Dragon Ball Fighter Z - Learning Basic High-Damage Manual Combos
A few people have asked how to get started with comboing in Dragon Ball Fighter Z. There are a lot of combo rules that the game won’t teach you, so new players might be confused as to why certain combos work and others don’t. This guide is intended to walk you through doing a basic high-damage universal manual combo that nearly every character in the cast can do. It will also teach you how to get creative and make up some combos of your own.
This article uses numpad notation. If you don’t know how to read it, check out our guide to numpad notation. If you aren’t certain about some of the terms in this guide, check out our fighting game glossary.
There are a couple main restrictions when comboing.
Restriction #1: Each subsequent hit of a combo does less and less hit stun. The longer a combo goes, the harder it is to continue.
This is a fairly common restriction in modern fighting games. Quite simply, you have more leeway at the beginning of your combo than at the end. Use your slower moves earlier in the combo and your faster moves later as a rule of thumb.
Restriction #2: You get only one homing dash (per character) per jump.
The homing dash, or Super Dash as it is called in this game, is an incredible tool. It helps you pursue your opponent wherever he is. Unfortunately, you only get to use it once per jump. Attempting to use it twice will result in nothing happening. Using it from the ground counts as your one time usage.
Restriction #3: You get only one attack with the “SMASH!” property per combo.
Every so often you will use an attack that causes the camera angle to change briefly, the word “Smash!” to flash on the side of the screen, and then your opponent will rocket away from you at high speeds. Pressing any button after these attacks will cause you to homing dash directly at your opponent. Smash attacks keep the opponent in an extended state of hit-stun making follow ups easy (even without a homing dash in some instances). However, you only get one per combo. Using the attack again will result in normal hit-stun.
Restriction #4: When your opponent is in a sliding state you can only hit them with super moves.
Using a spike during a combo will cause your opponent to ender a “slide” state. This operates similar to a hard knockdown would in other fighting games, with a few key differences. Your opponent is stuck on the ground and cannot tech until the slide ends. You can OTG them in this state but only supers OTG in DBFZ. So use this opportunity to finish your combo with a flashy move.
Restriction #5: You can only double jump once while in the air.
You’ll see that many characters can get a simple combo extension by double jumping in the middle of an air combo. You can only do this once per jump, so be careful with moves that knock your opponent higher into the air.
Restriction #6: Assists don’t begin recharging until after your combo finishes.
Another way to extend your combos is to use assists. However, your assists don’t start refreshing until after your combo is over. This essentially limits you to using each of your assists once per combo.
Restriction #7: Weaker hits always have to cancel into heavier hits (except in the air.)
This is a fairly standard restriction as well. Light attacks can combo into medium or heavy attacks but medium attacks can’t combo into light attacks. Remember, your attack strength always has to be getting heavier. The only exception is in the air where you can combo lights into mediums back into lights.
Restriction #8: If you combo a standing hit into a crouching hit of the same strength you cannot combo back again, and vice versa
In lay-man’s terms, if you put a standing medium in your combo you can combo into a crouching medium but not back into a standing medium in the same string.
The Basic BnB
The Beginning (Basically Anything)
Every combo has to start with a first hit. Usually this is a series of hits called a hit-confirm, which is used specifically to make sure your combo will land. Jumping or air-dashing in with heavy attacks is a fairly standard way to start a combo from a mix-up. Light attacks are also a good way to start if you need to interrupt your opponent’s slow attacks. You can even start directly from a crouching medium if you want. As long as you follow the combo rules, you can basically do whatever you want. Just remember that you are aiming to eventually hit the opponent with a crouching medium attack.
The Universal Jump Cancel (2M>5M> JC)
Nearly every character in the game can perform this simple string. Start with a crouching medium, which knocks the opponent off their feet. Then cancel into a standing medium, which knocks the tripped opponent into the air. Everyone’s standing medium is jump cancelable, so take this opportunity to jump after your opponent. This string is important because it doesn’t use your homing dash OR your smash to get the opponent into the air, allowing you to use them later as combo extensions. This is the very first string you should practice when learning to manual combo. Do it until it’s etched into your muscle memory. Do it over and over and over again. You’ll thank me later.
The First Air String (j.L>j.M>j.L>j.2H>H)
This is a basic air string that nearly every character in the game can do. Some aren’t fast enough to land the second light. Some are even slow enough that they have to go directly from j.M to j.2H. However, these are exceptions to the rule. Every character can, in some way, combo into jumping 2H after a jump cancel. This is your eventual goal because 2H is a smash attack. It will knock your opponent high into the air, and by following it up with another H, you will automatically homing dash directly at your opponent allowing you to continue the combo. If you are having trouble landing this string after a jump cancel, it’s ok to shorten it. As long as you land the j.2H you are in business.
The Second Air String ((delay)j.L>j.L or j.M>j.2H>DJC)
Oddly enough, later air strings are easier than early air strings. At this point we have used our smash and our homing dash, but we haven’t used our double jump. That’s what this string is going to have us use. First, you want to press light attack twice, or press light attack and then medium attack. Which one should you use?
