Before I begin, I wanted to preface all of this by saying that tier lists are somewhat overrated.
I am strongly of the belief that the vast majority of the time, player skill will overcome placement on a tier-list. The only time a tier list really matters is when both players have reached the skill ceiling of the game. Even then, the best players will find ways to overcome any obstacle.
Having said that, it’s always fun to have the discussion of where characters are ranked. Below is my tier-list, which is by no means meant to be the definitive word on how good these characters are in relation to one another. Just one voice among many. Check it out!
One more note! This tier-list does NOT take default arms into account. Yes, current tournament standard is default arms only. However, that’s the case primarily due to the logistical nightmare that is unlocking arms for all consoles. Since the game was designed with interchangeable arms in mind, this list is reflective of character attributes and abilities only. Now let’s begin!
The cream of the crop. While they’re certainly beatable, their general lack of weaknesses keeps them a cut above the rest.
Over the past few months, we’ve seen how important movement factors into one’s success. Generally, the characters with the best mobility thrive, as they’re able to evade punches and mount a counterattack with little hassle.
Ribbon Girl is the queen of ARMS due to her unparalleled ability to jump multiple times in the air, as well as her ability to quickly fall to the ground. As soon as she takes the skies, it’s a guessing game of what she’ll do next, and she almost always has the advantage due to the myriad of options she has in the air.
TIP FOR FIGHTING RIBBON GIRL: When she does her fast fall, she’s vulnerable to get grabbed or hit on the way down. Watch her jumping animation carefully. If she goes into a spin, she’s going to fast fall. If you’re ready for it, you can striker her during a time when she thinks she’s safe.
Her bullet time ability makes her almost untouchable when it’s active. Combine that with the ability to activate it in the air, as well as being able to perform a powerful air dash off of it, she can control the momentum of the fight from start to end. She only sits a smidgen below Ribbon Girl because she’s a bit easier to take advantage of when she’s airborne.
TIP FOR FIGHTING TWINTELLE: Twintelle players love to jump in the air and perform her bullet time maneuver before making their next move. The moment after her bullet time ends is when she’s most vulnerable. If she falls to the ground, you can hit or grab her at any time during her descent. If she throws a punch, side-step it and punish her on the way down.
This freak of science is easily the hardest character to use in the game. However, in the hands of a skilled player, Helix is incredibly slippery thanks to its combination of being able to turn into a puddle or a wobbly tower. It will take a lot of patience and precision hits for Helix opponents to take it down.
TIPS FOR FIGHTING HELIX: In Helix’s tower state, it is particularly prone to getting hit by curving arms due to it standing still. When the tower goes up, so should your curving shots!
A terror during v1.0, assorted Kid Kobra nerfs have caused him to fall down the list a bit. Still, Kid Kobra possesses the largest arm girth in the game, as well as killer movement options when fully charged. With both of those attributes working in tandem, he can suffocate almost all comers.
TIP FOR FIGHTING KID KOBRA: Kid Kobra is a much more potent threat when charged. However, if you’re able to keep the pressure on him, he won’t have time to charge up. Easier said than done, but once you’ve established position, don’t let up!
This group of characters can hang in any fight, but they’re not as well-rounded as those in the top tier. Certain deficiencies in their design hold them back from being classified as the best, but these characters can still throw down with the best of them!
Often placed towards the bottom-end of most tier lists, I think Spring Man is better than most people give him credit for. Gaining permanent charge when his health is low is a real asset. Plus his reflect is an underrated tool. Beyond recklessly spamming it like many online players, using it at the right moment adds an extra level of potency to his counterattacks. He might be boring, but he’s a threat in the right hands!
TIP FOR FIGHTING SPRING MAN: Frustrated with Spring Man spamming his reflect over and over while sliding across the stage? Punish him for it! During that move, he’s vulnerable right after the reflector disappears but before he’s finished dashing. With the right timing, distance, and a bit of prediction, you can punch or grab him out of the recovery frames of the reflect!
Widely considered to be one of the best in the game, I think she’s just a touch overrated. Her parry kicks are primarily gimmicky, while her small default arm girth can make hitting targets tougher than normal. What keeps here towards the top is her terrifying dragon arm. When it’s powered up, its massive girth makes every weapon she makes a real problem.
