NINJA'S EXCEED GUIDE 2.0 - The update has arrived!

#1Ninja99Posted 7/24/2008 11:44:09 AMmessage detail
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NINJA'S EXCEED GUIDE 2.0

TABLE OF CONTENTS

BEFORE WE BEGIN
[0.0] Introduction
[0.1] Glossary
[0.2] Notations

THE EXCEED SYSTEM EXPLAINED
[1.0] What is Exceed?
[1.1] What is Instant Revving?
[1.2] Learning to Instant Rev

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
[2.0] Where to Practice
[2.1] Hit Delays: The Effect of Enemies on IR Timing
[2.2] MAX-Act, The Instant Max Rev
[2.3] Rhythmic Input

ATTACK BREAKDOWNS
[3.0] First, Some Notes
[3.1] Combo A
[3.2] Combo B
[3.3] Combo C
[3.4] Combo D
[3.5] Aerial Rave
[3.6] Roulette Spin
[3.7] High Roller
[3.8] Rising High Roller
[3.9] Streak
[3.10] Split
[3.11] Calibur
[3.12] Shuffle

IN CLOSING
[4.0] Final Word
[4.1] Acknowledgements
[4.2] Legal and Contact Information


BEFORE WE BEGIN

[0.0] Introduction

Welcome reader. The purpose of this guide is to help you learn to use Nero to his maximum potential by employing the Exceed system. If at any point it seems as though I'm hitting you over the head with the obvious, I probably am; this document's intended audience includes new and experienced Devil May Cry 4 players alike. That said, it is assumed you have a basic familiarity with DMC4's controls. If you need to brush up on them, read a general FAQ or the instruction booklet that comes with the game. We will begin with an overview of Exceed, followed by a detailed breakdown of Nero's move list focused specifically on individual timings for the Instant Rev technique. Some of the terms and abbreviations used in this guide may not be familiar to you, though I will do my best to explain the most important ones along the way. If you come across something that doesn't make sense, please consult the Glossary found directly below. You may want to look it over now.

[0.1] Glossary
rev - With the press of a button, Nero will twist the handle of his sword. A rev is the result. Sounds like a motorcycle engine, charges the EX-Gauge.
IR - Instant Rev (in game: EX-Act).
IMR - Instant Max Rev (in game: MAX-Act).
EX-Gauge - The circular gauge in the upper-left corner of your screen. Revving fills it up.
Lamp - One of the three lights along the top of EX-Gauge. These glow to indicate the charge level of Nero's sword.
frame - One of the many images used to create the illusion of movement in video games and other animated media. DMC4 runs at 30 frames per second (fps). Frames are convenient units of measurement for games that require strictly timed commands. We are unlikely to employ this measuring system to the extent that advanced players of fighting games like Virtua Fighter and Tekken do, but because so much of DMC4's gameplay is based on timing, it is useful to understand this definition.
animation - The series of frames that composes a complete in-game action.
window - A short series of frames. Each of Nero's sword attack animations has a window during which a press of the rev button will result in an IR.
string - A set sequence of attacks, often inaccurately referred to as a combo. The game itself confuses this issue with its labeling of Combos 1 through 4.
combo - A sequence of separate attacks strung together as one long, continuous series of complementary strikes. Combos are the crux of DMC4's gameplay. In fighting games, a combo is defined as a series of attacks that the opponent cannot escape if the first attack connects.
#2Ninja99(Topic Creator)Posted 7/24/2008 11:45:32 AMmessage detail
[0.2] Notations
Portions of the attack breakdowns section are based upon the concept of rhythmic input, which is explained in section [2.3]. To illustrate it I have adapted a notation system popular in the Tekken community that uses spacing to indicate input timing. A supplementary advantage of using this system as opposed to specific button names is it allows me to make this guide platform-neutral, so PS3 and Xbox 360 owners should find it equally accessible. I hope you find these notations suitable for our purposes.

