Guilty Gear has a lot of combat mechanics that can seem overwhelming at first but become much easier to understand once explained.
By Rhenn Taguiam
Published Jun 20, 2021
As expected from an Arc System Works title, there’s more to?Guilty Gear Strive?than just fast-paced anime action. Serving as the latest entry in the acclaimed ArcSys franchise,?Strive?levels up the?Guilty Gear?action with stylish combat and speedy techniques. In turn, both newcomers and fighting game savants have a shot at transforming a mundane match into a spectacle of flashes and slashes.
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However, newcomers to?Strive?might find it harder to grasp the more technical aspects of the?Guilty Gear?title. After all, there’s more to “fast” in?Strive?than just mashing buttons. Thankfully, the game’s more technical systems weave into each other when approached correctly.
Newcomers may find it much easier to ease into?Strive’s more flexible fundamental combat mechanics by learning its bare essentials. Interestingly enough, knowing even basic combat controls is crucial for a speed-oriented franchise like?Guilty Gear.
Similar to other Arc System Works titles,?Guilty Gear?has a fundamentally different approach to basic combat compared to four-attack?BlazBlue?and?six-attack?Dragon Ball FighterZ.
As with other fighting games,?Strive?is a straightforward fighting game in a sense that it has separate attack buttons that string into combos. Unlike other fighting games,?Strive?has five dedicated buttons for five kinds of Normal Attacks:
Light Attacks:?These attacks?pertain to Punches and Kicks. They work best in short range and, as with the name itself, deal light attack.Medium Attack:?This attack?pertains to the Slash, a stronger attack that works a bit further from short range. It takes a few more frames to execute and deals middling damage.Heavy Attack:?This attack pertains to the Heavy Slash, which is the slowest but also strongest of the basic attacks. Given their speed, they’re easier to dodge, Block, or Counter.Dust:?This attack remains unique to?Guilty Gear. Dusting pertains to a special attack done neutrally, and in close range. Depending on certain parameters, Dusting can generate different effects.
Mobility remains key in a technical fighting game like?Strive. In fact, most characters have numerous mobility options to help them zigzag around the battlefield when necessary. In turn, players need to get familiar with more unique mobility options within?Strive:
Dash/Backdash:?Pressing a direction button twice (or its dedicated keymapped button) will make characters Dash forward or Backdash backwards.Airdash:?Jumping and then Dashing will make players perform Airdashing – essentially faster movements in the air.High Jump:?Jumping from a neutral position initiates a High Jump. Double Jumps aren’t possible with the High Jump, but Airdashes work in this state.Run:?Pressing a directional button twice but holding the second press will make some characters run. This isn’t fundamental to most strategies, but may make certain moves flashier if handled by a pro.Character Caveats:?It’s important to remember that some characters may have special movement restrictions and caveats. For instance, Potemkin cannot Run and doesn’t have Airdash. Likewise, Chipp Zanuff can Triple Jump and Wall Run.
Whereas other fighting games allow players to string combos easily,?Strive?has a more technical take on combat mechanics. Thanks to its 5-Button system,?Strive?introduces movesets that are almost entirely unique per character. Players can’t easily perform “combos” in?Strive, but could combine specific movement strings for flashy attacks.
Certain characters offer different Normal Attacks depending on the range. This is usually dedicated to the Slash (Medium), where a Far Slash (fS) or Close Slash (cS) lead to different animations. Thanks to Proximity Normals, players can use Slash in either close or mid-range incursions.
Gatling pertains to the core combo system of?Guilty Gear, where specifically-timed Normal Attacks link to perform combos. For instance, Punches cannot lead into Kicks, and then Slashes.
Rather,?Strive?needs players to follow certain rules for Gatling Normals:
These Gatling Normals only happen within the confines of each other, and don’t immediately lead into other attack types.
Punch + Down Punch | Down Punch + Punch:?This works best for ticking opponents in close range.Kick + Dust/Down Dust | Down Kick + Dust/Down Dust:?Not as safe as Punch Gatlings, but the?move towards Dusting can knockdown an opponent.cS + 2 Slashes/Dust/Down Dust:?Not as safe as Kick Gatlings, but cS has bigger chances to hitstun enemies for combos – especially with Dusting.cS/fS/Down Slash + Heavy Slash/Down Heavy Slash:?Given?theirslow nature, they present high risk. However, they can lead into devastating knockdowns.
