Guilty Gear Strive: open beta early character impressions

Guilty Gear Strive: open beta early character impressions

I've been putting in some time on Guilty Gear Strive, so I thought I'd go ahead and swing together my early impressions of the characters so far.


I feel like I've made no secret of my absolute love of Guilty Gear whether in articles, Shack Chats, or on streams, but for those who don't know, that franchise is my absolute favorite. As our resident anime fight guy at Shack, of course I've been in on early access of the open beta that's going on tonight for pre-order players. With that in mind, I thought I'd go ahead and share my initial thoughts on each of the characters so far.

And hey, as a bonus, check out this collection of all character supers I helped put together recently.

Sol Badguy

Sol's as heavy-handed and brute force as he ever was in the Guilty Gear series and has a lot of great options for the rush down game. If you're good at getting close to your opponent, Sol can drag them into the corner in a hurry and that's great in Strive because of the new wall-break mechanics. One thing that blows my mind is that they took away his Riot Stamp move which was a great combo starter in previous games, but everything else is pretty intact to make a well-rounded rushdown character.

Ky Kiske

Ky has always been Guilty Gear's epitome of the do-it-all character. That's true here too. He's got good normals, solid specials, easy-to-connect combos, a projectile game, a dragon punch, an overhead, a low slide, and the kitchen sink. His Ride the Lightning super is great for wall-breaking opponents as well. I haven't played him as much as I'd like to, but I think he's got an incredibly well-balanced kit in Strive. Hell, they even gave him Sol's move enhancing Dragon Install super this time. What's up with that? A go-to if you want a character that all your basics covered.

Ramlethal Valentine

The scary big-floaty sword boss of Guilty Gear Xrd has returned looking more frightening than ever in Strive. Seriously, Ramlethal has a pretty incredible kit for this game. She's got reach, a mean projectile game, and some tricky jumping and comboing options. The main thing to worry about is that when you throw her sword projectiles out it can leave her pretty vulnerable. That said, this is the character Sonic Fox has been maining through early access and I have to believe a champ like them saw the reward vs. the risk and liked everything about it.

Axl Low

As a former Axl main in Guilty Gear Xrd, I'm of a mixed opinion about Axl in Guilty Gear Strive. He's the resident long-range zoner, but I'm not fond of some notably missing features of his kit this time out. For one, most of Axl's normals used to hit foes going out and coming back in. The second "pulling" hit seems to be missing on most of his moves, leaving nearly all of the combos I used to know with him useless. He's also missing Artemis Hunter, which was great for bouncing pressure heavy foes away from him on wake-up. I'm also not wild about the fact that his Soaring Chain Strike only hits if opponents are at lengthy distance. He's got a new cool time-stopping JoJo's Bizarre Adventure super, sure, but I just don't think it's enough to make up for all of the things I feel like they took away from him.


May terrifies me. She has always terrified me and she looks as good as ever in Strive with some tricky projectiles, good charge moves, and a wealth of big damage attacks. Add to this one of the most frightening supers in the whole game. Once she's got more than half a bar, it's not a matter of if she'll bring out the Yamada-san whale super, but when. And if you aren't watching for it, expect to eat massive damage. This rotten little tyke looks set to destroy in Strive.

Millia Rage

If you want trickery with a side of speed, Millia is your gal. She's looking as good as ever in the air game, has her frightening ground slight, some delayable special moves to help cross you up hardcore, and plenty of more tools to keep your foes guessing which side to block and for how long. With the rollback netcode in Strive, Millia will be easier to play online than before, but you've still better have the finger speed to keep up with her moveset.


Difficult as ever to handle, but perhaps the most rewarding if you can figure out how to properly utilize him. I'm not wild about the way Zato's shadow moves are looking in Strive, especially his usually Invite Hell ground drill, but his kit is undeniably still there. I especially like Oppose, which makes the shadow into an advancing projectile and move shield that will also swing to help you start combos.


Faust's creepy new look belies his same-old tricks. He's a floaty jerk still capable of bombing you from above and locking you down with his grab-bag "What's Going to Come Out?" move. He looks just a touch slower than he didn in previous games, but the teleport business he's got going on is still going to be a mindgame nightmare to deal with in the right hands. If tricks and randomness are your jam, the doctor is in.


Guilty Gear's star grappler has been pretty hobbled through the recent games, but he's looking downright nasty in Guilty Gear Strive and I think I can put my finger on exactly why: There's less screen real-estate in Guilty Gear Strive than in any previous game. That means for a grappler like Potemkin, he has to do less chasing, less cornering, and less work to get close enough to hit you with his ground and anti-air command throws. It also helps that his input difficulties for these very moves have been reduced. If you want disgusting damage in just a few attacks, learning Potemkin looks like it's going to pay dividends in Strive.

Chipp Zanuff

If Millia is trickery with a side of speed, then Chipp is speed with a side of trickery. He's still hella fast, but I find him to be far more straightforward about his nonsense then Millia. He's still got some tricks to watch out for mind you, but the biggest nuisance is just how much he can stay on top of you and belt you with his rapid fire arsenal. I saw a lot of online players that ultimately relied on building his bar to do his supers as fast as possible. No lie, they're pretty good.

