King of Fighters XIV Primer Guide by Hellpockets

King of Fighters XIV Primer Guide by Hellpockets
Written by Hellpockets

Background


Out of all the comments I've read regarding The King Of Fighters 13, the most common had to be that the game was enigmatic in its approach to the fighting game science. At first, this baffled me, because the game made perfect sense from my perspective. Later, I realized that when people were lamenting to me about how hard the game was, it wasn't because other KOF players were on some unattainable plateau of dexterity. Rather, it was simply a lot for first-time KOF players to take in and adjust to. To help level the playing field before the release of KOFXIV, I've outlined some important details below.

Let's Dive Right In!


So you you want to get into KOFXIV? Excellent choice! I'll start by saying that if you didn't play KOF13, it's OK. KOFXIV is going to be a different experience overall. SNK transitioned from 2D to 2.5D, and this brought a host of visual and mechanical alterations along with it. Some characters will return, and some characters won't (Shen Woo, Mr Karate and Hwa Jai no are no longer present to kill your vibe). But the biggest change is probably that the drive subsystem has been shelved in favor of a revamped MAX system from KOF98 and KOF2002. Straight up, this isn't the same game, and my experience has been that anyone can win. So don't be afraid--let's dive right in!

Movement


One of KOF's unique aspects is its history of varied movement options. At a glance, characters are able to run, back dash, jump, high jump, hop, hyper hop, roll backwards and forwards. There's a lot going on here at a basic level! So let's have a closer look.

  • Walking and Running
Your standard source for ground-based transportation. Not only is one faster than the other, but these forms of movement work differently--there is some recovery to halting your character's run, but walking has none. Walking will be most useful when dealing with fireball zoning: the good ol' walk forward and block until you make them uncomfortable. It should be noted that run-stop recovery is pretty low in the demo of KOFXIV, which allows you to perform a similar strategy that allows you to close the distance in half the time.



  • ​Backdashing
At times, you're going to want to put distance between yourself and your opponent. That's when the backdash is your friend. Backdashes in KOFXIV seem to vary from character to character as some do not leave you airborne while others get a ton of hangtime and aren't as fast.



  • Jumping
KOF offers four kinds of jumps that players can use to close the distance between opponents, circumvent attacks, and expose an opening. These jumps consist of: standard jumping, hopping, high or super jumping, and hyper hopping.

A standard jump will cover a short distance at a moderate speed. A hop will cover a short distance with minimal vertical height. A super jump covers a large distance with increased speed. A hyper hop will cover a moderate distance with increased speed and minimal vertical height. These different jumps have various uses throughout the course of a match. For instance, a hop gives you the airborne status of a jump with even less airtime, which can allow for a more immediate jump-in opportunity.​



Tip: Make sure you mix it up for the appropriate situation--for example, if your opponent has a good projectile, you may not be able to hop or hyper hop over, which means a standard of super jump will be needed. If your opponent has been crouch blocking a lot of your offensive approaches, try hopping in on them to mix them up. Note: This author does NOT recommend full jumping Athena's fireball--you'll eat a psycho sword and be back to square one.

  • ​Evasive Rolling
Another staple mechanic of the KOF series is evasive rolling. Using this technique, your character will become invulnerable, which makes it possible for you to avoid taking damage in tight situations.



Evasive rolling comes with its weaknesses: at the end of each roll, your character is vulnerable for a period of time, which can lead to crucial and unnecessary damage incurred.



Additionally, rolls are not safe against both standard and command grabs. Overall, rolls do have their place in combat, but they can be risky if executed obviously. Otherwise, a well-placed, well timed-roll can be powerful.



Attacks


It goes without saying that this is why we're all here: Doing damage to an opponent, placing them into uncomfortable positioning, preying upon their insecurities and perhaps even causing some new ones to manifest through attacking. And in KOF, you're going to be doing a lot of that.

