How important is stepping in Virtua Fighter 5 actually and can it help your gameplay? Dashes, crouch-dashes, and evades – how do they fit into the picture of stepping?
What about step-canceling, DM & OM? Are there any specific stepping maneuvers that are ideal for spacing? What is “Box Stepping?”
This article is meant to guide you through the yet relatively uncovered gameplay aspect called "stepping."
Stepping is a performance that describes the distancing of a character from his opponent.
This article discusses the many aspects of stepping in VF5 – from mechanics behind stepping to your stepping tools and more. It’s all in this (quite long) guide.
Note: In-depth explanations are always given separately in extra paragraphs, as it is the case with this info bit. These bits and pieces are only side-notes. This allows you to keep track of the essential information provided in the main text, information that you really need to know, and of the ones that go much deeper.
Stepping has always played a very active part in the life of Virtua Fighter. Pretty much like defending (throw escapes, ETEG, Fuzzy Guard) you can’t sit on the lazy side when being on the move. As with almost everything in VF, stepping is very input oriented. Especially in Virtua Fighter 3 you are able to do extensive stepping sequences and different kinds of dodges that you could tie together to a lightning-fast stepping firework. With the abandonment of the Evade-Button though, AM-2 decided to go a different way in later installments: instead of setting all functions of dodging and evading to one extra button, the directional input was used for that. Among many VFers this is considered to be a much more natural way of inputting evasions. Therefore, in Virtua Fighter 4 and 5 you execute stepping techniques just with the use of the digital stick.
I’m certain that you have already done several stepping attempts or patterns in Virtua Fighter 5 yourself – either consciously or unconsciously. Even if you simply walk, this can be considered stepping as well. What every serious VFer ought to long for is going from point A to B and back to A again as fast as possible and under full control.
So why all this fuss? Do we even need stepping this badly?
In fact, we can’t even fight without it. A moving target is harder to hit, isn’t it? Distance is the most important function in a fight. How close to your opponent do you want to be? And when? Without using distance to your advantage you are at risk of losing the match: your attacks will miss because of their limited range and your distance to the opponent, which may be too huge to overcome just with a single attack of yours. Bridging the gap in offensive and backing off in defensive situations is only natural.
Backwards to defend, forwards to attack: this is the basic principle of distance. As VF5 plays in the third dimension as well, we also have to consider the z-axis. This is where evasions to the side come into play too. Even if they don’t advance you forward on their own, they still serve as potential tool to avoid attacks and are therewith part of the stepping tools ensemble.
How important range is can be seen from the figure above. Your different tools to attack your enemy with only have a certain range. First comes the kick, then the elbow, then the punch, and, last but not least, the throw.
The category “throws” can be divided up as well: catch-throws (with evasion properties), grab-throws, ground-throws—in this order according to their range.
It’s important to have the range of your moves in mind and to classify your attacks accordingly. You simply can’t start out attacking your foe with a punch combination from a far-off distance. Your opponent will win that situation if he decided for a long range attack against your short-ranged combo mix-up.
Throws have different ranges as well. Wolf is a perfect example for this. Certain throws of him have a much higher grab range than others.
Before going on reading, please make sure to watch Srider’s introductory video on Movement in VF5. Please follow the link to the video here.
Dashing and walking form the basis of stepping. However, as years went by and new VF installments came out one after another, an impressive amount of additional tools have been added. So far, we can speak of:
- All-Range-Movement (ARM or Walking) , , , , , ,
- Dash ,
- Crouch-Dash (CD) ,
- Running ,
- Jumping // or
- Rolling (input goes for Goh here only)
- Defensive Movement (DM or Evasion or Dodge) ,
- Offensive Movement (OM) ,
- Special Case: Stepping from Back-turned State
Every non-attack that moves you forward, backwards, to the side, or that is supportive when advancing can be counted as stepping tool. Thus, it is no wonder that even jumping, which bridges a considerable amount of distance in no time, counts as that.
Let’s have a closer look at the stepping tools in particular now paying careful attention to the advantages and disadvantages of each of them.
All-Range-Movement (ARM) , , , , , ,
I will call All-Range-Movement simply what it is: walking. In the days of Virtua Fighter 5, you can’t state anymore that dashing is always better than walking. While every character dashes equally regarding quickness, this cannot be said about walking. Some characters have faster walking speeds than others. This shouldn’t be underestimated: characters like Vanessa for example can back off a good distance real quick only by walking backwards. Fast ARM characters also walk circa twice as fast as slow ones.
It even goes this far that the forward walking speed isn’t always equal to the backwards walking speed. For instance, Kage is the fastest forward walker.
Have a look at the table down below. It shows the overall walking speed for each character. Pai and Aoi are the slowest characters whereas Jacky and his kinds (see the fast characters’ row) can walk more than twice as fast. Knowing your walking speed can be a decisive factor if you want to use ARM efficiently for retreating/advancing.
As you can see in the table the walking speed of Pai and Aoi is set to 100%. That means that everything above 100% is faster than Pai or Aoi. The characters are also split up into the categories “Fast,” “Average,” and “Slow” for better overview.
