Hands-on Guilty Gear Strive (PS5) – Open Beta

Have you ever wanted to play a game against someone from another continent while feeling like they were right next to you? How about if you were a blade-wielding vampire samurai and your opponent was an assassin that wields shapeshifting hair as a weapon? If that all sounds like a good time to you then you should put Guilty Gear Strive on your radar right now.

The Guilty Gear series has been delivering over the top anime fighting game action for over 20 years, and from the time I have spent with the Guilty Gear Strive Open Beta this is looking to be the series’ best offering yet.

When you see it in action, Guilty Gear Strive looks and sounds amazing. The cel-shaded art style continues the spirit of the earlier sprite-focused fighting games while allowing for some beautifully animated cinematics and effects, and the soundtrack has more bangers than a barbeque.

Hands-on, Strive felt good to play from my first fight to my last fight, and the beauty of the game is the more you learn about the game the more it opens up to you.

Guilty Gear Strive Open Beta

Newbies can enjoy the satisfaction of landing big hits and performing crazy super moves, but players who want more can start figuring out combos and learning each character’s unique mechanics.

From there, the layers of depth continue, offering new concepts to learn and experiment with, such as the various applications of roman cancels, when to use the burst, and the various head-games that come utilizing these tools against your opponents. However as you learn how to use the tools the game has to offer you will need lots of opponents to test these lessons against, and that’s where the online comes in.

My first impression of the game’s online lobby system was a mixed bag, with the 2D platformer presentation of the lobbies feeling like a sharp departure of the beautiful art direction of the rest of the game. The lobbies do offer some good tools, giving players options to communicate and express themselves, keep track of friends and rivals, and the ability to save replays.

However the clunkiness of the lobby’s interactions made these features hard to enjoy, and the lack of important features such as a quick rematch and spectating options were sorely missed. While the online experience of the lobbies do have a lot of room for improvement, those shortcomings are almost all forgiven every time I start an online match thanks to the game’s netcode.

The online netcode is, simply put, the best netcode I have ever experienced in a fighting game.

Playing against other Aussie players didn’t feel like I was playing online at all, and fighting game players who struggle with the Australian internet will understand this as a big deal. All my matches to date have been smooth, responsive, and they felt damn good. I even tested the limits of the game’s netcode by picking some fights in the USA West-Coast server, and to my utter surprise, the fights felt no different than my local ones. Unbelievable.

From what I have played so far, Guilty Gear Strive has the potential to be Arc System Works’ biggest hit yet. Much like the game’s awesome soundtrack, everything about this game rocks, and that netcode!

If some of the beta’s lobby wrinkles can be ironed out before the game’s launch on April 9, then there is very little holding back new and old fighting game players from rocking out and thoroughly enjoying Guilty Gear Strive for a very long time.

…and that netcode!

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James Camilleri
I am a videogame guy. I've been playing games all my life and am an avid fan of games new and old. I'm also a fighting game enthusiast and an arcade tragic.

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