Guardians of the Galaxy does plenty to help ease you into your adventure early on, but there’s still a lot to get to grips with when it comes to fighting as Star-Lord and the rest of the Guardians. Now that I’ve played through the entire game, here’s everything you need to know about how the combat works in Guardians of the Galaxy, from how to make the most of the Guardians when in battle and what perks to focus on.
Whether you’re facing deadly gelatinous cubes or taking on the wild beasts of Seknarf Nine, you’ll soon get used to holding the bumper down to activate Guardians Mode whenever your fellow teammates are with you. Although Star-Lord is a capable fighter, even superheroes don’t leave their team behind in the name of a solo win. Guardians Mode is Star-Lord’s way of directing the other Guardians and, in turn, making the most of their abilities. Some earlier fights can be conquered alone, but neglecting Guardians Mode will only result in defeat during tougher fights, as Star-lord quickly gets overwhelmed – especially because, when left to their own devices, the rest of the Guardians’ vanilla attacks deal little damage.
Each Guardian has 4 special abilities, each of which operates on a cool-down. Depending on the scenario, Star-lord is accompanied by one or two others, but more often than not all four join him in battle. As such, Guardians of the Galaxy requires a fine balance between attacking yourself and using Guardians Mode to make the most of your allies’ special abilities. Working as a team is essential, so use Entangle – Groot’s crowd control ability – to immobilise a large group of enemies, before unleashing Rocket Raccoon’s Cluster Flark Bomb, which deals decent damage to everything in the impact area. Then you can finish the job with Peter Quill’s iconic blasters, picking away at the rest.
As you become more skilled at fighting and dishing out attack commands, you can experiment with combos to become a more efficient killing machine. Doing so builds your team’s Momentum gauge, which is a bit like Devil May Cry’s Stylish Rank system. The more combos you string together, the greater the increase. Similarly, using your team to its full potential all helps build momentum faster. On the flip-side, rattle off the same attack time after time and it’ll decrease.
Max out momentum and you’re given a short window to perform a Call-To-Action attack. These special attacks deal a lot of damage but can only be used on certain, tougher enemies, and only for a limited amount of time. So if you need to get the upper hand on a particularly tricky bad guy, add some variety to your moves and you might just get rewarded. You’re ranked depending on your performance, from Fantastic through to Amazing, and earn bonus XP used to unlock new abilities for your Guardians.
Some enemies even have a Stagger Bar under their health – fill it using certain attacks and special abilities to stun them, after which any attacks – including those they’re resistant against – are significantly buffed for a few seconds. If you’re having a hard time staggering an enemy yourself, put Drax’s muscle to good use. His basic ability, Destroy, delivers heavy stagger damage. Or if you’re looking to build Momentum, couple Drax’s brawling style with Star-Lord’s ‘Charged Shot’ to deal physical and stagger damage at the same time.
As satisfying as it is to blast enemies with Star-Lord’s signature element guns, getting up close and personal with melee attacks can be rewarding. Smashing a Nova Corp grunt with a solid one-two combo, while risky, drops more health pickups than usual, and might just be worth it if your opponent is vulnerable to close combat. Remember to mix it up too, , and combining Star-Lord’s dash ability to avoid an attack before quickly closing in for a jet-boost-assisted melee finisher will always bring a smile to your face.
If the odds are stacked against you and momentum is through the floor, use Star-Lord’s Huddle to give the team a boost. This powerful weapon can turn the tide of a battle – sometimes all that’s needed is a few choice words of encouragement. Like Momentum, you build the Huddle bar by working as a team and pulling off special abilities. Once full, pressing both bumpers calls a time out, at which point the Guardians huddle together for a pep-talk. But here’s where it gets interesting: the current mood of the team dictates the actions needed, so if they’re overly cocky you should refocus their attention back to the fight. Worried they might not make it? Boost their confidence and get them motivated. You’re offered hints as to your team’s mood prior to picking the response, and while picking the ‘wrong’ mood isn’t the end of the world – you’ll only boost Star-lord rather than the entire team – it certainly won’t get you out of a hole.
Preparing for upcoming battles is just as important as the battles themselves, which is where the perk system comes into play. These upgrades are exclusively for Star-Lord and can be unlocked either at the workbench inside the Milano or at specific places during the adventure. They don’t come cheap however, and require two kinds of crafting components. Thankfully, these are littered throughout every level, sometimes hidden and sometimes out in the open. There’s even a perk – Components Localizer – that makes it easier to find these valuable resources.
Other perks include Air Glide – which activates Star-Lord’s jet boots for a limited time, enabling him to breeze past enemies with ease – and Perfect Dodge, which momentarily slows down time if you dodge an enemy attack at the last second. Better still, there’s no limit to the number of perks active at the same time, providing you have the resources to unlock them. One perk worth unlocking early on is Tactical Scan. Activated by pressing in the right stick, it scans nearby enemies to reveal their weaknesses so you can switch up your tactics accordingly. For example, some enemies are susceptible to elemental attacks, and knowing which one to equip makes life much easier.
Element Shots are an alternative fire-mode to Star-Lord’s already deadly duel-blasters. There are four in total, with ice shot the first unlocked. It’s perfect for freezing fast-moving enemies, allowing you to get up close and shatter them with a melee attack. But you can’t freeze everyone, and using Element Shots decreases your Element Gauge over time, after which you’ll have to either wait for it to regenerate or pick up ammo dropped by killed enemies.
Jesse Gomez is a video producer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.