Fast characters (see Vanessa) often make use of so-called evade-backdash-backwalk stepping patterns baiting the opponent into missing attacks. See the Vane Back Off in my article 4 Clever Stepping Maneuvers.
The pros & cons:
- Good even in close combat (but only for fast walkers)
- Perfect for movement at medium to long range
- Fully cancelable (guard, attack, dashes, evades, etc.)
- Susceptible to throws
Every character is able to dash equally in speed. We distinguish between forward for offense and backward dashes for defense. It is crucial to note that while backward dashing is great in other fighting games for building up a defense, this is not the case for Virtua Fighter. A back dash cannot be guard-canceled: that is to say, that you can’t interrupt the back dash to block an incoming attack. This is something one has to get used to at first.
Statistics for the backward dash ( ): 21 frames. Not guard-cancelable!
Apart from that, forward and back dashes in general are movements where you stand which makes them susceptible to throwing. Later on, we will learn, though, why standard dashes are nonetheless an essential tool for stepping.
The pros & cons:
- Easy to perform
- Bridges a greater distance than crouch-dashes (about 1 foot length more)
- Only forward dash is guard-cancelable
- Susceptible to throws
Crouch-Dash (CD) ,
The true king of stepping is crouch-dashing. As you’re in a crouched state while performing it, you are safe from grab or catch-throws. As well, you can cancel every crouch-dash with guard which fabulously replaces the normal back dash with a crouch back dash.
Crouch-Dashes are also often used to cancel failed evasion attempts to give back full control of your character.
A Forward CD is only 6 frames whereas a backward CD lasts 8f, and ducking itself (hold downward) lasts 7 frames. Therefore, Forward CDs are often used in disadvantagous situations of -6 frames – called Fuzzy Guarding.
For a more consistent success rate when crouch-dashing I’d advise that you replace the normal or motion with or . Rolling the stick this way, lets you perform multiple crouch-dashes much, much easier.
The pros & cons:
- More difficult to perform
- Fully guard-cancelable
- Safe from high throws (as you are in a crouched state)
Running is easily the fastest forward movement in VF5. However, it can only get triggered if your opponent is sufficiently at distance from you. Therefore, its role for stepping is rather limited.
A considerable amount of characters have special attacks that they can only perform while running. This doesn’t go for Goh though …
Jumping // or
Many players don’t think about jumping as potential stepping tool but jumping itself has a hidden charm. In fact, jumping has become quite powerful in Virtua Fighter and comes in handy for characters whose walking speed (ARM) isn’t quite as great.
While you can’t cancel a jump with anything but a jump attack, it nonetheless plays an important role when retreating from a floored opponent or from the back-turned state.
The pros & cons:
- Ideal against floored opponents or from the back-turned state
- Not guard-cancelable
- Safe from throws (as you are airborne)
Underestimated by many this technique also belongs to the stepping arsenal (of Goh at least). While being in a somewhat crouched state you can roll forward only. Therefore, a quite great amount of distance can be bridged and combined with attacks, throws, or additional stepping when waking up from the roll.
The Forward Roll is often used against floored opponents for Uramawari (getting behind the rising opponent) but also for Okizeme in general. Just try it yourself when the opponent gets floored. Get in close, and do two Forward Rolls. Under certain circumstances, you will get behind the opponent giving you an immense advantage.
It is possible to use the Forward Roll after evading throws to back off from the opponent into safe, far-off distance.
The pros & cons:
- Fast forward movement that crouches under all high and some mid moves
- Strong Okizeme tool
- Not cancelable
- Wake-up from rolling is often unexpected and sets up a guessing game between attacking, throwing or further moving.
- Susceptible to low-throws (however the opponent has to be really, really quick)
Defensive Movement (DM) ,
It seems that many people can’t quite cope with the terms here. Defensive/Offensive Movement only describes the evasion itself; whereas Defensive Move and Offensive Move describe the attack that you can perform while DMing or OMing (DM P+K, and so on). The term DM or OM Move however is unofficial and only complicates things.
In order to keep things as clear as possible: Defensive Movement Attack is DM P+K. Offensive Movement Punch or Offensive Movement Kick is OM P or OM K.
Evading is important in Virtua Fighter. In 2-D fighting games, you usually don’t have the third dimension into which you can evade easily into safety and from your opponent’s non-circular strikes. In Street Fighter for example, you have to jump over fireballs instead of going just a small step to the side.
Defensive Movement is an evasion that allows you to directly counter (if wished so) attacks while the opponent is still performing his move resulting in a major counter for +50% damage. This is also opens up the possibility of doing better, more damaging combos. While evading successfully, you also enter a brief window of invulnerability for the opponent’s non-circular moves.
As a tool for stepping, DM is often used to cancel other stepping maneuvers, such as dashes or crouch-dashes. Being able to cancel movements keeps you relatively safe and in full charge of your own movements. While evading, you can always input throw escapes as well. Therefore, evasions can’t be rated high enough for stepping. More about it under Step-canceling further below.
