Brawlhalla has seen a huge surge in players over the past few months due to its ease of access and availability in both consoles and PC. The game has a fun and addictive style which unlike other fighting games, is not so hard to get into. It’s quite similar to Super Smash Bros and player porting over to Brawlhalla from Smash Bros will have a pretty firm grasp of the fundamentals.
But, for those of you who don’t really have much experience in this genre of multiplayer gaming, saying the game will be frustrating will be a huge understatement. You’ll probably just quit the game early on and wonder how such a simple-looking game can make you rage so much.
To save you from all that pain (and your peripherals too probably), here’s a comprehensive beginner’s guide to Brawlhalla covering everything that a newbie needs to know.
What is Brawlhalla
Brawlhalla is a platform fighting game where the Objective is simple – you try to knock the opponent off the map. It sounds pretty simple but is really complicated with the mix of a lot of different weapons, items, and mechanics. If you’ve actually played a game before reading this article, we know how your game went. You were just bouncing around the map wondering “WHERE AM I?”. And, that’s perfectly normal. You’ve just taken your first step towards becoming a Brawlhalla player.
Let’s get into some of the basics. For starters, there are two main modes: Stock and Time. In stock, the players (2 or more) have the same number of lives at the start of the match. The concept is simple, you fight to the death. The first person to run out of lives loses the game. In Time, the objective is to score the highest number of Kills or Knockouts in each time.
The Damage System
In Brawlhalla, one of the most interesting features is how damage works. It’s a pretty interesting gimmick; something extremely confusing for most new players. One second you are impossible to kill and the other you are flying from one portion of the screen to the other. Instead of a life bar that is a hallmark in most of your average fighting games, players have a meter that signifies how much damage has been taken.
A white bar on the enemy icon indicates small damage taken, followed by yellow (medium) and red (high). The more damage a unit takes, the farther that unit will be thrown. You’ll notice that sometimes you do the same attack to one unit and it barely tickles them. Doing the same attack to another unit, however, will toss them off the map faster than you can say ‘wow’. This is where the damage and its corresponding vulnerability comes into play.
Right now, there are 50 playable characters in Brawlhalla. When selecting a character there are some things that you will notice. First off, there are weapon selections. Every character has two types of weapons which allow him/her to perform basic and advanced moves. These weapons are shared by each character in a roster, but they have their own signature moves as well (something we will talk about later).
The next notable factor to talk about are the stats. Each character has four stats:
- Force – Determines how much damage and knockback the character does. A strong force character can easily kill enemies in a few hits.
- Defense – Indicates damage neglect and knockback resistance. This stat allows characters to tank high damage.
- Dexterity – Determines the time taken to do the next action. A character with high dexterity will take less time.
- Mobility – Determines how fast the character is.
Each character has a set amount of points for each stat, making them unique and giving them the ability to counter one another. This creates balance in the game as one character is good at some things but not all.
The character choice is vast in Brawlhalla, there is something for every play style – From combo heavy enthusiasts to the brute force, to one-shot killers. You need to know your legend before being able to get better with him. You need to know the ins-and-outs of your legend, his range, his speed, damage output, etc. This information is vital if you’re going to main a legend.
Controls seem intimidating at first but are very accessible and easy to learn. The game caters to newcomers and allows customization to suit a players’ needs. You can also decide whether to play on a controller or keyboard.
The most basic command for a character is Movement. The default controls are the arrow keys and these cover lateral and some vertical movement. Going left and right and moving from platform to platform. The up key can also be bounded to the jump button. A character can jump up to three times.
The count is really important to remember as you’ll have to time your jumps right to make sure you don’t get pushed off the map accidentally. Learning the movement is a core value in mastering the game, as it is what you will be doing most of the match. Like they say, “those who move good, play well”. We’ll discuss movement in detail a bit below.
The next control is Attack. Each character has two buttons for attack; light and heavy. A character can vary these attacks by his/her two weapons that can be equipped or in an unarmed state. The attack button can be used in two states: Standing and In-Air:
- While standing, there are three variations to both light and heavy attacks: neutral, side, and down. Each attack has its different hit types and properties that can be experimented in training mode.
- In the air, the light attack retains the three types of variations (side, neutral and down), but, in case of a heavy attack, it consists of two types:
- The first is a ground pound, in which the character accelerates downwards while executing an attack.
- The second is recovery, which allows your character to do an attack that carries you in the air.
Beginners often spam signatures which is not how the game is designed to be played. Try using your Light Attacks more frequently, making sure to chain them together for combos. A good player can play and win using only Light Attacks, so don’t rely too much on your Special Attacks.
The next control is Dodge that can be done while on the ground or in the air. This gives you some invincibility that allows avoidance of attacks for a short timeframe. The dodge animation recovers in 1-second while on the ground, and 3 seconds while in the air.
You can also dash by holding the dodge button to traverse around the stage at faster speeds. This is unlimited and does not penalize you with anything, allowing you to strategize your decisions. We’ll talk about this in detail once we get to the Combat part.
Dodge is an important utility in the game, that allows the player to turn an unwinnable scenario, into a comeback. The next controls are Throw and Pickup that allow you to interact with the items in the game. This includes bomb, weapon upgrades, etc. You can also throw the equipped item with the same button.
The movement in this game is quite simple. The combination of horizontal and vertical movement, with the implementation of jump and dash, allows players to strategize and dictate the flow of the match.
First is the Jump button. We have discussed that a character can jump up to three times. However, some gimmicks make it a lot flexible. Jump reset is a feature that resets the count of the Jump Button every time a character meets a wall or a platform. While in the air, fast fall allows characters to fall faster to the ground, which helps in mixing up the timings on when the character lands and makes it less predictable.
