Sackboy’s nerf is upon us.
With two weeks into Playstation All-Stars’ life span, we’re already getting balance patches along with new items and some convenient adjustments to the menu system. The sudden nature of the first balance patch suggests that SuperBot Entertainment has had this in the works for some time before the game’s launch, as it’s very reminiscent of the Sentinel nerf in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. It seems like SuperBot is paying serious attention to the development of their game’s competitive community. When met with patch notes, obviously the sensible thing is to wildly speculate as to who’s next on the chopping block. With that in mind, the three most likely targets are below.
Strengths: Giga Punch beats everything. That’s not hyperbole, not some sort of exaggeration for the sake of making a point. It either trades or flat out wins against every move in the game that isn’t a well-timed grab. If it connects on a grounded opponent, the crumple status it inflicts on the enemy can set up for a full AP combo or any of his supers. If your enemy is in the air when it connects, it knocks them so far away that Cole has time to line the stage with double amp grenades.
Through the use of double amp grenade, oil slick, and tripwire rockets, Evil Cole can make the entirety of the battlefield a hazard. Once your enemy closes in, he/she is now faced with a choice: Pressure Cole and risk getting hit by Giga Punch (which is as good as being killed), or play somewhat defensively and hope that Cole makes a mistake in trying to get away.
Weaknesses: His moves are generally sort of slow. Compared to his good counterpart, EC’s attacks have long start-up. I can sort of see the reasoning behind why Giga Punch is so good, he otherwise doesn’t really have much to deal with fast attackers once they close in.
Overall: In my opinion, Evil Cole is the best character in the game. He boils a singles stock match into causing your opponent to make three mistakes. The fear of losing one’s life once they close in grants EC the cushion he needs to get away and reestablish his camping game. This character is likely due for a huge nerf balance patch, but SuperBot can make adjustments that won’t entirely neuter the character.
Suggestions: Increase his Giga Punch charge time by one second. Cause Cole to lose his punch charge if he is hit while charging it, there is no reason it should be saved. The rest comes down to the fact that people need to learn when to block.
Strengths: He can convert damn near any connected hit into a full AP combo or a kill. He has what I would consider some of the strongest supers in the game, and he pressures for days. Raiden is very much a character that you take at face value. He’s not hiding anything, and his straightforward approach to attacking mean that a player has plenty of time to convert any stray hit into the combo of his or her choice.
Weaknesses: Raiden’s strength in being straightforward can be a weakness if your opponent is used to his linear approach to attacking. Raiden may be a bit too obvious for his own good. While a player has to live in fear of losing all three stocks to some variation of a forward square combo, you’re never going to be in a situation where you can say that you didn’t see it coming from a mile away.
Overall: Raiden is currently being used as much as he is because players haven’t built a strong defense against the character’s hilariously obvious approach. Raiden’s strengths lie solely in his ability to pressure enemies that are singled out. Don’t approach him because you think you have to, a Raiden player will eventually have to come to you.
Suggestions: Take away his grab setup into a kill. I’m fine with forward square or other moves setting up level 1, but it’s absolutely ridiculous that he has a grab setup into a kill considering his supers aren’t bad to begin with.
Strengths: Kratos is safe, stable, and capable of building ridiculous amounts of AP off of very simple combos. There is no official frame data on Kratos’s attacks, but most of them fit into the “If you blocked it, good luck punishing me” category. Kratos’s chain swords are capable of pressuring most projectile characters and the wide arcs of his attacks provide a defensive base as well as combo setups.
Weaknesses: Aside from the general “you can camp him” comments, I don’t actually see much that is wrong with Kratos. He’s not unsafe like Dante and he’s capable of covering most angles. The main angle he doesn’t have covered his directly above him, so I suppose Jak could really give him the business with his combination of long ranged attacks and safe divebombs. Secondly, his supers aren’t exactly much to write home about. He has no way to combo into his level one aside from his helios beam. His level 2 is the only move that provides him with straight vertical cover, and his level 3 has the potential to be especially strong, but mobile characters will find it somewhat easy to avoid.
Overall: Kratos’s saving grace for terrible setups into his level 1 is the fact that he builds AP so easily. If I had to suggest an action character to a new player, I would likely suggest Kratos. I’d place him in the top third of characters, though I’m not sure exactly where.
