Combat mechanics

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An overview of the combat mechanics in Brawlhalla.

Overview

On the surface, Brawlhalla is a fighting game very similar to Nintendo's Super Smash Brothers. The player in Brawlhalla aims to defeat their opponent/s by knocking them off the stage first. Attacks deal damage to an opponent - instead of reducing the opponent's health or hit points, players who have been damaged more are knocked further by attacks, making them increasingly easy to completely knock off the stage, or 'KO'.

The standard competing method in Brawlhalla is a one versus one Brawl, in which two players face each other head to head. They each have three lives, or stocks, and have to KO the opponent's three stocks first. There are also, however, many other ways of playing the game. Game modes include:

Ranked Game Modes

  • Ranked 1v1 (fight for rank on the 1v1 ladder)
  • Ranked 2v2 (fight for rank on the 2v2 ladder with a partner)

Casual Game Modes

  • Free for all (Four players. Four minutes.)
  • Strikeout 1v1 (1v1 with a twist)
  • Friendly 2v2 (Four players. Two teams)
  • Experimental 1v1 (Playing with unreleased features for testing)
  • Brawl of the Week (A new and unique game mode weekly)
  • Custom (Play it your way)

Damage

Brawlhalla's damage system doesn't use health or hit points. Legends instead have a damage meter which shows how much total damage they have taken. As the damage taken by a Legend increases, the Legend is knocked further by each attack, making them easier to KO as the game goes on. Often, players on high damage (red to black; see below) are killed quickly by a single powerful attack. A player therefore has two challenges: firstly to put their opponent into high damage, and secondly to secure the critical KO afterwards.

The amount of damage a Legend has received is indicated by:

Several colors of the damage indicator, as indicated by Cassidy.
  • a damage indicator that uses color to show damage (found in the top right of the screen)
  • the colour the Legend flashes when hit which corresponds to the color on the damage indicator

The colors can be expressed as white, yellow, orange, red and black (shown below). However, each color has a range of shades on a gradient. For example, a pale orange color denotes less damage than a deep orange color, though each are of course orange.

Damage can also be expressed as a number. Colors give an effective system understood by all for expressing damage, which is incredibly useful during the heat of battle. However, numbers can go into much more detail. Only players who are very familiar with the game will be concerned with numerical values.

Damage is capped at 700 damage (according to the game’s Training Mode settings) though reaching close to 700 damage in a real game in unheard of. The majority of KOs happen at around 150-200 damage. Once a player's damage meter reaches red (between 150 to 700 damage), the knockback from each attack drastically increases. The table below breaks down this relationship.

Amount of damage Colour of damage indicator Additional notes
0 White No hits at all – the normal color right after (re)spawning
50 Yellow After taking a few hits
100 Orange After a couple of combos
150 Red This player is one short combo away from getting KOd by most signatures
200 Darker Red Even the most defensive of signatures will KO this player
250 Even Darker Red Even a light unarmed attack will KO this player
300 and more Many Bruises Black Practically unseen in most fights – even a thrown weapon will KO this player

Attacking

Overview and Light Attacks

The primary aim of the game is to attack the opponent. All attacks deal both damage and knockback to varying degrees.

You can attack using:

Each Legend has two different weapons, as well as a universal set of unarmed attacks.

When attacking, three parameters are taken into account.

  • Light / Heavy Attacks - two types of attack, each assigned a separate button.
  • Aerial / Grounded Attacks - different attacks according to whether or not the player is in the air.
  • Direction - different attacks according to directional inputs: the assigned Up/Down/Left/Right keys. This produces either 'Neutral', 'Side' or 'Down' inputs ('Up' and 'No Input' are both under 'Neutral').

Following these three different criteria, every single weapon in the game has 11 different attacks available to it (there is no Aerial Side Heavy). They can be written in a range of ways, but are mostly described as below. (Sometimes N, S and D denote Neutral, Side and Down respectively). Attacks that don't said 'Air' or 'Aerial' are presumed grounded.

x Light Attacks Heavy Attacks
Grounded
Attacks
• Neutral Light
• Side Light
• Down Light
• Neutral Heavy
• Side Heavy
• Down Heavy
Aerial
Attacks
• Aerial Neutral Heavy
• Aerial Side Heavy
• Aerial Down Heavy
• Recovery
• Ground Pound

There are only two Aerial Heavy attacks. The Aerial Neutral Heavy is referred to as a Recovery, and the Down Heavy is referred to as a Ground Pound. There is no Aerial Side Heavy, and these names better describe the attacks.

