The King Of Fighters XV Beginner’s Tips: Inputs, Cancels & More

From noob to noob who can do a quarter circle.

King Of Fighters XV
King Of Fighters XV

The King Of Fighters XV is the latest entry in one of the longest running fighting game franchises ever made, and given that the game is available on more platforms than ever before, there’s going to be a wealth of new players coming in to see what all the fuss is about. If you’re a completely new player making your first foray into the world of KOF, and you’ve never really experienced fighting games before, here are all the King Of Fighters XV beginner’s tips you need to know to make the best start you possibly can.


1. Hit The Tutorial

If you’re completely new to the game, your first port of call should naturally be the tutorial. Going into a match and hitting buttons randomly is one way of learning, but knowing which buttons perform what actions is always a good thing. It’s also here where you can figure which controller bindings work for you, before swapping them out in the options menu, along with learning about super canceling and MAX Mode, which will come into play later.


2. Pick Three Characters

Unlike other fighting games, KOF operates as a 3v3 game, with each character acting as a round of sorts. Players pick their characters, and the first to lose all three characters takes the L. Because of this, it’s important that you get to grips with a full team of characters, instead of relying on knowing one character well and using them to carry you through. The game comes equipped with pre-made teams of three, so that’s usually a good place to start, but you can mix and match as you wish.


3. Check Out The Mission Mode

Once you have your characters lined up, you’ll want to head into the mission mode (alongside free practice) to learn the moves and combos your character possesses. The mission mode only offers a couple of bread and butter combos per character, but it’s the best place to learn the rhythm and timings that King Of Fighters XV usually requires for its combos. It’s also a great place to focus on the next point.


4. Practice Your Input Execution

The King Of Fighters XV
The King Of Fighters XV

If you’re a player coming from the likes of Mortal Kombat, Granblue Fantasy Versus, Tekken, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle or even Fantasy Strike, some of the special move inputs will be a step above your typical executions. Expect plenty of quarter circles into half circles, as that’s the universal input for everyone’s Climax Super Special Move. It’s a bit more than people who play other games might be used to, though with time, you’ll be throwing out supers with reckless abandon.

Don’t do that, though. It will get blocked, and you will get punished for it.


5. Choose Your Order

Once you’ve got your three person line-up sorted, you’ll need to decide the individual order that your characters will jump into the match as. While learning a team, a good rule of thumb is to cycle your starting fighter each fight, so you can guarantee some experience with that character. After that, it’s a decision on whether you want to start or finish the fight with the character you’re most comfortable with. Both are viable strategies.


6. Hit The Story and Versus Modes

The King Of Fighters XV
The King Of Fighters XV

Before getting crucified by some of the lobby monsters that dwell in the online portion of The King Of Fighters XV, it’s wise to jump into both the story and versus modes to obtain some kind of real fight experience. The AI isn’t quite up to the same standards as fighting a real opponent, but they’re designed to punish bad habits with an alarming regularity. If you’re constantly jumping in to start your attack, the AI has no qualms throwing out anti-air moves to stuff you every single time. Use the moves you have available to you, and find ways to get around their defenses.


7. Don’t Be Afraid To Swap Characters

Sometimes, your choices in character don’t pan out the way you want them to, but that’s fine. If you feel like the character you’ve chosen isn’t working out, feel free to switch and repeat some of the previous steps to get acclimated to them. For example, we’d started out playing as Yashiro, Shun’ei and Meitenkun, but struggled to really get going as them despite enjoying their designs. One switch to the old protagonist team of Kyo, K’ and Terry later, and KOF XV is way more fun. Embrace change.


8. Be Wary Of Rush Combos Early On

A feature that was added into The King Of Fighters XIV and returns here is the Rush Combo. Essentially, players can mash light punch (X/Square) to perform a quick combo that ends with a super move. The move changes depending on which other attack button you press or, if you just mash light punch, the highest level special move you can perform. It’s a decent way of easily dealing damage as a new player, but you can easily do more harm to yourself by blowing 3 bars of super meter, especially if your opponent is blocking. If your attacks aren’t hitting, stop mashing light punches.


9. Practice Your Cancels And Use MAX Mode

The features that’ll separate you from those who are just hitting buttons and flailing about, super cancels allow you to combo moves into more powerful moves, but getting the timing and knowing which moves to cancel into what can be tricky. Mission mode is a good place to start, but there’s more to be found by digging into the practice mode and finding new combos and tools for yourself. It can be a timely process, but hard work can and will pay dividends.

Meanwhile, MAX Mode is a feature that can allow you to cash in two bars of meter, but there’s two ways to do so. Initiating MAX Mode from neutral will trigger the normal version, where your attack and guard crush strength increase for a limited time. There’s also a MAX Mode Quick, which can be activated either during a combo or after blocking an attack, and can be used to either extend your damage or quickly get the upper hand on your opponent.


10. Head Online

The King Of Fighters XV
The King Of Fighters XV

Ultimately, the best way to learn is from competition. Iron sharpens iron, and there tends to be a lot of sharper iron lurking online ready to give you a free lesson. While taking on the big, bad denizens of The King Of Fighter XV’s servers might seem daunting, it’s genuinely going to be the best way to improve at the game, either through experimentation or by seeing a more experienced player do things with a character you didn’t think were possible.

The King of Fighters XV is available on PC, PS5, PS4, and Xbox Series X & S.

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