R - Rev; LT for 360 players, L2 for PS3 players. A quick tap of this button is all that is needed to IR.
A - Attack; Y for 360 players, Triangle for PS3 players. As with revs, use quick taps of this button.
f - Press the left stick in the direction Nero is facing.
b - Press the left stick in the opposite direction Nero is facing.
+ - Press the buttons/directions on both sides of this symbol at the same time.
~ - Press the buttons/directions on both sides of this symbol as fast as you can.
: - This is the symbol for spacing. The interval of time it represents is relative, but this scheme should make sense once you start putting it into practice.
... - Continue to input the button this symbol follows.
[ ] - The button within these brackets should be held.
(lock) - Denotes an attack that is performed by holding the lock-on button; RB for 360 players, R1 for PS3 players.
(air) - Denotes an attack that is performed while airborne.
EX- - Exceeded. As a prefix, this indicates the attack that follows is modified by the Exceed system. Level 1 Exceeded attacks are marked EX-. Level 2, EX2-. Level 3, EX3-. Also used as an abbreviation to indicate the Exceed level of a previously designated attack.


THE EXCEED SYSTEM EXPLAINED

[1.0] What is Exceed?

Exceed is a technique exclusive to Nero that allows him to charge the attacks of his sword, the Red Queen, for greater damage and in some cases enhanced effects and additional strikes. Its functions are represented in-game by the round meter, called the EX-Gauge, to the left of Nero's health bar in the upper left corner of your screen. Tapping the rev button (LT/L2 with the default control setup) will cause Nero to twist the Red Queen's hilt, causing the EX-Gauge to fill. Once fully charged, a Lamp will light up on top of the EX-Gauge. There are three Lamps in total. To fill one by standard revving, hold and release the rev button three times. This process should take a little under three seconds. Nero revs slightly faster while airborne. A glowing Lamp allows Nero to perform a single Level 1 Exceeded, or EX-, attack. During such an attack the Red Queen will be bathed in fire. The abilities to perform substantially more powerful Level 2 and 3 EX-attacks, which consume two and three lamps respectively, may be purchased from the skill up menu (Power Up -> Skill Up -> Red Queen -> Exceed 2/Exceed 3).

[1.1] What is Instant Revving?
Instant Revving, or IRing (referred to as EX-Act in-game), is the technique that will allow you to use the Exceed system to its full potential in battle by lighting Lamps without stopping to rev. This is accomplished by tapping the rev button at a specific point during an attack. Any of the Red Queen's attacks can be IRed, but each has different timing. When an IR is performed correctly, Nero's blade will flash, you will hear a short high-pitched pneumatic whine accompanied by a brief revving noise, and a Lamp will light up. When charged, the Red Queen retains a red glow that increases in size and intensity with each Lamp lit. IRing works whether or not your attack strikes an opponent, making it possible to practice the technique in risk-free situations.
#3Ninja99(Topic Creator)Posted 7/24/2008 11:46:04 AMmessage detail
[1.2] Learning to Instant Rev
The path to achieving fluency with the IR technique differs from person to person. Fortunately the tools available to you are varied enough that you are likely to find some combination that suits your learning style. Many players will chiefly rely on their eyes. All IR timings are set, so it follows that each attack has a rev input window tied directly to a single unchanging point in its animation. These consistent visual cues will simplify your task considerably. Once you can identify them you will know exactly when to input your revs. I will refer to visual cues extensively in the individual attack breakdowns below. Sound effects can also provide valuable clues for rev timing. Many attacks' IR windows correspond to a word or phrase Nero shouts. In some cases the sound of the attack itself signals the timing. These aural cues will also be covered in each attack's description. Some players will find they gain the best results with a primarily tactile approach. Focusing on the rhythm of your button inputs--the sound they make and how it feels when you press them at a certain pace--is a great way to learn unfamiliar timings. If you're just starting out, try to apply these different techniques to one or two moves until you can nail their IR timings without much effort. Tackling Nero's full move list is a challenge best attempted with a bit of experience under your belt.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

[2.0] Where to Practice
You will probably want to avoid practicing IRs in the heat of battle, at least at first. I recommend using a cleared platform in Bloody Palace mode. This is convenient because you can simply enter the next floor if you wish to test out your techniques on enemies. The Bloody Palace is unlocked by completing the game on Demon Hunter difficulty. Alternatively, any clear and open area in a normal mission will do for a practice space.

