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Guilty Gear -Strive-: Release date, new combo system, online lobbies, crossplay, and trailers

Guilty Gear -Strive-
(Image credit: Arc System Work)

Arc System Work’s long-running Guilty Gear franchise received a major overhaul with the Xrd sub-series. Eschewing the hand-drawn style, the Xrd games feature cel-shaded graphics that look no different from traditional animation. New art-style aside, the Xrd titles retain the same steep learning curve of the core series. 

The upcoming Guilty Gear -Strive- (GGST) is yet another sub-series. While it has the same visual flavor as the Xrd series, it Strives (pun intended) to broaden its appeal by introducing more user-friendly fighting mechanics that are easy to pick up but difficult to master. Based on a recent closed beta, GGST has the potential to be one of the best fighting game franchises on PS5.

Guilty Gear -Strive- release date

Originally set to release this year, GGST will release in April 2021. Interestingly enough, it has two different release dates. As seen in the release date announcement trailer, the Ultimate and Deluxe editions release on April 6 for the PS4, PS5, and PC. The Standard edition comes out on April 9. 

The Ultimate and Standard editions are available physically and digitally while the Deluxe edition is digital-only. The Ultimate and Deluxe editions also include the Season Pass 1, which has five new characters, additional character color palettes, two bonus stages, and an extra story mode. Those who purchase the Ultimate edition also get a digital soundtrack and more color packs.

Guilty Gear -Strive- story

As with most fighting games, you can play GGST without knowing or caring about its main plot. However, those who are invested in the game’s lore will be happy to know that GGST follows the narrative introduced in the Xrd series.

(Image credit: Arc System Work)

When asked about the story on the Guilty Gear Developer’s Backyard blog, General Director Daisuke Ishiwatari said: “The story is a continuation of the Xrd series games, but in such a way that even new players can enjoy it. Also, we have something in the works for those who are curious about the story so far.”

Guilty Gear -Strive- new combo system

GGST has a revamped combo system that is less demanding than those seen in previous installments. It is now possible to deal massive damage with only a few strikes instead of long combos.

(Image credit: Arc System Work)

“A central idea behind this title is that you can deal big damage without memorizing long combos as was required in previous games,” Ishiwatari said. “One important concept in this game is placing greater importance on choosing your moves based on the current situation.

"I do think it’s more difficult in the sense that muscle memory won’t really work, but there should be fewer mechanics for new players to learn before they can enjoy playing matches.”

(Image credit: Arc System Work)

On this subject, Development Director Akira Katano said: “If we think of it in terms of either the game being simpler to play in training mode or simpler to play in a match, I would say that GGST values the latter more.

"Naturally, we are continually adjusting what moves combo into what (including the differences for each character) by looking at the game from various viewpoints. This goes for not only gatlings, but follow-up moves and combos in general as well. Also, we are planning to further increase the level of freedom with combos compared to previous entries in the series.”

Guilty Gear -Strive- online lobby and matchmaking

One of the major sticking points with any online game (in this case, fighters) is online lobbies and matchmaking. One of Xrd’s biggest points of contention was its less-than-stellar matchmaking which would often pit novice players against experts. Instead of traditional ranked matches, GGST has “floors” where players can match with others of similar skill levels. Low ranking players are free to move to any floor they wish, but high-ranking users cannot go to a floor below their skill level. This, in theory, should deliver a fairer match-making system.

(Image credit: Arc System Work)

The closed beta’s online lobby had a wildly different art style than the core game. Instead of hyper-detailed anime-style characters and backgrounds, the online lobby has the aesthetics of a pixelated 2D indie game. Beta testers weren’t exactly enthused with the art style, though it seems the final product won’t make any radical changes.

“With GGST, we’re trying out a new design compared to prior ASW titles by using 2D pixel art style 3D avatars and such,” said Ishiwatari. “This venture is necessary to create new mechanics and fun that wasn’t possible with the 3D avatars we’ve used previously. While they weren’t included in the closed beta test, we’ll be showing them off at the next opportunity. In addition, we’ve seen many opinions that the style doesn’t mesh well with the world of Guilty Gear. In regards to this concern, we hope you’ll keep on the look-out for new information as we’ll be showing you new designs that weren’t included yet in the closed beta test.”

Guilty Gear -Strive- new characters

Expect a number of new characters to bolster the game’s roster. Giovanna was recently announced via trailer. The most recent Developer Backyard describes her as an “officer in the special operations unit that protects the President of the United States.” Giovanna fights alongside Rei, her spirit-wolf companion. According to the developers, she’s suited for newer players thanks to her balanced fighting style.

First teased when GGST was announced, Nagoriyuki is described as a “vampire samurai” whose “supernatural vampire abilities compliment his substantial frame and outstanding fighting skills.” Nagoriyuki’s attacks hit hard and shave off large chunks of an opponent’s health bar. However, he cannot dash or double jump -- though he can offset these deficiencies by super jumping and his “Fukyo” fast movement special move.

Guilty Gear -Strive- crossplay functionality

The game will have crossplay between PS4 and PS5 platforms. When asked whether there would be crossplay between consoles and PC, the devs said there are “many problems” they need to resolve before they can add the feature. Though crossplay may not be available at launch, the team wishes to introduce it in a future update.

Arc System Works has yet to divulge the game’s minimum and recommended PC specs. However, based on the specs of previous PC Guilty Gear PC ports, we shouldn’t expect anything overly taxing.

Guilty Gear Xrd 2: Rev 2 required, at a minimum, an Intel i5 CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 GPU, 2GB of RAM, and 14GB of system storage. Considering how GGST retains the same basic art style of Rev 2, we don’t expect its system requirements to be more demanding. Unless you have an ancient PC, you should be able to run the game just fine on your rig.