Bullet’s gameplan is easy to summarize: get in, level up, convert Heat Up levels into damage. As you might suspect, it’s a bit more complicated in practice, and that is mostly because of the level management. Knowing when to go for the damaging Drive combos, when to keep levels for mobility and pressure, and how to gain them, will be key to successful Bullet gameplay. Heat management is still important, but is secondary to the levels, since you’re often going to spend Heat to gain levels or to keep them for another time.
- Close Range
This is the perfect range for Bullet, since you have every option available to you, including the wide array of grabs and grab-like attacks. This is not where your opponent wants to see you, so be ready for them to try and get away.
- If you are still Lv0, your priority here is to land a single hit. If you do, you can follow it up even with the most basic of combos and end it with 5D/j.D, getting you to Lv1. Not only will that open even more options to you, but it will also keep you close to your enemy, probably even getting them closer to the corner.
- At Lv1, there are two possible ways to make use of your position: you can go for another basic combo and get to Lv2, or you can go for the damage by using the Drive follow-ups. The choice generally depends on whether or not you feel like you can get back into this range if the opponent succeeds in breaking out of your pressure. If the chances of landing good combos are few and far between, better make as much use out of them as possible. Otherwise, you can get your Lv2 and prepare to dish out the damage.
- However, being at Lv2 should not narrow your vision of the situation. It’s as obvious for the opponent as it is for you that your potential damage output is at its peak, so they are going to be much more cautious and won’t go for the risky moves: after all, all they have to do is wait for your Heat Up levels to wear off. Keep your cool, wait for them to make mistakes, and capitalize on them, but be ready to let it go if you don’t get a chance to land a combo.
- As you might notice, your goal in all three cases is to open up your opponent, which can be done either with the high-low mix-up or with a throw. Also note that you can only use the naked level 1 Drive at this range, and that it retains its projectile invulnerability. 5C, 2C and 3C keep you close to the opponent even while they’re blocking, and 6B and Snaphance Fist (623C) are your primary tools for dealing with jump-outs (with 6B being more rewarding on hit, but barrier-blockable).
- Mid-Screen Range
- Bullet still feels relatively comfortable here, but she loses some of her better pressure tools, while her opponent gets more ways to keep you away. 5B, 2B and j.B are all good pokes to use here, but overall, you have to find a way to get closer.
- You don’t want to be at level 1 at this range: your Drive doesn’t reach them, you don’t have enough space for Afterburner, and it’s harder to confirm into combos at max 5B range. However, this is your situation at the beginning of each round, so get used to dealing with this. Luckily, Bullet’s ground and air dashes are decent enough to approach the enemy, so use them with Flint Shooter (236A) in front of you, and you should be fine. If you decide to jump in, j.C is your go-to move. 3C works if you expect the opponent to hit buttons right away, but don’t abuse it, since it loses to pretty much anything else.
- At Lv1 and Lv2, you can use your Drive as the means of approach. You can go straight for the 2D/6D mix-up, but it’s easy to counter with various DP moves. 5D is much safer, even positive on block at Lv1 and Lv2, and it fulfills its purpose of getting in even if you lose a level on block. Miquelet Capture (41236C) also becomes more viable against zoners: at Lv0, you throw them away even if you do land it, but at Lv1, you can follow it up with Piercing Engage (236D), which leads to a proper combo with a Drive ender.
- There isn’t much difference between Lv1 and Lv2, since you can still use all the tools you have at Lv1 and don’t get any more. You do get to keep a level if you lose it from a blocked Drive and get greater reward if you land it, but other than that, everything in the last paragraph applies here. It’s worth mentioning that getting Red Lock takes less time at Lv2, which means that the enemy is less likely to press buttons while you’re flying at them – and if they do, you still get to hit them.
- Full-Screen Range
- Unsurprisingly, this is where Bullet is at her weakest: none of her attacks reach the opponent, save for a Lv2 Flint Shooter. It doesn’t have to reach the opponent to work, though: it still works as a cover for her approach, making it easier to get into the mid-range.
- The only important difference between Heat Up levels at this range is the speed and reach of Flint Shooter, and it’s not going to go that far if they try to snipe you, anyways. It’s more of a bonus than an important tactical advantage.
- Perhaps the only option that Bullet has here that’s nearly unusable at other ranges is Afterburner (214D), but the only purpose it serves is gaining levels: it doesn’t solve the problem, it just makes it slightly easier to solve. You still have to shoot your Flints and dash in, even if you’re glowing orange. For about the same reason, using OD for a quick level-up is not worth it, even at closer ranges: getting a level is as simple as landing a Drive, and OD can be used for so much more.
- Bullet may not be insanely good on the offensive, but she gets very good rewards from landing hits, which makes her pressure much scarier. Hitting them even once gets them much closer to the corner, gives you at least one Heat Up level, gains you quite a lot of Heat, and ends with knockdown, when you can restart the pressure all over again.
- Not many of Bullet’s moves are positive on block, so her blockstrings can be a bit on the short side. Her 5A is even on block, though 2A is much better as a pressure tool, being +1 on block and having the same start-up. 5C is not only even on block, but also moves you forward, allowing you to keep the blockstring going. Lastly, charged Flint Shooter (236[A]) is +3 on block, but has long start-up which makes it a bit too easy to disrespect, so you don’t see it used much outside of combos.
