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Personally, I prefer the air! (A WiP guide to SSB4 v1.0.4 Falco)

Applicable Games
Smash 3DS, Smash Wii U
Hey there! This is the first guide I've written on Smashboards, and it IS a WiP so I apologize for any glaring faults. Critique to your hearts content and request new features and sections to make this the best guide possible. With that established, I'd like to note that I will be doing MASSIVE overhauling to this guide over the next 2 or 3 days, so stay tuned for all of the updates and improvements to formatting and information! Anyways, onto the guide.

Falco Pros and Cons

+ Excellent jumps and recovery distance
+ excellent gimping and edgeguarding tools
+ Bair and tilts are fairly safe and good for spacing
+ Dthrow offers tons of guaranteed damage at low %s
+ Reflector is good against most zoning characters
+ Phantasm is great for escapes and option selects
+ Solid roll and dodge punishing

- While his recovery covers great distance, it is easily gimped if not sweet spotted
- Lacks solid kill power outside of sweetspotted Dair and Fsmash
- Fairly light
- Jab can be mashed out of
- Grab range is below average
- Half of the Falco mains on this board think he's garbage for some reason

Falco's General playstyle and gameplan
Falco is primarily a character that focuses on punishment and whiffing moves to bait opponents. He excels at spacing characters out with his fairly safe moveset and then punishing characters. He has plenty of moves that he can whiff on purpose to bait out thinks like Smash attacks, Dash attacks and other nonsense, and then can punish them beautifully. Most of his moves has excellent startup and can punish things like rolls and tilts really well, so most attacks that people throw out at you can be punished. Once people get to higher percents you may find that landing a killing blow can be a bit bothersome, and you'll find that characters living to 150% isn't that rare when using Falco. With that said, Falco makes up for his lack of killpower with something that is arguably much more effective.

That something is gimping and edgeguarding power. Falcos Bair, Falcos Fair and Falco's Phantasm are all wonderful moves that I'll go into more depth with later on in this guide, but the general gist on his moveset is that Falco's kit offers tons of ways to meteor smash, spike, gimp and generally harass pretty much everyone, even characters like the Pits and Rosalina with their wonderful recoveries. He can kill at extremely low percents as moves like Dsmash and Fair will shoot out enemies at low angels horizontally so that they will find it hard to recover, and whether someone is recovering high or low, Falco has TONS of tools to constantly rack up damage by constantly hitting them off until they eventually get on stage, or by simply killing them outright.

When it comes to Falco, he is a master at conditioning, baiting and edgeguarding opponents, and once you master him he can be quite the annoyance for your opponents in almost any match-up.


Falco's Moveslist

Note: All kill percents are the average kill percents and were recorded against Mario in training mode and assume uncharged Smash moves

Up Tilt (Utilt)

2 separate upward hits
9% damage (4% first hit, 5% second hit)
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
Can kill at around 150%

Combos into itself at low percents and can lead to Nair and Bair follow-ups and general mix-ups. Is a fairly quick move that is good for punishing whiffed aerials and its a solid Out Of Shield punish on opponents. Though the moves biggest issue is that it is somewhat punishable

Forward Tilt (Ftilt)

Single hit kick forward (can be angled with the analog stick)
9% damage
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
No killing potential

Quick move with little ending lag that is great for harassment and spacing. It does solid damage and leaves you with enough frame advantage to try and setup a solid read or punish. Very solid move, should be used for ground spacing often, and you can even angle it downwards and use it to hit enemies on the ledge as their ledge invincibility ends

Down Tilt (Dtilt)

Single shin kick from Falco
9% damage at the tip (Sourspot), 11% damage at the base and 12% when Falco's thigh connects (sweetspot)
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
Kills in the sweetspot at 137%

Again, another quick move with little ending lag that is wonderful as a roll punish or a general whiff punish. The move has really solid kill potential and will definitely earn Falco players many stocks when used properly. Its also worth noting that it can hit enemies that stay on the edge for extended periods of time to the point of the invincibility wearing off