Leo Whitefang

I'm not gonna lie, I haven't noticed a single thing about Leo that's changed from his Guilty Gear Xrd appearance. Everything about the king of cross-ups is still intact. Decent projectile, stance change moves, good combo game, good (obviously) cross-up game, good supers. Honestly, if you liked Leo in Xrd, there's nothing about him in Strive that should deter you from picking him up again. For the uninitiated, just get use to his stance change and cross-up game to make the most of him.


She's my new favorite character. Giovanna is the rushdown brawler of Guilty Gear Strive, and has a hefty supply of fast kicks for any opponent that gets caught in the crossfire. I saw a lot of people ready to write Giovanna off as too boring or straight forward, but they're dang fools in my opinion. Her normals are fast, long reaching, and combo well, her specials as much as I need them to fill the gaps, and she's even got a special feature where the more super bar she has, the more damage she does. Barring newly revealed characters being better, I think Giovanna is going to be my go-to main.


When I first saw Nagoriyuki, I wondered why Arc System Works called this masked samurai a one-shot character. Then I saw his supers. Nagoriyuki is a ticking bomb and you'd better kill him before he gets to his Blood Rage state. From that point on, he can hit you nearly anywhere on the screen and destroy your health bar in a handful of moves. Go with this guy if you want to play high-risk, high-reward and bet it all on a wrecking ball finish.

And that covers all of them. Hope to see some of you as the Guilty Gear Strive open beta hits! The game is looking and feeling gorgeous, so jump in, find the character that suits you, and get ready for a knock-down drag-out fight!

From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 18, 2021 5:40 PM

    Check this out if you're going to play the Guilty Gear Strive beta

    Read more: Guilty Gear Strive: open beta early character impressions

    • reply
      February 18, 2021 5:47 PM

      Ah Guilty Gear, the best looking fighting game that I can never play.

      • reply
        February 18, 2021 5:51 PM

        They've changed a fair amount with this one, even fans will be re-learning some basics. If you have a console you should at least give the beta a shot while it's live. People are thrilled about the netcode. Sounds like it could be a game changer for all future fighting games out of Japan.

        • reply
          February 18, 2021 5:53 PM

          I’ve just given up on fighting games, Guilty Gear being the worst of them all with the dozens of systems that make combos infinitely more complex. It’s a game I’m happy to only watch.

          • reply
            February 18, 2021 6:25 PM

            Combos are pretty basic for the most part, they changed the whole gatling / link system entirely. Damage is up, way up, so you really don't need to have crazy combos. People are just doing normals, specials, and a few hit combos here and there and closing out rounds in 30s. Air dashes are slower to start up. There are slow-downs on counters and roman cancels to give you more time to follow them up with additional attacks and extend the shortened combos. With the offensive roman cancel they even pop up a little clock while the opponent hangs in the air for a sec:

            There still a lot of stuff going on and I'm sure the learning curve will be steep for a total newcomer, but it looks like the one to jump in on if you have any interest at all. I think it doesn't look as exciting to watch because of some of the changes, but also because it's early and people are still working everything out. I'm way more excited to actually play it.

            • reply
              February 18, 2021 6:27 PM

              I’m so bad at these games once you enter roman cancel territory I lose all interest.

              • reply
                February 18, 2021 6:35 PM

                Hah, it's a system that makes no sense until you actually use it a bit, probably the most complex mechanic as there are multiple uses for it.

                It's explained ~3mins in this five minute primer:

                • reply
                  February 18, 2021 6:45 PM

                  Yeah understanding it vs applying that knowledge, to me, is the problem. It’s what requires the dozens of hours to get it and for me personally, those dozens of hours are usually brutally unfun (I can guarantee whatever matchmaking they have, I would have maybe a 5% winrate). Fighting games to me are similar to RTS. They require both knowledge and precise controls to execute well. Additionally, if your enemy is better than you, then the match likely was decided before entering it. I’ve never played a fighting game that felt evenly matched and I just thought “oh if I had done X” I would have won. For me it’s always a stomp, which is boring for the loser.

                  • reply
                    February 18, 2021 6:54 PM

                    That's any MP game for me. You gotta put the time in for sure, and like what you're playing enough to do so.

                    I don't mind losing a lot because I still learn a little each time. Winning all the time ain't no fun, either.

                    Still yours and anyone's best chance to get into one of these due to the accessibility and changes. Hopefully there's a lot of people like yourself in the mix. Ranking and matchmaking will help find opponents on your level as well, but I usually play these with shackfighter regs.

                    The real knowledge hurdle for me in fighting games is learning every single character matchup for my mains. 15 isn't what people would call a large roster, but in some ways it is considering the other mechanics and systems to learn.

    • reply
      February 18, 2021 6:33 PM

      Goddamn that looks nice.

    • reply
      February 18, 2021 7:08 PM

      Looking forward to playing the beta!

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