance and the attacker can reposition freely to set up their next attack. As such, scoring that first hit and gaining the momentum is extremely important, arguably more than knowing how to perform a high-damage combo. Let’s talk about landing it.

Projectiles

The most obvious way to attack from a range is by throwing projectiles like Batman’s Batarang or Wonder Woman’s shield. Ranged attackers are plentiful in Injustice 2, so dealing with projectiles is a fact of life.

In this video I play a projectile-happy Green Lantern against the computer’s Captain Cold (who, against character, is rushing hard). I’m playing a style that seeks only to keep the other player out so I can continue to hit them from a range. It even works for a little while.

Projectiles are generally very fast in Injustice and Mortal Kombat, quite unlike other fighting games. Joker and Harley’s guns hit almost instantly, and even thrown weapons cross the whole screen in an instant.

Furthermore, projectiles pass through each other, meaning there isn’t so much a "fireball fight" in neutral as there is an exchange of blows.

At first, projectiles can seem especially difficult to deal with in Injustice 2, but the best solution is one of the easiest. Simply crouch, and most projectiles will go zooming over your head harmlessly. Jumping over projectiles is a little riskier — you’re open to attack and your opponent expects you to do it — but if the enemy is really predictable, it can get you in for big damage.

Keep in mind what a ranged character wants to do by throwing projectiles. From their point of view, the best thing you can do for them is get frustrated and start charging in. Frustrated players make dumb choices: We’ve all been there.

A player who’s running in carelessly is a fish in a barrel for a ranged character. You will charge, it will fail, and you’ll take damage over and over again. If that’s all it takes to beat you, well, who wouldn’t do it?

The best thing you can do against a projectile barrage is deal with it calmly. Walk forward slowly, crouch under the projectiles, and jump in when they give you the chance. Understand that this part of the game requires patience.

Pokes

A "poke" is an attack from a medium to long range that allows you to attack from safety. Once we’re in a little closer (but not quite at point blank range), moves like this become essential.

For prime examples, let’s look at some of Darkseid’s normal moves. For a guy who fights with his hands behind his back, he’s got quite a reach. His down + heavy sweep is fast and strikes low, at an abnormally long range. Furthermore, if your opponent blocks it, Darkseid isn’t left open enough for them to hit him (so long as he blocks).

Darkseid’s forward + medium sliding punch covers a long distance, but it’s a high so you can duck under it. Use this to counterattack from a distance, socking your opponents as they wind up for their own move.

Finally, his medium kick boasts surprising range and speed, with a strong follow-up attack string if you’re sure it’s going to hit.

Use a poke at the edge of its range to get the best effect out of it — just far enough to make contact but too far away from your opponent for them to punish it. These moves are unsafe to use up close — they leave you just open enough for a close-range jab — but when used at the proper range this isn’t a concern.

Though many characters in Injustice 2 simply don’t have pokes of the caliber we discussed (or sometimes any at all), look for those good medium-ranged moves for your character. Most often they’ll be the sweeps.