Guilty Gear Strive Beta Impressions

 Guilty Gear Strive Beta Impressions

The first Guilty Gear Strive beta has been and gone, so I wanted to give you guys my early impressions on the game. Please bear in mind that it is only a beta, so I expect that many things may change, mechanics may be added, damage may be rescaled and so on. Anyways. Let’s get into it.

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Visuals

This game is absolutely incredible to look at, easily one of the prettiest games I have ever seen. I personally still consider Guilty Gear XRD to be one of the best looking fighting games to date, but somehow they have managed to go above and beyond with Strive. The characters are all EXTREMELY unique when it comes to their appearance with a large number of the cast having changed quite drastically. For example, May is in her later teens now, Ky and Chipp both have shorter hair, and Faust… I honestly have no idea what happened to Faust, but he still scares me even though I feel a little bit bad for him.

It’s not just the characters though, the stages and the animations are stunning as well. Stages look beautiful with each one having unique lighting setups which then light the characters in different ways which just accentuates the finesse of Arc System Works games. I remember when the  Dragon Ball FighterZ Trunk trailer was first revealed and I thought the lighting during super attacks was incredible; Strive takes it to the next level.

With regards to animations, the super attacks are the obvious go to, such as Ky’s ‘Ride the Lightning’. The camera movement is amazing, mixed with the lighting from the attack itself. There are also incredible looking normal attacks in the game with Chipp being at the forefront of cool looking moves. He can wall-run and combo the opponent while he ascends up the wall, he can then knock you down, follow you and continue to combo when he lands.

We all knew this game was going to be a visual marvel, but seeing it in motion in front of you, even when this isn’t the final product, it’s just something else.

User Interface

For anyone who has been keeping up with Guilty Gear Strive, I’m sure you’re already aware of some of the problems the community has with the current UI of the game. To note a few of the issues I personally have:

  • The character portrait moves along as the health bar goes down.
  • The combo counter gets a bit crazy as the combo length continues to grow.
  • Counter-Hit camera movement can be very disorientating. 
  • The style of the characters has always been so unique and metal, but the UI design just seems slightly out of place. Especially when it comes to the menus. They aren’t bad, just out of pace with the characters and what the games have always been about.

I want to reiterate, this is still just the beta so a lot of this could be set to change. Who knows, the developers may have already changed it and we’re playing an older model.

Changes from XRD

The game feels overall more approachable for newer players. I have always associated Guilty Gear with being the fighting game for those with incredible technical skill and capable of extremely high execution combos. XRD has tons of different situations which requires a boat load of game knowledge and experience, tons of different mechanics such as the different coloured roman cancels, wake-up timing, when to Burst and so on…

It’s important to mention that air-dashes are quite different from XRD as well. This has caused some discomfort amongst players as this mechanic was an important form of movement in most anime fighting games. The main culprit behind these complaints is the initial delay on the start-up of the air dash is much slower than it used to be. Situations now become more problematic when it comes to escaping from the corner. Previously, air-dashing was a viable option to getting out of the corner and resetting the game back to a neutral setting. Now however, players will be able to react to the startup and animation of the air-dash. The corner is already a terrifying place in anime fighting games, so hopefully this doesn’t make things even scarier.

So far, I would say they have trimmed some of the fat and some of the more specific and niche scenario’s you may have found in XRD aren’t present in Strive.

I don’t think that this is an entirely bad thing either. What I always found to be a problem with Guilty Gear was the sheer amount a player had to learn. You would always hear people talk about Guilty Gear, saying “it’s a great game” but if you were to head online, you would see very few people playing the game outside of Japan. I believe that this is, somewhat unfortunately, because of the game’s insane depth. By cutting back on some of the mechanics, I feel they have made the game more approachable without losing out too much when it comes to the main appeals of Guilty Gear.

Okay, with the more serious stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the damage in Strive, because good lord is it ridiculous. Damage in general feels a bit too high at the moment, a simple Slash into Heavy-slash Volcanic Viper with Sol feels extremely powerful. Getting hit with command throws in this game is terrifying. The damage on command grabs seems to be extremely high. For example, Sol’s Wild Throw did around 5% in XRD, and now it does about 30%… Personally, I hate grappler characters and hate to play against them even more. This game is already scaring me.

I think the damage in general definitely needs to be scaled back a bit, which I could see them doing later down the line. Along with this, they may just alter the ‘guts’ mechanic, the system in Guilty Gear which reduces the amount of damage you take, the less health you have.. 

Online / Lobbies

Obviously, there are numerous problems at the moment even finding matches, and even when you do find them, there may be a network error, you may just be sat ‘Initializing the match’ forever,  and sometimes the game will just crash completely. 

The lobbies though… I don’t even know what is going on or what to say. Arc System Works tend to have a similar formula when it comes to their lobbies. You control a little chibi character and sit at an arcade cabinet and wait for others to come join you. In this new lobby however, you create a little pixel character who wields a weapon and you challenge other players in the lobby by drawing your weapon. Similarly to the UI, it’s not that the lobby itself is bad, but it is so far from what you would expect from Guilty Gear that you’re just left a bit confused. Even the music is very out of place. We’ll see what happens as we get closer to release, I suppose.

Also, please bear in mind that the full release is going to be using delay-based netcode. So, assuming it’s implemented well, the online experience should be vastly superior to what we have gone through in this beta test.

Guilty Gear Strive Beta Impressions Summary

Technical hiccups aside, there is a lot to be excited about with Guilty Gear Strive. As we move closer to the full release, I’m sure we’ll be presented with even more to be excited about. Characters, mechanics and alterations to some of the current systems and presentation.

My only concern is that this beta was, for many people, their first time experiencing Guilty Gear. Whether it be through playing themselves, or watching their favourite players or personalities on stream. First impressions play a big role, and I hope that people will give the game another chance later down the line. 

Now ArcSys, give me Ramlethal and Baiken!

Conor Evans
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