[2.1] Hit Delays: The Effect of Enemies on IR Timing
When you take your newly acquired skills to the battlefield, you are bound to notice that your IR timings are slightly altered when you strike enemies. These delays are designed to communicate impact; without them Nero's attacks would feel as though they were slicing through empty air, and the illusion of physical contact would be much less convincing. For most single-hit moves this delay is especially pronounced, while for hits in strings it can be next to unnoticeable. After a few battles using the IR you will have gained a feel for the differences. For a time I considered devoting a significant portion of the attack breakdowns section to the altered timings that result from hit delays, but after considering player feedback and my own experiences I decided against it. When you learn to IR consistently it will not be much trouble to adapt your knowledge to such circumstances. Only practice and a little patience is required. Keep in mind that the visual cues always remain fixed, so you will never be left without a point of reference.

[2.2] MAX-Act, The Instant Max Rev
The IMR, referred to as MAX-Act in-game, functions exactly as IR does, with one key difference: it lights all three Lamps instead of just one. As you might imagine, the considerable advantage of having immediate access to all EX3 attacks doesn't come easily: IMR is performed by revving during the very first frame of an attack's IR window. The timing is so precise as to seem random, but nailing it with moderate consistency is quite possible once standard IRing is mastered. (I personally find it rather easy to pull off during an EX Aerial Rave.) In case the size of this entry leads you to conclude otherwise, I must stress that the IMR is an invaluable technique that is worthy of every serious player's attention.

(Note: Unlike the standard IR, IMR is an ability that must be purchased. Find it at Power Up -> Skill Up -> Abilities -> MAX-Act.)
#4Ninja99(Topic Creator)Posted 7/24/2008 11:46:35 AMmessage detail
[2.3] Rhythmic Input
The first version of this guide was focused on the approach I found most useful when I was teaching myself to use the Exceed system. It originates from my background with fighting games. I used to practice, for hours on end, complex button sequences that demanded great precision. Eventually I came up with a technique that considerably improved my memory retention and consistency of execution. I present it to you now, adapted for DMC4.

The core idea is to let yourself be guided by your sense of touch. Every sequence of button presses has a distinct rhythm that, once memorized, can be easily repeated. To identify it you must carefully focus on the feeling of your input timing. After you successfully IR, remember what it felt like to press the buttons with the specific timing you did, then try to duplicate that with your next attempts. Visual and audio stimuli can be a distraction while learning with this approach, so you may want to try lowering the volume or looking down at your hands as you practice--anything to improve your concentration on the sensation of rhythmic input. On the other hand, visual and aural cues can be a useful supplement to this technique, especially once you've been using it for a while. Experiment to find what works best for you.

In the attack breakdowns below I have included notations that approximate the timing of each attack. Consult section [0.2] for a full explanation of this system. Section [3.1] touches on the practical application of rhythmic input. Players new to IRing should find it especially useful.


ATTACK BREAKDOWNS

[3.0] First, Some Notes
- For ease of reference, the attacks in this section are arranged the same order as they appear in the in-game skill list (Pause Menu -> Skill List or Mission Menu -> Library -> Others -> Nero's Actions). When I list an attack by the name commonly used in the DMC fan community, its official name will immediately follow to avoid confusion.

- In the entries for Combos A through C, as well as Aerial Rave and Roulette Spin, it is assumed the first hit is standard while the rest are Exceeded. I'm sorry if this makes it difficult for people trying to learn the IR timing for, say, the standard version of Combo A's third slash, but in this guide I simply cannot cover the numerous permutations of every string in the game. Contact me (see section [4.2]) if you're having trouble with a specific attack and I'll see what I can do to help you.

- Some attacks cannot be accurately represented by the rhythmic input system due to factors that variably alter timing (such as Nero's falling distance during Split). These are marked "variable."