TIP FOR FIGHTING MIN MIN: Some reckless Min Min players will try and charge their left arm from unsafe distances. In general, try and stay as close as you can to her as a means of keeping her from charging. However, if you see her start to peel away and attempt the charge, send a punch her way to knock her down before she can get the dragon arm ready.
The newest member of the ARMS cast is a slippery foe with a lot of defensive options. Unlike other members of the cast, she can block in the air, or explode off of a guarding position from the ground for extended side-dashes or a super jump. While she’s a lot of fun to play as, her reliance on blocking makes her susceptible to throws. It’s still early in her lifespan, so she could still move one way or the other!
TIP FOR FIGHTING LOLA POP: When she jumps in the air, anticipate her downward bounce. If you can see a pattern, simply go a throw. She’ll drop right into your grab!
Possessing the general abilities of Spring Man and Master Mummy, the end result isn’t quite as good as you would expect. While his reflector, near-death charge, and hulking up make him a threat, he’s undermined by his beefcake physique. Already a large target to begin with, his armour state makes his bullseye even bigger. On top of that, his broad shoulders actually make it difficult to hit opponents standing straight ahead.
TIP FOR FIGHTING MAX BRASS: Just like Spring Man, you can counter his reflect by hitting him right after the reflector disappears. It’s gonna take practice to get it down, but once you do, it’ll really stifle Max Brass’ approach!
Byte & Barq
On paper, the concept of Byte & Barq sounds unbeatable. Having a buddy dog that acts as a third dog, a springboard, and inadvertently as a shield, this dynamic duo sounds like one that everyone would want to play. When they’re both active, they make for a formidable challenge. Unfortunately, much of Barq’s time is spent unconscious on the floor, as it’s easy to simply punch the puppy out of the way. Without Barq, Byte is just the most default of ARMS characters with no discernible strengths or weaknesses.
TIP FOR FIGHTING BYTE & BARQ: Punch the dog!
Despite his immense popularity, I strongly believe that Ninjara is the most fraudulent character in the game. Save for his above average speed, his skills don’t actually help him much in the heat of battle. Being able to side-step instead of blocking a punch doesn’t really give you any sort of tactical advantage. In fact, it’s particularly problematic during Rush attacks, where the side-steps can cause him to get hit by everything after the first punch.
As far as his teleport air dash, it’s not any more useful than any other air dash, as the odds of hitting any character during the start of their air dash is slim, so blinking out of existence for a moment is a moot point. The only thing that keeps him from being in the bottom tier is his quick walk speed and decent air mobility.
TIP FOR FIGHTING NINJARA: If you’re up against a Ninjara that loves to air dash just before throwing you, there’s a trick to counter it. As soon as you see him jump in the air, wait for him to air dash, and soon as he reappears, dash sideways. His throw will whiff, leaving him open for you to punch or grab him on the way down.
While it is not impossible to win with these characters, it’s going to be a tougher grind than with the ones in the higher tiers. Based on where the meta is currently at, movement is king. Both of these characters suffer mightily from their limited movement options, making them easy targets for their foes.
As a teenage girl in a giant robotic mech suit, Mechanica is hampered mightily by its slow speed. Sure, she can glide along the ground or the air, but both methods of travel make her a slow and easy moving target to tag. Her only redeeming qualities are her armour and higher health.
TIP FOR FIGHTING MECHANICA: For Mechanica players that like to use her glide, you can easily knock them out of it if you can anticipate their movements. From a distance, simply throw a punch curving hard in the direction you think they’re going in and the punch should pop them while she glides along.
Poor Master Mummy. In a game where movement options are critical to your success, he has the worst options by far. His slow walk speed and limited aerial movement make him easy to grab or clock with a good punch. His primary source of offense comes from trying to bait out attacks when he’s blocking and healing himself at the same time. However, even within the confines of this mix-up, his opponents still have the advantage of having full control of their arms and legs during this sequence. It’s much easier for them to fake Master Mummy out than it is for him to punish a reckless attack. On top of that, his health gain while blocking just isn’t enough to force his opponents to act at an inopportune time.
TIP FOR FIGHTING MASTER MUMMY: When he’s trying to bait out an attack while blocking, mix up your approach. Sometimes, throw punches from a far that you know he’ll block but not be able to punish. Other times, throw cancel a dash to catch him off-guard. Don’t panic when he starts to heal health cause you still have the advantage!