Injustice 2: Tips for mastering combo mechanics

Injustice 2 is not a traditional fighting game, and its combination of 2D and 3D mechanics might seem a little intimidating if you are coming from Street Fighter. Unfortunately, the game’s tutorial also doesn’t do a very good job of explaining its core combo mechanics to you.

But not to worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are ten tips to help you understand Injustice 2’s combo system. With our help, you'll be beating up Superman in no time! 

How to Dial a String

If you are having trouble executing simple combos, your timing is likely off. In many games, you are able to “hit-confirm” before continuing into your combo, which means you can wait to see if the first hit of your combo connects before inputting the rest. In Injustice 2 this is not the case. Strings are considered a single “move,” so you have to input them like you would any other single-move in any other fighting game. That is, you have to input them as quickly as possible.

Try it out. Go into practice mode and dial a character’s three-hit string all before the first hit connects. You’ll find that all three hits come out, no timing required.

How to Read NRS Notation

A few months ago, we posted an article about how to read fighting game notation. NetherRealm Studios games, like Injustice 2, use a completely different notation system, however, that is inspired by 3D fighters such as Tekken. In this case, numbers refer to buttons and directions are referred to with letters. Here is a quick key.

1=light attack

2=medium attack

3=heavy attack

4=hero trait

MB or EX=meter burn, used to enhance an attack

SUPER=use your 4 bar super

B=back

F=forward

D=down

U=up

J=jump

NJ=neutral jump (jump without moving forward or backward)

+=simultaneous input

,=new string

XX=special cancel

WALK=reposition yourself so the next combo hits

(corner)=make sure this move hits while the opponent is in the corner

(low/high/overhead/close/far)=use this specific variant of the move in question

F122 is a single combo string executed by pressing forward and light attack and then medium attack twice.

J3, 123 XX DF2 MB, 11 is a longer combo that starts with a jump in and cancels a light, medium, heavy attack string into a quarter circle forward medium attack meter burn for a combo extension, later linking into a double light string.

Explaining Hit-Stun

Hit-stun means roughly the same thing in Injustice 2 as it does in other games like Street Fighter. Hit-stun usually means your opponent cannot do anything, but in Injustice 2 the opponent can block or throw tech while in hit-stun. This essentially means that the opponent can ALWAYS block, provided that they are on their feet and not in a special hit-state.

This is why it is important to look at hit-strings as all one move, instead of separate individual moves. If the first hit of a hit-string connects, the rest will as well, but any attacks you attempt afterward will be blockable.

Note that while the opponent can block or throw tech while in hit-stun, they cannot attack, move, duck, or otherwise use their inputs. This makes hit-stun good for pressure, and can be used to set up mix-up opportunities.

How to Jump-in

If you are having difficulty getting your jump-in combos to land, it is again an issue of timing. Remember, there are no links in this game. Jumping in, hitting the opponent, waiting to land, and then hitting the opponent again will give the opponent an opportunity to block in between your jumping hit and grounded hit. What the game doesn’t tell you, however, is that any jumping light or medium attack can be tacked on to the beginning of a hit-string and will count as a part of that same dialed string. In simple terms, this means you should begin dialing your combo well before the jump-in hits and your character lands, not afterward.

Note that this only applies for light and medium attacks. Jumping heavy attacks usually knock the opponent off their feet. When your opponent is in a juggle state you can link attacks into each other, so in this case you should wait until your feet touch the ground to continue your string.

Finicky? Arbitrary? Yes, but that’s just how the game works.

How to Special Cancel

If you are having an issue special canceling your hit-strings, it’s likely the same problem we have already talked about. Special cancels in Injustice 2 don’t really work the same way they do in other fighting games.

Once again, you cannot wait until your hit-string connects to input the cancel. Instead, you have to input the cancel as fast as possible, as if it were the last command in a dialed string. Sure enough, that’s how the game’s systems process the special cancel. So if your hit-string connects, the special cancel will as well.

How to Meter Burn

If you are having issues executing enhanced meter burn moves, that’s because each special move has a very specific frame window in which the meter burn button needs to be pressed. You basically have to figure this out using trial and error, but there are a few simple rules that can point you in the right direction.

Projectile special moves usually need to be meter burned as soon as they are executed. This allows you to throw the meter burned version even if they don’t connect.

Grabs and special hits (such as Batman’s grapple) need to be meter-burned after they connect with the opponent. This allows you to do extra damage or put the opponent into an extra hit state but won’t waste meter if the move whiffs.