These Gatling Normals can lead into other attack types, particularly Command Normals.
Punch + Command Normal | Down Punch + Command Normal:?A normal Punch can lead into a Command Normal.Kick + Command Normal | Down Kick + Command Normal:?A normal Kick can lead into a Command Normal.cS + Command Normal:?A Close Slash can lead into a Command Normal.
Contrary to technical Gatling Normals, Command Normals often serve as a character’s “special combo set.” These mostly need players to press a specific button with a specific direction.
Forward + Punch | Forward + Heavy Slash:?All characters have versions of these Command Normals.Characters Exclusives.?All characters have unique Command Normals outside the basic notation.
Unlike other fighting games where throws and sweeps are separate combos,?Strive?allocates these more technical offensive tools within the Dust button. Since Dusting itself is an attack of its own, the Dust button is easily one of the most integral parts of?Strive’s mechanics:
Dust Attack:?Hitting the Dust button while standing will force enemies to float temporarily. This is a chargeable attack, and a special effect happens once players pull this off. These are overhead attacks, meaning high Blocks work against them.Homing Jump:?Pressing Up during a charged Dust Attack will throw enemies into the air. Attacking them in mid-air will give players an air combo.Sweep:?Pressing Down + Dust Attack will initiate a sweep. This only works on grounded, and not airborne, foes.Throws:?Pressing Left/Right + Dust Attack beside an opponent will attempt to throw them, if close enough.
A new mechanic introduced in?Strive, stages now come in various “levels” separated by Walls. If players use enough Overdrive Attacks to pummel enemies against the wall, they can “break” it and launch enemies into another stage. Here are some properties of Wall Breaks:
Encourage Neutrality:?Instead of awkwardly stopping combos, the wall encourages aggressive players to find ways to stop their combos to prevent the Wall Break from interrupting them.Increase Knockdown:?Pulling off an Overdrive Attack to initiate a Wall Break can prolong the knockdown of an opponent upon the stage transition.
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Thankfully,?Strive?does offer extremely handy defensive options when it comes to safeguarding one’s health. Unlike the more complex offensive maneuvers, defensive strategies come in extremely straightforward mechanics:
Similar to other fighting games,?Strive?offers a straightforward blocking mechanic. Moving backwards will initiate a block. Successful blocking will initiate a pushback – pushing the attacker slightly away.
High Block:?Holding Back initiates a High Block, which can block overheads such as Dust Attacks.Low Blocks:?Holding Down + Back initiates a Low Block, which can block low attacks like Sweeps but not overheads.Air Block:?Holding Back in mid-air initiates an Air Block.
Contrary to a simple Block, hitting any Block just before an attack hits will trigger an Just Block or an Instant Block. Just Blocking has?special properties:
Won’t pushback:?Just Blocking is a great way to punish opponents as it won’t push back the attacker.Won’t generate RISC:?Just Blocking won’t add to RISC Level.Will give Tension:?Just Blocking gives a small amount of Tension.
Instead of outright Blocking, players can also predict the enemy’s attack and cancel them via a Counter Hit. This move requires players to precisely press the appropriate attack button to counteract an enemy’s move. Counter Hits have special properties:
Slightly stronger attacks:?When players successfully land a Counter Hit, their damage is slightly stronger than a Normal Attack.Special animation with Heavy Slash:?This is especially the case with Heavy Slash, which has its own unique animation.Extends hitstun:?Enemies get stunned when countered. Players can use this opportunity to execute moves that take more frames to perform and initiate combos.
Unfortunately,?Strive?does make it a point to punish extremely defensive players. This is especially with the RISC Meter, which is something that fills up whenever players unnecessarily goes into defensive mode.
Blocking too much increases it.?Players increase their RISC Meter when they block too much. Likewise, staying out of Block or taking damage decreases it.Transforms into Counter Hits.?Players with full RISC Meters will transform their enemy’s next attack into a harsh Counter Hit – often leading into punishable knockdowns.
The?Tension Meter?is?Guilty Gear’s equivalent of a super meter in other fighting games. And as with other fighting games, the Tension Meter remains a key mechanic in pulling off some of?Strive’s most important combat mechanics.
