Royal Guard -
Hell raised by Lionheart and Saurian
G-CancellingAnimation cancelling - Royal Guard, Rebellion:
The best way to stay safe with Dante is to always be ready to evade, jump, change direction or attack immediately at all times - meaning you don't want to be stuck in a move watching helplessly as you get battered. There are a lot of moves and animations which wont immediately cancel into a move, evade or jump, so the next command buffered in will not execute until that animation has finished. The way you counter this is to learn which moves have frames which can be cancelled with the Guard button so that you can repeatedly perform parts of combo strings which DONT leave you open at all; this first clip is an example with Rebellion:
That opening slash does not cancel at all - this is a technique which will leave you open since additional commands will not be executed until the animation is finished. What I am doing here is hitting Guard at the end of the animation to reset the combo string back to the beginning each time (G-cancelling). This stops Dante from doing the ending part of the combo. There is a problem with this cancel: the first slash is vulnerable as it can't be cancelled midway, but as shown in the next vid - the 2nd slash of Rebellion can be cancelled at any time.
Slash 2 doesn't even finish before slash 1 kicks in again, the frames are cancelled midway allowing a faster transition into the next attack.
This video shows the difference between cancellable slashes and non-cancellable slashes in a combo. Notice that slash 2 can be cancelled completely midway to allow the animation to immediately cut to another attack, but the other slashes will not go into the Guard animation until Dante gets to the end of the current slash animation - slowing the transition.
The 2nd slash is THE best slash Rebellion has - it can be cancelled indefinitely allowing you to create combo chains that never end! It is totally free to cancel so you'll notice the following attack is instant in execution, you can mix it up with Rebellion (slash-delay-slash), changing directions as you go as well. This slash 2 not only G-cancels perfectly, it also weapon cancels just as well - any move of the opposite weapon (other equipped weapon) will cancel the frames immediately and let you change direction at will; learning which frames cancel with which weapons is key to building REALLY dirty combos! There are untold different cancelling frames and too many different weapon combinations to detail here, but take this Rebellion example and practice in an empty room with different combinations. Even slower weapons like Nevan can be mixed in with another weapon to make it really fast - it's even possible to attack infinitely with it!
Example of G-cancelling frames with Agni & Rudra to speed up not only ground, but aerial attacks as well. The power of that X-slash is devastating, being able to rapidly repeat it makes a real mess! The G-cancel of the aerial slash happens at the end of the slash itself, forcing Dante out of the animation and back down towards the floor, he'll fall back down to the floor faster compared to a non G-cancelled version.
Here is an example of opposite weapon switching using Rebellion and Beowulf. As well as standard attacks - as a basic rule, special moves also cancel into special moves of the opposite weapon.
This is another very useful example of opposite weapon switching to cancel delay frames - if you really need to increase the violence look no further. Lock-on and hit Stinger(forward+attack)-R2(weapon switch)-Stinger-R2-Stinger-R2-Stinger-R2-Stinger... there's a beat to it. Once you get this down, it's murderous against anything! The end frames of Rebellion and Beowulf's Stinger moves can both be cancelled into a command, so if you need to Guard again quickly or jump out of the way of an oncoming attack, it's near instant to do so.
Melee weapons are not the only things you can manipulate animation frames with. It's also possible to do the same with guns! Spiral for example in it's own right is.... it's not bad - but as soon as you unleash it in Royal Guard and G-cancel the recoil animation it's absolute carnage!
To massively speed up Spiral you need to G-cancel the recoil animation, cutting it out completely so you can fire again straight away. The easiest way to get started is to throw the initial cancel timed quite slowly so that the gun is blatantly recoiled fully before you cancel the frames and fire again. You then increase the tempo little by little from then on, until you reach your top speed. In the video the player is throwing L3 (lock-on change) into the mix to make Dante fire all over the place; leave this out when you're learning. This attack is devastating against standard enemies, gives masses of Style Points and takes excellent damage off bosses - this gun's power is the same no matter the range.
Guarding and ParryingWith G-cancelling basics out of the way it's all about defense now. You have two types of defensive techniques on the guard button - Standard Guard and Parry. Standard Guard will reduce the damage of most physical attacks and concussive blasts, very strong attacks or explosions will shatter Dante's defense and leave him vunerable to further attack. Parrying is the action of tapping the Guard button just as an attack is going to hit you, this will negate the damage completely and charge up energy for the Royal Guard style's offensive technique "Release" (covered in detail later). The Release power guage is the set of 3 orbs at the top-left of the screen, an orb which is semi charged will flash on and off - a fully charged orb will glow continuously.
Standard Guard - hold Guard and Dante will reduce the damage of an oncoming attack, you charge only a small amount of power for Release, around 5 hits will fill 1 orb. Be aware that very strong attacks or explosions will shatter Dante's Guard, stunning him for a brief period.
Parry - tap Guard just as an attack is about to hit and Dante will Parry the attack negating the damage completely. You get a large impact visual effect signifying the Parry was successful as opposed to the small fizz effect of Standard Guard. It takes around 3 successful Parries to charge 1 Release Orb and each strike Parried will charge 1 Devil Trigger Orb.
