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Gundam Versus has just blasted onto PlayStation 4 in all of its explosive glory. The team-based Versus series has been around for years in Japan, but many of the more recent entries sadly never made it West. As such, we assume that a lot of Western players are going to be jumping into Gundam Versus with next to no experience. 

We're hoping, then, that this beginner's guide will help you understand the art of piloting a mobile suit.

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Treat it like a fighting game

If you want to really get into Gundam Versus, the first thing you need to do is set your expectations correctly. Gundam Versus certainly isn't your average action game. In fact, it has a lot more in common with fighting games than it does shooters or hack and slash titles. A steep learning curve lies ahead for those who want to dig into the competitive core of the release, with a multitude of advanced mechanics serving as a basis for hardcore play.

To play a traditional fighting game like Street Fighter or Tekken at a high level, you need to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals, knowledge of your potential opposition, and mastery of the character that you're playing as. Although Gundam Versus doesn't quite offer the same depth as those aforementioned fighters, you'll still need to apply the same mindset.

For a lot of people, Gundam Versus is going to seem very difficult to play at first, and yes, it is difficult to some extent. However, with enough practice, anyone can become an ace pilot. As such, newcomers should...

Play through the tutorial

Fortunately for rookies, Gundam Versus has a pretty good tutorial mode that's dedicated to teaching you the basics as well as paving the way for some more advanced techniques. It goes without saying that if you don't have a clue what you're doing, this is the mode to start with.

Even when you've wrapped your head around the game, it can be worth coming back to the tutorial mode just to refresh your memory.

Sort your buttons to suit you

You can fully customise your controller layout in Gundam Versus, so don't be afraid to change things up if you're finding the default settings cumbersome. There are a lot of different attacks and techniques at your disposal in Gundam Versus, so feeling comfortable with your buttons is obviously going to help as you learn the ins and outs of what can be a complex game.

Timing is (almost) everything

Both long range and short range encounters play a part in the combat of Gundam Versus, but most of the time, you'll probably be engaging your opponent from a distance. As such, correctly timing your attacks -- and indeed your evasive techniques -- is very important.

The target that's placed over your enemy changes colour depending on the situation. If it's green, then your attacks are very likely to miss entirely. If it's red, your attacks will hit, but only if your opponent doesn't dodge out of the way. Last but not least, yellow means that the enemy is temporarily invincible -- this occurs when they've been knocked down.

With targeting colours in mind, you should only go on the offensive when you know that your attacks are going to hit. This targeting system forms the basis of what you should be looking for when it comes to timing in Gundam Versus.

Once you're used to that, you'll want to start thinking about evading incoming attacks with well-timed boost dashes and other forms of movement. Don't mash buttons to attack or boost recklessly across the battlefield -- deliberately time you actions and you'll see a huge improvement. 

Watch that boost gauge

Movement in Gundam Versus is arguably the most important part of gameplay -- especially if you want to get competitive. Moving around the arena can seem tricky at first, but as always, practice is key.

The main thing to remember when you're starting out is that good movement equals survival. Even with a basic understanding of dashes, boosts, and jumps, you'll be able to avoid incoming attacks and position yourself much better when closing in on an opponent.

This is where the boost gauge comes into the equation. The boost gauge depletes whenever you use any kind of movement that's faster than your default walk, but thankfully, it refills pretty quickly. Still, you'll need to keep an eye on the boost gauge and make sure that it doesn't deplete entirely. If it does, your suit will become overheated, and you'll be left wide open for a short period of time.

Managing your boost gauge correctly can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Don't let an overheat catch you out, but at the same time, don't let your boost gauge go to waste.

Know your attacks

Gundam Versus doesn't have huge character move lists to learn, but each suit does have its own unique set of attacks. For the most part, suits have a couple of ranged attacks and a couple of melee attacks, each assigned to a different button.

However, it still takes time to learn what each attack does and how to properly use it. For example, there are a wide variety of long range moves, from simple beam rifle shots and slower explosives to massive beam cannons and deceptive funnel barrages. As you can imagine, knowing when to fire off a few warning shots with your rifle and when to cut loose with a huge blast can make you a much more efficient pilot.

Once you find a suit that you enjoy using, your best bet is to head into some practice matches and try out the attacks that are available to you. Try to discern the optimal time to use them, their range, and how much damage they do. Once you have a better understanding of what your suit's actually capable of, you can start putting together advanced strategies like setting your opponent up for a high damage combo.

Do you have any tips for rookie mobile suit pilots? Dish out some Newtype advice in the comments section below.