- It all gets much better when you level up and your Drive moves get safer on block. 5D’s frame advantage ranges from +4 to +9 as long as you’re not at Lv0, making it very difficult to disrespect Bullet’s pressure. Sure, you might be losing a level in the process, but it’s well worth it as long as they keep blocking. And it gets even better in OD, when you can spam your Drive for long, safe blockstrings – and deal 5-6k damage when they finally get hit.
- Worth mentioning is Miquelet Capture’s projectile invulnerability. If you get a good read of the opponent bursting, feel free to cancel whatever you’re doing at the moment into Miquelet: it won’t hit them, but their Burst will whiff, and you’re going to stay close to them.
- Outside of the usual high-low mix-up (6A as an overhead, 2B/2C/3C as lows), Bullet has access to several other mix-up variants. The first one is 2D/6D, which have ambiguous animation and some invulnerability. You can even throw 5D into the mix if the opponent tries to do something funny, like DP-ing out of the mix-up: as long as you charge your 5D, it should go through their attack and hit them square in the face.
- The other one is 6C, which can be cancelled into j.C for a quick overhead. If they start respecting it and block high, just land on the ground and hit them with 2B – or with 6A if they’re used to block low after your 6C.
- Then you have j.D, which is tailor-made for ambiguous cross-ups: just air-dash over them and press D whenever you want. It might not be effective in the corner, but it’s always a good option to consider in mid-screen.
- Lastly, you have Crush Trigger (a universal, but underrated option) and Serpentine Assault (720A), your command grab super. Both these options are good for opening those turtles who are too good at blocking your mix-ups, though you need Heat for both of them. Serpentine Assault also requires a buffer: any attack that can’t be jump-cancelled should work fine, but you don’t need anything besides 2B and 5C for that.
- Charging your Drive gives you some very strong oki. Not only can you hit them even when they roll behind you or try to jump out, but you also hit them with full-body invulnerability if they mash buttons. That makes blocking the only safe oki option against a charging Bullet, and even then, you can simply cancel the Drive and go for the usual mix-ups right away – and you don’t lose a level you just got.
- If they don’t want to tech at all, it’s even better for Bullet – picking them off the ground with Drive gives you yet another Heat Up level, getting you to max level and making your pressure even scarier. Because of that, they will start to neutral-tech very soon, which gives you more than enough time to charge your Drive.
- If you end up too far from the opponent (for example, after ending the combo with Snaphance Fist or OD Rage Aggressor), you can use this opportunity for Afterburner. Depending on the range between you and the opponent and their untechable time, you might even charge it to get both Heat Up levels – something you can’t get in a combo unless you spend Heat. Otherwise, it’s always a good idea to send a Flint Shooter and get back into close range.
- Meter Usage
- Bullet rarely uses Heat to prolong combos because of her severe combo rate. Instead, it’s usually a good idea to simply cancel the last Drive hit of the combo and do yet another Drive, getting two Heat Up levels instead of one. Consider it an advance payment for your combo damage. Rage Aggressor (2363214C) is also a good way to end combos: its excellent hitbox allows you to link it out of pretty much anything.
- Perhaps the only solid way of using RC for damage is when you land a Lv1 Drive in mid-screen: when you do, you can RC the Drive and go for 6B > 623C > 623D out of that. Not only do you land a Lv2 Engage for tons of damage, but you can actually follow it up with a decent combo, carrying the opponent into the corner and getting back to Lv1.
- Lastly, there are the big shots: Blackout and the Astral Heat, Hard Kill Bringer. The former might cost a lot, but it doesn’t seem that expensive when you’re sitting on so much Heat for the whole round. As for the AH, you can easily combo into it, so there’s no reason not to go for it when you can.
Good news: your defensive options don’t depend on your Heat Up level. Bad news: there are not that many of them.
- Cutting Shear (623B) is your go-to reversal. It doesn’t lead to much damage, its hitbox is not too hot, and it can be punished just as any other DP (remember to RC it when they block it!). Still, it is invulnerable, so don’t feel bad about punishing obvious rushdown with this. It has a follow-up, Explode Engage (22D), which makes it more damaging, but it’s usually not worth spending Heat Up levels on – spending it on something like Piercing Engage will be of better use to you.
- Though a lot of Bullet’s moves have various amounts of invulnerability here and there, they usually take a while to come out, so you need some breathing room to go for them. If you barrier-block for long enough, you can try doing something funny, but it’s usually not worth the risk.
- Counter Assault is another obvious way to get out of pressure. Don’t be afraid of spending Heat on it: most of your damage doesn’t come from it, anyways.
- If you’ve been playing Tager, you might decide to use Serpentine Assault as a reversal, since it has a lot of invulnerability, just like Tager's GETB. However, unlike GETB, you can’t charge it, and its range is worse, so you won’t be able to punish as much stuff with it – and it’s easy enough to play around wake-up GETB already. Still, landing an Assault and kicking them into the corner feels good, especially after sitting in the corner, yourself.