Dash Attack

Falco does a jumping kick and glides forward whilst kicking
9% damage
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
No killing potential

A solid dash attack that comes out quickly and covers enough distance to punish backrolls, but Falco's Dash attack also has INSANE ending lag and is hugely punishable on whiff, so use it sparingly

Jab

Falco smacks the opponent a couple times and then spins around until the player hits mashing the attack button, at which point he launches the opponent a short distance
3% damage on first hit, 2% damage on second hit and then 1% damage on every other hit, with the final launching move dealing 4% damage
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
No killing potential


This jab is pretty sad as it can't be "Gentlemanned" (that's a word right) like Captain Falcon's or Little Mac's and as such opponents can mash the roll button out of it and then punish you. However, you CAN hit with the first two swings, and then delay the final flurry of swings and then use a Tilt move. This is good for mixing up opponents would expect you to go into the jab flurry, and is a great way to return a match to a Neutral state as odds are they'll block your tilt and you'll both get away safely. Definitely a bad move, but it has its mix-ups and uses

Up Smash (Usmash)

2 hit move where Falco does a flipkick and hits once with each leg
4-4.5% damage on the first hit, and then 12-12.5% on the second hit that launches and does 22% fully charged

(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
Kills at 126%

An interesting move, as it has really solid kill potential and is excellent when used as a tech read on an opponent's wake-up. Its fast, but has considerable ending lag so use it wisely. Also, when hitting midair opponents there are times where only the first hit of the move will actually connect, and the opponent will be able to punish you since the first hit doesn't launch or have much hitstun. Use it wisely, as its a great move, but also a punishable one

Side Smash (Ssmash)

Single hit move where Falco raised both arms into the air and then slashes forward
15% damage uncharged, 21% fully charged
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
Kills at roughly 115% at around midstage

An incredible move that keeps the theme of Falco's moveset alive by being fast as hell and great for punishment. This move will make opponents fear rolling as a single good Fsmash can kill as early as 90% when you hit towards the edge of the stage with it. It has considerable ending lag, so again, use it wisely. But a single good read with this move can send opponents into an offstage edgeguarding situation or just flat-out kill them at decently early percents. It can also hit people on the ledge once their invincibility wears off. Definitely one of Falco's best moves, learn to use it wisely

Down Smash (Dsmash)

Single hit move where Falco does a leg split downward and each leg sends the opponent flying
15% damage uncharged, 21% fully charged
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
Kills at roughly 140%

Don't let that high kill percent fool you, Down Smash is definitely a tool that all Falco's should recognize and learn to use, and its a tool that all enemies should respect. Its probably his quickest Smash move, and what it lacks in range and kill percent it makes up for with its launching angle. It launches people diagonally downward, meaning that it puts Falco into a position to do what he does best, and that's edgeguard and gimp. Use it to punish rolls and whiffed moves when opponents are near the edge and you can almost guarantee a kill or gimp against most of the cast. Like Dtilt and Ftilt, it can be used to hit enemies on the ledge

Neutral Special (Lasers)

Falco shoots a laser out that deals damage and knocks the opponent back slightly if hit
3% damage
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
No killing potential

Quite possible one of the most nerfed moves in Smash Bros history. In Melee and Brawl this is one of the things that made Falco such a monster, as he could cancel the moves ending lag by short hopping and landing on the ground, and constantly harass opponents while remaining extremely safe. The move has lost its short hop cancelling ability, so now players have to deal with the moves full horrendous ending lag as well as not being able to shoot lasers out as quickly and efficiently. However, the move still deals 3% damage per laser, and using it at mid ranges can trick opponents into trying to punish you, so when spaced well you can bait out punishes when opponents think you're not safe and then punish accordingly. Plus its solid for offstage harass against recovering characters or against enemies that are camping at midscreen or longer distances, though you always have better options. Note that it shoots faster in midair than it does on the ground. Don't use it often, but use it enough to make the opponent respect it or make a foolish mistake because of it

Up Special (Fire Bird)

