With Guilty Gear Strive, Arc System Works is pushing for the next evolution of its beloved fighting franchise

For fighting game fans, Arc System Works needs no introduction. Its mainline series, Guilty Gear and Blazblue (which debuted on PS1 and PS3 respectively), have dominated fighting game tournaments like EVO for years now. On top of that, the studio has produced some impressive franchise-led efforts in the form of Persona 4 Arena, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and Granblue Fantasy Versus. Now, with Guilty Gear Strive (the “iv” in the title is meant to denote the fourth true iteration of the series), the fighting game studio is bringing the genre back to the drawing board.

“Over Guilty Gear’s 20-year history, the goal has been to make each update more exciting and impactful than the last,” says Daisuke Ishiwatari, Series Creator and Chief Creative Officer of Guilty Gear Strive. “We tried to tone it down somewhat with Guilty Gear Xrd, but that didn’t solve the series’ main problem – the ability gap between veteran players and those new to the franchise.”

Arc games are known for being fast and technical, with a high skill ceiling, all bright lights and contrasting colors that require nervous reflexes to master. But over the years it has worked to make fighters more user-friendly by including more in-depth tutorials and new modes that make combos easier without taking too much control.

Guilty Equipment Effort

“The problem was that the ability gap between series veterans and newbies was still too big, even though Guilty Gear Xrd was supposed to be a brand new title. [One thing] we are looking at a number of things carefully in order to establish a fresh starting base for long-time players and newcomers alike.

With Strive, Guilty Gear gets a big mechanical overhaul to suit its complex nature. “The goal is not to simplify complex mechanics or make the game easier. To excel, players will still need to develop advanced skills and a deep understanding of the game,” says Ishiwatari. “Our games have a reputation for be difficult to understand from the start.”

Put on a show

Guilty Equipment Effort

OPM

Guilty Equipment Effort

That said, you still need to practice to be able to get the most out of a character’s moveset. “We are working on making this an entirely new experience for all players,” says Ishiwatari. “However, we intend to ensure that players can still experience distinctive elements of Guilty Gear, such as the freedom and ability to express their individuality through gameplay.”

Risk versus reward

Guilty Equipment Effort

From this point on, if a spectator can understand the flow of the game, they might be more encouraged to pick up a pad for themselves. Although Strive aims to be more accessible, that doesn’t mean it’s discounted. Rather, there are tenser back and forths than before, with tweaks to the system that force you to focus on battling opponents with your offense rather than being scared. The new RISC system is a way of pushing players forward, with blocks gradually losing their effectiveness as you take hits, meaning you should always be aware of potential openings.

The series’ first foray into stage transitions is another way the team is trying to encourage more of this back and forth for all players. “In most fighting games, trapping your opponent at the edge of the screen gives you a huge advantage, and one of the most exciting parts of the match is that the attacking players get the best result right now,” shares Ishiwatari. “However, I think there’s a huge difference between getting a good combo and just endlessly trapping someone in the corner. In previous editions of Guilty Gear, there were times when the defending player didn’t One of the goals of the new title is to get out of these kinds of dead ends faster while preserving the concepts of superior execution and challenging gameplay.

guilty equipment strive

Stage transitions are part of how Strive visually scales Guilty Gear. Push your opponent back and the camera zooms, rotates and follows the action. The series has gone from some of the best pixel art available on PS1 and PS2 to a 3D moving anime style in Xrd.

“[In Xrd] the goal was to recreate the feeling and visual impact of Japanese anime,” says Ishiwatari. “For Guilty Gear Strive, we’ve implemented new camera movements that weren’t present in the previous version. We’ve also added visual weight to all characters so they appear more substantial on screen, and expanded the backgrounds to allow the camera more freedom of movement.

There’s more impact than the last game occasionally floating (although many characters are still rushing at high speeds). Fire a good counter and the camera will zoom in to highlight the clash, while a special shot will see him close in on a character, showing every detail of his face. The rock song that introduced the new game was Smell Of The Game (listen to it for yourself at bit.ly/opm-strain). Heavy guitar sounds have always been on par with the series. It’s just part of his nature. This energy is now flowing through everything.

“What we wanted in creating this song was to depict the wild atmosphere of the show,” Ishiwatari explains, “[the] the excitement of a beginning of a new world, and [to] strive not to lose the core qualities of the game.” We can’t wait to see what the new Guilty Gear brings, and we’re sure other fighting games should take notice. There is nothing to feel guilty about.


