Guilty Gear Strive Beta PS5 & PS4 Hands-On Impressions – The Guilty Gear franchise is a long-standing 2D fighter with some of the best animations courtesy of Arc System Works. Guilty Gear Strive is the latest incarnation of the long-running franchise coming to PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4.
I was excited when Arc System Works announced a beta as it gave me a chance to jump back into the Guilty Gear universe. I wasn’t ready for the various changes that they had implemented into the game, essentially forcing me to adapt and study just how these alterations impacted the action.
Guilty Gear Strive Beta PS5 & PS4 Hands-On Impressions
A Return, But An Evolution At The Same Time
Much like with previous titles, Arc System Works provided us with an open beta to test the game’s servers and give players a taste of what’s in store with the latest title. Strive once again puts us in the crazy world of Guilty Gear and long-running fan-favorite characters’ return.
Though it’s great to see returning characters, there are a few newcomers. Nagoriyuki is s a cool vampire samurai who fights with a long sword and has great reach. The other new character that’s available in the beta is Giovanna. Giovanna is accompanied by a wolf spirit that allows her to mix attacks, giving you the impression of fighting as two entities.
The beta didn’t feature the entire cast that will be available when Strive launches later this year, with I-No missing, but provides a good amount for a beta.
You have access to an online mode to test your wits against other players from around the world. Much like past Arc System Works games, the hub is a little mini-game of its own. This time you enter a giant tower with a pixilated avatar. Your custom avatar ascends the tower as you progress in the rankings by battling others in ranking matches.
It’s not my favorite iteration of the online lobby that Arc System Works has put out, but it’s decent enough. From all the online battles I participated in, I lost every single one. I’m not the best player in Guilty Gear, but I enjoy a franchise very much. Though I lost every battle, I lost in style.
Changes To Some Core Mechanics Make Strive More Accessible
Plenty of quality of life improvements helps keep the action flowing smoothly to help make the game a little more accessible to players. Blocking no longer reduces your block stun. Instead, it fills up your Tension gauge. The downside to blocking all the time is that it increases your R.I.S.C. gauge. This means that every hit you receive when the gauge is full will be a counter hit dealing extra damage.
Characters automatically recover from knockdowns this time. Only specific character special moves can knock characters off their feet. Once off their feet, they can extend their combo by lifting them off the ground with various attacks keeping the combo extender going. Teching has also been removed from the game. Teching is the act of being so badly beaten that your character becomes stunned where you have to mash buttons to wake their character up from a stun.
The game’s netcode is fantastic. I never encountered any slowdown or input lag thanks to the Rollback Netcode, a game-changer for a fighting game like this. Much like the company’s previous entries Granblue Fantasy: Versus and Dragon Ball FighterZ, the unique art and animation are just on another level. You can’t really compare what Arc System Works is capable of with any other company. Guilty Gear’s fantastic rock soundtrack returns and stands out from other fighters. It really gets you pumped for each fight, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I felt like Strive was a little bit of a slower game compared to Rev 2. The game doesn’t flow as fast as the previous instalment. At first, it threw me off as I was used to the quick pace of past titles, but I quickly got the hang of it. The slower pace is also better for newcomers as the action can get hectic with plenty of screen effects. The slower pace allows you to get your barrings and prepare for your next attack.
Another addition that fans may not like very much is stage transitions. Those who like to box their opponents into a corner won’t truly have a chance to do it this time as enough strikes will send their opponent flying to a different part of the stage.
Much like previous Guilty Gear titles, the game focuses more on single strike attacks while combining your special attacks to perform combos. It’s been a staple of the franchise and returns here. The Tension gauge is also unchanged, allowing you to pull off spectacular super attacks.
I do feel that some characters are a little overpowered. I found myself getting absolutely demolished by some characters while defeating others was a breeze. Potemkin, for example, is mighty. I noticed that getting hit by regular attacks from him would take 25% of my health bar, the same amount from other character’s super attacks.
The Road To Release
Guilty Gear Strive is still a great fighter. Fans of the franchise may not be too keen on some of the changes Arc System Works has made, but the team has constantly proven that they’re the best at what they do.
Guilty Gear Strive releases for PS5 and PS4 on April 9, 2021.