As players might notice,?Strive?rewards more aggressive playstyles in the game. In turn, the game also gives multiple opportunities to fill up the Tension Meter to capitalize on its many uses. Aside from attacking, here are other ways players can gain Tension:
Moving Forward increases Tension:?Interestingly enough, simply moving towards the opponent gives players a bit of Tension.Special Attacks give Tension:?Regardless if these hit or not, Special Attacks always give some Tension to players. All characters have unique Special Attacks that have separate inputs compared to other attack types.Wall Breaks give Tension:?When players force enemies to break a wall, they do get rewarded with a “Positive” status, increasing their Tension greatly for the next few seconds.
Perhaps the simplest version of Tension usage, Overdrive Attacks are?Guilty Gear’s version of super moves. All characters have unique Overdrive Attacks. Here are other properties of Overdrive Attacks:
Costs?50% TensionMost cause Wall Breaks:?When used properly, an Overdrive Attack can cause Wall Breaks – especially when an enemy is pinned to the wall. If this happens, the enemy will have a greater hitstun when landing on the new stage.
Players can also use Tension defensively, in the form of Faultless Defense. This is a handy defensive measure for emergencies, as this essentially renders most – if not all – enemy attacks useless. This is a great emergency tactic against movement and hard combos. Here are other properties of Faultless Defense:
Left/Down Left + 2 Attack ButtonsConsumes Tension over time:?Faultless Defense consumes Tension the longer it’s pressed.Pushback property:?Like Blocking, Faultless Defense pushes back the opponent – but much farther away.Negating properties:?Faultless Defense negates chip damage and won’t increase RISC Level.
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Ever been on the other end of a pummeling and just want a time out? In?Guilty Gear, players who just want a quick pause button can use Roman Cancel (RC) to cancel their character’s actions and momentarily pause the screen. Here are basic properties of Roman Cancels:
Any three Attack Buttons (except Dust)Costs 50% TensionShockwave Effect:?Roman Cancels will force characters to release a shockwave effect that affects the environment in different ways, depending on the Roman Cancel used.Shockwave Cancellation:?Players who input another move during the shockwave expansion can cancel the animation and slowdown.
Players can perform four kinds of Roman Cancels, depending on the situation they’re in. The versatile nature of Roman Cancels make them compatible in both offensive or defensive play.
Red Roman Cancels:?This RC occurs right when the attack hits the player. The shockwave cancels damage and launches opponent with a mild hitstun.Blue Roman Cancels:?This RC occurs during basic movement. This has the longest slowdown, allowing players to slow down enemy movement and make them prone to combos.Purple Roman Cancels:?This RC occurs right as the player initiates an attack. Instead of waiting for the attack to hit, the Purple RC cancels the “waiting” and gives player control ASAP. Theoretically, when used with a projectile, the Purple RC can help the player and their projectile attack enemies at once.Yellow Roman Cancel:?This RC occurs while blocking. The shockwave will stun the attacker momentarily.
Players can perform Dashes while pulling off Red, Blue, and Purple RCs. When this happens, an afterimage effect follows the shockwave. This has numerous effects:
Push opponents further:?Sliding RCs can push enemies further away with the resulting shockwave.Quick neutral return:?Sliding RCs + Down can instant return players to a neutral position – perfect when committing an attack mistake during an RC.
Psych Bursts?are yet another feature in?Guilty Gear?that can further encourage offensive and defensive play. This move releases a shockwave that blows enemies away. As expected, the Psych Burst?consume the?Burst Meter, which is yet another meter in the game. Here are some basic properties of Psych Bursts:
Dust + Any Attack ButtonUses up the Burst MeterFills over time:?Players can increase their Burst Meter as they stay in combat or whenever they get hit.
Like Roman Cancels, Psych Burst have different variants with different effects.
Blue Psych Burst:?This Burst triggers during blocking or hitting. When properly activated, this is an interrupt move that blows enemies away.This won’t work against Throws, Overdrives, and wall splats.Recovery from a Blue Psych Burst does put players in a vulnerable state.Empties the Burst Meter but refills 1/3 on a hit.
Refills the Tension Gauge upon hit.Recovery from a Gold Psych Burst does put playersi n a vulnerable state.Uses 2/3 of the Burst Meter regardless of hit.
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About The Author
(571 Articles Published)
Rhenn is a Manila-based content writer with a love for all things geek and pop culture, and science and technology. He has a BA Journalism degree, and has since then pursued making content about geek culture. Rhenn used to write for a couple of geek and gaming publications, and also served as editor-in-chief for Philippines-based What’s A Geek!. He constantly plays video games but also takes the time to try out older titles. If he’s not playing video games, he’s probably playing TTRPGs.
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