Legend Specific Signature Attacks

All grounded Heavy attacks are also Signature Attacks. This is because they are uttely unique to a specific Legend and Weapon. For example, the attack produced when Asuri, holding a Sword, does a Neutral Heavy is utterly unique to Asuri's Sword. The same is true for her Side and Down Heavies with the Sword. Hence, every weapon has three Signatures attached to it. By subtraction, every Legend has 6 Signatures attached to them, three for each of their weapons. To write this, one would say the Legend's name and weapon, such as: Asuri's Neutral Sword or Gnash's Down Hammer.

Due to the similarity between the use of the word Heavy and Signature, these terms can be interchangeable. There are two instances where one would call an attack a Heavy but not a Signature. Firstly, there is no Aerial Signature. Every Spear Legend, for example, performs exactly the same Spear Recovery and Spear Ground Pound. The words Recovery and Ground Pound remove any confusion. Secondly, unarmed Heavy attacks are not technically Signatures. Every Legend shares exactly the same set of unarmed attacks. The unarmed Heavy attacks are therefore not unique, and not 'Signatures'. However, all players would understand what an Unarmed Side Heavy was - the difference here is technical, and unimportant.

Movement

There are a few methods of movement in Brawlhalla, including running, jumping, dashing, dodging and even some attacks. Being able to make the most of all your movement options is critical to high level Brawling, as it can frequently mean the difference between life and death.

Running, Jumping and Recovery Moves

Running is the most standard way that a Legend moves around the stage. A Legend can move left and right via the left and right keys respectively. These keys also allow a Legend to move left or right whilst in the air.

Jumping allows a Legend to move up and down. A player can jump a maximum of three times before needing to touch the ground or a wall again. As well as jumping, a Legend can use their Recovery move to gain aerial height (presuming they are already in the air). Again, a maximum of three Recovery moves are permitted before the player must touch the ground/wall. However, in total, a Legend may only jump or Recovery a total of four times. There are three combinations of this:

  • 3 Jumps, 1 Recovery
  • 2 Jumps, 2 Recoveries
  • 1 Jump, 3 Recoveries

It is worth noting that while the first Recovery will be a standard Recovery, the following Recovery moves will be changed. That is, the second and third Recovery moves will only lift the Legend into the air by the same distance as a jump. Knowing when to use a jump and when to use a Recovery is important. Recovery moves of course give you the protection of the attack itself, however, some Recovery moves also limit your ability to move left or right. The decision between jumping and Recovering depends on circumstance.

Dashing and Dodging

Dashing is a fairly new mechanic that involves a grounded Legend suddenly accelerating from rest to maximum running speed. Because dashing is a new addition to the game, much of its potential is unexplored. [In progress]

Mechanics

Startup and Recovery

Each attack has a startup time and a recovery time:

  • Startup: what happens after a move is inputted by a player, but before the move comes out.
    • E.g. Teros is a legend with high attack damage but low speed. When attacking with Teros, there is a short delay between doing a move and the move doing damage (as shown by the in-game animation). To make this fair, if his moves are performed in the right situations they do a lot of damage. However, if done at inopportune times, Teros is open to counter attack during the time his move is starting up, but not yet at the point where it does damage.
    • This can be visualised by going into training mode, clicking training options, then turning on hitboxes.
  • Recovery: what happens after a move is finished, but before a player can do something again.

Charged Attacks

Ground Heavy (Signature) attacks can be held and "charged" for a certain amount of time, allowing you to wait a moment between readying the attack and letting it execute. Charging an attack also has the additional benefit of increasing the damage it deals the longer it is charged - the maximum damage a Signature attack will deal will be at the very end of its charge time.

Throwing of objects can be charged in a similar way.

It should be noted that some Legends such as Asuri have attacks with moving charges - while most Legends stay in place while they charge their attacks, charging certain signatures heavies like Asuri's Side Signature will move the Legend while they are charging.

Slide Charge

Many ground based signatures don't bring a Legend to a stop immediately if they start charging up an attack while moving. Taking advantage of this slide while charging a signature is called a slide charge. The most common application of this consists of running towards a ledge and then charging an attack just before reaching the ledge - the Legend will slide off the edge and start falling, while still charging their attack on their way down. Releasing the charge will execute the signature in midair as if it were on the ground, allowing them to execute a signature where they otherwise would not be able to or be expected to.

Bödvar doing his signature move with Gravity Cancel

Gravity Cancel

Executing an aerial spot dodge (a midair dodge with no directional buttons pressed) gives you an opportunity to execute a “gravity cancel” (abbreviated as “GC”) – in other words, to perform a ground-based light or uncharged heavy attack in the air. To do that, press the appropriate attack key quickly while the spot dodge's invincibility frames are in effect.

This is considered an advanced technique, and is meant to be more difficult than most Brawlhalla techniques. All light or heavy ground moves – and even taunts! – can be used with Gravity Cancel. This technique is really useful to extend a combo, break the recovery of an opponent, or catch him in the air with a well-timed surprise hit.

