Previously at BagoGames, we covered various bits of information about the upcoming Guilty Gear: Strive. As of late, two big pieces of information were let loose, in the form of rollback netcode, and the closed beta (active again at 3am EST, as of the time of writing). Now, how does the game play, now that we’ve gotten our hands on the beta, and spent some time with it?
Hard-hitting, Methodical, and Beautiful
Guilty Gear Strive has different pacing than its predecessors, being slightly slower. Every button seems to have a second input as well, allowing pressure to be structured based on the button used. In addition, moving around feels a bit heavier, too, as airdashing and jumping around feels like it starts slower and ends much faster.
The player has command of five main buttons; Punch, Kick, Slash, Heavy Slash, and Dust. Punch functions similarly to Light Punch in other games, and so does Kick (except, with Light Kick). Slash swings the player’s weapon, and Heavy Slash is a stronger weapon attack. Dust is the character’s pre-determined launcher (akin to Marvel vs. Capcom 3).
Guilty Gear Strive, for what it has to offer right now, looks absolutely stellar. All of the character models look beautiful in both idle animation and motion. Switching between stages, stage transitions, intros and cinematics are all nice and clean as well.
The game also adopts a letterbox-esque screen style in certain situations. These occur when intros are playing, the player activates a super, or a character’s match win animation plays. It all feels very atmospheric and almost movie-like, adding to the visual charm and presentation.
That Looks Like It Hurt A Lot
Everything hits really, really hard in the beta as well. From basic buttons, to special moves, to even supers, everything can take a sizable chunk off of your life bar. One such example is a combo ending in a super and wall transition, shown below. (Credit to @DaSenpai95 on Twitter)
— Kozen (@DaSenpai95) April 17, 2020
Something that kind of makes the combo damage seem like a lot is that there are different health values. Now, different health values are nothing new, that’s normal to the Guilty Gear series. For instance, the biggest, slowest character in the beta, Potemkin, has the highest health pool.
Potemkin can’t do much in the way of combos, but his command grabs do a lot of damage. And in contrast, the fastest character, Chipp Zanuff (shown below, left), has the lowest health pool of the cast. He trades health for a wall run (he can cling to the edge of the screen) and has lots of potential mixups in the corner.
To expand on the movement previously mentioned, Guity Gear Strive has access to super jumps, airdashes, and double jumps. However, airdashes start up the slowest they ever have in the series, and feel like they almost go nowhere. Jumping around is also strange as well, as the downward acceleration feels heavier too. That said, its movement remains largely the same otherwise.
Roman Cancel Changes
Roman Cancels return from prior Guilty Gear titles, and functionally work the same on a surface level. However, there’s a difference between Roman Cancels here and in past titles. Here, if the player Roman Cancels on certain hits, the opponent will pop up, allowing for a further juggle. That pop-up is similar to using Sparking Blast in Dragon Ball FighterZ and using 1More Bursts in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax.
A Rather Odd Take From Another Series
Something else that could be noticed through gameplay is that the game’s corners function significantly differently. Sure, the player can still set up different levels of mixups, like usual, but the wall can shatter, triggering a stage transition. An example of a wall break is seen below (taken from an earlier demo, but still applies).
This bears an uncanny resemblance to the stage transitions of the Injustice series. However, some differences still apply. The only thing Injustice and Guilty Gear Strive’s wall breaks have in common is that a hard hit can shatter the wall and trigger the stage transition. The similarities end there, though.
In Strive, the wall break occurs after three hard hits into the corner (Injustice requires one wall bounce hit in a specific corner). In the Injustice games, a cinematic will play on a stage transition, dealing bonus damage to who got hit by it (Strive doesn’t do this beyond the initial hit that triggers the wall break).
Guilty Gear Strive’s stage transitions are also significantly faster and don’t take a long time to finish. Otherwise, the stage transition is definitely something that players can and will make use of in the future.
That Lobby System and Other Beta Troubles
However, the experience is very quickly muddied upon trying to connect to online play. On the first online day, April 16th, the beta time was between 11:00 PM and 4:00 AM EST. Okay, that’s fine. The problems started right when you connect to the online modes, though.
After playing a preliminary match and getting a ranking, the player is supposed to be able to jump into a lobby and start playing. You’re supposed to hold Square to queue up for matches, and players can approach each other and start playing. Sounds fine on paper.
However, that first day was quite poor. Not only did the lobbies themselves look like a bad 90s game, trying to join others was basically impossible. When players got matched, the game would either fail to connect or completely crash to the PS4 Home Menu. Not a great impression, really.
It got to the point where emergency maintenance occurred, and online was promptly shut down for that time slot. So, the first beta online test was a complete waste of time. The second one fared much better, as we were able to get matches online.
To summarize, most of the matches played similarly in connection to other Arc System Works titles, utilizing delay-based netcode. I’m not going to go into greater detail about that due to the fact that it will eventually be replaced by rollback in the full game release.
The UI STILL Needs Work
The User Interface (UI) is what all of the meters on the screen are (health, Tension, timer, the player’s burst gauge, etc.). And currently, it looks very, VERY rough. To be completely blunt, it looks as if an amateur graphic designer made it, with layering and such getting out of control.
For instance, this is how crowded one side of the screen can get. Do keep in mind that I did not alter this image in any fashion. See below:
Also, the combo counter makes no sense, either. First off, it’s shown as gigantic numbers almost reaching to the bottom of the screen. Secondly, its number counting is even stranger. The Guilty Gear Strive Closed Beta counts something that’s 25 hits as Two Five, and it looks really off. While this is still a beta, the UI still looks very poor, and it can get cluttered quite quickly, especially after stage transitions.
Something that also is kind of weird is that there’s a results screen that rates your performance and gives a comment about how you played. The menu itself isn’t weird; it’s actually a neat touch. The way it’s presented is weird, though. Hopefully, things will get cleaned up in the future for that screen.
The Guilty Gear Strive Closed Beta is a mixed bag, to be completely honest. On the one, anything that was able to be played felt different but great. The differences can take some getting used to but are otherwise fine.
However, the monumental blunder that was the first online test day left a very bitter taste in the mouth. The issues were mostly solved in the second and third tests, but it’s still very bad to have issues to that degree.
Otherwise, the game looks to be something to keep an eye on in the future, and that’s a good thing.
What do you think of the Guilty Gear Strive Closed Beta? Did you play it? What were your thoughts on the Closed Beta? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
If you like Guilty Gear Strive and like reveal trailers, be sure to read our coverage of Millia and Zato-1’s reveal here.