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10/24/2012

Necessary changes in Dead or Alive 5


Team Ninja recently asked for feedback about the new changes fans want to see in the game for the next patch. While very small, the DOA community is very divided between the players who are OK with the guessing game present in past iterations and the hardcore fans who want the game to play more like other competitive fighters without losing the key factors that make DOA unique.

While I've tweeted some of the changes I personally want to see in the game, I decided to make a list to keep track of everything and add and remove stuff as time goes by. After almost a month of playing the game, several things are very, very good like unholdable stuns, wall game, Critical Bursts and the like but while some characters like Bass, Rig and Kokoro take full advantage of these, some simply don't. Helena comes to my mind as the character who lacks the most options and tools in a fight between equal players. 

As I've been saying in the blog during the development of the game, Helena is simply bad. There is no room for discussion or doubt about it. Let's remember first that she had incredible evasiveness in DOA4, forced tech set-ups that gave her excellent options, safety in many of her most important moves and some of the best launchers and mix-ups in that game. In DOA5 she simply lost all that and there's nothing to make up for it. So I bring the most important issue about the changes I want in the game: Helena buffs.

GAMEPLAY CHANGES

- Helena needs to be safer. In DOA5 a move with -8 on block is already unsafe to the entire cast, -7 is unsafe to grapplers like Tina and Busa. But most of Helena's moves are -9, -10, -11 and worse which make most of the characters in the game able to punish her with stronger grabs and even strikes to stun her. This needs to change. Moves like 4PPP, 66P, 1KP, 66KPP and others need to be safe to allow her a realistic chance of keeping the offensive.

- Helena needs a better damage output. Some of the characters like Jann Lee, Tina and Mila can take away 50% of a normal-health life bar in a single combo (guaranteed or not). This means that in a sole combo they take 150+ damage. Helena's most damaging ones reach ~120 at best and she seriously needs her opponent to be brain-dead to fall into the vast array of mid-punches required to either Critical Burst or max-launch height after building enough stun threshold. Buffing her damage a little will allow her to stand on equal ground with the other characters.

- Helena needs a better mix-up game. 99% of the new strings she got in DOA5 are mid-punches, the easiest strike to hold in the game, worse is that to build the stun threshold she seems to be forced to rely on them to get "good" combos and since she doesn't have any single-strike unholdable stuns besides SS P, she's simply not viable. Any competent player will be able to stagger or hold her if she starts to build a combo. And even with the nerfed hold damage, the defender has the advantage against her. 

- Helena needs more unholdable stuns. 3PPP, 44PPP, and SS P grant her sit-down stuns but the first two are the last hit of a easily-holdable string. She needs to be able to sit-down stun, leave her opponents back turned with some attacks and deal limbo-stuns with more attacks. An example is her 6P+K punch in DOA4, it caused sit-down stun in that game but not anymore in DOA5 where that move could have actually been useful. 

- In DOA3.1, Helena had a sidestep move from Bokuho, she lost it in DOA4 and didn't get it back in DOA5. It's curious because many characters have special moves that make them sidestep like Christie and Hayate. If Helena had the possibility to sidestep from Bokuho, her evasive game would benefit a lot. 

- Helena needs a neutral move to transition to Back-Stance. Any Helena player worth it will use all her three stances. She can already move from Normal to Bokuho neutrally and from Bokuho to Back-Stance but there's still no way to move from Normal to Back-Stance which would be very important for her. All the important characters with an important Back-Stance can do it (Brad, Lisa and Ayane) so there's no reason to deny the option to Helena.

- Finally, Helena needs to be able to low throw from Bokuho and Back-Stance. These two stances are extremely important to her game and most of us Helena players spend most of the round in them. A way to catch people who try to low hold to escape from stuns would be extremely useful to Helena. It doesn't matter if the low throw is the exact same one as the Normal low throw. Just give her the option to access it from Bokuho and Back-Stance.

If all of that happens, I'm pretty sure we Helena players would have a solid set of tools to overcome the rest of the cast. The list is long not because I'm whining for the hell of it, but because Helena really is lacking in DOA5. Now, while I haven't experimented with several of the characters, I can contribute a little with some of them. Here goes:

- Tina needs to be safer. In previous games she was one of the most safe characters and now, many of her important strings can be punished. While it's nice that she's faster than the average grappler, she needs the safety to be able to keep and offensive game effectively against faster fighters.