While neutral attacks are the easiest to use with Gravity Cancel, a player can also GC a forward or down attack with the right timing. After you dodge in place, quickly press the appropriate direction button, followed – again, quickly – by the required attack button. Practicing this in Training Mode for a few minutes every day will give you an incredible advantage: many ground moves, or even signatures – such as Bodvar’s hammer grab (Hammer Down Sig) or Diana’s grapple shot (Blaster Down Sig) – may turn a loss into a stylish victory in a high-level game if you manage to attack with them in mid-air.

Amusingly, many experienced opponents who like to give a welcome taunt in the beginning of the match prefer to gravity-cancel it – as an additional sign of courtesy, and also to protect themselves against those who like to attack right from the start.

Gravity Cancel Charge

Normally, just tapping an attack button is enough to execute a gravity-cancelled attack. However, in an elegant twist to the gravity cancel technique, you can time a GC-ed signature attack by holding – rather than just tapping – the heavy attack button to delay the strike for a few frames. When properly executed, any heavy attack (including forward and down signatures) can be charged in this manner. This can be used to:

  • Delay the strike and catch a surprised opponent
  • Prolong the threat to scare away the foe (especially with “holdable” signatures like Ulgrim’s Chainsaw)
  • Slightly increase the range of “aimable” signatures like Cross’ Grabbing Claw
  • Hang in the air for a bit longer to stay out of danger

Ledge Cancels

A ledge cancel is when a player is passing through a platform and make a down light attack. This will make the player land instantly and attack without delay.

Damage

The damage an attack deals is the same for every Legend, and is only modified by a Legends Stats - namely, a Legend's Strength and Defense stats. Two Legends with the same Strength will deal the same damage with the same attack to the same opponent. A Legend's Signatures are unique, and have individually assigned damage and force values - these attacks are not affected by stats. The damage made by a legend with the same attack stat as his opponent defense is the weapon's base damage value.

Stun

In addition to dealing damage to an opponent, successful attacks will also Stun an opponent for a short period of time. While an opponent is stunned, they cannot move or attack - all inputs will fail for the duration of the stun.

Different attacks stun opponents for different times - an attack that stuns an opponent for a long time may not do a lot of damage or knockback, and vice versa. Certain attacks that "grab" the opponent and move them around when they land will stun the opponent for the duration of the attack.

Lord Vraxx launches Kor with his neutral sig while Kor is at white health (left) and orange health (right)

Knockback

All attacks knock your opponent away - the value of 'how much knockback' an attack has is called Force.

Different attacks have different amounts of force that they apply to your opponents. An attack that has a lot of force does not necessarily deal a lot of damage and vice versa - though this is very often the case. Additionally, force is amplified by how much damage your opponent has taken - the more damage your opponent has taken before your hit, the farther they will fly when even small amounts of force are applied to them.

A Legend's strength stat also affects knockback by changing the minimum resulting force of an attack. The higher the strength value, the higher the minimum force.

Combos

Combos are "combinations" of moves that can be performed in quick succession without interrupting the series of moves.

For combos for specific Legends and weapons, see:

Strategy

Strategies for each character can be found on their respective Legends page under the Strategy heading.

Movement

Jumping

Every Legend has three jumps, allowing them to carry themselves into and stay in the air for extended periods of time.

In addition to this, every Legends Aerial Up Heavy attack (usually called a Recovery) will carry them further into the air, doubling as a jump. A Legend's Recovery can be executed after their third jump, essentially granting them four jumps. In a pinch, you can also use your directional dodge as an additional jump.

Recoveries can also be used in rapid succession as jumps, or used interchangeably with jumps, though using using three jumps or three Recoveries in a row will always cause your Legend to reach their "jump maximum" (signified by their darkened silhouette) and they will begin fall immediately afterwards, even if four jumps had not yet been performed.

The jumps are reset once the Legend hits the ground or a wall, indicated by the Legend's color returning to normal. However, clinging to the wall will only restore two of your jumps, giving you limited options to maneuver.

Each jump is preceded by a short startup delay (except immediately after an attack), and landing on the ground also puts you in a brief recovery state, during which you cannot attack, dodge, or jump again. Because of that, your opponent may strike you as soon as you touch the ground, so choose carefully where to land and use your dodge before landing if needed.

Dodging

Dodging allows you to become invulnerable for a brief time, allowing you to avoid incoming attacks entirely. A successful dodge is indicated by the Legend flashing white and performing a dodging animation as a circle flares out briefly around them.

