Dead or Alive 6

Dead or Alive 6 (DOA6) is a 3D fighter that embraces a rock-paper-scissors triangle system. Holds beat strikes, throws beat holds, and strikes beat throws. There is a defensive answer to everything. The series' famous Hold mechanic is a universal parry that can even be performed in hitstun like a combo breaker. Dead or Alive 6 gives players unmatched freedom with strings. Most strikes string into something, strings string into other strings, and almost every string can be delayed.

Helpful Resources

Free Step Dodge forum.
The DOA6 wiki, which unfortunately is missing a lot of information.
SMRT F.O.N.'s Youtube channel is filled with dozens of detailed DOA6 guides.
Emery Reigns is always streaming and making videos for DOA.

Notation

Attack Notation

P Punch
K Kick
T Throw
H Hold
S Special

Directional Notation

up-back up up-forward
back neutral forward
down-back down down-forward

Numpad Notation

7 8 9
4 5 6
1 2 3

High attacks are attacks that can be ducked under. Mid attacks are overhead attacks that must be stand blocked.

Dead or Alive 6 uses its own frame data notation. Throws hit 1 frame after its startup frames. Strikes hit 2 frames after its startup frames. A throw with 7 frames of startup hits on the 8th frame. A strike with 7 frames of startup hits on the 9th frame.

Movement in DOA6 is less about avoiding attacks for whiff punishment and more for stage positioning. Stage hazards litter the environment and getting hit next to one can result in big damage. The Free Step system allows 3D movement in all eight directions. Enter Free Step by pressing and holding 7, 8, 9, or 2.

Sidestepping in DOA6 is not guaranteed to avoid linear attacks unlike other 3D games. 8 and 2 are for sidestepping quickly. 9 and 3 are slower sidesteps and 7 and 1 are the slowest sidesteps.

1 and 3 is crouch walking.

Holding 4 blocks high and mid attacks while moving backwards. Walking backwards this way is very slow and backdashing is faster. Dash with 44 or 66. It is faster but you cannot block during backdash.

7 is Free Step Block Step. It allows you to block high and mid attacks while still being in Free Step.

Since walking backwards is very slow, it's faster to press 7 to enter Free Step then hold 4 to Free Step backwards.

You can backdash with 44 then press 7 or 1 to cancel the backdash into blocking to make it safe.

Let's put this all together. Backdash with 44 for the initial rush of movement, cancel it into Free Step Block Step with 7, then cancel that into backwards Free Step with 4. This way you get the most movement with the safety of blocking.

Backdash can cancel into itself. The input for this is 214 214.

Pressing 9 also puts you in Free Step Block Step but this is not as useful because you can run for forward movement.

Instant crouch is performed with 33. You will crouch in 4 frames. It is a faster way of getting your character into the crouching stance to duck under throws.

Counter Strike is counter hitting your opponent's strike with your own strike. Counter Strike inflicts 125% damage. Interrupting backdash also counts as a Counter Strike.

Counter Strike adds more height to launchers.

The triangle system is straight forward. Strikes are invulnerable to throws during the startup and active frames. Holds beat strikes. Throws beat Holds. When an attack beats something it is specifically flagged to beat, it causes a Hi Counter. Hi Counters inflict a whopping 160% damage. There's Hi Counter Strike, Hi Counter Hold, and Hi Counter Throw. When a throw beats a Hold, it's always a Hi Counter throw. When a strike beats a throw, it's always a Hi Counter Strike.

Holds beat strikes if the right Hold is used.

Throws always beat Holds.

Throws are performed with T and a direction. There is a whiff animation if unsuccessful. Only the fastest throw can be teched and it's teched with T. Throws are high and can be ducked under. Throws are primarily used for punishment. Throws are your fastest attacks, even your second fastest throw is faster than your fastest strike.

Regular characters have throws with 5, 7, 10, and 12 frames of startup. Grappler characters have throws with 4, 6, 8, and 11 frames of startup.

Against a non-grappler, -8 on block is the threshold for when attacks can be punished with an untechable throw. Against a grappler it's -7 on block. I'm mashing the T button but I can't tech the throw.

Every character has a low throw to beat crouch block.

Throws catch sidestep. This causes a Counter Throw.

The best time to use your slowest throw is when you predict your opponent will Hold. You'll be rewarded with a Hi Counter Throw and a lot of extra damage.

Holds

7H is the high Hold. It Holds high attacks.

4H Holds mid punches and 6H Holds mid kicks.

1H is the low Hold. It also ducks under high attacks. On whiff, Low Hold has the most recovery out of all the Holds.

The closer the Hold is to the impact of the attack, the more damaging it is. Hi Counter Hold happens a couple frames before impact.

Failed Holds can be heavily punished. A failed Hold takes Hi Counter damage. You can lose half of your health for whiffing just one Hold.

