Guilty Gear: Strive, the “resurrection” of the classic fighting game franchise by master fighting-game developer Arc System Works, is getting attention. Fans of the franchise are happy to see a new game, fans of the genre are hyped about getting into the series and even outsiders are noticing the music and the gorgeous visuals.
As a huge fan of the [fighting game genre][link to my article on fighting games], and with Strive releasing on April 6 of this year and the open beta having received a lot of attention, I figured now was a good time to give fans and future fans a run-down of the game.
What is Guilty Gear?
Guilty Gear is a longstanding, fast-paced fighting game franchise with a rock aesthetic, smooth gameplay and a high skill ceiling, known for its unique characters and solid combat.
What about Strive?
Strive is the newest entry and the first completely fresh entry we’ve had to the series in almost a decade (depending upon how you count Xrd), featuring a reduced (but more focused) roster, incredible faux-2D graphics and a redesigned game system. As the director, Ishiwatari, said, it will be “a completely new Guilty Gear.”
How Many Characters Are in this Rntry?
The game will launch with fifteen characters. Five additional DLC characters are currently planned.
Who’s Returning? Who’s New?
The returning members are: Sol Badguy, Ky Kiske, May, Faust, Potemkin, Chipp Zanuff, Zato-1, Millia Rage, Axl Low, Mito Anji, Leo Whitefang, Ramlethal Valentine, and I-No.
The newbies are Nagoriyuki (a badass vampire samurai) and Giovanna.
What’s the Netcode (Online Play) Look Like?
For newbies, “netcode” is the online architecture that determines the quality of online play in any game. Fighters have two major netcode types. One is rollback, the other is delay-based.
Delay-based netcode is garbage.
Guilty Gear: Strive uses rollback.
Is There Going to be Crossplay?
Sort of. There will be crossplay between PS4 and PS5, but the developers feel, at the moment, that there’re too many problems implementing cross-play between PC and console versions. As they said, “At this time, we’ve decided not to . . . on release. We are, however, looking into implementing it in the future.”
Any Notable Character Changes?
Yes! Ky Kiske now has a “shock state” that makes the opponent take more damage from his moves and a “dragon install” that looks incredibly cool. Faust can give his opponents an attackable afro, which widens the area on them he can hurt.
But the important part is that all characters are being redefined from the ground up, resulting in changes meant to “refocus” each character around more unique gameplay. This means lost moves, changed moves and added moves.
What Kind of Gameplay Changes Are We Looking At?
In general, ArcSys has approached Strive with an eye toward making the game new and interesting for longtime fans but approachable to newbies.
I’d say the most important gameplay change comes from the change in combos. In general, the combos are shorter but deal higher damage. As a result, more emphasis is placed on the “neutral” game—things like tactics, positioning, range and how to start your combos. This has been done partly to keep old-timers from trouncing newbies through muscle memory alone, but it’s probably also a lesson they learned from their more tactical fighter, Blazblue. While the combos are shorter, the devs also give you more freedom than ever before in making combos, partly through a revamp of “Roman Cancels,” which bounce the opponent and slow time for a moment when you land them.
This doesn’t mean the game is being dumbed down. As the developers said:
“With previous games in the series, new players would not be able to understand what’s going on in the match when they watched high-level play, so they wouldn’t feel very interested or motivated to improve. Because of that, we are working to make the appearance of moves and general impression of the game easier to comprehend compared to prior entries in the series. However, advanced techniques will be accordingly difficult to perform.
After all, if everyone chooses the same actions, and combos and setplay in particular end up with only one correct option, this would take away Guilty Gear’s unique appeal . . . I’m certain that we can make a game that new players can enjoy, while also keeping advanced techniques in the game.”
Last Question: Should you get it?
I’m a little biased here. I’m a huge fighting game fan and a huge fan of ArcSys. They consistently deliver high-quality, fast-paced fighting games with rosters full of unique characters, and this looks to be a prime candidate.
Take a look at some of the videos on YouTube, particularly the “Starter Guide” series. You’ll get as excited as the rest of us in short order.