A tier list is a common concept in video game culture. In a tier list, characters, or other game elements, are graded according to how good they are when compared to others.
For instance, fighting games use tier lists to define who are the strongest competitive characters in the game. Many players also use tier lists to check if certain characters are viable in a competitive context.
However, you shouldn’t ever blindly trust a tier list. They are often just conversation starters, and different people make different tier lists. Having played DNF Duel constantly from the minute the game came out, I came to have my own impressions of the roster.
Most, if not all, characters seem viable, but there are a few that might be outside the curve. With that in mind, I decided to make my own DNF Duel tier list. To be fair, it’s too early to make an accurate tier list. That said, my intentions here are just to get the conversation started.
DNF Duel Adventurer Tiers
Please, once again, note that tier lists tend to change over time as players find new tactics as ways to deal with characters who are perceived as strong. That being said, my first impressions of the game are that all characters have powerful tools.
For that reason, we are going to divide this tier list into three ranks. These ranks will be referred to, from lowest to higher, as tier-B, tier-A, and tier-S. You might want to check how Awakening works in DNF Duel to better understand why characters are ranked the way they are.
B Tier: This is the rank where I’ll put characters with many bad matchups and characters that lack something to make them as good as the others. The characters who belong to this tier are:
A Tier: Characters that can play DNF Duel against the rest of the roster without many issues. Most characters in this game are probably here. They are all super powerful and have really cheap moves, but that’s part of what makes DNF Duel so much fun. The characters who belong to this tier are:
- Dragon Knight
S Tier: This is the tier for characters that are like the A-Tier ones but even better. Adventurers that belong to the S-Tier are the ones without bad matchups that also have a good offense, good defense, good damage, and good mix-ups. The characters who belong to this tier are:
- Swift Master
Grappler – B Tier
This character has good mix-ups, great damage, insane command throws, and 1050 HP. When it comes to health in this game, Grappler’s is really high. Grappler even has an air command throw that works against airborne and grounded characters. Grappler has many powerful tools like most of the cast.
Unfortunately, he is very slow, and his normals have a short range. To compensate for it, Grappler must often try to get in with his armored moves, but they are all easily beaten by any low-hitting attack. Since characters can easily break his armor and keep him out, he can’t be an A-tier character.
Launcher – B Tier
Launcher is a zoner character that can deal massive chip damage to characters who play passively. Her game plan is based on locking her opponents in a blockstring and forcing them to take a risk so she can punish them and cash out the white damage caused.
However, her overall damage is somewhat low. She doesn’t have good combo routes from low attacks. On top of that, DNF Duel is a game with giant buttons. Launcher’s strengths don’t seem so impressive in a game where characters don’t even need to get too close to you. Too many Adventurers can start a combo from half a screen away after hitting you with down+B.
Striker – A Tier
Striker is the best DNF Duel adventurer for beginners because she is easy to play and fun to use when you are just mashing and feeling the game. Everything works since she can chain most of her buttons into one another.
Once you master Striker, she becomes a terrifying character who can perform long combos and corner you from a single hit. Once she knocks you down or hits your block, she can keep the pressure going so that you are forced to guard cancel her frequently.
On top of that, she can also cancel her MP skills into other MP Skills. This unique characteristic allows her to cancel her invincible uppercut into Tornado Kicks or another MP Skill. In other words, her invincible reversal can be made safe on block as long as she has the mana to follow it up with something else.
The only reason Striker is not an S-Tier character is her range. She is a short girl who fights with her bare hands, so players that choose to main this adventurer have to actually put a lot of work to get in when fighting characters with long-reaching attacks such as Ghostblade, Troubleshooter, or Hitman.
Ghostblade – A Tier
Much like Striker, Ghostblade is an oppressive character who can deal tones of damage from most hits. However, his offensive capabilities are even scarier than Striker’s. This character has some of the best far-reaching buttons in the game. Not only that, but he also has full-screen punishes and a teleport, which allows him to be dangerous no matter where he is on the screen.
Ghostblade’s damage is above average, and he can become even scarier once Awakened. He also has left or right mix-ups, good pressure, an easy-to-use Awakening Skill, and he can start high-damaging combos from down+B.
However, he doesn’t have an invincible reversal or even a counter move that allows him to challenge blockstrings. Since Ghostblade has the worst defense in DNF Duel, he isn’t an S-Tier adventurer. This character can make 70% of your health evaporate when awakened. This is why even the lack of defensive options isn’t enough to make him go below A-Tier.
Ranger – A Tier
Ranger is a full-screen zoner who can perform long combos. He has slow normal attacks, but some of them are full-screen projectiles. His usual combo ender will send you flying away to the other side of the screen. That’s where he wants you, so he can once again start fishing for the hit that leads to another combo.
It is beyond annoying to fight Ranger because he has ways to move away from you and an invincible reversal. It is not unusual to finally get close to Ranger only to be hit by his reversal and be sent flying away.