Anything that can damage Dante can be parried, ANYTHING!
Parrying may seem difficult at first, but once you get used to the audio cues and the tempo of all the various attacks it becomes second nature. Every single attack in this game is signposted from a mile off with audio and animation cues. It's up to the player to study these cues and learn when the parries need to come in. Using audio as the cue for parries allows you to deal with enemies from all angles, even if they are unseen and way out of the screen, with ease.
From repeatedly fighting and studying them, I know that the parry comes in just after that screeching noise those spiders make. The timing never changes, they are totally locked to those audio cues - so all I'm doing is keeping track of how many of those screeches occur and how they overlap and hitting guard button at the right moments as I fight.
This video shows how the enemy is locked to audio cues more clearly - it attacks at the exact moment after that screeching sound every time. When you're fighting a group of the same type of enemy, it's the exact same timing thrown at you at different intervals and overlapping in various ways - dont panic, keep track of the sequence and you'll take them apart! The move that killed it is a Just Release, detailed in a later section of this guide.
When you're concentrating on a single foe, like a boss, it's the audio signpost, the number of parries needed for the attack and the tempo of the attack you need to memorise. I find the best way to learn a boss with Royal Guard is to break it down into individual attacks and learn the tempo of each one individually (bring lots of healing items!). Bosses also follow the audio cue rule, they announce exactly what attack they are about to do and the timing between the phrase and attack is always exactly the same every single time. There isn't a boss attack in this game that can't be parried - once you have a parry routine down, you start bullying even the biggest toughest looking bosses in the game! Here's some videos to study:
ReleaseRelease - (R1+forward+Guard) is the strongest attack Dante has - score successful Parries to charge the orbs fully and this move will evaporate most regular enemies and will take more than half the energy of most bosses in a single hit. Once charged up sufficiently, you can throw it at any enemy that isn't guarding and it will deal massive damage in its own right, but there's more to it. You can perform a Just Release: a "Just" frame is the exact same Parry timing covered previously - you throw the Release "Just" as an attack is going to hit you. If you get this right Dante will not only negate any damage, he actually rips through whatever's in front of him imparting truly sickening damage! check these videos:
There's a way to add even more damage to this already insanely powerful attack! If you hold down the L1 button (Devil Trigger), you'll notice the stocked Devil Trigger orbs below your life bar will start to glow red one by one. If you hold this down during a fight to charge it up fully you can release the button (and the stored energy) in time with your Royal Guard Release, the damage this combination of moves even takes off bosses is shocking! See the following videos:
The charged Devil Trigger release's range is an expanding orb around Dante; anything near you will get hit by it regardless of direction and it will knock the stocked Devil Trigger orbs immediately down to 3 left on activation.
That's the boss strategy for Royal Guard users right there; you score successful Parries on the boss' attacks to charge Release fully, then throw a Just Release and/or a charged Devil Trigger at the right moment to rip masses of energy off in one go!
Parry and Release windowThere are various ways you can manipulate the Just Frame window to make Parrying and Release easier. Dante has safe frames in his rolling evades as well as his jump - performing the parry within an already safe window is allowed. An example of this is Dante's standard straight up jump - it doesnt look it, but it's actually REALLY safe!
There's barely any timing involved in avoiding those punches; that jump really is almost invincible! If you jump up at the same time you need to parry an attack, like an explosion, you make the Parry window larger because you are throwing a Parry through already invincible frames.
So if you jump straight up just as one of the bomb enemies (for example) explodes, you'll be inside the explosion and invincible for a brief moment thanks to the jump frames. The beauty of it is that because you are already inside the explosion you don't have to be so exact with the Parry timing - hit the button and the Parry will happen!
The Jump-Parry technique is so safe that it will give you extra Parries for a single button press in some situations, the Parry window is that much larger. It's not just explosions either (rolling evade Parry is also superb there) - it also makes physical attacks easier to Parry as well. The only problem that may occur when you overuse this method on physical attacks is that it's too safe - attacks will end up missing you completely as they tend to go straight through that straight up jump.
Notice the pillar Beowulf throws goes straight through Dante? That's the straight up jump at it's best!
The last trick Dante has up his sleeve in Royal Guard is Ultimate (R1+back+Guard). This move has the same defensive properties as standard guard for physical and concussive attacks but superb defense against all projectile attacks. It only guards the front of Dante so you have to make sure you anticipate and line up/lock-on to guard the oncoming attack in advance (audio cues help here). Each strike blocked with Ultimate will recharge Dante's life guage by a small fraction, so a hail of arrows isnt such a bad thing! Ultimate can be instantly cancelled into jump or roll, so if you need to come out of this stance quickly use the straight up jump Parry technique to stay safe.
That just about does it for Royal Guard - following are three (larger) videos showing the techniques featured in this guide in practical situations.
Please post in feedback if you use this guide, so that we know it has been useful. Many thanks to Saurian and Lionheart for writing this guide.