Guilty Gear -Strive-

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Fighting
Developer: Arc System Works
Release Date: June 11, 2021


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PS5/PS4/PC Preview - 'Guilty Gear -Strive-'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Feb. 24, 2021 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Guilty Gear -Strive- is the latest entry in the fighting game franchise, and upholds the series' reputation for groundbreaking hybrid 2D/3D cell-shaded graphics and intense, rewarding gameplay.

Guilty Gear is one of ArcSys's longest-running franchises and probably one of its biggest that doesn't involve crossovers with other material. It's a fast-paced fighting game with a heavy emphasis on aggression.

While you can block attacks, it'll hurt worse when you get hit. Block too much and get trapped in a corner, and you can even get knocked through a wall and into a new arena, which also lets your opponent further their aggression. The gameplay rewards you for counterattacks and going on the offensive; a counter even pops up when you manage to land one.

Compared to similar anime-styled fighters from ArcSys, Strive feels more slow-paced. It's still in the realm of fast-paced action rather than the more methodical fighting games, but it feels like everything is a bit slower, a bit easier to grasp, and bit easier to respond to. In essence, the skill floor and ceiling both seem to have been slightly lowered. It's certainly not a complete change, but I get the impression that Strive is trying to make this an accessible Guilty Gear for newcomers.

Of course, the characters of Guilty Gear are one of its most distinctive aspects, and it certainly comes through in Strive. The roster contains a lot of returning favorites, from Ky and Sol down to the terrifying Dr. Faust. There are also two new characters. Giovana has a magical wolf spirit that she can summon to fight alongside her. The real star is Nagoriyuki, who is basically who you'd get if Afro Samurai became a vampire. He's distinctive in that he is by far the slowest character but trades that in for ridiculous reach and power. He also has a Blood Rage mechanic that further increases his damage but causes him to lose health, tasking you with balancing his overwhelming power to get the greatest effect.

One issue I had with the beta is the lobby system. As seems to be becoming more popular these days, it does away with a clear and clear menu system in favor of one of those customizable hub lobbies. You create your own avatar and can wander around and challenge people to fights. It's a cute visual, but at the end of the day, it is going to get tiring long before the game wears out its welcome, so hopefully the UI is improved before release, so it's a smoother experience to hop into matches.

Once you are in a match, the game runs like butter. The netcode seems absolutely solid, and I didn't have any complaints despite the heavy technical nature of the combat. This is incredibly important, as we still don't know when everyone will be able to fight again in person, so having solid netcode means that Strive could be a great game for this new normal.

Of course, Guilty Gear Strive looks amazing. ArcSys has long since proven that it has mastered the art of turning 3D models into beautiful 2D-style visuals, and Strive is no exception. Every character, every move and every environment are dripping with style and flair. If you've played the previous game in the series or spin-offs like Dragonball Fighter Z, you know exactly what to expect. The music is also fantastic, cheesy, and delightful fast-paced rock music that shines and fits the style of the game to a T.

What we played of Guilty Gear Strive feels very good. The gameplay is a bit slower but no less technical, and it seems like it'll be a good place for both newcomers and existing fans alike. The lobby system is a touch awkward, but when that's the worst thing I can take away from the beta, it feels like Guilty Gear Strive is in a good place. We'll see for ourselves when Strive hits Apr. 9 for PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

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