- Tina's guard breaks leave her at neutral or are unsafe, which is simply illogical because they should give her the advantage. Moves like 236K, Running K, 6H+K and others break the guard of her opponents but are unsafe or don't give her any advantage, while other characters like Bass and Akira get insane advantage from guard breaks.

- Tina has two very damaging and nice combo throws. But while pretty, both of them are normal throws. If one of the was a offensive hold, she could get a very solid option to gain the offensive. I know she already has "nice" OHs like 66T, 8T and 46T but it's kind of unnecessary for both her combo throws to be normal. 

- Tina should get frame advantage from opponents breaking her combo throws. Mila and Bayman have this so there's simply no reason for Tina to be at a disadvantage from her throws being broken. Something small like +3 would be more than enough.

- Alpha-152 needs wake-up kicks. I completely understand that she "feels" like a boss and over-powered character but she's really not. She has the longest and most damaging strings in the game, but they're easy to block, sidestep and punish. Her OHs are some of the best in the game but they can be seen from a mile away. Hell, 8T doesn't even track. There's a false sense around her that makes people think she's too good only because of her past as the DOA4 boss and the long strings but she's really lacking. Wake-up kicks are an integral part of the game and she should get them. Neutral holds doing zero damage we can live with, but no Wake-up kicks¿ that's going a little too far.

- Parries need to have more advantage. During development, Eliot got +20 from a successful parry and in the final build that was toned-down to +16. While it's nice, it requires the character who made the parry to keep guessing right to get something good out of them. All characters with neutral parries that do not deal damage by themselves should get +20 from them. Leifang, Gen Fu and Eliot. 

- Busa's transitions to Ongyoin (same as Helena's ones to Bokuho and BT) are either neutral or unsafe. This makes most of their opponents able to easily interrupt them when they transition at close range. Rig's transitions are at advantage so there's no reason to deny this to Ryu, Helena and other characters with important stances.

GAME INTERFACE CHANGES:

Now, there are still many characters I don't know enough about as to elaborate what they need added. I'm starting to train with Jann Lee, Gen Fu, Leifang and Kokoro and so far, they seem very nice but something might come along in the next days. The following are part of the game itself that need to be fixed or changed.

- The online menu song by Chosen1 is nice and I actually like it. In fact, I find it extremely satisfying that Team Ninja took it into consideration for development, but the song should have been in the Story Mode ending credits, not in the online menus. The song, while nice to me, is annoying to many players and gets old very quickly. I know there's an option to use custom soundtracks in the game in Xbox 360 but we shouldn't be forced to use that only because of a single song. The online menu song from DOA2U or the normal one from DOA3 or 4 would be nice. Please change this.

- Even after the patch that fixed many things, the online modes still randomly change the sidestep settings. I personally use 2/8P+K+H and sometimes the game changes it to 22/88. This is extremely annoying because we're supposed to be practicing. I think an option to change it during a match would be welcome too.

- The netcode is nice now but I think it could be better. I can still play VF5FS and SCV with no problems with American and European people from Venezuela. Sadly it's very hard to do this in DOA5. Any further improvements to the online performance of the game would be more than welcome.

- While watching an online match among other players, the characters sometime get a glitchy head and they move it like the Exorcist movie, it's creepy and goes against the excellent animations used in the game.

- Sometimes, after saving a replay, things in it happen completely different from the actual match. Some people have even claimed to save replays where they barely won and the replay shows their character losing. This needs to be fixed.

COSTUMES:

Now for the casual stuff. Even though many of the casual players of the game complained about the costume selection in the game, I actually liked it a lot. But since Team Ninja has decided to release DLC costumes, I'm taking the opportunity to request some very nice ones for some of my favorite characters.

- Leifang should get her DOA3 ending costume: blue/white shirt, long white skirt and white sandals. 



- Jann Lee palette swap from DOA3: Shirtless, black dragon pants and yellow shoes.



- Helena's DOA2U Arabian Dancer dress:



- Kasumi's military bikini:



- Ryu's unmasked classic outfit:


- Tina's blue bikini from Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball:



CHARACTERS:

Finally I think that such important fighters like Leon and Ein should have never been cut. They were very important to the cast and even tournament winners (Rikuto with Leon and Offbeat Ninja with Ein). Leon should not be hard to make if you use Bayman as base and animate him from there while Ein well... just make costumes for Hayate and give him his karate moves. They both deserve to be back. Give us Leon and Ein!

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