Boy are we impressed with Guilty Gear Strive. We sank hours and hours and hours into the game's open beta over the last weekend, and we were still itching to play more when it shut down midweek. In short, we haven't been this excited for a fighting game since... Tekken 7, maybe, and that turned out to be a banger as well.
Now don't get us wrong — the beta wasn't perfect. With Strive set to release on the 9th April, developer Arc System Works still has time to tweak character balance and make improvements to the overall experience, but it's abundantly clear that the core of Guilty Gear Strive is something special. From the utterly fantastic character roster to the almost unbelievably good online play, this could well be the next great fighting game.
Let's start with said character roster, which will feature 15 competitors at launch (with many more to be added as DLC, we imagine). It's not a particularly impressive number, but each character feels completely unique. Guilty Gear has always prided itself on its diverse cast of crazy fighters, and Strive is no different. It could even be argued that this latest instalment takes it to the next level — further refining the inherent strengths of its characters.
It feels like every character is built to be an extreme. Ky Kiske — a blonde swordsman who's marked as the game's easiest-to-learn combatant — is an all-rounder, but the concept of a typical 'all-rounder' is pushed to breaking point. Ky can do everything, and do everything very, very well. He's got projectiles, great pressure moves, a range of effective aerial attacks, fluid combos — the list goes on. Likewise, Axl Low — Guilty Gear's classic long-range fighter — is better at keeping opponents locked down and out of the action than ever before. Potemkin is incredibly slow, but he hits like a freight train and has new moves that allow him to get in with relative ease. It feels like every character has at least one or two hugely potent tools that crack the game wide open — and it's this kind of character specialisation that makes the cast so engaging.
We could gush endlessly about Guilty Gear Strive's characters — the visual designs are absolutely superb as well — but let's move on for now. As you may or may not know, Strive plays quite a bit differently to its immediate predecessor, Guilty Gear Xrd: Rev 2. Many of the fundamentals are still here, but the general flow of gameplay has been altered significantly. Combo potential has been dialled down to make for a more accessible experience, with a greater emphasis on spacing and pokes. There's no question that Strive is a slower game, but the actual speed of combat is offset by the sheer amount of damage that can be dealt in just a few short seconds.
Indeed, the damage in Strive is often enough to make you gawk at your health bar in disbelief (especially if you're fighting against Potemkin). It makes for some seriously intense matches, and thankfully, unlike the previous closed beta, the damage scaling doesn't feel completely busted this time around. Again, we can see Arc System Works making some adjustments here and there, but overall, Strive seems to have a decent sense of character balance ahead of its release, which is good to see.
Playing Guilty Gear Strive is a pleasure, but what about playing online? A lot of top notch fighting games have been let down by shoddy netcode over the years, hampering their ability to establish a healthy playerbase — but Strive could be a genuine game-changer. Implementing its own rollback netcode, Arc System Works has blown our tiny minds with how good Strive plays online. Simply put, this is the best netcode we've ever experienced in a fighting game. We sat down with a fellow UK player for a whole bunch of battles, and the connection was flawless, to the point where our friend might as well have been sat next to us on the sofa. Even more impressive is the fact that you can match up with people across the world and enjoy a similar experience. Like we said, it's a game-changer, and every other fighting game developer must take note.
Having said all that, we did have one major issue with the beta's online play. We are, of course, referring to Strive's cursed lobby system, which is a total pain in the arse. A quick rundown: you control a blocky little avatar in online lobbies as you walk around looking for opponents. There's a charm to it, with unlockable customisation items and emotes, but the bottom line is that you spend way too much time looking and waiting to fight instead of, you know, actually fighting. In a fighting game. This is just the way Arc System Works does things — past Guilty Gear games have a similar system, as does Granblue Fantasy Versus — but Strive's take on cute little lobbies is clunky at best.
Actually matching up with a potential opponent means having to either wait for them to draw their sword, or draw your own and stand about until someone picks you out. Then you select 'battle' from a pop-up menu, you wait far too long for the match to start, and once it's over, you're kicked back into the lobby with no option for an instant rematch. Frankly, it's terrible. Thankfully, it does sound like the finished game will feature both a rematch option and private lobbies — but we're still concerned that public lobbies will be more hassle than they're worth, and that means players will actively try to avoid them. Hopefully Arc System Works can simplify and improve the process of challenging another player for the full release, because it was just far too convoluted in the open beta.
But yeah, aside from the Lobby Horror Show, we adored our time with the Guilty Gear Strive open beta. This is shaping up to be a special fighting game, bolstered by immaculate visuals and an outstanding character roster. Oh, and the soundtrack is on another level. We can't wait to play more.
It's crazy to think those are 3D models!
Really looking forward to this, and I think you're absolutely right about combo potential. During my time with the beta I kept trying to find Light>Med>Heavy links without much success. This isn't a bad thing though! Just a different system to wrap my head around.
@GamingFan4Lyf Yea, Arc System Works' hand drawn 2D fighters were always amazing looking, but the work they've done with Guilty Gear and Dragon Ball is flat out astounding. I love Capcom and SNK fighting games, but neither hold a candle to ASW in terms of aesthetics.
It's pretty unanimous that the lobby is just garbage and also pointless but the main game is gorgeous and feels great! I can't wait to play more!
Yep,one of the most hyped game for me this year.
This is the first game I've pre-ordered since 2016. Playing the beta was a great opportunity. I love this new game.
I do love me a good 2D fighter.
Fighting games getting a little slower seems to be a bit of a trend, maybe. MK11 is significantly slower than MKX and focuses on a more strategic approach instead of long combos and I believe it's been insanely popular.
Anyway, Strive's beta's pace felt good to me. I did play the fastest character though I did notice it it was harder to string long combos but that's alright. There's still plenty of tools advanced players can use to do bigger damage.
