The great renaissance of fighting games over the past decade or so has really been a sight to see. It’s hard to imagine there was a period where the genre was struggling a bit, but now here we are – every few months we’ve got another spicy punch-and-kicker to capture our attention and free time. Coming off of Granblue Versus and Dragon Ball FighterZ, fighter artisans Arc System Works are back with Guilty Gear -Strive-, the latest entry in their long-running Guilty Gear series of rock-and-roll throwdowns.
New players might immediately be drawn to the Story Mode! That’s not necessarily a bad idea…if you’re interested in Guilty Gear’s lore, since as with the previous few entries in the series the Story Mode doesn’t actually incorporate any fighting. It’s more of an animated feature film that you can watch chapter by chapter. It’s great, of course, but if you’re expecting something more like Mortal Kombat or Injustice with a plot involving gameplay, well, that’s not what you’re getting here.
If fighting’s what you’re after, then, you’ll want to stick with one of the other modes. You’ve got your standard single-player options like Arcade Mode and a suite of network choices if you’d like to take the fight online. The latter’s probably the main draw here. There’s plenty of players raring to go at the moment. Given the popularity of the series, that’s unlikely to change, so go nuts! Online play generally works pretty well once you actually get into a fight, as while there’s no shortage of connection errors and issues they’re all related to lobbies and matchmaking.
When the game finally sets you up with something it’ll be smooth as silk nine times out of ten thanks to Strive’s rollback netcode. It’s a great time, especially when you’re trying to climb Ranked Mode’s tower of players to reach the top.
Assuming you’re playing a mode that actually uses them, it should come as no surprise that the actual fighting mechanics are fantastic. Each character has their own playstyle and you’re bound to find one that suits your needs – Ky’s your typical Ryu or Ken character with well-rounded stats, Leo suits berserker players who want to stay on the offense, Potemkin’s a great grappler for patient players and so on. Players returning from previous Guilty Gear games should be right at home, but if you’re new to the series there’s a fully fleshed-out tutorial and associated mission mode to teach you the ropes.
There’s no guarantee you’ll be dominating the first time you go online or play with friends, of course, but you’ll be less likely to embarrass yourself.
It should also come as no surprise that Strive looks and sounds absolutely divine. This is what Arc System Works does best, after all, and it shows. From start to finish, each fight looks and feels straight out of a classic action anime with impressive special effects and fantastic voice acting. Much like Xrd before it, Strive really feels like the next-generation of fighting games brought to life. Oh, and the music. It’s outstanding. You don’t need me to tell you that, though. Just look at it.
Really, if there’s any complaints to be had here, it’s that Strive feels a little content-light compared to fighters that have been around for awhile. Most of the characters return from previous games, with only two actual newcomers in possessed Secret Service agent Giovanna and vampire samurai Nagoriyuki. Anji Mito from earlier games returns from an extended hiatus as well, but he’s not technically a newcomer. Still, there’s already a content roadmap in place, ensuring that the roster’s going to be a little more fleshed out over time.
In other words, don’t let that scare you off. The characters, story and battle on offer are all amazing and there’s more yet to come. Don’t hesitate to get on the ground floor on this one, fellow fighting fans; Guilty Gear -Strive- is bound to be one of the hottest fighters around for years to come. You’ll want to start rocking early.