ARMS, a competitive fighting experience for Nintendo’s newest console that’s great at making you feel clueless as you learn the intricacies hiding behind the heart of the game. Like dozens of other fighting games available on the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, ARMS appears to be a simple, stylized boxing simulator which utilizes the Switch’s motion controls. But, once you have played through the game’s short tutorial and a few matches of your own, you’ll quickly realize that ARMS has a lot more to offer than a set of basic jabs and punches.
The core concept behind ARMS lies in strategy, which means you need to learn how to move your character around the arena while dodging and throwing punches at your opponent to claim victory. Honestly, there’s a surprisingly detailed set of mechanics at play compared to what many expected from Nintendo, which is why we’re here to help you master the basics.
Play Using Motion Controls
While this may seem like a relatively ridiculous request thanks to the legacy left the Wii left behind, you’ll want to pick up both of your Joy-Con controllers instead of playing ARMS with them attached to the Switch itself. Just remember that you don’t have to swing them heavily, as subtle movements work perfectly.
Not only is using the detached controllers a more entertaining and rewarding experience, but it offers a more precise way to play ARMS due to the game’s intuitive control scheme. Blocking, dodging, and curving your punches is remarkably easier using a pair of Joy-Con controllers when compared to pressing buttons on a controller, making for a much more accessible and responsive experience.
Learn the ARMS Triangle
It’s important to understand that ARMS isn’t a new version of boxing from Wii Sports with added characters, but a strategic fighting experience complete with a combat triangle like the one found in Fire Emblem games. This system relies on three different aspects: punches beat throws, throws counter blocks, and blocking prevents you from taking full damage when punched.
If your opponent is guarding heavily, you’ll want to push through with a series of grabs. Then, you’ll counter their attacks with a few dodges and blocks of your own, before returning to challenge them aggressively with some punches. The key here is to learn when to use each respective move while fighting your opponent, which is going to take a lot of practice to get down. Thankfully, ARMS offers plenty of practice modes to help you do exactly that.
Charge Your Punches
Randomly attacking your opponent will only get you so far in ARMS, which is where charging your punches comes into play. Standard punches deal a decent amount of damage sure, but when you’re hitting your opponent with charged attacks you’ll be dealing more damage than they can handle while giving yourself time to dodge incoming punches.
Things like landing a jump, performing a successful dodge, or moving out of the way of an incoming grab will power up your next punch depending on what character you’re using — as indicated by a glowing aura around your gloves. Use these power attacks to deal massive amounts of damage on your opponent or shut down a power attack coming at you from across the arena.
Don’t Get Greedy
Once you mastered the basics, throwing punches at your opponent in ARMS is dangerously addicting when you can land hits in quick succession — locking them down in a corner of the arena. But even if you feel comfortable pummeling them relentlessly with oddly shaped boxing gloves, you always need to consider your own defenses in case they’re able to successfully counterattack.
Practicing dodging, jumping, and guarding to return the damage you take is just as important as landing combo attacks. Only attack your opponent when the opportunity to land a guaranteed hit presents itself, following your initial hit with few additional punches or a grab only when you have them on the defensive.