  • ​Basic Attacks
In this iteration of KOF, you're going to be using these a lot. Basic Attacks or Normals can be very strong, and will be your main source of damage and defense. Light Punch (A), Light Kick (B), Heavy Punch (C) and Heavy Kick (D) are at your disposal. And as you can imagine, every character applies these different. For instance, many characters' standing As can make an adequate defense against hopping opponents and eliminate the frantic air pressure before it begins.


There are countless other uses for many of the great normal attacks that are in KOFXIV, and you should have a lot of fun discovering them in the characters you choose.

  • ​Blowback
Blowbacks (C+D) are extra-heavy attacks that can be executed both while standing and jumping. In the past, blowbacks were a source of both instant knockdowns and on the occasion of a counter hit--a catalyst for big, sudden damage. In KOFXIV, the philosophy of the blowback has been ratcheted up to the point where they now cause wall-splat status on opponents--a feature that is new to KOF. Note: Wallsplat will only occur when a standing blowback attack hits a standing opponent.

This new feature is a potent game changer. Landing a blowback dramatically shifts the momentum of a match thanks to the fact that wallsplat allows a character to be juggled afterwards, and in some cases--if your timing is right--your attacks will RE-STAND your opponent to allow for a full combo on a grounded opponent.



  • ​Command Normals
Command Normals (cmd normals for short) are plentiful in KOF; every character has one. Not to be confused with a basic attack, Command Normals are executed by pressing a direction in tandem with a basic attack button. These moves are unique because they chain off any cancelable normal attacks and often behave as combo starters since many of them can cancel into special attacks. This makes hit confirming much easier for characters who might be a little awkward to control without that extra window to buffer special inputs.


  • ​Guard Cancels
There's not much to go into here. Guard Cancels are get-of-out-jail techniques you can use when you're tired of blocking. They come in two flavors: Guard Cancel Evasive Rolling and Guard Cancel Blowback. Both are effective in the right environments for their own reasons. Guard Cancel Blowback is the popular choice among players to end offensive pressure as it scores a knockdown and resets momentum.



  • ​Special Attacks / Super Attacks
Special attacks in KOF come in a wide variety of colors. Some special attacks are your classic Fighting Game staples: fireballs, rising uppercuts, etc. Others are very atypical--at least when compared to other games! You'll certainly see some in KOFXIV that you've never seen before.
In addition, there are Super Attacks that cost meter to execute. In KOFXIV, Supers (1 power stock) can be cancelled from certain specials, EX Supers (2 Power stock) can be canceled from Supers and Climax Supers (3 power stock) can be canceled from EX Supers. You'd best be ready to blow all your meter though--these strings are costly!



  • ​Max Mode and EX Specials
KOFXIV sports a newly revamped Max Mode system which activates when pressing B+C. Once engaged, a secondary meter will appear and begin to diminish. During this time, players gain access to more powerful version of their special moves called EX Specials. When using these attacks, your Max Mode bar will deplete faster.



Activating Max Mode raw affords you the chance to use EXs, but has a lot of cool down. A safer method of activating is Quick Maxing, which you can activate immediately after making contact with a normal attack. Doing this cancels the recovery frames of the attack and instantly puts you in Max Mode. The cost of this safer and more offensively potent activation is that your max bar is effectively halved, which reduces the time you can use EX moves in quick succession. Some characters will benefit from Quick Maxing more than others, but it remains to be seen how much.




It's a fighting game, not a math quiz.

Burn To Fight!


So we've gone over the basics of what comprises KOXIV. With much more exploration, players will discover deeper elements of play and meta within. Still, what about the rest of the story? Character data? Matchups? Team Synergy? All of these things are important to research and study in KOF. Exploring these areas, with the exception of raw data, also begins to blur the lines between science- and experience-based information. A wise man once said, "it's a fighting game, not a math quiz," or something like that. My advice? Play the game--a lot--and enjoy it for its personality, depth, and the amount of love and dedication SNK poured into it. If you do that, learning it will come that much easier.
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