Melee attack special moves need to be meter burned after the move starts but before the move connects, essentially during wind-up. This allows you to create mix-up opportunities by forcing your opponent to guess whether the normal or enhanced version of the move is going to come out.

Explaining Special Hit-States

Since hit-stun doesn’t allow you to naturally combo in Injustice 2, combos are put together using special hit-states. In general, you need to put the opponent into one of these states in order to continue your combo past a single string. These states tend to be caused by special moves that have been enhanced by spending meter, although some characters have normal and non-enhanced specials that can cause special hit-states as well.

The Juggle State - This is the most basic special hit-state and consists of any time your opponent is knocked into the air without being in another additional hit-state. You can land any attack on a juggled opponent except for a throw. Each subsequent attack will force the opponent to fall faster and faster until eventually they hit the ground, ending the combo and becoming invincible for a brief period of time. Most long combos in Injustice 2 focus on keeping the opponent juggled as long as possible.

Wall Bounce – Certain moves (like B3 for most characters) will bounce an opponent off the wall. Doing so will give you a long time to follow up with another attack. Wall bounced characters will always fall at the same speed, unaffected by the gravity scaling of the juggle state, but you can only wall bounce the opponent once per combo.

Ground Bounce – Much like the wall bounce, certain moves can bounce the opponent off the ground and doing so leaves the opponent unaffected by gravity scaling. Similarly, you can only use one ground bounce per combo, however, you can use both a wall bounce and a ground bounce in the same combo.

Capture States – Capture states lock the opponent in place defenseless for a short period of time. Examples of capture states include Captain Cold’s ability to freeze the opponent, Firestorm’s ability to trap them in magma, and Batman’s ability to shoot a grappling hook that dizzies the opponent. As long as they are in this state, they can be hit freely with another string. You can only use each unique capture state once per combo. However, if an opponent has more than one (such as the ability to freeze and stun the opponent as Green Arrow) they can both be used in the same combo.

Recapture states – A recapture state is the same as a capture state except it has a special property. When hitting a juggled opponent with a recapturing move, it puts the opponent on their feet again. To continue the combo, you will need to either re-juggle the opponent, or put them in another special hit-state after your next string.

Crumple – When the opponent falls to their knees before hitting the floor, this is called a crumple state. Crumple states are counted as a sort of timed capture state. If you manage to hit the opponent before they hit the floor, you can continue your combo. Otherwise it is counted as a knockdown and the combo immediately ends.

Explaining Damage Proration

You may notice that later hits in especially long combos do almost no damage. This is because of something called “damage proration” or “damage scaling.” It’s a bit of a complicated mathy system, but the easy explanation is the longer your combo goes on, the less damage each individual hit of the combo does.

To maximize damage efficiency, you’ll want to put your heaviest hitting attacks at the beginning of a combo and lighter multi-hit attacks at the end of a combo.

How to “Jail” the Opponent

There are three types of mix-ups in Injustice 2: high/low, left/right, and attack/throw. Unfortunately, most characters only have a few strings that mix-up the opponent, and using these strings at your opening attack will telegraph your moves and get you punished. This is where “jailing” comes in.

Jailing involves hitting the opponent with another move to put them in hit-stun before starting your mix-up. Characters usually have a variety of moves that effectively jail the opponent, making it much easier to land that first hit. Once the opponent is jailed (i.e. in hit-stun) they can only attack or throw tech, meaning that you are guaranteed a mix-up of choice. If that mix-up hits, then you can proceed to perform a damaging combo. If you find your mix-up strings getting blocked often, that is likely because you are performing them without jailing the opponent first.

So the flow of battle is:

  1. Neutral game searching for a jailing poke
  2. Mix-up string on a jailed opponent looking for a combo opportunity
  3. Combo involving special capture states
  4. Repeat

How to Combat the Move Buffer

In my Injustice 2 review, I commented on how the game’s buffer makes it absurdly hard to perform certain combos. Luckily, there is a way around this. Go into the options and turn off “release check” and “input shortcuts.”

Release check counts every button press as two inputs – once when it is pressed and once when it is released. Turning off the release check will make combo timing harder but more precise, making it less likely you’ll throw out moves you don’t want to. Input shortcuts allow you to perform moves such as a quarter circle just by pressing down, then forward. Turning them off makes moves harder to do but, once again, makes them more precise. You won’t get quarter circle inputs confused with half circle inputs this way.

Those are all the tips we have for you today. Do you have any other Injustice 2 topics you want us to dive into? Maybe how to perform a good mix-up, or the best way to manage your meter? Let us know in the comments.