Why is Dante such a lame fight in DMC4? His attacks are so fast and he’s easily cheesed by pistol > buster.
It’s not that he’s faster than you necessarily, it’s that protagonists of 3d beat em up games have fast attacks, while enemies usually have slow attacks. This makes fighting Dante unsatisfying in much the same way as fighting bots in fighting games is unsatisfying. Furthermore, the movesets of dante and nero aren’t given clear counters or other weaknesses like fighting game movesets are. In fighting games, most moves are less than 15 frames of startup, which make them difficult to react to, so players need to predict what their opponents will do in order to fairly combat them. In most action games like DMC, most enemies have attacks or sequences that start up like 30-60 frames in advance of when they actually hit you, so you have a fair time to dodge or stuff their attacks.
When you have a bot choosing options and all those options are as fast as all of your options, you can’t predict what they’re going to do and you can’t react when they do it. Fighting games have a leg up there in that everything is designed with a counter, it makes you vulnerable in some way. In action games, you only really have dodging and attacking. The hitboxes of dante and nero make them insusceptible to whiff punishing, because they can only be hit at their centers.
The solution is really to establish some clear tendencies for the AI and give players a number of ways to counter those behaviors, some of which are more effective and some of which are less effective, some of which are harder/easy, higher chance of success/lower chance of success, and to have them vary based on circumstance so that you can’t repeat the same thing over and over again without risk. Then you have to make all these factors obvious to the player so they can see into the machine a little and fairly predict what will happen based on their input.
The reason pistol > buster works is because they went overboard in making dante’s behaviors rigid and not really respond to circumstance. They should have had a number of different behaviors to respond to shooting from far away, like readying the pandora charge shot quickly (even though it would break canon), or using a stinger after a taunt so you had time to react. For the clashing pistols, he probably should have tensed up more over time and as you got closer, in like his posture or something via animation blending, something obvious the player can see, before breaking into a counter attack, so that in the case they’re both shooting at each other’s bullets the player needs to be careful about how quickly they move in to punish that action (and it opens up the possibility of baiting out the followup and punishing that). Just to give some basic examples of possible ways the fight could be varied up and cheese could be removed while keeping it fair.