Following an unfortunate delay which pushed the game back a couple of months, a second beta of the very anticipated next entry in the Guilty Gear franchise was announced, with changes to some aspects of the game which people were quite vocal about following the first beta feedback form. Arc System Works have definitely put themselves to work, and although some issues still remain within the game, there is a good improvement from the already brilliant previous beta.
Guilty Gear Strive‘s second beta was an open beta which only ran for one weekend, compared to the previous “influencer” beta which ran for around a week, yet it still was enough to show the different changes which the game received since February. The lobby, which has been the subject of a lot of criticism back in the first beta, was adjusted a little, although it still feels buggy and clunky. Instead of being able to play anyone on the floor in any place, you now need to move to these battle stations to be able to be challenged by others browsing the tower.
It feels more organised when comparing to the previous beta lobby, but these stations can sometimes come back with an error that connection failed, and you need to retry accessing the battle station making for unnecessary waste of time while trying to find a match.
Moreover, you can get matched up with people in training matchmaking, which can catch you by surprise as you practically see no one on the other end of the battle station challenging you. While not that big of a problem, it still feels a little iffy and there are various implementations of a battle lobby which will no doubt feel better than the current state. That said, this is still part of the beta, and maybe Arc System Works do have another lobby planned out for full release.
One feature which people have surely been requesting a lot as well is the rematch feature, an option that was in fact added to the most recent beta. The rematch option is very comfortable, saving the time to return to the lobby and challenge your opponent again, and thus playing with friends becomes much less of a hassle. It is probable that this option was missing from previous betas to stress test as many different combinations of connections as possible, given this was the first iteration of Guilty Gear to operate on rollback netcode.
The rematch option was implemented quite fairly in the beta in my opinion. Challenging players in the open parks had no restrictions on the amount of times players could play each other again, but in the tower, which is the game’s ranked system, there is a limit of 3 matches after which the option will not be available. Of course one can always find his opponent again and challenge them to a second set, but this can limit people farming others for ranks when there is a sizeable skill difference between the two.
The rematch inability can also help players get used to learning new matchups, since they are almost forced to change their opponents after every three matches against a particular opponent. This ensures that players who actually want to get better at the game have the means to do so, and testing yourself regularly against a variety of characters is a great way to improve.
Balance-wise, the game has already seen some changes after the first beta, which is a strong indicator about how ArcSys want their game to be as fair as possible. One of the most notable changes is the nerf to Potemkin’s Hammerfall, one of the most abused moves in February’s beta given its massive range and it being safe (risk-free) on block. This move is now unsafe, meaning players will need to use it much more carefully as they will get punished when blocked.
Having two new characters joining the fray for the first time -Anji Mito and I-no were only announced after the beta was already live – obviously meant that they will still need to undergo balance changes, but they still felt quite good for the overall state of the game, meaning further additional characters added to the game are promising to feel fair compared to the rest of the cast.
Overall, one can safely say that the second beta for Guilty Gear Strive was just as much of a success as the first. The hype for rollback netcode which characterised the brilliant first beta is still there, but people are now very much conscious of it. Guilty Gear Strive is promising to be a revolutionary title for Fighting Games, as if it sells well and retains a good player base, it can become a new standard for the genre. Other titles like King of Fighters XV are already planning to implement rollback after the excellent response from Guilty Gear players, and hopefully, more titles follow suit, when feasible, to make the experience as fun as possible for all players.
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