Guilty Gear Strive, the tried and true beta of the highly anticipated Arc System fighting game

Guilty Gear Strive, the tried and true beta of the highly anticipated Arc System fighting game

Guilty Gear Strive

Even a sector seen as a natural part of the more hardcore twists and turns of video games such as that of fighting games needs to evolve and expand. However, the problem does not concern the innovation of the mechanics: when creating games built around complex systems, experimentation is at home, and the real obstacle - after years of classics of the highest level - simply becomes the diffusion among the more casual audience. If the barrier of entry is too high, the average player struggles to get hooked on a video game, and even when a fighting game is easy to approach superficially, things get complicated as soon as the most skilled players online begin to master the systems to perfection. creating other barriers that are increasingly difficult to overcome.

The solution found by the developers was therefore a clever return to the origins: games often markedly attached to the "fundamentals" of the genre, less focused on perfect execution, thunderous combos and tools very advanced in attack and defense, and mainly built around the management of distances and basic moves. An undoubtedly functional strategy, which however inevitably limits the spectacular exaggerations that make some products of this type absolutely exceptional.

Arc System, with its Guilty Gear Strive that we tested in beta these days, seemed to have initially followed this path, but with a marked difference: the clear desire to maintain all the visual madness of the previous chapters , even after a strong shift towards more accessible gameplay for the general public. And predictably, the response from the original fanbase was not initially the most positive, given the remarkable quality of chapters like Accent Core, Xrd and Revelator. Yet, listening to the criticisms and working hard, the developers have continued on the path traced, probably convinced that they have found a right "middle ground" between the simplifications mentioned above and the hardcore soul of the series. Well, after trying for a few hours (a couple of days in advance) the latest beta made available by the house, we can tell you that it is the case to rest assured: not only is Guilty Gear not dead, but Strive has the potential to make it more popular than ever.

The missing link

It's pretty hard to explain in detail what has been done to change the Strive from its predecessors, so we'll focus on the two main factors: limitation of okizeme and pressure at the corner. Put simply: Guilty Gear have always been frantic games that allow you to perform very elaborate combinations due to a very peculiar system of cancellation of animations called "Roman Cancel". Being a fighting game of this type, much of its offensive is centered on okizeme - the pressure on opponents after they are knocked down, with the use of certain options before they can get up - and the pressure on the corner, from which to break free is extremely difficult. Here, in Strive the moves that keep the opponent on the ground for a few moments are few, and if you perform particularly devastating series of attacks on the corner the "wall" breaks, causing a stage transition that resets the center of the arena the two fighters.

Guilty Gear Strive: Nagoryuki intro Thanks to this, in Guilty Gear Strive the action flows constantly, and focuses much more on the careful use of the moves than on the carefree offensive, going to limit those situations particularly frustrating for less accustomed players (because often a beginner doesn't have the faintest idea how to respond to pressure). Of course, these elements of the game cannot be completely eliminated, since they have always been very important - as well as fundamental for the strategies of certain characters - therefore Arc System has still allowed some fighters to use knockdowns and what derives from them more effectively. compared to others (Millia above all, but she is not the only one), and guaranteed some extremely useful bonuses for those who choose to break the walls instead of sacrificing damage to keep the pressure on the corner. In practice, a combo ended with a transition not only does more damage, but also leads to a faster regeneration of the tension bar (necessary both for the Roman Cancel mentioned above, and for the use of the super). It is therefore almost always preferable to break the corner, since doing so not only improves the efficiency of the combinations, but also guarantees an advantage when the situation resets. It is seriously a brilliant design solution, which leaves some freedom of decision to the players.

A small, but very refined roster

The other concern of most was concerned with the characters, in large partly transformed from previous chapters due to the huge changes in the bases. And that's right, Strive's roster performs very differently than Xrd's, yet it has retained many of the hallmarks of each fighter. So if on the one hand we have a Zato still difficult to use to say the least (and suitable for those who use an arcade stick), on the other there are characters with basic specials like Giovanna, fascinating experiments like Nagoryuki, and fully transformed warriors like Ramlethal . In short, here the choice seems to have been to diversify the choices as much as possible, in order to make them suitable for every type of player. In Strive, the "beginner" characters are objectively easier to manage than the others, and clearly designed to quickly learn new mechanics. The aforementioned Giovanna, so to speak, seems to have been designed precisely to make the most of distances and Roman Cancels in attack, given that her tools are few but all useful.

Guilty Gear Strive: Axl vs Ky For the record, there don't seem to be any ill-conceived characters already in this beta: anyone who has sacrificed a bit of complexity, like Ramlethal, has usually gained such exaggerated advantages as to go to completely cover the losses (in his specific case, monstrous damage and the ability to corner with embarrassing ease), where warriors with more moves and strategies at their disposal often do not boast a fearful damage potential or great resistance, to counterbalance their unpredictability.

Obviously, the imbalances do not seem to be missing, the damage still seems a bit exaggerated, and we do not doubt that many things will have to be reworked before the launch, but we had a great time with the whole cast and it was pleasant to see the variety of characters used by players during this closed beta, despite being mainly populated by experts (and therefore people tend to be able to almost immediately grasp who is most advantaged in the roster).

the netcode of the gods

The combat system, drawing the sums, has convinced us to a large extent, and the test has eliminated almost all the doubts we had matured in the past (it remains to be seen how far the game can go to high levels, but we believe that the bar is much higher than other titles that have followed a similar philosophy). Arc System didn't just work on gameplay though ... Strive is in fact its first game to make use of netcode rollback, and let us tell you it's nothing short of glorious.

Seriously, this is the best netcode that we have ever had the opportunity to try in a Guilty Gear, and if it holds up to the stress test of the next few days it could easily be among the best ever seen. It allowed us without too many problems to play with Asian and American users, all with minimal latency and without a great connection (yes, we played as wi-fi warriors ... sorry). In an era like this, where a stable connection is essential for the survival of the competitive given the absence of local tournaments, this is a gargantuan step forward that we have been waiting for.

Guilty Gear Strive: Giovanna and his dog Weren't enough, Strive is graphically magnificent: we have praised Arc System's ability to create an anime in motion with the Unreal Engine countless times, yet with Strive they have really surpassed themselves: we do not believe that at the moment there is an aesthetically best on the market; and the more we see the game in action, the harder it is to believe that anyone could create a more graphically beautiful one outside of Arc itself. There is real mastery, so much so that even the highly criticized interface, once you get used to it, doesn't disturb as much as you might think.

Less well, however, are the lobbies, which have transformed into multi-storey regional towers with 3D avatar. Now matchmaking seems to work (in the first beta it was disastrous), but they remain ugly, uncomfortable, and do not allow you to find quick games in a classic way (even when you select the option you are simply placed on the lowest floor waiting for another player). We would have liked an alternative option, although plausibly they will not create problems when the players are numerous.

Strive is a rather important change of direction for the series, yet after trying it a few hours we can assure you that it remains a work hectic, hilarious, and much more technical than it seems. It's hard to say if Arc System's willingness to position the game halfway between the more elaborate and simplified titles seen in recent years will pay off, but the solutions applied to do it seemed rather brilliant, and the gameplay once again seems very solid. To support everything, then, there are a divine netcode rollback and an extraordinary aesthetic impact. Hard to ask for more.


Graphically stratospheric Very solid gameplay despite the many changes to the classic formula Diversified Roster Excellent rollback netcode DOUBTS Rather limited number of fighters at launch

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