[3.1] Combo A - A::A::A::A

This is, to my mind, the single most important combo to learn to IR. Once you've mastered this one, none of the other combos should give you much trouble because you will be able to adapt your newfound knowledge about rhythmic input to other IR timings.

Rhythmic Input - A:::R~A:R~A::R~A::::R

While memorizing this combo's timing, I found it necessary to count it out to avoid confusing myself with the rapid button inputs. I broke it down like so: one (A:::), one-two (R~A:R~A::), three (R~A::::)...four (R). I also had to actively fight against the impulse to press A before R.

I recommend new players learn this one in pieces as I did. Practice until you can get A::R~A:R~A to come out consistently. This is by far the easiest portion of the combo to IR. The short delay before revving the first slash gives way to a nice even rhythm with the inputs for the next two. Next, incorporate the third R~A, which is the really tricky part. The correct timing for this third rev is extremely close to that of the previous two, yet there is an additional tiny, barely perceptible delay.
#5Ninja99(Topic Creator)Posted 7/24/2008 11:47:12 AMmessage detail
It's so slight that if you actively try to slow your timing you'll likely botch it. Instead, try lifting your finger from the rev button after the second R~A. Experiment with different distances until you create the desired effect. Finally, add the last R. The delay on this one is positively massive in comparison to the previous timings. For this reason it's quite easy once you get the hang of it, if a little tricky at the outset.

Visual Cues

Slashes 1 and 2: Just as the sword begins to scrape the ground. Perhaps a split second before.
Slash 3: When the blade is pointed directly in front of Nero.
Slash 4: Right as the sword makes contact with the ground, before you see sparks.

Aural Cues

Slashes 1 - 3: Nero's yell, or the metallic slashing sound.
Slash 4: The precise moment Nero yells.

[3.2] Combo B A::::A::A::A~A~A~A...

The first slash is the same as Combo A's. Next, depending on how quickly and for how long you tap the attack button, between three and nine identical strikes will be performed. These are followed by a final attack with two parts: Nero stabs the Red Queen into the ground then tears it free. (Bonus: Look for the Dante-esque pose Nero strikes after this string. Touch the control stick and he'll revert to his normal stance.)

Rhythmic Input - (slashes 1 - 4) A:::R::::A:::R:A::R:A:: (slashes 5 - 9) (while tapping A rapidly) R:R:R:R: (slashes 10 and 11) A~R~A:::R

Consistently IRing slashes 5 - 9 is a tall order. Though their rev input rhythm is steady, familiarizing yourself with it will take hours of practice. Frankly, it's probably not worth it.

Visual Cues

Slash 1: (Identical to Combo A's.) Just as the sword begins to scrape the ground. Perhaps a split second before.
Slashes 2 - 9: The barest fraction of a second before the sword taps the ground and the orange sparks and blue impact burst appear. Your time might be better spent mastering the relatively easy timing for the final slash instead.
Final Slash: (Really a ground stab then an upward slash, but they're performed with a single press of the attack button.) As the sword leaves the ground in the second half of the attack; the beginning of the slash portion.

Aural Cues

Slash 1: (Identical to Combo A's.) Nero's yell, or the metallic slashing sound.
Slashes 2 - 10: Nero shouts during every strike, and on each impact the Red Queen makes a distinct clang, but I find it difficult to tell how accurately these correspond to the correct IR timings. Investigate this on your own if you like.
Final Slash: Slightly after the short sharp clang when Nero pulls his sword from the ground.

[3.3] Combo C - A::A::::A::A::A::A

Rhythmic Input - A::R~A:R:::A:R:A:R:A:R:A::R

Not bad, except for the third slash which will probably throw you for a while if you've been practicing Combo A up until now. You must delay the third slash significantly longer when the second is not IRed; otherwise you'll end up performing Combo A.

Visual Cues

Slashes 1 and 2: (Identical to Combo A's) Just as the sword begins to scrape the ground. Perhaps a split second before.
Slash 3: (A pair of rapid vertical slashes. I group them as one because, like Combo B's final slash, they are the result of a single press of the attack button.) Midway through the second slash.
Slash 4: Near the end of the slash.
Slash 5: Midway through Nero's spin.
Slash 6: As the animation is winding down, just before the Red Queen comes to a stop.