Well both of these strings actually perform a light attack followed by a medium attack. They do the same damage. The difference is that pressing light twice pushes your character upward. This is because the game thinks you are doing a light auto-combo and the height boost is pre-programmed in to make it easier for the air string to hit. If, however, you keep missing this string because you are too high, then do the string manually. Your character’s natural falling speed will put you in the right position.
Regardless of which string you use, you once again want to end with j.2H and you want to jump cancel it asap. If you are finding that this puts you too far below the opponent to continue the combo, delay this string a bit at the beginning. The homing dash has surprisingly high hit-stun and its upward momentum should carry you into the right position.
The Third Air String (j.L>j.L or j.M>j.S> special move or j.H)
The next section of our combo is similar to the previous section. The only difference is that we aren’t using j.2H anymore, because we have already used out smash, our homing dash, and our double jump. So it’s time to finish up the combo. The standard way to finish the combo is j.H. This will cause you to spike the opponent into the ground and put them into a sliding state. However, if your character has a useful aerial special move (such as Goku’s spiking punch or multi-kick, or Android 16’s aerial grapple, you can finish this string with that instead. The j.S is optional but adding it in usually gives you enough hit-stun to combo into your special move of choice. You can then attempt to combo into a super move to finish your combo off.
Extensions (Assists usually)
It’s at this point you can try to extend your combo. Usually you do this through assists. When spiking your opponent back to the ground, a long lasting assist (like Vegeta’s ki barrage) can catch them before they enter a sliding state. This allows you to jump up and continue to combo them, repeating the two air strings we mentioned before. Just note, hit-stun will have decayed quite a bit at this point so you might have to cut some strings short. You can also extend your combos with a vanish, since using a vanish in a combo will cause a wall bounce but once again, remember that you will have a limited amount of time to follow up.
While we gave you a particular combo in a particular order, you can kind of mix-and-match these strings however you want. Say that your opponent keeps doing the homing dash and you decide to blow him up with an invincible 2H. Unfortunately that uses up your smash and your homing dash for the combo, but as long as you keep that in mind, you can do the other strings just fine. Say you hit the opponent with an awkward move, like a standing medium. You won’t be able to do the crouching medium to standing medium launch chain. However, you can use an assist to keep your opponent in hit stun and hit them with the launch chain afterward. Most high level combo creation is just improvising on the fly with knowledge of a game’s combo restrictions.
In other words, don’t be afraid to get creative.
- My 2H isn’t smashing
There are a couple reasons why this could be happening. You could have used a smash earlier in the combo. Remember that the third hit of a light auto-combo is a smash. You could have used an assist (like Gotenks’s Donut) that also counts as a smash. Your character might have a command normal on 3H (like Adult Gohan) that doesn’t cause a smash and you are accidentally hitting that. Just go through the combo slowly and try it again.
- My 2H is knocking the opponent to the ground
Some characters just don’t have a 2H that launches. These characters either have a special move that launches, or they just have to cut their combos short. Yamcha is one of these characters. For them, you have to do a shortened simple string of j.L>j.M>DJC>j.L>j.M before your ender of choice.
- Neither j.L twice or j.L>j.M work in the air
Some characters (like Frieza) end up too high with one option and two low with another. These characters just need to cut their strings short, opting for only one M or one L in their aerial strings.
- I’m not doing a homing dash after a smash
You’ve likely used it already. This is especially relevant if you like to spam the homing dash as an approach tool. If it’s still not working, try inputting the homing dash manually by pressing H+S. If this still doesn’t work, then you have definitely already used your homing dash.
- I’m spiking for some reason
You are mashing. You are likely probably trying to input light twice during an air string and getting a spike afterward. This happens if you mash out your combos. If you press light three times, the game will think you are trying to complete an auto-combo and add the spike at the end. Don’t mash. Just press each button calmly and rhythmically.
- I can’t jump cancel
This is a common one. You aren’t supposed to press up after a move hits to jump cancel. You want to hit it slightly before it hits. You can even hold up as it hits if you want. The timing isn’t nearly as strict as you think. Basically hit up at the same time as you press the button for the move you want to jump cancel. If this doesn’t work then you may have already used your double-jump.
- I can’t remember all this!
Time for some psychology. You are right! You can’t. The human brain can hold about seven pieces of information in it at a time. However, we can increase that amount of information through a process called chunking. This is why phone numbers are given to you in a pattern. Simply memorizing seven numbers (or more with area codes) is hard. Remembering two number chunks is easy.
That’s why I didn’t write this combo out all at once. I wrote it out in four chunks. Your brain CAN remember four chunks. So practice the combo as chunks. Practice each aerial string independently and then link them together. Practice jump canceling over and over again. Practice landing a super after a spike over and over again. Eventually you won’t HAVE to remember the whole combo bit by bit. You’ll just instinctually know what moves will continue a combo based on what moves you have already used.