Falco charges up and suddenly bursts into flames and after a short period of time thrusts himself in whatever direction the player aims him in
2% damage each tick up to ~20-30% damage if hit perfectly
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
No killing potential

Falco's main recovery tool. Pretty horrible on stage, and only so-so offstage, the move doesn't have much utility outside of recovery. While it does travel much farther than it did in Brawl, it still leaves you open for gimps and general offstage shenanigans, so proper timing and spacing is necessary for best results

Side Special (Phantasm)

Falco dashes forward as lightning speeds, damaging and spiking enemies he hits during the dash
7% damage
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
No killing potential

This move actually has some really neat uses. Aside from being able to dash out of the corner of the screen or dashing to the ledge when offstage, this move also has meteor smashing principles when you hit enemies in midair with it. Because of this a user by the name of Bong! found out a really solid and interesting option select to use with Falco's Side B by throwing them offstage with Fthrow and then using shorthop Phantasm to force them into an advantageous situation recovery wise or flat-out spiking them down. Read more on this technique here http://smashboards.com/threads/phantasm-spike.380354/#post-18135933. Another user by the name of ArhyLis noticed an interesting way to quickly deceive and mixup opponents by pivoting the move. You can read more on that tactic here
http://smashboards.com/threads/falco-pivot-phantasm-laser-shenanigans.380190/#post-18157274

Down Special (Reflector)

Falco kicks his reflector forward, and it reflects and sends back all projectiles it hits whilst also hitting any enemies that get in its way
5% damage
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
No killing potential

This move is obviously a very useful move against zoning and projectile characters, as it can reflect things back at them. But this move is also interesting as a spacing and general mix-up against character that are approaching you because not only does it hit them directly, but it can also cause a trip. In this situation, while Falco may not recover fast enough to run up and punish them before they tech roll somewhere, he can still try and read the roll and get a grab or even a smash attack in. The move has tons of ending lag though and doesn't hitstun for long if they don't trip, so don't use it as a spacing tool often, but definitely keep it in mind as a mix-up, and always use it to reflect things whenever possible. Making your opponent scared to throw projectiles at you can cripple their defensive options and really get inside their head, so stay sharp

Neutral Air (Nair)

Falco spins around for a bit, smacking foes with his arms until one big final launching hit
12% if hit perfectly (roughly 3-4% per hit)
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
No killing potential

A fairly solid attack that comes out quickly and has reasonably low ending lag. For what it lacks in range it makes up for with having plenty of active frames to punish dodges and whiffed enemy attacks. A very solid move that every Falco should space and learn to punish with, as its wonderful for edgeguarding (which you can read more about below)

Up Air (Uair)

Falco does a flipkick in midair and hits opponents with a single kick
11% damage
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
Kills at roughly 130% when characters are at full hop

A quick move that is solid at punishing air dodging and good for pressuring people in midair. Can kill very early if you hit towards the top of the screen, so learn to condition and make opponents fear Up Airs, as it can lead you to create wonderful punishes by baiting out a dodge by jumping near them and no attacking and then hitting them with a real move after they dodge. Great move, solid damage, definitely useful in Falco's kit

Forward Air (Fair)

Falco spins forward and hits enemies with his multiple times before launching them
8% total damage if hit perfectly (~2% damage per hit)
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
Kills at roughly 140% when near the edge of the stage

While the move was nerfed in v1.0.4 it remains a solid option for gimping and harass as it launches enemies at a horizontal angle and leaves Falco in a fairly advantageous position most of the time. Use for dodge punishing offstage and for general juggling shenanigans on stage

Back Air (Bair)

Falco does a kick behind him, launching enemies great distances
13% damage
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
Can kill as early as 100% offstage, and even as early as 120% when hit midstage

A huge powerhouse move, one of Falco's best tools in almost any situation. Its fast, has solid range, huge damage, huge knockback and fairly low ending lag. Its uses onstage are almost as plentiful as its uses offstage, and its only flaw is that it DOES have a sourspot near the tip of his leg and foot, though that's still not a big deal at all. Learn to use this move, learn to love this move, and make your opponents fear this move

