So you want to get better at Injustice 2, and you're wondering where to start? Look no further, because I have a sure-fire way for you to master any character in the game. Gone are the days of you going online and feeling like a baby trying to compete with pros, and here is the day when you take it upon yourself to show a little discipline and get back in there to kick some ass.
Now I don't have any huge trophies or plaques hanging up in my house. I've never had my picture taken at an international tournament, and I've never shut down established fighting game champions on Twitch. I do, however, know exactly what it means to commit yourself fully to a fighting game. I spent literally thousands of hours perfecting a few characters in Soul Calibur IV, and as a result I was sparring online with the top-ten and top-five ranked players in the world on a regular basis, holding my own. I also wrote our review for Injustice 2 (seen here).
I know a thing or two about learning new characters in a fighting game.
So there's some good news and some bad news here. The bad news is that there's no shortcut. There's no one combo or one easy-to-memorize offensive strategy that's going to suddenly boost your win / loss ratio. If you're looking for quick-fix to greatness, then you better look somewhere else.
The good news is that the system I'm about to outline for you will work with absolutely any character, and for that matter, with any fighting game. As long as you're willing to put in a little bit of time, you're going to see dramatic improvements in a matter of hours. If you can stick with a single character and do these things, you'll be the one dominating everyone else online, and the competitive scene will really start to open up to you.
There's nothing glorious or occult about what I'm about to show you, and that's why it works. Prepare to hit up practice mode, and do exactly what I say...
First thing's first: what makes your character radically different from all of the others? Outside of the short-range combos that may look different from character to character, what does your hero do that absolutely can't be replicated?
When you pull up the start menu, your character's special moves will be outlined on the right. These are usually very simple directional and face-button inputs that can be learned in a matter of seconds, or a couple of minutes, tops. Do these over and over again until you know exactly what you need to press, standing on either side of your opponent, to trigger these special moves.
Also take note of the distance at which these moves are viable. Black Canary's "Canary Drop," for example, only works if you're standing about half a body-length away from your opponent, because she shoots forward quite a bit before coming down on her foe.
Play with your character power as well. Some character powers shoot projectiles, while others create offensive or defensive boosts. Don't you dare move on or do anything else before you master your special moves and character power, on both sides, from all distances. You can button mash with any character in a pinch to try to crank out some quick combos, but you can't fake using your special moves effectively. On the contrary, using them incorrectly can leave you open and vulnerable.
This is where 98% of the casual players fall off from the competitive pack and get left behind. If you're reading this, just know that this step is the X-factor. Doing this one thing separates those who continue to lose constantly online, and those who go on to learn advanced combo chains, mixups, and juggles.
If you open the moves list and click the right shoulder button, you'll open up the combos list, and this is what you need to be prepared to spend a few hours studying and experimenting with. This is your bread and butter. These short combos will be what you return to time after time to create openings, take advantage of stuns, and link into super moves. Please don't overlook this next sentence because it sounds simple; I want you to actually do this:
Commit every single combo to muscle memory.
I mean that. Go over this list from top to bottom, and make sure that you can perform every single one of these combos, on either side of your opponent, with complete lucid control. You should be able to stand there in practice mode and execute every one of these combos from memory without even thinking about them. You need to know instinctively, instantly, what your character can do.
Once again, you need to pay special attention to distance. Know how far away you can be for a combo to connect at any given point. Know which combos will result in your opponent getting launched. Know what will bring them down, or leave them stunned. When your opponent is falling, know which combo will juggle them most effectively in the air and get the most damage. Understand which combo is most effective when you're attacking from the air when your opponent is guarding low, and know which combo does the most damage if you need to punish your opponent for missing a super move or whiffing a combo of their own.
If you can do this -- if you ingrain every basic combo into muscle memory -- you're ready to start your advanced training. The next step is when things get really fun, and really tricky.
Injustice 2 actually boasts some pretty competent AI, which means the AI is about to become your kung fu master. If you're trying to learn Black Canary (for example), and you know her special moves, character power, and basic combos like the back of your freaking hand, it's time to start learning how to link those all together into more complex attacks.
While in practice mode, load up a mirror match by selecting to play against Black Canary. Or if you're learning Flash, play against Flash. Choose to fight whoever it is you're trying to learn. As soon as the match begins, press start and head over to the practice dummy options. Toggle on an AI opponent, and crank that difficulty all the way up. Now you have two objectives: try to hold your own, and watch carefully.
Assuming you know all of the basic combos and special moves for your character, you're going to recognize everything that the AI throws at you, only you're going to see it done in ways you've never thought to do it before. You're going to see the computer meter-burn a special move, sending you into the air, and then they'll string together two basic combos that you didn't even know could be linked. You're going to see some juggles link perfectly into a super move. You're going to see some evasive maneuvers tied into counter-attacks that you would have never thought to attempt when fighting on your own.
Every single time you see something that surprises you, pause the AI and replicate it. Meter-burn that special move and then duplicate the combo they pulled off right afterward. Link that air juggle into a super move for yourself. Commit all of these new chains and new combos to muscle memory exactly like you did your basic combos, and soon you'll have an offensive arsenal worthy of your online competition.
And speaking of your online competition, they're actually the key to the final step in mastery...
The AI will teach you most of your advanced combo chains, and it should take you at least three or four days before you're competently pulling off everything that they can with little effort. Once you finally hit that plateau, it's time to hop online for a few more surprises.
You need to make friends with someone who can kick your ass. You don't have to make friends with them I guess, but you do need to send them a friend request so you can fight them multiple times. Find an overly-competitive freak who clearly does nothing but play Injustice 2, and start observing and replicating their actions like you did with the high-level AI opponent.
There will always be incredible players online. They're already out there in Injustice 2; I've faced them. They are the ones who will memorize character attacks and movements down to the very frame, and they'll find ways to exploit every character's moves and animations in ways that even the developers didn't anticipate. If you want to truly master your character, you need to see how one of these people like to use them. You may not ever reach that level, but you need to be exposed to it, and it's very likely that more than a few of their strategies will influence you in an advantageous way.
It's like stretching. When you stretch, you force your body to do something that it isn't already capable of doing. You may not be able to comfortably touch your toes, but after trying a few times, your body is able to bend down lower than it could before, even if you don't make it all the way down. Playing against someone who has mastered your character in a way you never could will make you more flexible, and will make you an all-around better fighter.
Do these simple things, my friends, and I guarantee that you can and will master any character in the game.