However, even though he has powerful tools, his normals have too many start-up frames. Besides using his down+MS, Ranger has a hard time safely getting away from tight pressure strings. He usually has to take a significant risk to escape from his opponents. Ranger might not be S-Tier, but he is definitely an A-Tier character.
Vanguard – A Tier
Vanguard is a zoner who doesn’t depend on projectiles. He has the longest-reaching melee weapon in the game and can abuse it to whiff-punish and pressure his opponents. On top of that, Vanguard’s combos are long and high-damaging, making him way too dangerous when he gets more mana to play with.
That being said, the right dodge might put Vanguard in a horrible situation. Once you manage to knock him down, he is a bit more vulnerable to pressure than most adventurers on the roster. He does have an invincible reversal, but you can low profile it. In other words, a move that lowers your hurt box, such as Striker’s down+B, makes you invulnerable to Vanguard’s down+MS attack.
Vanguard’s pressure is not as tight as Ghostblade’s or Striker’s, but it is dangerous enough to force you to gamble by trying to approach him. However, his damage output on hit is one of the highest, close to Ghostblade’s. He lacks mix-ups, but the fact that he can reach you from very far away makes him a solid character and a terrifying opponent.
Enchantress – A Tier
Enchantress has full-screen special moves, her dodge is a teleport, and she has long combos. She also deals a lot of damage and has an invincible reversal. On top of all that, she can also activate Showtime! to make her teddy bear an active character with its own set of moves.
Enchantress is a nightmare to fight against when well played, but to be fair, it seems that most characters are. Her combos can become quite safe when whiffed because of Showtime! setups and she can easily catch you off guard as soon as you forget her teddy bear can also strike you. She even has ways to break your guard with only 100 MP if she puts you in the corner.
All that being said, she has a few downsides. Being a highly technical character does make it a little less viable to consistently make the most out of her kit. Enchantress only has 850 HP, making every hit hurt her significantly. She is powerful like most characters on the roster. Yet, she has some clear downsides, so she seems to fit the A-Tier just fine.
Dragon Knight – A Tier
Although her base damage doesn’t seem to be that high at first, Dragon Knight can dish out lots of damage with the proper setup. Not only that, but she also has long-reaching special moves and high or low mix-ups that make her a pain to block. If she puts you in the corner and uses her dragon, you will undoubtedly have to guess how to stop her next offense.
This character has Fireballs, good combos, good speed, and decent reach. She does have only 900 health, though. When at low health, her Awakening Effect allows her to regain mana much faster. Combining that with technical inputs might make her a pressure monster.
Although Dragon Knight is powerful and fast, she doesn’t come across as cheap. She doesn’t usually manage to take away most of your HP from any hit, and she does need a lot of MP to make her flashiest combos work. Still an amazing character regardless.
Hitman – A Tier
This character is good at everything. Hitman has a massive invincible reversal attack, decent damage, long-reaching sword swings, decent HP, and multi-hitting attacks. There’s nothing super special about Hitman, but the fact that he is solid and good at everything does keep him in the A-Tier.
On top of that, he has an amazing Awakening Effect called Battle Command. It allows him to follow any of his MP Skills with another attack. This can increase the damage of your combos or make a blocked attack safe. For instance, he can use the invincible reversal and then use his Awakening to cancel into Shattering Strike.
Hitman doesn’t have fireballs, full-screen attacks, or super-powerful setups. However, he always hurts when he hits you, he has the reach, the damage, and the tools to handle any character.
Kunoichi – A Tier
Kunoichi is fast, has good damage, and she can keep you stuck in blockstun for way too long time. She also has an invincible reversal and a double jump. She can rush you down, pressure you, zone you out, or go for set plays.
Although she only has 900 HP, this adventurer is far from being weak. If she gets a hit, get ready to be stuck in a really long combo. If you keep her away, she will deal tones of white damage by throwing Kunai and fire hurricanes at you.
Unfortunately, Kunoichi’s pressure depends on her holding her special moves. So she doesn’t get it for free all the time. She can do everything, but not always, and not consistently. Although her Awakening strengthens her Ninjutsu attacks, she still needs to charge them to get that extra bonus.
Inquisitor – A Tier
Inquisitor has some far-reaching normals, long blockstrings, a way to chip away someone’s guard gauge, and an invincible reversal. She has good damage, a dive kick, a command dash, and decent damage. She can do everything somewhat well, but she doesn’t really excel at everything in a way that makes her feel better than the rest of the roster.
That being said, once she gets her Awakening Effect, Inquisitor is able to spam her fire wheel much more frequently. That, combined with the oil attack, command dashes, and dive kicks, can make for interesting setups and mix-ups. Just don’t get touched. Inquisitor only has 850 HP, so she can’t stay under pressure for too long.
Lost Warrior – A Tier
Although Lost Warrior is a boss character, he didn’t make it into the S-Tier. Honestly, this character is very gimmicky. However, he doesn’t have great normals, and he doesn’t have an invincible reversal. Lost Warrior can be bullied once you reach him, and knowing his kit can make it quite easy for some characters to prevent him from doing whatever he wants.
