A deep dive into the mechanics of the new Guilty Gear

Arcrevo, the biggest Arc System Works fighting game tournament of the year, is fast approaching and with it we will get our first chance to go hands-on with the new Guilty Gear project. To prepare the gaming public for their first taste of the game, Arcsys had a stream that included an absolutely massive info dump about how the game works. In addition to revealing Chipp Zanuff and Potemkin as the two newest returning members of the roster, we got a chance to look at a lot of basic game systems and how they differ from the previous installment Guilty Gear Xrd. Here’s a recap of that info along with a few things we noticed on our own.

Watch ArcLive Episode 53 - Guilty Gear Gameplay from ArcSystemWorksU on www.twitch.tv

(Note: Arcsys stressed that the game is a work in progress and nothing is final. All of this can change before the full release.)

Basic Controls

For the most part, the buttons in Guilty Gear are remaining the same. Characters will have access to punch, kick, slash, heavy slash, and dust. There will also be a sixth button: dash. This will allow players to dash or air-dash forward or backward at the touch of a button. Dashing can still be performed by double tapping forward or back, however.

The basic gatling system has been changed. Weak attacks no longer universally cancel into heavy attacks. For example, punches can no longer combo into kicks or slashes. Instead, they can combo into command normal or specials. This will prevent players from getting long combos off of weak hits.

Throws have been changed from forward + heavy slash to forward + dust. Their functionality has also been changed as well. They are no longer context sensitive, meaning, you won’t get a normal attack if you attempt to throw but are out of range. Instead, it works like current Street Fighter throws, in that attempting to execute a throw will start an animation and will cause the throw to whiff just like any other attack if you are out of range. Throws no longer startup in one frame, though they are relatively fast. They are very easy to punish on whiff, however. It’s also worth noting that all option selects using throws have been removed, as pressing dust and an attack at the same time will trigger a burst.

Roman cancels and bursts are still a major part of the game and are triggered in much the same way. Bursting is dust and another button while roman canceling is punch, kick, and slash at the same time. You can also assign both of these functions to a button macro.

Character Select and U.I.

Guilty Gear is one of the first fighting games in a very long time to innovate on the character select screen. Characters are sorted into four categories: balance, speed, power, and tricky. Balance characters are traditional fighting game characters with a diverse set of skills. Speed characters focus on mobility and mix-ups. Power characters focus on forcing the opponent into rough situations that can cause them to take a ton of damage with few moves. Finally, Tricky characters have some sort of gimmick that their gameplay revolves around, like Axl’s ranged scythes or presumably Eddie’s shadow.

When a character is highlighted, further stats are given. Their strength at three ranges (close, mid-screen, and full screen) is rated from one to ten. For example, Sol is rated nine up close, four mid-screen, and two full-screen.

They are also given a star rating from 1-5 detailing how complex they are to play. Sol is rated 4.5 which corresponds to “Easy to use.”

Finally, a short summary of their playstyle is shown. Sol is described as “power pressuring aggressive strike” showing that his gameplan is to keep his opponent under pressure and rarely break off. These new character select changes will go a long way toward introducing newer players to the game’s roster.

After you select a character the game FORCES YOU TO BUTTON CHECK! This is huge! No more “oh wait my buttons are set wrong” before a match. You need to set your buttons to even get to the fight in the first place.

It’s clear that Arcsys is focusing a lot on user interface this time around. Move-lists have been completely overhauled. When you highlight a move, whether it’s a normal, special, or something as simple as a basic movement control, the game will show you its name, how to execute it, a small video showing it being executed, and a small tutorial about how to use it effectively. All of this is shown right in the menu making character attacks and special moves entirely transparent.

This extends to results after battle. Not only do you get a readout of your playstyle (how aggressive or defensive you were, for example) you also get a highlight of your play. It might say that you successfully comboed into a super to do most of your damage, or had an impressively long combo. This will help you focus on your strengths and practice away your weaknesses as you play the game.

System Mechanics

Many core mechanics have changed from Xrd to this new Guilty Gear installment. Blitz Shield, Blitz attacks, Dead Angles, and Danger Time are all gone, for example,

The recovery system has received a complete overhaul. There is no longer “teching” to get out of combos. This means that “blue beat” combos are a thing of the past. Now, if you would be able to “tech” a combo in midair, you will simply flip out of it with an invincible animation.

Ground recovery has also changed. Only moves with the “sweep” attribute cause a knockdown, and so far it appears that only crouching dust attacks are sweeps. If you aren’t in a knockdown state your character will do an invincible roll as soon as they touch the ground.

If you do manage to knockdown your opponent you have a choice to make. You can either hit them off the ground (or OTG) and use the knockdown as a combo extender, however your combo will be guaranteed to end in an invincible roll at that point. Even sweeps will trigger the roll at this point. Otherwise you can choose to let your opponent wake-up from the knockdown and essentially get wake-up pressure. It’s a classic tradeoff between damage and positioning.