Recovery allows the character to gain some height while attacking. These three features create the backbone in getting your player safe from danger and get back on the stage. You can also spot a good player with how much he/she efficiently use dodge and dash in harmony.
Combat in Brawlhalla is simple and designed on a core design that is unique for each character. Some Characters are good at range, some in close quarters, some can have large combos, whereas others just need to set up their combos.
These unique moves are called Signatures. Signatures allow a character to do insane damage in few hits and are very useful as combo enders. However, these are very slow and have a large recovery, so missing it can be very punishing. Damage is dependent on how much the opponent is hit. It is difficult to kill an opponent quickly unless you have great execution or setups. It is more reliable to chip the opponent little by little, then go for the killing blow.
With damage comes finishing, keep in mind that an opponent loses a stock only if he/she is knocked off the stage. There is no other way. Normally this would mean that you want to use most of the move set. But this is not necessary. You can use a handful of moves and even that will be enough for finishing the opponent. Ideally, you would want to hit the opponent with light attacks to reduce his/her health, then go for damaging moves such as a signature. Remember, this can also be used on you, so care is appreciated.
Now, the damage is one thing to inflict on the opponent. But what if you are the receiver? In such situations, players should utilize the defensive mechanics that the game has offered. And, your best friend will be dodging. The dodge mechanic is given to all characters and it allows you to make any attack miss with the right timing. This requires a lot of practice as using it poorly can create an opening for your opponent.
You should be dodging most enemy attacks and projectiles with it, and it can be a powerful recovery tool when used with a special ability. If timed correctly, you can dodge in mid-air just before using a special ability. This can lead to intense combos.
Combos in Brawlhalla require both attack button timings and movement, it is important for the player to position the character properly to get the maximum amount of damage. Just like every other fighting game, Brawlhalla also has a similar rule of thumb that grants every character their own unique combos. But, if we had to generalize things a bit, we’d go with Starter, filler, and Ender.
- Starter – A move that starts a combo. It is mostly a light attack with a small startup.
- Filler – A set of moves that helps in extending a combo, to get more damage, or to carry from point a to point b.
- Ender – Moves that finish a combo, maximizing damage and knockback.
Next is Edge-Guarding. This concept is unique to platform fighting games. The idea is that once a character is knocked off the stage, the player goes to the Edge where the player will come and attempt to poke the player to keep him/her off the stage. You’ll need to guard the edge and make sure you throw any pesky playing trying to jump their way to safety. A good way to practice combo is to go to training mode, set Dodge Reaction to On and Damage Reset to On. This will allow you to combo while simulating a real match.
Weapon diversity is one of the most fun aspects of the game. And, if you’re aiming for any sort of success in the game, you’re going to have to master every single weapon in the game. Let’s talk about some of the weapons.
Sword: A very basic tool with a decent bit of damage. Good for newcomers to learn the game.
Spear: A difficult weapon to handle. Unlike the sword, it is not spam friendly. Learning a spear is very impactful as it is one of the best melee defense weapons in the game.
Hammer: This is a very underrated weapon as it caters to brute force rather than precision.
Axe: This is a very tricky weapon as it offers less than expected. It is good at run and gun rather than perfect placement.
Katars: A very aggressive weapon, it is advantageous to play aggressively. Katars allow fast-paced combo to trigger happy players.
Gauntlets: A good weapon if you love to pull off good and tricky plays. Works excellent if you can use dodge but is pretty bad overall.
Scythe: One of the best weapons in the game, allows high damage and caters to all skill levels, is mostly safe and has built-in evasion.
Blasters: A very simple weapon, is abuse-friendly and a good weapon if you don’t want to worry about damage and enjoy the game.
Bow: A very versatile weapon, is beginner-friendly and has a lot of flexibility in its combo and mobility.
Cannon: It’s a pretty hard weapon to master and has punishable frames if missed but is very good at bullying if you can control it.
Rocket Lance: This weapon cannot be dodged if hit and has the most damaging and easy combo. But, it’s hard to master for beginners.
Learning the various weapon combos is the first step to really improving your attacking game in Brawlhalla. Combos should be your primary way of attacking and doing damage. Each weapon has different combos, but the same weapon may have combos unique to specific legends.
Getting Back to Stage
Now, you have learned how the game works, how various inputs create harmony in controlling your character. You know how combos work and have an understanding of what your character is good at. However, that is just the offense, now you should learn how to defend against an aggressive opponent.
A very common situation, you get damaged, you fly off the stage, start spamming Jump and Recovery, but never make it back to the stage. Brawlhalla rewards patience and precision. The most optimal way is to time your jumps such that your current jump reaches the highest height.
Recovery is also useful in this aspect, not only does it act as a semi-jump, but it also allows lateral movement, pushing your character to a side.
There is a fixed way on which Edge Guarding works. Even though the objective of this strategy is the same, it will have different options for each execution. For starters, there are two ways to edge guard:
- Waiting on Stage and attacking contact.
- Sticking to the wall and Ground Pounding.
So, for these there are two options to do:
- Sticking to the wall and Dash Jumping over the opponent.
- Baiting the ground pound and timing your recovery.
Congratulations, you now have a firm grasp of all the fundamentals of the game. However, the one difference between Brawlhalla and every other game you play would be that this game is completely practical. You get better by doing it.
The info we just provided is completely theoretical and the only way you’re going to get better is if you just go and play. Don’t be afraid to lose. You’re going to get tossed off the map a thousand times before you learn how to stay on it.