Aural Cues

Slash 1: (Identical to Combo A's.) Nero's yell, or the metallic slashing sound.
#6Ninja99(Topic Creator)Posted 7/24/2008 11:47:36 AMmessage detail
[3.4] Combo D - A::A::A::::A

Identical to Combo A, except the last hit is stronger. The only difference in timing is the long delay after the third hit. Not really worth its own section, but I've included it for completion's sake.

[3.5] Aerial Rave (in game: Aerial Combo) - (air) A::A::A

Rhythmic Input - (air) A::R~A:R:A:R

Visual Cues

Slash 1: When the Red Queen passes Nero's left side, about two thirds of the way through the swing.
Slash 2: As the blade passes over Nero's right shoulder.
Slash 3: When the blade is pointing straight down.

Aural Cues

Slashes 1 and 2: Just after the slashing sound.
Slash 3: As Nero shouts.

[3.6] Roulette Spin (air) A::A:::A

The first two slashes are identical to Aerial Rave's.

Rhythmic Input - (air) A::R~A:R::A:::R

Visual Cues

Slash 1: (Same as Aerial Rave's.) When the Red Queen passes Nero's left side, about two thirds of the way through the swing.
Slash 2: (Same as Aerial Rave's.) As the blade passes over Nero's right shoulder.
Slash 3: At the highest point of the attack, as Nero starts to put the Red Queen away. This timing has a long delay compared to the first two slashes.

Aural Cues

Slashes 1 and 2: (Same as Aerial Rave's.) Just after the slashing sound.
Slash 3: At the very end of Nero's yell, or after the slashing sound.

[3.7] High Roller - (lock) b+A

Rhythmic Input - (lock) b+A::R

Visual Cues

Rev at the peak of the arc, just before Nero tilts the blade down to refasten it to his back. You'll most likely try to rev too early at first, but you should be able to adjust for this with a bit of practice

EX - EX3: Just before the Red Queen taps the ground.

Aural Cues

After Nero's attack phrase.

EX - EX3: Half a second after the last clang.

[3.8] Rising High Roller - (lock) b+[A]

Like High Roller, but leaves Nero airborne.

Rhythmic Input - (lock) b+[A]:::R

Visual Cues

Rev at the peak of Nero's jump, a moment before he puts away the Red Queen.

EX - EX3: Just before Nero's head points downward and the Red Queen points behind him, as he starts to descend from his jump.

Aural Cues

After Nero's attack phrase.

EX - EX3: A moment after the last slashing sound.

[3.9] Streak - (lock) f+A

Rhythmic Input - variable

Visual Cues

Rev just before the blade completes its arc and stops behind Nero's body, the moment the slash wave is fully formed. This fairly simple timing is complicated by the attack's variable range. Before the slash Nero will slide forward either until he makes contact with an enemy or environmental obstruction, or travels a set distance. Only then will the attack initiate. Keep this in mind to avoid revving early. (Note: The Streak 2 upgrade substantially increases the length of Nero's slide. The attack is otherwise identical to the original version, which is the reason Streak 2 does not have its own section in this guide.)

EX: The moment Nero faces left during his spin. This occurs directly after the slash, when the fire effect is still visible; roughly halfway through the attack's animation if you exclude the rush. Looking at his feet may help.
EX2 - EX3: Rev when Nero faces left during the final spin, same as above. Though the lengthened animation may make the timing seem more complex, the visual cue remains unchanged. Just focus carefully on the direction Nero's head is pointing and you should nail it every time.

Aural Cues

The middle of Nero's attack phrase, or the slashing sound.

EX - EX2: Near the beginning of Nero's attack phrase.
EX3: Same as above, after he counts out the first two slashes.
#7Ninja99(Topic Creator)Posted 7/24/2008 11:48:44 AMmessage detail
[3.10] Split - (air) (lock) f+A

Rhythmic Input - variable

Visual Cues

When Nero's blade touches the ground, or just before. The easiest IR timing of all, in my experience.