Blocking has changed significantly. Instant blocking no longer reduces your block stun. Instead it simply gives you a boost to your meter. Faultless defense still exists and as normal it will push the opponent away from you. However, you no longer have to use faultless defense to block out of a dash or block grounded attacks mid-air. You can simply block as normal, however everyone’s forward + punch is now a universal anti-air that is air-unblockable, period.

Returning from older Guilty Gear installments is the R.I.S.C. system, which appears to be what this new installment is based around. By blocking too long your R.I.S.C. gauge builds. If it fills completely then any hit you receive will be a counter-hit.

In general combos in this new Guilty Gear appear to be relatively short, but counter-hits increase both the damage and hit-stun of your attacks. So filling an opponent’s R.I.S.C. meter suddenly turns a game with short combos into the crazy high-flying long combo Guilty Gear of old.

This is further reflected in the way dust attacks work. As usual they are an instant overhead and they have actually been made much quicker and harder to react to. In fact, the small flash that showed your opponent was using a dust is entirely gone. However, on standard hit all a dust does is knock the opponent away from you. You get no combo follow-up opportunities. On a counter-hit, though, you get the full dust launch effect and can get an incredibly damaging air-combo follow-up. Remember that fully filling an opponent’s R.I.S.C. meter turns every hit into a counter-hit, at which point dusts become super dangerous.

This leads us to surmise that techniques like instant blocking and faultless defense might reduce the rate that the R.I.S.C. meter builds, but we will still have to see if that is the case.

It also appears as if there is a “Krushing Blow” style mechanic with some counter-hits. Landing a specific counter-hit in a specific way will make the camera zoom in with “COUNTER” superimposed in the background. This will give you plenty of time to think of your follow-up attack.

Many types of hit stun have been removed. For example, characters can no longer go into a stunned state if they are wailed on for long enough. Stagger (the state in which you have the wiggle the joystick to recover from hit-stun) has also been removed.

In their place is a much more evolved version of the wall-splat hit-state. When you have a character in a corner, any attack that would knock them off their feet causes a wall-splat. In this state they will slowly slide down the wall and fall on the ground, giving you ample time to attack them once more. However, doing repeated wall-splats will break the wall, causing a stage transition and ending your combo. Doing so will give you a massive boost to your meter, a boost to your damage, and, depending on your character, a beneficial status effect as a tradeoff. This is a good way to reward players for corner pressure without making the defending player feel as if they are screwed as soon as they hit the corner.

Speaking of status effects, this seems to be a new mechanic largely borrows from Persona 4 Arena. Different attacks can cause different status effects which subtly effect how your character’s play. Getting hit by one of Ky’s lightning attacks, for example, confers the “shocked” status effect which makes your R.I.S.C. meter build faster. Triggering a stage transition with Sol grants him a strength up effect that makes his normals more damaging for a limited time.

Roman Cancels

Roman Cancels are one of the core systems of Guilty Gear and they too have received an overhaul. Roman Cancels still cancel out any animation and return you to neutral, however there are now four different types of Roman Cancels, and they all have a hit-box now. Your opponent has to be hit by the hit-box to receive a slowdown effect similar to the slowdown effects from Xrd. The amount of time they are slowed down is also noted by a clock that shows up over their head.

The first type of Roman Cancel is the Red Roman Cancel. This occurs when you Roman Cancel a move that hit your opponent. The Red Roman Cancel actually pops your opponent into the air when it hits but gives you a low window of slowdown. It is primarily used for extending combos.

Blue Roman Cancels occur when you Roman Cancel out of a neutral or moving state. Essentially this turns the Roman Cancel into an opening attack. If the opponent gets hit by it they get inflicted with the most amount of slowdown compared to every other Roman Cancel.

Purple Roman Cancels occur when you cancel out of an attack of some sort that hasn’t made contact with the opponent. An example of this is Potemkin canceling a move into buster or Sol canceling his Gunflame to dash in at the opponent. It’s unclear how much slowdown Purple Roman Cancels cause as connecting with the attack would make them Red Roman Cancels. However, it does appear as if you can move very quickly after executing a Purple Roman Cancel.

Finally Yellow Roman Cancels occur when you Roman Cancel out of blockstun. This appears to be taking the place of Dead Angle attacks. Compared to Red and Blue cancels the slowdown window on Yellow cancels is quite short, but that makes sense since it can be used as a defensive tool.

All Roman Cancels now appear to cost 50 percent of your meter.

Miscellaneous info

Many things haven’t changed. Meter works the same way. It builds while attacking or moving forward. Bursts work the same way as well. Defensive bursts push the opponent away while offensive bursts instantly fill your meter.

Graphically some moves change when hitting as the last of hit of a match. Sound clips will change too, emphasizing the final hit.

The combo counter grows in size as your combos continue, eventually taking up a good portion of the screen.

Damage is quite high, much higher than Xrd.

Chip damage still exists but cannot kill a character.

The game will have full English dub.

There will be a closed beta in Spring 2020. Attendees at Arcrevo will be guaranteed access.

While the team acknowledged that users want rollback netcode they could not confirm that they would be adding it.