Down Air (Dair)

Falco winds up his legs and then drills them downward, spiking opponents he sweetspots and slightly launching those he doesn't
13% damage if sweetspotted, 8% damage is sourspotted
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
If it sweetspot spikes it can kill at roughly 70-80% depending on height

Not a very useful move overall, but offstage against people recovering vertically it has its uses. Practice and master the timing and you'll find that you'll take plenty of stocks from spiking people to their doom. Onstage its useless, as it has too long of cooldown and takes too long to comes out to be a good punish or approach tool. It has its uses offstage, but its one of Falco's weaker moves for sure

Up Throw (Uthrow)

Falco throws his enemies upwards and shoots a handful of lasers at them, dealing decent damage and launching them midair
8% damage (4% for throw and 4% for lasers)
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
No killing potential

One of Falco's more useless throws. It deals lower damage and offers less follow-ups and tech chases against most of the cast, but it does have its uses against characters like Ganondorf since he has a weaker air game and can be juggled with ease. Opponents can also Hitstun Shuffle/SDI out of the laser hit of the throw, which reduces its damage and knockup potential greatly

Forward Throw (Fthrow)

Falco punches his enemy and launches them forward
6.5% damage
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
No killing potential

An interesting move that is useful for getting opponents offstage and setting up offstage and gimping gimmicks such as Phantasm Spikes (See my write-up on Side B for more info) so it definitely has its uses, but it has no kill potential and deals little damage, so its nothing amazing by any means

Back Throw (Bthrow)

Falco throws his opponent back and shoots them, dealing damage and significant knockback
9% damage (6% from the throw and 3% from the lasers)
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
Technically it can kill at around 140-150%, but at higher percents the laser (which is what kills) can be SDId out of easily

Falco's most damage throw (assuming everything connects) and good for throwing enemies offstage, but outside of throwing enemies offstage it has few uses. It looks cool though if everything hits, so I guess that helps?

Down Throw (Dthrow)

Falco throws his opponent on the ground and shoots them multiple times, launching them forward slightly
5% damage
(FRAME DATA COMING SOON)
No killing potential

Falco's best throw, easily. At low percents you can setup tech chasing opportunities by not hitting opponents after the initial launch, or you can tack on sure percent by following up with Usmash, Utilt or Dash Attack for true combos at lower percents. Because of its great damage opportunities and tech chase setups its his most universally useful tool at low and mid percents,. though its utility dies at high percents when combos and tech chases aren't setup as a result​


Neutral Game and On-Stage Strategy


Neutral game is defined as the process of "Turning an equal situation into an advantageous one". You accomplish this during Neutral Game by spacing and zoning your opponent to the edge of the stage so they're easier to kill or throw off the stage, or just generally forcing your opponent into a position where they're character suffers or your character excels. As we establishes earlier, Falco excels at punishment and gimping/edgeguarding, so your goal in the Neutral Game should be to bait out a move that you'll either block and punish or dodge and punish, or to force them into the air or near the edge of the stage so you can get them into an edgeguarding situation.

The way that you accomplish these goals is simple, through spacing out your Tilts and aerials (Mainly Bair and Nair) and yes, even lasers. You see, as I explained earlier Falco's moves generally come out quickly and have solid recovery speed, so you can purposely whiff most of his kit consistently for spacing or baiting purposes and most of the time opponents either won't successfully punish you and Neutral Game continues, or they'll throw out something punishable and then you'll be in an advantageous position.

You can read up a bit more on each move's specific use during Neutral Game (If it has any) in the Movelist section above.

Also, I'll be adding a small summary of every Match-Up in the game and a small synopsis on how to fight it below in a future section, so stay tuned for that if any particular character is giving you issues during the Neutral Game phase/On-stage phase

Edgeguarding
Alright, so you've spaced and baited out your opponent to almost perfection, and now he's offstage, now what do you do? Well, now you're in Falco's territory, he is EXCELLENT offstage. With his excellent recovery and quick moves, he can chase opponents DEEP offstage for kills and gimps while still being able to get back onto the stage. While Falco's Fair gimping was nerfed a bit in patch 1.0.4 since now opponents don't travel downwards with Falco as he fastfalls (which lead to a lot of characters recovering super low horizontally, which killed) he still has tons of tools on gimping.

