There are three Shifts to choose from: Monster, Freedom, and Tranquility. Briefly:
- Freedom acts like this game's Custom Combo groove, and generally gives a speed increase and allows you to freely cancel your special moves.
- Monster acts like this game's "X-ism" (SFA3), as it's generally slower, but more powerful and with increased juggle potential.
- Tranquility generally provides your characters special moves with some auto-guard, and some characters also gain additional stun or other special properties, and the speed is generally average or slightly slower than unshifted.
What's interesting about this system is the Shift gauge fills on it's own, so you don't have to rely on constant attacking or blocking (or charging) just to build meter. However, you don't get super stocks unless you shift and shifting is an important functionality for both offense and defense, so gauge management is required for effective game play.
The general purposes of the Shift gauge are: Combos (ShiftCancel), Burst, and GuardCancel. Briefly:
- Shift Canceling is used to extend combos because Shift activations are able to cancel normals, specials, and even supers. The shift activation itself is able to hit and shifting builds a super stock, so they can be used in combos as a confirmed way to deal damage. Extended combos are generally some variation of: normal chain-> dash normal-> special-> shift-> normal chain-> dash normal-> special-> super. On a side note, performing a super while Shifted will refill your Shift gauge (you remain shifted)
- Busting is a new function added in 1.0b and has been in the game since. It allows you to shift in the air while in hit stun. There are some moves you can't burst after being hit with, and Bursting is baitable and punishable. You also regain your Shift bar at half the speed you normally would after Bursting.
- Guard Canceling is just as it sounds, you're able to cancel out of block stun with a Shift activation. However, Guard Canceling is subject to Power Breaking, and is also baitable and punishable. It's important to keep an eye on who has the most points when some one does a Guard Cancel, because Guard Canceling at the wrong time could lead to a powerbreak in the opponents favor, while doing it at the right time could lead to a powerbreak in your favor.
A lot of newcomers to the game fall victim to improper use of Bursting and Guard-Canceling. A common example would be for a player 2 to be hit with a large combo (giving player 1 a lot of points), then player 2 attempts a Guard-Cancel after getting up off the ground, but ends up getting PowerBroke because they did not have enough points to beat player 1's attacks. What player 2 should have done was continue to block until gaining enough points to beat player 1's attacks. And keep in mind that if player 1 is able to hit player 2 while player 2 was trying to block, then player 1's points reset.
The general idea with Bursting and Guard-Canceling is to become very good at successfully blocking (for points) or successfully hitting (for points) so that you can utilize either function to reap the benefits of a PowerBreak.
Certainly Bursting has it's own penalty, so improper use of the function could lead to even more damage plus the Shift-regeneration penalty. And while Guard-Canceling seems like a good idea you have to remember that ground moves have a lot of cancelability, so if you attempt a Guard-Cancel at the wrong time the opponent can generally react to the flash with their own action. The ideal time to Guard-Cancel is when you have more points than your opponent and you know they are about to connect an attack with your hittable box that has low cancelability options (like a dash attack or jump attack). Because you have more points when the shift collides with their attack you will beat the attack for a PowerBreak.
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