Guilty Gear Strive Beta Impressions

Arc System Works has cemented its spot as the best fighting developer in this business thanks to a triumvirate of phenomenal fighting games released during the PS4/Xbox One generation: Granblue Fantasy: Versus, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and most importantly, Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator. The latter is possibly my favorite fighting game of the generation alongside the criminally underrated Killer Instinct reboot. Clearly, it’s safe to say that I’m looking forward to playing Guilty Gear Strive, the upcoming game in the franchise.

Strive Leo Whitefang

Guilty Gear Strive looks absolutely astonishing.

Every single Strive trailer has been incredibly promising so far. It once again showcases Arc System Works’ masterful usage of the Unreal Engine in order to create polygonal characters that look like 2D anime models, all while offering a deep and rewarding combat system at a constant 60 frames per second, plus some sick metal tunes in the background. The brand new open beta build released a few days ago just reinforced what I was already expecting: this is going to be the best fighting game of 2021.

Featuring a plethora of fighters to choose from, including my main, Leo Whitefang, I was impressed with the amount of available modes in this supposedly small Strive beta build. Training mode was open for business. Player vs. CPU was also available, with different difficulty levels and maps to choose from. Finally, local multiplayer was included if you had someone to play with.

Strive Sol

Guilty Gear: the only franchise where the main protagonist is called Badguy.

The star of the show, of course, was the online multiplayer. Despite the admittedly terrible lobby UI, which has sadly become a staple in ArcSys’ fighting games, Strive‘s netcode worked impressively well. I was a bit worried before booting the beta up at first, as some previous fighting games developed by the company suffered from some serious netcode issues, not only during beta, but after launch as well. We still haven’t forgiven FighterZ‘s early issues. All worries were quickly swept aside once I realized I was getting into matches pretty quickly, and without any significant lag issues during said fights.

I kept playing this beta for way more than I was expecting. Guilty Gear Strive‘s controls feel great, even when playing it on a DualShock or DualSense (I tested the same PS4 beta build on PS4 and PS5). Pulling off complex combos didn’t feel like an impossible task, nor did they feel like a Smash Bros-esque cakewalk. The only thing I really don’t like about the gameplay is the weird implementation of having to hold down the Start/Options button for a few seconds in order to properly pause a game. It’s not terrible but… why?

I love how ridiculous all character names are. A freaking ninja called Chipp…

If Arc System Works maintains the the same level of netcode quality when Guilty Gear Strive finally launches, then we’re going to have a fighting game masterpiece on our hands. I knew they were going to deliver in terms of visuals, controls and soundtrack, but wasn’t expecting for them to deliver a much improved online experience even during the game’s beta stages. Now all I need to know is the game’s complete roster, full list of modes, and of course, its final release date, because I seriously cannot wait for it any longer.