Essentially, what tool you use should be based on what your goal is with your attack and where you are relative to them as they recover. For example, your edgeguarding strategy against a character with amazing recovery like Pit/Dark Pit will differ from your ledgeguarding strategy vs someone like Ness who has a weaker recovery. Let me give examples of how one would edgeguard vs these two characters to kind of give you an idea of how Falco edgeguards in a general sense.

Pit/Dark Pit - These characters have an Up B that seems to go on for miles, and they also have multiple jumps to boot. This makes gimping them almost a non option unless you manage to hit your Dair, which actually isn't a bad idea since while Pit/Dark Pit have wonderful recovery distance wise, much like Falco its slow and easy to interrupt with a little practice. In any case, the main goal here once you get him offstage isn't to necessarily kill him, but to tack on as much damage as you can before he can eventually recover. Generally if he's recovering high up there isn't anything Falco can do since Pit will just time his jumps in a way that he'll get on stage while still being super high up. You may be able to harass with full hop double jump Uairs if he's low enough or at least getting that low, but aside from that you're generally gonna have to let him recover and just setup your pressure for when he is about to get back onstage. However, when he's recovering low (maybe you hit him with Fair or Down Smash) or recovering almost directly horizontally, you can HUGELY abuse his recovery. Your Bair, Nair and Fair are wonderful at tacking on hits, as Nair and Fair stay out for quite sometime and will knock him back a bit, and your Bair comes out very quickly so you can punish him as soon as he gets close. Not only that, but Bair and Fair offstage kill at pretty low percents, so if he's at around 70% or so you can actually look for a Bair kill, and at around 85% you can look for ofstage Fair kills. Essentially, just wait for him to get close with his jumps or Up B, and then throw out your aerials (even Dair if he's recovering low) and try your best to tack on percent, as if you don't kill them or mess up during the edgeguarding process he's certainly gonna recover.

Ness - This is much simpler to combat, as you generally only need 2 moves for this, and those moves are Bair and Nair. You can style on Ness with your Dair since his recovery is hellishly slow and predictable, but to be safe I'll only focus on using his Bair and Nair. Ness' recovery comes in two waves, his super long jump that covers great distance but leaves him helpless, and his horrendous Up B that takes quite a while for him to aim and again, leaves him helpless. When you knock him offstage he'll have to act quickly if he wants to recover, so odds are he won't waste time wasting his jump to try and get back onstage. This is where your Nair and Bair come into play. If you hit him with a single well spaced Bair, you'll force him into a position where he has nothing but his Up B to recover with, and that will almost ALWAYS mean that he's dead since the distance Up B covers for Ness is laughable and Bair will send him flying a pretty good distance. However, if you're not as comfortable with your positioning and thing you won't be able to hit Falco's Bair properly, then go ahead and throw out a Nair. Reason being as its hitbox is bigger vertically so spacing isn't as much of an issue, and Nair is active for a fairly long time and odds are will catch Ness mid jump. But lets say that the initial jump hit wasn't enough and Ness is still close enough to the stage to use his Up B to recover, what then? Well, Bair is all you'll need. Simply jump off-stage and smack Ness with a well placed Bair, and Ness will be a goner for sure. Reason being as once Ness uses his Up B he has to aim the thunder to hit him in the right direction so he can fly towards the edge, but during this time Ness is completely vulnerable to attack and can be hit out of using his Up B. Now you'll have to act quickly during this time as if Ness hits you while flying through the air using his Up B he will deal massive damage and make Falco fly back, and at around 70% it can consistently kill. Don't let that discourage you though, as with enough practice stopping Ness' recovery will become extremely easy for you, and that will help you succeed in the Match-Up greatly.

You can read up a bit more on each move's specific use during the Edgeguarding phase (If it has any) in the Movelist section above.