Jhala performs a dodge in place
Jhala performs a dodge while moving

Dodge usage

Dodging can be used to:

  • Avoid incoming attacks and thrown weapons and items.
  • Reposition yourself, i.e. gain height (by dodging up) or cover distance (by dodging left or right). Useful for reaching a ledge after you have been sent flying from an attack.
  • Move around more efficiently and safely. For example, Legends jump in large ("floaty") predictable arcs that can leave you vulnerable to attack. Dodges can be used to "shave off" some of that arc and reach your desired location more efficiently. Video example.
  • "Setup" (bait) your opponent into thinking you will do a certain move, then dodging and attacking them while they are caught off guard. E.g. If you run toward an opponent, they may think you will attack, and thus attack you. But if you dodge away from them before their attack hits you, they are now open to attack because they will be either finishing their attack or "recovering" from it (in other words, unable to do anything until their attack animation finishes).
  • Cancel momentum when you are sent flying through the air from an attack. Though this may results in you not being able to use a dodge to reposition yourself (mentioned above) and get back onto the stage. Example video.
  • Perform your Signature attacks in the air – see the Gravity Cancel section above.


Dodge mechanics

You can dodge in any of the eight directions (left, right, up, down, and the diagonals), or in place (this is called a spot dodge). Dodging from the air into the ground at a diagonal does not stop your motion, and you will instead slide along the ground slightly for the remainder of the dodge.

Position you dodge from Cooldown Downtime Notes
Ground 1.33 seconds (80 frames) 0.97 seconds (58 frames)
Air 3.23 seconds (194 frames) 2.87 seconds (172 frames) If you do a dodge in the air and then touch the ground, the cooldown (time before you can dodge again) is reset back to 0.97 seconds (58 frames). Touching a wall does not reset your dodge cooldown.

The Cooldown is the time between the start of one dodge and the start of the next dodge, Downtime is the time between the end of the first dodge and the beginning of the next. A dodge gives you 22 frames of invulnerability.

A Legend's Dexterity affects how soon they can attack after dodging. Legends with a higher Dexterity can attack sooner after dodging than slower characters. Like attacks, dodges cannot be executed while a character is stunned from an attack. Also, like attacks, dodges are influenced by the character's momentum and direction of travel.

Chase dodging, dodge cancelling

An advanced dodge technique is called the Chase Dodge. Mechanically, chase dodges permit more aggressive gameplay and open up more combo possibilities, particularly for low-Dexterity legends.

Teros performs a chase dodge
  • A chase dodge is a forward-only dodge that can be executed under two conditions:
    • When a Legend is moving in one direction for at least 27 frames, a chase dodge can be executed in the direction the Legend is already moving.
    • When a Legend has successfully landed an attack, a chase dodge can be executed immediately after the attack, regardless of the Legend's Dexterity.
    • A successful chase dodge is indicated by speed/motion lines appearing around the Legend during their dodge, which are absent from a normal dodge.
  • On its face, a chase dodge is exactly like a normal dodge - it lasts the same amount of time and, like a normal dodge, allows the Legend to move while avoiding damage during it's duration. Unlike normal dodges however, an attack can be performed at any point in the middle of a chase dodge. The attack will execute immediately and stop the dodge - this technique is called a dodge cancel.
    • Chase-dodges and dodge-cancels can potentially be strung together with creative applications of attacks, allowing for combos of attacks uninterrupted by cooldown time or Dexterity, provided all the attacks hit the opponent.

Chain dodging

In addition, a particularly notable variation of the aforementioned technique is the chain dodge – a series of up to two chase-dodges in a quick succession. In a nutshell, you can spam the dodge button while running or after attacking to go faster and further along the ground (or directly up/down). This gives you an excellent opportunity to chase evasive opponents while avoiding their throws and attacks. Do mind that dodging in place, or diagonally, as well as attacking, will end the chain and make you vulnerable.

Fast Falling

Fast falling is done by pressing the down key while in the air. The player will accelerate downwards a bit faster than normally. This allows the player to be more imprevisible and allows him to make more accurate hits.


Items

Weapons

For more in depth information on Weapons and Weapon throws, see Weapons

Weapons are the best means of dealing damage and knocking out your opponent. They will generally allow a Legend to extend their reach and increase their damage output during a fight, as well as allowing them to instantly change their fighting style mid-match. Weapons can be used to attack your opponent, and can also be thrown to attack your opponent at range.

Gadgets

For more in depth information, see Gadgets

Gadgets are various items that appear on a Brawlhalla stage during a brawl.

Most gadgets are throwable items that will deal damage to your opponent, though the Horn, in addition to being throwable, can be used to call a Sidekick across the stage to:

  • bring a weapon to the location you used the item from that you or your opponents can pickup.
  • do damage in a horizontal line, which can be used to damage or distract your opponent

Gadget Catching

By pressing the grab button at the right moment, you can catch any Gadget thrown in the air. This technique is useful against opponents throwing bombs but also risky. To pratice this technique, a special bomb catching training room is available in Training Mode.


See also

References