DNF Duel has arrived.
I can’t believe I can really say that.
This game very quickly became my favorite fighting game of all time. I have done so much research and study in the short time the game has been released. I may have forgotten to sleep from time to time. I’ve played about half of the cast so far, and wanted to share my experiences with them for those who may be looking for which character to play!
The pressure monster. Berserker seems pretty basic at first, but it really shines when it comes to getting your opponent into the corner and keeping them there. He has a unique buff called Frenzy, which changes the properties of many of his moves, while adding 10% damage to each one. On top of that, he gains a high movement speed and a jump height buff. Finally, he gets another special move called Bloody Twister, which is an almost full-screen strike that does a truckload of damage. The downside to this buff is that it slowly drains your health as white life.
Now I call that a disadvantage, but it really puts extra pressure on your offense. There is a little mechanism called conversion, and it takes white life to use it. Now, if you’re still losing white life, that means while you’re frenzied, you almost always have access to conversion! Its main weakness is that it’s pretty average outside of Frenzy and actually needs it to boot. Berserker is the character you play as when you just want to swing for the fences and never stop swinging.
If you want to be tanky as hell, Crusader is for you. He has the highest health in the game at 1200, the highest guard gauge in the game, and his awakening also gives him another 10% defense bonus on top of all that. He has a very unique setup that gives him super armor on everything, making non-multi-hit moves ineffective. On top of all that, his buttons are absolutely huge and are incredibly effective at keeping the opponent away. If you want to switch gears, you can literally summon a wall to keep your opponent close and pressure them.
Despite all these advantages, it’s horribly slow, has pretty bad frame data across the board, and has very few non-MP options. He can also be quite prone to dodging the roll if he’s auto-piloting his pressure, so look for opportunities to punish him when he’s linear.
Players to follow: Fame96
One of two summoners. Dragon Knight is a hyper-aggressive, fast-paced character who takes advantage of his dragon, Astra, to completely throw image data out the window and maintain his turn through pressure, confusion, and sometimes even neutral cheating. She is also the only character in the game with a hardcore command air dash. If you’re looking for unique offensive power and love characters like Chaos from Under Night, then Dragon Knight is for you.
Players to watch: Yohosie
The second summoning character. She uses her teddy bear in tandem with her attack, not unlike Zato from Guilty Gear. She has decent fireballs, a pretty good set of long range normals, and has the unique ability to steal mp from her opponents. She’s small in stature, which means she can get away with normals or combos that don’t work on her. Finally, she is able to take full control of her puppet at all times, allowing for incredibly oppressive offense.
Players to watch: Yohosie, Maigo
Big buttons: the character. Ghostblade offers a ridiculously large arsenal of near-fullscreen buttons for winning safely and reliably neutral. Its ghost mechanic works as an extension of itself, making the world your oyster when it comes to confirmations, pressure, and confusions. Its buttons are so good that they literally drive themselves. You don’t really need to time a lot on a ground hit because his BnB gives a crumpled effect. It’s a monster on offense and an even bigger threat when overpowered. Unfortunately, he’s one of three characters without a real knockdown, which forces you to be on point on defense.
Players to watch: TSB | mannyblaze
He’s the, well, grappler of the cast. Everything you would expect from this archetype is here, and more. Boasting an unholy amount of positive frames through charged moves, a plethora of command and anti-air grabs at your disposal, and big comic buttons for a swordless character, you know exactly what you get yourself into when you play with it. One of Grappler’s biggest selling points is how easily it can blast your life bar with easy-to-execute combos. Although its overall movement speed and jump speed are slow, if you are patient in stalling you will be rewarded in kind.
Players to watch: ShaudL, IFCYipes
The king of return, the master of flight. The Dark Phoenix, if you will. Hitman is an RPS monster, working your guard gauge until you’re forced into an action. He is one of the only characters to have a natural instant overcharge.
It also has, in my opinion, the best alarm clock in the game; all of his specials gain a unique extension, allowing for a frightening amount of damage, and loopable in themselves, on a ground hit the extension causes a crumple, and on an air hit you can literally spam it for as long as you can have PM . It also goes nearly full screen. His Awakening skill is also almost full screen, which means you can convert to it. His damage skyrockets in this mode, and that’s why he’s nicknamed the Returning King. Even outside of his passive, he uses the conversion mechanic well, being able to instantly hover over a combo. Having very large sword normals also makes his neutral strong.
Players to watch: IFCYipes
One of the most oppressive setplay characters in the game. The Inquisitor’s goal is to get you in the corner and work your death guard gauge. She has relatively average normals, is among the lowest health in the game, and has relatively unimpressive frame data. What it lacks in these departments, it makes up for in the infamous Flame Wheel. She is extremely good for locking you up and blowing you up when you try to move.
It has a mechanism similar to Testament in Strive; his 4S throws holy water at you and you gain a debuff that bounces the next ground fire move. This allows for extremely powerful combos and damage, and gives her free rein in how she wants to structure her overall attack. One thing that often goes unsaid is how good she is at disengagement. Both her 4S and 5MS have a backward stepping animation, so she can safely weave in and out of neutral situations. She’s one of the characters I’m looking to embody in this game. She’s straightforward, her game plan is simple, but it’s very, very effective. Expect to see her a lot in the future.
Players to watch: TempestNYC
That’s only half the cast covered here. The game is only a few days old at the time of this writing, but the rest of the cast will be covered in my next article! There’s so much to explore with DNF Duel, and I’m going to do as much as I can with all the characters!