Sidestepping is a mechanic that came into prominence in Dead or Alive 5. By either using the up or down directional buttons or using an assigned button to input the command, the character will quickly shift to either side, which allows them to evade linear attacks, i.e. attacks with no tracking. If timed right it will leave the opponent at a disadvantage, particularly when performing slower linear attacks or free canceling. Characters can also perform perform a sidestep strike, often a reused move from their moveset but with adjustments to compensate for the time it takes to sidestep; Kasumi for example performs her upwards swiping mid punch but it causes a stun outright, rather than requiring a counter hit.

Sidestepping is not without its risks: tracking attacks – including all throws – or fast enough combos that contain tracking attacks will still hit a sidestepping character, with added damage from being a counter hit. Sidesteps and sidestepping attacks also require precise timing as the opponent is still able to hit the player with a linear strike after they have sidestepped, and sidestepping attacks can still be blocked and countered like regular strikes. Nevertheless it can be a useful tactic to use against aggressively rushing opponents.

In Dead or Alive 6 sidestepping was altered, with the mechanic specifically being assigned to the "S button". When performed, as in Dead or Alive 5 the player will evade linear attacks, but whereas previously players could sidestep without committing to an attack, characters now automatically perform a sidestep attack that will knock back the opponent. In later patches the move was given a 1/4 meter cost to prevent it from being spammed. The move itself can also be used in combos and as a way to get a wall hit although the meter cost makes it somewhat of a risk. Sidestepping is also still weak to tracking attacks, and if an opponent uses a fatal rush S strike on a sidestepping player, the tracking fatal rush will cause fatal reel stun that'll leave the player back-turned, giving the opponent a chance to go for a damaging guaranteed set up. Certain characters like Phase 4 also have normal attacks that can cause a fatal stun against sidesteps.

Certain characters as of Dead or Alive 5 also have unique moves or even stances that can evade linear strikes much like sidesteps: Kasumi has a move, for example, that has her turn to the side to evade linear strikes, and characters like Hayate, Christie, Marie Rose, and Rachel have special moves and stances that move them into the foreground or background to avoid linear strikes too, often with additional benefits like Christie being able to avoid tracking highs since she's crouching, and Marie Rose can evade tracking lows since she's jumping. Special sidestep stances also make follow up attacks available to be used. The disadvantage, however, is that special sidestep moves and stances are still considered sidesteps, and can be punished accordingly.

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