That being said, he still has a way to freeze you in time if he keeps poking you with MP Skills. If Lost Warrior manages to freeze the screen, chances are he will deal way too much damage against you. An awakened Lost Warrior is pretty much guaranteed to win a match after freezing someone, which is why he will stay in the A-Tier.
Berserker – S Tier
Berserker is the character you want a character it all. He has significant damage, fireballs, long reach, good combos from any low attack, and some of the best MP Specials in the game. Berserker is hard to punish, his attacks are challenging to dodge through, and he can frequently extend combos due to his ability to inflict white damage upon himself.
Since Berserker can take white damage when he chooses, he can cancel any unsafe move to make it safe and instantly regain MP almost at any time. To make it worse, Berserker’s Awakening Effect grants him HP back every time that hits the opponent. Not only does this help him come back, but it also synergizes well with his ability to inflict white damage upon himself.
Troubleshooter – S Tier
If Hitman is A-Tier, Troubleshooter just has to be one tier above. He does everything that Hitman does but better. He has better damage from fewer hits, longer reaching MP Skills, a way to inflict white damage on himself, grenades for Okizeme and pressure, and traps for setups.
On top of that, he can zone you, deal tones of damage from down+B, and he has an invincible reversal that is as far-reaching as Hitman’s. Troubleshooter is a pain to deal with at any point on the screen. He is effective at nearly every range, and he seems to always have a response to most of what other characters can do.
Yes, he is a bit slower than Hitman, and this doesn’t cause him any trouble because of how strong all his tools are. For that reason, he cannot be considered equal to Hitman. He is better.
Swift Master – S Tier
Swift Master is the fastest character in the game. He has good projectiles, a charged Skill that reaches full screen, and combo-extending special moves that make his offensive feel like it never ends. On top of that, he can whiff-punish nearly everything with his fast attacks.
Swift Master also has great mix-ups. By surrounding himself with wind, he can go for left or right mix-ups, strike or throw mix-ups, and frame traps, all at once. If that isn’t enough, his pressure can force you to guard cancel or try to roll away since he can chip your guard gauge away from a safe distance.
If none of that seems super good, he can perform his MP Skills while on the air. Not an air version, but his actual MP skills also work after he jumps. There is more, though. His Awakening Effect, Wind Master, makes the fastest character in the game even faster. You cannot whiff a button in front of an Awakened Swift Master. If you do and your opponent can optimize their combos, be ready to lose at least 70% of your health.
Swift Master does have one weakness. He only has 850 HP. However, if you can’t touch him, you can’t hurt him. With that move speed, the little circling tornados, and an invincible reversal, 850 HP will feel like way too much health when you’re fighting this adventurer.
Crusader – S Tier
Crusader is the most robust character in the game. This giant has even more health than Grappler, and his Awakening Effect turns him into an ever beefier adventurer. That being said, Crusader is a character that deals massive amounts of damage from single, powerful attacks.
On top of that, Crusader has the best aerial projectile of the game, a fast light lance that explodes when it touches the floor. He also has a slow-moving projectile that helps him zone out opponents and a massive hammer that he can use to hit anyone at middle range.
Although he doesn’t have the longest combos, Crusader can create a wall behind the adversary to create a corner and extend his combos. When he does that successfully, he can deal massive damage. The wall can also hit the opponents, bringing them closer to Crusader.
If that didn’t seem enough, he has a powerful charge attack that easily combos into his Awakening Skill. Crusader also has a counter special, like Grappler’s, but it doesn’t cost any MP. He also has a ridiculously strong invincible reversal with his down+MP.
We are not done. Crusader also has a buff that grants him armor and extends his combos when the enemy is against the wall he created. Finally, if everything else was not enough, he has an infinite combo.
I genuinely believe that even though Crusader is perceived as a way too powerful character, it’s very possible that the A-tier would be better suited for this adventurer. However, his infinite combo is not that hard to do, so that’s where he is staying for now.
As mentioned above, Tier Lists in fighting games are opinions meant to start a conversation. That said, I feel like I should clarify a few aspects of this one.
Tier Lists do not mean that characters have an undisputed chance of winning competitive matches. In fact, plenty of fighting game tournaments were won by players using low or mid-tier characters.
In the case of DNF Duel, the first two tournaments of the game were won by a Striker and a Grappler, two characters with short-range that have a lot of issues handling the rest of the cast. Yet, in the same tournament won by a Grappler, a Crusader player eliminated a Ranger with an infinite combo.
Tier lists are also pretty much useless for those who are not seriously competing. If your goal with the game is to have fun, pick a character that you find fun. I always go with the adventurer that I find the coolest, no matter how they play. Other players just choose a fighting game archetype they like. You just do you and pick whoever you want. Don’t let a tier list stop you from doing that.