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More information about With Guilty Gear Strive, Arc System Works is pushing for the next evolution of its beloved fighting franchise

For fighting game fans, Arc System Works needs no introduction. Its core series, Guilty Gear and Blazblue (which started on PS1 and PS3 respectively), have dominated fighting game tournaments like EVO for years now. On top of that the studio’s produced some impressive franchise-led efforts in the shapes of Persona 4 Arena, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and Granblue Fantasy Versus. Now with Guilty Gear Strive (the “iv” in the title is meant to denote the fourth true iteration of the series) the fighting game studio is taking the genre right back to the drawing board. 
“Over Guilty Gear’s 20-year history, the focus was to make each update more exciting and impactful than the last,” says Daisuke Ishiwatari, the series’ creator and chief creative officer on Guilty Gear Strive. “We tried to tone it down somewhat with Guilty Gear Xrd, but it didn’t address the main issue with the series – the gap in ability between veteran players and those new to the franchise.” 
Arc’s games are known for being fast-paced and technical, with a high skill ceiling, all bright lights and clashing colours that require twitchy reflexes to master. But over the years it’s been working to make fighters friendlier by including more in-depth tutorials and new modes that assist with combos without taking away too much control. 

“The problem was that the ability gap between series veterans and beginners was still too large, even though Guilty Gear Xrd was intended to be a brand-new title. [One thing] we are doing now is taking a hard look at a number of things in order to establish a new baseline for long-time players and newcomers to start from.”
With Strive, Guilty Gear is undergoing a big mechanical overhaul to address its complex nature. “The goal is not to simplify complex mechanics or make the game easier. To excel, players will still need to develop advanced skills and an in-depth understanding of the game,” says Ishiwatari. “Our games have the reputation of being hard to understand from the very beginning.”  
Putting on a show

That said, you still have to put in practice to be able to eke all you can from a character’s moveset. “We are working on making it an entirely new experience for all players,” says Ishiwatari. “However, we intend to make it such that players can still feel elements distinctive to Guilty Gear, such as freedom and the ability to express their individuality through the game.” 
Risc versus reward 

From that point, if a viewer can understand the flow of the game, they might be more encouraged to pick up a pad for themselves. While Strive is aiming to be more approachable, that doesn’t mean it’s being pared down. If anything, it has some more tense back-and-forths than before, with tweaks to the system that force you to focus on countering opponents with your offence rather than running scared. The new RISC system is one way players are pushed forward, with blocks gradually losing effectiveness the more hits you take, meaning you always have to be aware of potential openings. 
The series’ first foray into stage transitions is another way the team is trying to encourage more of that back-and-forth for all players. “In most fighting games, trapping your opponent at the edge of the screen gives you a huge advantage, and one of the most exciting parts of the match is for attacking players to come out with the best result in this moment,” shares Ishiwatari. “However, I feel that there is a huge difference between getting a good combo in and just endlessly trapping someone in the corner. In previous editions of Guilty Gear, there were times when the player on defence had no options. One of the goals for the new title is to break those kinds of deadlocks faster while preserving the concepts of superior execution and challenging gameplay.” 

The stage transitions are part of the way Strive is evolving Guilty Gear visually too. Knock your opponent back and the camera zooms in, spins around, and follows the action. The series has gone from having some of the best pixel art around on PS1 and PS2 to 3D anime- in-motion style in Xrd.
“[In Xrd] the focus was to recreate the feeling and visual impact of Japanese anime,” says Ishiwatari. “For Guilty Gear Strive, we’ve implemented new camera movements not present in the previous version. We’ve also added visual weight to all the characters so they appear more substantial on the screen and expanded the backgrounds to allow the camera more freedom of movement.” 
There’s more of a sense of impact than the sometimes floaty last game had (though many of the characters still dash around at high speed). Pull off a good counter and the camera will zoom in to highlight the clash, while a special move will see it come close to a character, showing off all the detail in their faces. The rockin’ song that introduced the new game was Smell Of The Game (hear it for yourself at bit.ly/opm- strive). Heavy guitar sounds have always gone hand-in-hand with the series. It’s just a part of its nature. That energy is now carrying through everything. 
“What we were aiming for by creating this song was to describe the wild atmosphere of the series,” says Ishiwatari, “[the] excitement of a beginning of a new world, and [to] set our mind not to lose the essential qualities of the game.” We look forward to seeing what the new Guilty Gear brings, and we’re sure other fighting games should be taking note. That’s nothing to feel guilty about.
Looking for the latest information on the PS5 and PS4? Then you’ll want to subscribe to Official PlayStation Magazine to get it delivered straight to your doorstep, and check out Magazines Direct for all of the latest offers. 

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