I'm not sure I'll be getting this at launch (still playing MK11 a lot) but I'm looking forward to playing it in the future.
Just not sure about one now, why do devs feel the need to go and over simplify character's move sets to appeal to casuals. If you wanted to do that go make a new character.
Arc Systems have done a bang up job with Strive. I feel like they've been really, really close to outright genius a few times, but I honestly think this might be the closest they've come yet. Fix some of the niggles people gave reported back (I wholeheartedly agree with @Gmork___ about the lobby) & they've got an absolute winner on their hands.
NagoRiyuki is the most fun I've had in a fighting game since SF3! He's so unique and fun and undoubtedly my main. I agree, the netcode felt eerily similar to offline play, and honestly, It's just something with the animations and the speed of the game, but it just felt "clean" for lack of a better word. When you lose, it felt like your opponent outsmarted you, not some combo or input you fumbled. There's solid defense options from the get go and we aren't waiting until season 5 to get some basic defense so the game isn't all about 50/50 set plays. I'm super excited! It genuinely feels amazing.
@Bliquid Guilty Gear Strive will be following the seasonal dlc model of dragonball fighterz, granblue fantasy verses,MK11,Sf5 and tekken 7.So do not worry , they won't be releasing a Guilty Gear strive revelator or anything of that sort anytime in the future.
But I do hope that Arcsys takes a note from sf5 ,and try and release an ultimate edition of the game frequently, that has all the seasonsl passes till date.
I'll wait for the inevitable "ultimate edition" or whatever Engrish they'll call it. The artwork looks astounding, though. It'll be worth the extra wait time.
@Amnesiac I never used to do big combos in any fighting games, but now I'm all about them, so I'm disappointed Strive is dialing it back. However, did you see that if Nagoriyuki does a combo that's particularly long (i.e. 10 hits), he goes into this wacky berserk mode that drains his life suuuuper fast (but gives his normals a huge buff)!
@BloodNinja You'll be playing this in 2 or 3 years then, probably!
I thought the game was incredible (except the lobby). I played as Nagoriyuki and loved the control system which was very different from other characters. The gameplay seemed very tactical like Sam Sho. The combo system whilst dialled back is still capable of being exploited for decent combos, there is a deep system in there for those who want it. I haven't enjoyed a fighting game this much in years and it could well be my game of the year.
Hi there fellow gamers.
Like I´ve said in a previous post, I kinda felt a little hollow ever since the beta was over.
Had some amazing matches. Some I won, others I lost.
I want, no, need more of that game. Playing my main Chipp is super fun, but super hard. I really need to work on my wall run combos.
And his health is so low that I got Destroyed by three moves from a Ram player, because I used a clone. Not doing that again 😁
Then I played my other main Ky and the experience was slightly better, since he doesn´t die in three hits 😉
I´m still learning new combo paths for both characters, but I´m slowly getting there.
And finaly I went for Nagoriyuky for some crazy fun shenanigans.
That character is nuts and so is his damage potential.
This beta made fear May and Potemkin even more.
My God, do they hit like a truck full of ciment.
And I personaly hate fighting against Giovanna. Almost everything she does is either safe or plus on block.
Basic character they said..... Not good they said..... Yeah right.
All and all, I cannot wait to play the full game.
Had some amazing matches. Some I won, others I lost.
But they all played great and it was the most fun I´ve had playing online.
GIVE IT TO ME, NOW!
Cheers, stay safe good people and happy gaming to us all
@RaZieLDaNtE Add me bro, I'm definitely getting this day one and want some fighting game fans to spar with. PSN - Omnicloud
@RaZieLDaNtE I lost to a bunch of Giovannas too, she seemed very good
@ShogunRok Dunno if anyone has mentioned this but you can enter practice mode while matchmaking occurs. no need to walk around looking for a fight. Once I discovered this the game was pretty damn good. Being able to set the cpu to highest difficulty for characters I found hard to beat made this the best fighting game online experience I've had.
@stinkyx Yea I mained Nago in the beta. He only goes into that mode if you keep using his specials. His normals suck up blood and that brings the meter back down. The annoying thing is that he has 0 specials in that blood mode and since his dash/run is a special you have to walk at a slow pace. Hopefully they give him at least one special in that blood mode to make the health drain worth it.
@Omnistalgic Yea love Nago. Notice how his movement is similar to Makoto from SF3? another of my fav characters.
@Omnistalgic Hi there friend.
Sure thing 👍 More fighting game fans and sparring partners are always welcome.
April 9th can´t arrive soon enough.
Like Dudley says before the match, "Let´s fight like gentlemen!"
Cheers, stay safe and have a good one
@Voltan Hi there friend.
She definitely feels that way.
I fought so many Gios, Rams and Sols, especialy in the first two days, and they all have really good buttons. Gio and Ram the most.
I must learn how to "COUNTER" their moves(sorry, couldn´t resist it😉) so I don´t get destroyed.
I`m going to have to lab more with some characters before going straight to online.
Cheers, stay safe and have a good one
@stinkyx I suspect @Bloodninja is only after the story mode, so there being less online players in 2-3 years doesn't bother them.
I don’t have enough time to commit to being competitive online, so I stick to single player and just fart around. Only fighting games I’m really good at are Soul Calibur, Soul Blade, and SF3 3rd strike. I’m notoriously bad at guilty gear, but I love the art and music. It’s a beautiful looking game.
@BloodNinja You're welcome and I figured as much haha. I'm normally terrible at fighting games as well, but their DBZ FighterZ game did look like alot of fun from the gameplay I've seen.
Hopefully this will hold true for Guilty Gear Strive as well, keeping my fingers crossed for both of us.
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