Critical Stun is a special type of hitstun. Characters can Hold during Critical Stun, this is called Critical Hold. This means Critical Stun combos are breakable and never guaranteed. However, Critical Holds have more recovery when unsuccessful and inflict 80% of the damage of a regular Hold.

Break Hold is performed 4S with 50% Break Gauge. Break Hold beats all strikes but still loses to throws. It resets the characters to neutral and leaves the Holder at a slight frame advantage. Break Hold can be done during Critical Stun.

In addition to the Hold system, many characters have their own defensive reversals like parries, sabakis, inashis, and Expert Holds. For example, a character may have an Expert Hold that Holds all kicks regardless of height or a parry that parries both mid punches and kicks.

Some characters have Offensive Holds. These are like throws that beat both strikes and Holds. Offensive Holds are slower than your slowest throw and do less damage than your fastest throw. Regular Offensive Holds are high and can be ducked under like regular throws. Low and jumping Offensive Holds exist as well.

Offensive Holds lose to throws like regular Holds. Throwing jumping Offensive Holds can be tricky. Wait until the character has landed before you throw them.

It's easy to accidentally get an attack you didn't want because almost everything is part of a string. Use Free Canceling to clean up your inputs by pressing H to return your character to neutral. Low jabs give frame advantage on hit in DOA6, so use Free Canceling to keep pressure going.

Critical Stun causes the opponent to start reeling in pain. Some Critical Stuns guarantee a combo and others only guarantee frame advantage. Certain Critical Stuns stun a character long enough to follow up with a launcher.

This Critical Stun inflicts enough hitstun for me to follow up with anything I want. I can go for a launcher or I can keep the combo grounded.

This is where the mind games begin. My opponent may attempt a Critical Hold to avoid getting launched. I can beat this a couple of ways. I can use a different height launcher like a mid launcher instead of a high launcher.

I can use a different speed launcher like a slow launcher instead of a fast launcher.

I can end the combo and throw their Hold attempt for a Hi Counter Throw.

Or I can do nothing to let their Critical Hold fail then whiff punish it.

Launch height in Dead or Alive 6 is based on the individual attack and whether or not it counter hit. This is different from how launch height worked in previous Dead or Alive games.

Fatal Stun is another type of special hitstun. Many Fatal Stuns leave the character kneeling, which makes high launchers whiff. On counter hit, Fatal Stuns launch as high as Critical Stun launchers.

Fatal Stun can only be countered with a Break Hold.

Fatal Rush is performed with the S button. Fatal Rush inflicts Fatal Stun on the first hit. Fatal Rush is a four hit auto-combo that ends in a super attack called Break Blow if the player has 100% Break Gauge. Fatal Rush builds a good amount of Break Gauge.

Sidestep with 8S or 2S then press S attack to perform a sidestep attack. It costs Break Gauge to sidestep attack. The attack evades linear attacks and hits mid. Sidestep attack sends your opponent flying and is useful for triggering stage hazards.

Tracking attacks cannot be sidestepped. DOA6 has tracking attacks in the middle of strings, which is different from many other 3D games.

Break Blow is the super attack of DOA6. It costs 100% Break Gauge and is performed with 6S. Break Blow is a sabaki that parries mid and high attacks.

Don't use Break Blow in the middle of combos because damage scaling makes it low damaging. Instead, use Break Blow for whiff punishing.

Break Blow can be canceled by pressing H. From here you can finish the combo however you'd like. Most player prefer to cancel than let the cinematic complete. The drawback is your opponent is in Fatal Stun and can break out of this combo if they're willing to spend Break Gauge on a Break Hold.

There are jumping attacks but no empty jump.

After a knockdown, you can quick recover backwards, quick recover sideways, or not recover and stay on the floor. Press any attack button that's not K and a direction to quick recover.

OTG (on-the-ground) attacks hit characters that stay on the floor. OTG attacks do not hit quick recovery.

After not recovering, you have the option of rolling sideways or backwards. Recovering backwards is a safe option but it pushes you closer to the wall behind you and being cornered in DOA6 is dangerous.

If you didn't quick recover or roll backwards, you have access to a tracking mid or low wakeup kick. Both kicks are invincible.

Wakeup kicks lose to OTG attacks that are specifically flagged to hit downed characters. These OTG attacks only come out when the opponent is on the floor.

One of my favorite things about DOA6 is that the environment is part of the fighting. If you knock your opponent into a Danger Zone, you may be able to get a follow up. Some Danger Zones include falls off balconies, electrified floors, and getting eaten by a dinosaur!

Wallsplat turns ordinary hits into combo starters.

Wall throws are in this game too and they're cool!

Characters have different weights. Heavier characters take less damage from juggles because they cannot be launched as high. However, everyone bounds off the floor the same.