The pros & cons:
- Evades non-circular attacks
- Failed evasion attempts should always be CD-canceled
- Plays an important role for stepping as it can cancel other movements
- Can be led into the follow-up attack
- Can be led into Offensive Movement too by adding to the dodge
- If not CD-canceled, susceptible to throws (however you can always input throw escapes while evading)
Offensive Movement (OM) ,
The main difference between DM and OM is that OM advances you diagonally-forward, whereas DM is just a step to the side.
Offensive Movement is often used in Okizeme (against rising opponents), to quickly change positions in the ring, or in combos. You can practically break every combo on purpose and mix in an Offensive Movement to distract the opponent, and restart the combo—your trap—again.
OM is similar to VF3’s short-dodge (236+E), though not as useful in VF5. As you’re standing upon performing it, you are not safe from throws.
Every Defensive Movement can be turned into an Offensive Movement. This leaves the possibility to advance forward when needed instead of only stepping aside. Another option is never bad to have.
The pros & cons:
- Evades moves under certain circumstances, versus certain characters (vs. Akira, Eileen …)
- Bridges distances quite well
- Susceptible to throws
- Can be led into the follow-up attacks ,
- Not guard cancelable
Special Case: Stepping from Back-turned State
You may ask yourself what about stepping from the back-turned state (BT) and whether that counts as stepping tool as well. Being back-turned means that only your back is facing your opponent giving you—due to your turned silhouette—more evasive properties as if you’d be facing him with your hands and feet turned to your opponent.
The downside is that you are rather limited stepping-wise when back-turned, and that most characters must perform an attack for getting into the BT state. Option-wise from BT, you can retreat, jump away, turn around by pressing Guard, do a back-turned attack, or – if you buffer it fast enough after turning around – you can dash or crouch-dash towards the opponent getting into throw range if you’re too far off.
Yes, stepping from back-turned is possible, though rather limited to the 2nd dimension, to forward or backward movements.
The pros & cons:
- Gives you certain evasive properties
- Can be greatly combined with walking away (ARM), and launching a BT attack
- Limits your movement to the second dimension
- Can be susceptible to (highly damaging) BT throws
Being able to cancel a movement with another one is the very essence of stepping. A good stepping patterns should always allow you to move freely on the battlefield and under full control.
The table below is your ultimate key to stepping. With the help of it, you can create different stepping patterns yourself. It shows you which movement can be canceled with which stepping tool. The "who is who of stepping" if you want.
In the table, evades (/) can either stand for Defensive Movements (DM) or Offensive Movements (OM), as any evasion can be turned into an OM (by pushing all three buttons).
The first row (blue) shows the movement with which you may want to start off. Let’s take the back-dash as example (2nd row). If we have a look at the entries in the second row now, Evasion and Attack show up. That means that the backward dash can only be canceled with evasions (or Offensive Movements) or an attack. Performing any other move after a back dash, for example a forward dash, won’t cancel your back dash which leaves you in a vulnerable state. This, for instance, shows that back-dashing can solely be used for defensive purposes in VF.
Cancel your DMs!
When performing DMs while the enemy isn’t attacking you, the DM will turn into a failed evasion leaving you at a much greater recovery rate. Always cancel failed evasion attempts with crouch-dashes. This greatly reduces the amount of time that you’re vulnerable during a failed evade. The nice side effect is that you also avoid throws this way. Be always on the move and cancel your evasions. Make it a habit!
Box Stepping played an important role in VF3 and VF4. Akira Kid first introduced Korean Stepping or Box Stepping (often falsely referred to as Taiwanese Stepping) in Virtua Fighter 3. Basically, it’s a stepping pattern that lets you move around in the shape of a box. Examples of it for VF5 can be found in Srider’s video on movement. Even though, I think it doesn’t play an important role anymore, I will, nonetheless, give you the two most common forms of Box Stepping as examples.
The most Basic Box Step can be found below. It’s a combination of evasions and dashes that will neither advance you forward nor backwards. Practically, you are hovering on the same spot, always returning to your initial position that you started the Box Step from. It can be a great means for baiting the opponent, or just for keeping yourself at the most efficient distance from your opponent.
The Box Step is only a construct. There are many ways to alter the concept. Why don’t we replace the forward dash that is susceptible to throws with a much safer crouch-dash? As we can’t evade-cancel a crouch-dash, we also have to drop one evasion. Violá! We now got the CD Box Step down below, which can be easily be led into a Shoulder Ram (for Goh) from any crouch-dash in the pattern.
You got the all the ingredients you need for creating a stepping flow of your own now. The Step-Canceling Chart will be of great help for you. It shows you what works and what doesn’t. Use that to your advantage.
Oftentimes, there’s no need for overly complicated stepping patterns such as the Box Step. A simple back crouch-dash into a Shoulder Ram will do as nicely as round-opener or in general.
For more stepping maneuvers read the article 4 Clever Stepping Maneuvers.