EX (in game: Double Down) - EX3: Same as above.

Aural Cues

The clank as Nero makes contact with the ground.

EX (in game: Double Down) - EX3: Same as above, or about half a second into his attack phrase.

[3.11] Calibur (air) (lock) b,f+A

Rhythmic Input - variable

Visual Cues

When Nero moves the Red Queen behind him after the slash. As with Streak, Nero rushes forward before he attacks. The two main differences are the rush is performed in the air, and any obstruction other than an enemy will not make the attack come out sooner.

EX - EX3: Same as above, a moment before the flame effect dissipates.

Aural Cues

In the middle of his attack phrase.

EX - EX3: Just as he starts his attack phrase.

[3.12] Shuffle (lock) b,f+A

Rhythmic Input - (lock) b,f+A:::R

Visual Cues

3/4 of the way through the slash, as the blade passes Nero's left side.

EX - EX3: 3/4 of the way through the second slash, a moment before the orange glow disappears.

Aural Cues

Halfway through Nero's yell.

EX - EX3: The second word in his attack phrase.


IN CLOSING

[4.0] Final Word
Thanks to all readers, especially those who patiently waited for me to complete this update. I hope this guide meets your needs and expectations.

[4.1] Acknowledgements
Darksun45230 - For the basic layout, adapted with your kind permission from your informative Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII guide. (Find it here: http://boards.gamefaqs.com/gfaqs/genmessage.php?board=925138&topic=41903684 )
Gemasis Sydawn - For your range of videos exploring the Exceed system. TheHandVsEye.com remains an invaluable resource.
Genji Masamune - For all the engaging discussions. Your critical eye has influenced this guide for the better.
Graywer - For your in-depth posts on many aspects of DMC4's combat system. I appreciate the unique perspective you brought to the original guide topic.
mike1377 - For pointing out several useful IR cues.
Pokey - For the information on IMR timing that you posted at PhantomBabies.
RadiantSilvergun3 - For your valuable feedback and constant support, and for coining the name Instant Max Rev.
TerranBane - For helping me keep the original guide topic bumped until I got this update finished.
Receipt - For being awesome.
Everyone who replied constructively to the original guide topic
The entire GameFAQs-based DMC fan community - Your dedication and decency set a standard that precious few boards on GameFAQs live up to.
The regulars on the PhantomBabies.net forums

[4.2] Legal and Contact Information
This guide was written by and is copyright me, Ninja99. It is for private use only. Feel free to print it out or save it to your hard drive for personal reference. You may not modify, reproduce, display, sell, publish or distribute any of this guide's contents without my written permission. Consider linking to this topic instead. If you wish to post this guide elsewhere or host it on your website please make your request in this topic. Alternatively, PM me on NeoGAF, where I'm now a regular poster. You may also email me at ContactNinja99[at]gmail[dot]com, but I offer no guarantee that I'll respond to or even see your message, as I check that account infrequently. I understand this is a potential inconvenience, but you'll almost certainly be able to reach me through one of the other methods outlined above.

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#8Ninja99(Topic Creator)Posted 7/24/2008 11:49:22 AMmessage detail
That's it, everyone. Feel free to start posting now.

Here is a list of my topics related to this guide. All but the first are obsoleted by this topic.

This guide (PS3 board): http://boards.gamefaqs.com/gfaqs/genmessage.php?board=928376&topic=44465936
The original guide: http://boards.gamefaqs.com/gfaqs/genmessage.php?board=928376&topic=40982078
The update topic (PS3 board): http://boards.gamefaqs.com/gfaqs/genmessage.php?board=928376&topic=41705605
The update topic (360 board): http://boards.gamefaqs.com/gfaqs/genmessage.php?board=938686&topic=41705611

-Ninja
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Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem.
#990wushumanPosted 7/24/2008 1:56:01 PMmessage detail
...DAMN!
#10phudabulahPosted 7/25/2008 11:59:06 AMmessage detail
goddamn son!
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You must do what you feel is right, of course.