I'll be adding a small summary of every Match-Up in the game and a small synopsis on how to fight it below in a future section, so stay tuned for that if any particular character is giving you issues offstage.

Recovery
Recovery with Falco is a lot easier in Smash 4 than its ever been. Thanks to his greatly increased jump height, ability to jump off of the sides of the stage, the fact that you can still use Up B after using his Side B and the fact that people can't edgehog you in Smash 4 means that for the first time in Smash history Falco can actually recover from an offstage situation. Not only that, but Falco has multiple options to do so with meaning that its not only easier to recover distance wise, but its also not as linear and easy to interrupt! Well sort of. His Up B covers much more distance than it did in Brawl but once you're flying its still pretty easy to recover, but that's not as big of an issue now, and while Falco might not have top tier recovery like Meta Knight or Palutena its still nothing to scoff at.

The important this when recovering it to remember that saving your jump is REALLY important. Try to just use Side B and Up B to get onto the ledge and back onstage, and save your jump for when you have to recover long distance or if your original attempt at recovering was interrupted by your opponent. Another very important rule is that when you're on a stage like Yoshi's Island or Omega Final Destinations that have full stages going downwards with walls its important to use Falco's wall jump as it makes his vertical recovery potential and the safety of his recovery skyrocket. You perform a walljump by hugging the wall, and then pressing the jump button WHILE pushing your analog stick (or whatever you're using for movement) in the OPPOSITE direction of the wall you're facing. It doesn't cost you your jump, and covers excellent distance on top of being fast. Using it wisely is just another way to keep the bird alive and with a little practice it will become second nature to you.

Wrap-up

To sort of wrap-up this guide a bit, I'd like to say that Falco isn't half as bad as a lot of people make him out to be. He has plenty of options in almost every possible situation, and doesn't really slack in any department. What will future updates for Falco have in store for everyone's favorite bird? Only time will tell, and I hope that this guide will consistently serve as a learning tool for new players and veterans alike.

I'd like to give shoutouts to the following people:

Legend Vermillion for constantly sparking interesting discussion about Falco and supporting our bird through thick and thin

Bltzz for providing some of the only video footage of Falco on Youtube right now and for contributing a ton to discussion

M@v, •Col•, and everyone else who is repping the bird as a tournament viable character

AhryLis and Bonk! for their AT videos and threads, you guys rock for that <3

My main man Otacon for spending countless hours playing and testing things with me, and for supporting me picking the bird as my main

And everyone else who mains Falco, you're all awesome <3



UPCOMING FEATURES

- Actual gifs for each move (that's coming soon, I just got lazy and didn't want to take the time to make them and put them in before launching)
- Frame data
- More official kill %s
- Information on custom moves
- Knockback values added to each move (but definitely kill moves at the very least)
- Match-Up section with summaries and tactics for fighting against every character
- Nicer formatting and graphic banners for each section to make everything look cleaner and more official
Author
Illuvial
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Latest reviews

I like this guide because it really helps, but phantasm does have killing potential if it's off stage because you can spike people with phantasm if they're on the ledge and also if they're in midair as long as you hold down as you do the off stage phantasm. Also, quite a few attacks you said had no kill potential actually do have decent kill potential hence I've killed with dash attack at about 250% or something. I hope you fix this and until you do, I'm giving you a 4/5
Really good review! I'm trying to improve my Falco (secondary of mine), and this is really helpful. Looking forward to animations and frame data!
Thanks so much. This guide was very helpful and informative.
Great Guide. Does a great job for everything anyone could be looking to know really.
5/5 its ok
Great guide, thanks! And of course, I don't think Falco is garbage, if I did I wouldn't use him ;-)
I like it. Lots of great information. Am a Falco main, and agree with everything in here. Even gave me some new ideas to work on!
P. cool
Really loving the guide can't wait to see the end result with gifs. I have lots of videos archived just got a new pvr can't wait to show you guys
Wanna start with Falco and dont know how to get all information about him? This is YOUR guide :)
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