A new fighting game made by Arc System Works is, in today’s day and age, pretty much guaranteed to be great, and Guilty Gear Strive in particular has been looking particularly interesting for as long as we’ve known about it. Stunning visuals, interesting changes and improvements, and the implementation of some unique new ideas all seem to be coming together in what might just be one of Guilty Gear’s better entries in recent years. We recently had the chance to speak about the game and its biggest talking points with its developers, and learned quite a bit in the process. You can read our conversation with director Akira Katano below.
"We don’t think that we should narrow down the choices for players. We think we are pushing that point more strongly than ever before. The thought process behind many of our design decisions was to make a game that was easy to understand for new players, but with lots of depth behind the mechanics that allows players to really think about the decisions they make."
Fighting games as a whole are defined by high skill ceilings, especially Arc System Works’ games, which tend to be fast and technical. And while that’s part of the charm, it’s also daunting to newcomers to the genre. You’ve said that you’re attempting to bridge the gap between high-level players and beginners with Guilty Gear Strive, but what sort of an approach have you taken to ensure that that’s done without losing that core appeal of skill and technique that is so inherent to fighting games as a whole?
To begin with, GGST is not looking to bridge the gap between advanced players and beginners. If the online rating system works, each should be able to enjoy playing against each other in the same level range.
In terms of game design, we’d like to use new techniques that weren’t used in the past series, rather than techniques that can be used directly from the past series. This means that all players will start off on the same level. In other words, we want to create a game with a completely new depth, where all players are at the same starting line.
Something that Guilty Gear games are known for is the level of freedom they offer to players in how they want to approach fights, which obviously stems from mechanical depth and complexity. How much of a challenge has it been to ensure that Strive retains that quality even as it looks to be more accessible to newcomers?
As you said, we don’t think that we should narrow down the choices for players. We think we are pushing that point more strongly than ever before. The thought process behind many of our design decisions was to make a game that was easy to understand for new players, but with lots of depth behind the mechanics that allows players to really think about the decisions they make.
It seems combos are something else that Guilty Gear Strive has tweaked as it looks to become more accessible to newcomers. Can you talk about those changes in more detail?
We think the biggest element is the removal of aerial recovery. In the past, if you didn’t learn a predetermined combo route, you’d get counterattacked from an opponent after they recover from your combo. In this game, as long as the opponent is floating in the air, you can follow up with various moves.
For beginners, we would like to keep the knowledge of combo routes to a minimum. For advanced players, we would like them to be able to construct combos with more freedom.
"With the overall increase in damage in this title, in a match between high-level players, managing R.I.S.C. is very important. For example, if you normally guard a ground attack in midair, your R.I.S.C. will increase greatly, and you will take huge damage from subsequent attacks."
The returning R.I.S.C. system is something that has caught the eye of many series fans, and the impact it can potentially have on everything from combos to counters is particularly exciting. What can you tell us about the mechanic’s implementation, and how it will change the flow of fights?
With the overall increase in damage in this title, in a match between high-level players, managing R.I.S.C. is very important. For example, if you normally guard a ground attack in midair, your R.I.S.C. will increase greatly, and you will take huge damage from subsequent attacks.
For this reason, there should be more emphasis on “making the opponent guard your attacks” than in past series. When you attack your opponent, you’ll not only be able to directly break their guard, but you’ll also be able to build up your opponent’s R.I.S.C. (or take away their tension gauge if they mitigate it with faultless defense).
What can you tell us about the implementation of stage transitions? Trapping foes in corners is something that is often a core part of the loop in fighting games, but stage transitions look like they’re going to put an interesting spin on that.
Stage transitions have a lot of objectives for us. One of the most exciting elements is that, because of stage transitions, we were free to give characters extremely powerful mix-up opportunities in the corner. In the past, if a character’s corner offense was too strong, it could disrupt the balance of the game, since the defender would end up in the same situation due to them being trapped in the corner. This made looping corner setplay extremely strong, but also limited what we could give characters without them being overpowered.
In this title, there is an end to corner setplay, (unless a lot of R.I.S.C. has accumulated), because of stage transitions. This gives us more freedom to let characters really show off what their offense is capable of, without breaking the general balance of the game.
Obviously, competitive play and multiplayer will be a crucial part of the experience, but what can players expect from the single player offerings in Guilty Gear Strive? For instance, how meaty is the story mode going to be?
The number of modes available for single-player content has not changed significantly from past entries. However, we have brushed up the contents of each mode significantly. We are also planning to update various modes for free after the game’s release, so please keep your eyes peeled for that as well. We are currently hard at work on the story mode to make it the highest volume and quality ever. Please stay tuned.
The esports scene is obviously something that Guilty Gear fans are quite invested in. With Guilty Gear Strive, what are the biggest steps you’re taking to grow in that area?
We’re currently working hard at preparing GGST’s eSports involvement in various ways. Please look forward to our announcement.
"The number of modes available for single-player content has not changed significantly from past entries. However, we have brushed up the contents of each mode significantly. We are also planning to update various modes for free after the game’s release, so please keep your eyes peeled for that as well."
Arc System Works’ games have traditionally had strong post-launch support over prolonged periods of time. What can players expect from Guilty Gear Strive here over the long term?
We are glad to hear you say that. We recognize that there were still many points where we fell short.
We live in an age where fighting games will never develop without the cooperation of the FGC. In GGST, we want to work with the fans to make it more exciting than ever.
Why is Guilty Gear Strive launching as a console exclusive for PlayStation consoles? Do you have any plans to eventually bring the game to the Switch and to Xbox consoles?
We are always considering porting the game to other consoles. We can’t prepare a specific answer at this time, but please wait for further information.
What kind of resolution and frame rate can we expect on PS5? And are you using the PS5’s controller and audio features?
We would love you to view the graphics of this game on a 4K monitor. Unfortunately, we have not included specifications that take advantage of the PS5’s unique features in the controller and other areas.
We’d like to add them in an update, but fighting games are played by people on a variety of devices, so there are many points we have to consider.