In case it wasn’t clear from my Valentine’s day post, my anticipation for this game is through the roof and honestly I couldn’t be happier about getting the chance to play it this past weekend, even as an open beta. The graphics are absolutely stunning in Guilty Gear Strive, and the fighters feel heavy and powerful. There are moments when the game flows perfectly and you feel like you’re just watching an anime. It is simply incredible. However, I happened to find the multiplayer lobby questionable and it made me wonder why it was designed in such a strange way. Perhaps Arc System Works was trying to create a kind of interactive lobby experience, which normally wouldn’t be an issue for me, but I found myself more lost and confused while trying to navigate it. Thankfully the actual fighting experience is so masterfully done that it makes the wait through the online lobby worth it. Here is my experience with the Guilty Gear Strive Open Beta.
Off the bat it’s clear how awesome this game looks. Like, HOLY COW this game is pretty. While the Guilty Gear series is known for having this anime/ cartoon visual art style, Strive takes it to new heights with all these little extra details. Things like the shadowing of the characters, particle affects from hits and projectiles, facial expressions, and the wind effects when characters strike really make the game pop. These extra details really showcase Arc System Works’ artistic craft and it all comes together to make the game feel unique and special. Guilty Gear Strive is one of the most visually artistic video games I’ve ever played and it genuinely feels like you’re controlling an anime character onscreen. Arc also did a phenomenal job having specific special move animations done for each character. In particular I am referencing the character Faust whose special attack is the running over the opponents foot with a wheel chair. The result of the hilariously painful attack is a facial animation that is different for every opponent and it was awesome to experiment and see how extreme each facial expression would be.
The game also sets itself apart with its own pace which is a bit slower when compared to a game like Dragon Ball FighterZ. However, this does make the overall experience feel more impactful. Punches and combos feel heavy which makes the player feel like they are really dealing damage. The slower pace also forces you to focus on your inputs more carefully, because it takes more skill and patience to actually land your attacks efficiently. While in a general sense it is slower than some other fighters, that doesn’t mean specific characters can’t speed things up and totally change up that pacing. This in its own way can be a challenge especially for heavier characters such as Potemkin and Nagoriyuki. Many times I found myself playing really defensively because I was up against much faster characters like Giovanna or May while playing Nagoriyuki. Having that flexibility to have characters for everyone’s playstyle and still have them work well mechanically and cohesively is a daunting task. I can only imagine how difficult it must be having to put together each characters’ move set, especially for opposite sized characters like Potemkin and May who are opposite in scale and speed.
Okay so here is my least favorite part of the open beta; the multiplayer network lobbies. In most fighting games there is usually a simple lobby where you can host a party and invite friends or wait for the game to find you an opponent through ranked or casual matchmaking. In this game the lobby works a bit differently. When you first connect, you are asked to create a tiny pixelated avatar or persona which is used to visually show when you are in combat in the lobby. Speaking purely on the design, I was super confused as to what was going on because it felt completely disconnected from the main experience. After you create your little character you are then evaluated by a fight against the CPU and suggested a floor of the tower you should be placed in based on your fighting skill. Once you are suggested a floor, you can only walk around between the platforms, check other player profiles, and raise your sword to indicate you are ready to battle, then you simply wait in place for an opponent to connect. In my opinion, this whole pixel lobby play area felt unnecessary and while it was still cool to look at, it just felt so disconnected from the main game.
Ultimately I think Guilty Gear Strive is going to be a huge success. The gameplay is solid and the game had a mixed roster of characters that has something for every play style. Some characters are faster and able to connect certain overhead moves and mix ups better than others which may require future balancing, but the overall experience with the beta was fantastic and I can’t wait for the final game. As always this just a reflection of the open beta and not the final product so there is time to work on some changes and tweak game play mechanics and multiplayer connection issues before the final game is released. I am hoping Arc System Works makes some changes to the multiplayer lobby as well because it feels like its trying to be a separate game by itself. Regardless I had an absolute blast with the open beta and I loved studying my favorite character inputs. As well, I am excited to see the next two characters that will be included in the base roster. The final game is said to be releasing on April 6th 2021. If you’re interested in the Guilty Gear series but are new to fighting games, definitely check this one out, even if you are a casual player, the graphics and gameplay are stunning and if matchmaking is like the open beta, it does a great job of matching you with similarly skilled players, so you won’t feel out of place when you go online.
Thank you so much for reading this post, I hoped you enjoyed it. Please check out the slideshow of other moments in the game during my sessions. Also be sure to stick around because today I am doing a double post which will be up in a few hours. Thank you so much for your support.