Suggestions: Lower his base hit AP generation but give him back one of his setups into level 1. Right now Kratos players sit on AP for their level 3 because setting up a level 1 is impractical. Why would you take away his level 1 setups if you were going to make a character like Raiden, who has no less than four setups into his level 1?
Balance isn’t solely about cutting characters down; adjustments can be used to bring the bottom up as much as they can be used to pull characters down from their ivory towers. These characters are the ones most in need of a buff.
Strengths: Close up range and flexibility. Dante’s trickster cancels allow him to maneuver across the field with his angel dash while canceling into rebellion or karma. If he hits with any move, an experienced Dante player should be able to convert that into more AP than most other characters. Through the use of his “empty cancel”, any stray grounded strike could spell the opponent’s death. Plus he’s flashy as hell. He’s also able to stay alive better than most by keeping to the air with gunshots trickstered into angel dash.
Weaknesses: Dante is generally only potent at close ranges. Ebony and Ivory have no hitstun so his short-range projectiles provide no cover on entry. Dante players will want to keep to using karma as an opening attack, as it causes an enemy to stumble, opening them up for larger combos. If Dante misses with any of his neutral square attacks, he’s a sitting duck. Most characters can respond to a whiffed rebellion attack with their level 1 and rest assured that Dante will die from it.
Overall: I love playing Dante; his combos are entertaining and canceling said combos into flashy supers is the epitome of satisfying. Unfortunately, self-satisfaction does little in the face of cold, hard pragmatism. Dante is not for the practically minded player. His lack of ranged hitstun, unsafe attacks, and inability to cover any range that isn’t directly in front of his face makes him one of the weaker characters overall. Still, that doesn’t stop me from playing him in doubles or hitting the lab with him to explore his otherwise great potential.
Suggestions: If it wasn’t apparent by my mentioning it twice, SuperBot should give Ebony and Ivory some hitstun. Not necessarily much (and have it be ignored if the enemy is already in hitstun or in a crumple state), but enough to disrupt enemy attacks if they are hit with a stray bullet. His guns don’t have much range to speak of so it’s not like he will be able to utilize his guns in the same way that Drake, Ratchet, Jak, and Radec do.
Strengths: Nariko is a character I’d place in the advanced category; she’s not just someone who you can pick up and know what to do immediately. At first glance, most of her stuff doesn’t combo so much as it places enemies into frame trap situations. At second glance, she generates an amazing amount of AP off of nearly any hit. Nariko boasts versatile normal attacks, she can roll out of most of her normal strings and she’s got worthwhile ranged attacks with her disc and controllable rocket.
Weaknesses: Where are the setups? This goes back to the “advanced” comment. Nariko is capable of setting the opponent up into some great normal combos, but good luck setting up her level 1 and 2 supers. If you have your opponent cornered or you’re at the right range, her disc can set opponents up into level 1, but that’s about it. Her immobile level 2 has “proton cannon” properties in that the summoning of her turret causes knockback that can lead to an enemy’s demise, but if an opponent finds their way close to the level 2 super, they’re completely safe.
Overall: I like Nariko a great deal. She’s not simple, and playing against a worthwhile Nariko always gives you the feeling that it’s someone who thoroughly loves the character.
Suggestions: She already has the combos; why not reward a player with a viable level 1 setup?
Strengths: For all the crying people do about Radec’s sniper rifle, I have more trouble dealing with his bolt gun. The sniper rifle can be jumped and approached, his neutral circle however can be fired in the air and if it lands, it causes the enemy to have to block and otherwise stop their approach. Radec’s obviously got the long range on lock, but he’s no slouch up close either. His up throw gives him a viable AP eject combo when people get close, giving him a super and widening the area between him and would-be assailants.
Weaknesses: Radec’s camping is way too linear for a one-on-one confrontation. Rather than pressuring him with a close ranged character, pick someone who has greater mobility and a strong camping game as well. Jak, both Coles, Ratchet, and Drake win this matchup with very little effort.
Overall: This is a character that is strictly for 2v2 use. Radec needs some sort of mid-range cover character to provide a worthwhile barrier between the Colonel and utter decimation.
Suggestions: Make Radec’s down circle grenade launcher explode on contact with an enemy. Radec needs some sort of disruption move to make the ground in front of him a hazardous place for enemies.