I was watching Max stream Mira the other day and he had a couple very good counter breaker attempts go awry on him. I’ve seen this quite a bit recently and I wanted to explore what is causing it.
So, counter breakers work like this. First of all, you must counter break before the opponent breaks. If you are even one frame late, you are never going to succeed. While it might be frustrating to be slightly late on the counter break attempt, and sometimes rollback can make it look like you were early, I don’t think they can/should change this fundamental principle of needing to be early. However, there is one thing I really want the devs to change: the lockout X takes a few frames to animate. This means, if your opponent breaks 1 frame before you counter break, the lockout X shows up after your counter breaker screeches your combo to a halt. This by itself is pretty bad, but adding even the slightest bit of rollback can create situations where you are SURE you counter broke first, because the game is kind of lying to you by delaying the appearance of the lockout X. So the first point of this thread is a request to the devs: please remove the fade-in animation for the lockout X. Have it appear immediately, because there is nothing to gain from animating the startup, and it causes lots of frustration.
But that’s not the main point of this post. I wanted to explore a bit why sometimes you definitely counter break first and it still doesn’t catch. And it has to do with your opponent’s hit stun. You can only combo break while you are in hit stun. You can still be in the counter break pose, and your opponent may have left hit stun, depending on what move you tried to counter break and when in the animation you try it (this is, after all, why you can punish your opponent’s counter breaker attempt). If he tries to press a breaker strength and he has left hit stun, he will simply get throw, or instinct activation, or whatever, even though you are still counter breaking. I’m sure we have all seen this happen.
But… it happens in weird cases. Take for example, Thunder doing a heavy auto-double, then canceling it into shadow Triplax, and trying to counter break the first hit. You would assume that a heavy auto-double causes a pretty substantial amount of hit stun. After all, Thunder can link a light manual after it! So the opponent should be stuck for a pretty long time. But take a look at what happens as soon as you counter break…
See how the game immediately cancels all of his hit stun for (what I can tell) not really much reason? The above gif lets it play out once by itself, and you can see how fast Thunder returns to his neutral pose. Then, after that, I try to combo break the first hit with mediums, and I just get a medium punch and hit the guy in his counter breaker pose.
What about if Thunder does this same combo but cancels into shadow Ankle Slicer?
See how much longer the hit stun stays around? And notice how much later I try to break and I still get counter broken?
Basically, my findings are that various linkers and shadow linkers cancel the hit stun of the previous move in unexpected, inconsistent ways, and I don’t know why this is. It leads to counter breakers that you’re sure should work, but “randomly” don’t. I would like to pick the brain of the developers a bit here and ask if they know why this is happening, or if it’s expected, or if it’s something that is easy to change.
Is there a way to, say… force a certain amount of hit stun for the prior move so that your opponent can’t immediately leave hit stun and kill you? I can’t think off the top of my head of what things that would mess up for the rest of the game… it wouldn’t really help safe counter breakers, because you destroy projectiles and other things, right? It would just mean that the opponent must not try to break for at least the first n frames of the counter breaker, and this n is not super inconsistent and frustratingly different when you change your combo.