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Guilty Gear Strive's new beta commits a fighting game sin that will make it tougher for newcomers to make a graceful entrance

The System command list is top notch and what the tutorial should have been

Posted by Steven 'Dreamking23' Chavez • February 17, 2021 at 5:11 p.m. PST • Comments: 36

Though Guilty Gear Strive's open beta is scheduled to go live for everyone on February 18, some players have been able get their hands on it early through select codes being sent out to them. We here at EventHubs were among those who were given the opportunity to participate in the beta early, so we have been taking time to jump into the preselected periods of time when the servers are online to experience all that it holds.

As someone who is familiar with the Guilty Gear series, but has not actively dove into the intricacies of how it all works, I was excited to hear that Strive's new beta would feature a tutorial mode that would help introduce newcomers (and me) to the game's mechanics and battle system. Unfortunately, Guilty Gear Strive's beta tutorial is incredibly bare bones, committing a sin that fighting games here in 2021 really shouldn't be doing.

To be fair, I understand that this is only a beta test and the real game is not set to launch for another couple of months. Having said that, Strive's beta tutorial really doesn't do much in the way of introducing players to the way things works here, and it feels like a real missed opportunity.

When you start the beta, an on-screen message will prompt you with an offer to play through the tutorial — one of the handful of modes accessible during this beta. Should you accept the offer, you'll hop into a battle that sees the player control Sol Badguy up against Ky Kiske as the latter walks you through how to play the game.

According to Ky, Sol saved the world and it's all over the newspaper. By order of the new Conclave, the two need to create a record of Ky guiding Sol on how to be a hero.

Your first instruction is to move Sol around and hit buttons to attack Ky and deal damage. When his health reaches zero, the lesson is over.

At first, Ky doesn't do much in the way of avoiding your attacks, but as you progress he picks things up and starts performing actions of his own. The only real goal you're ever tasked with here is getting Ky's health bar depleted fully, and the game doesn't tell you anything else or show you any ways of doing that.

The whole time, there is a small box of actions in the center of the screen and a controller layout that shows the inputs you place. The actions include moving (left and right), attack (which includes all of the face buttons with no distinction as to what they do), block (holding back), Psycho Burst (also no indicator of what this is), and dash forward.

This tutorial segment lasts three rounds, and after you complete the first two Ky tells you he wants to have a flashy finish — which basically means there's no lesson, just go crazy. Once you beat Ky in the final round... that's it. Tutorial over.

In this mode, there is no detail on how to perform special moves and how you should hit the command list to see your favorite fighter's arsenal, no explanation of what the gauges on screen are or what game mechanics they allow you to utilize, and not even a basic introduction to air dashing, movement, or a general idea of how this game is played. This tutorial literally tells you that you can move, you can hit buttons, and... good luck.

At the end of the tutorial, Ky encourages Sol to hit Dojo Mode, but says nothing specific about what you should look for there. If you do head there, you'll find the option to play the same tutorial again, an inaccessible Missions Mode, and Training Mode, which is a great addition to see in a beta test.

Fortunately, Guilty Gear Strive's beta has one saving grace when it comes to helping newcomers, and that's the "System" command list. In training, you can go to the options, select Command List, and scroll past your character and the opponent's character's moves to find a list of gameplay mechanics and basic maneuvers you need to know to play the game.

Included here are descriptions of things like Roman Cancels, Bursts, Faultless Defense, Dust Attacks, and everything else players should be taught when playing Strive. Accompanying each description are short video clips to demonstrate what these actually look like when performed properly.

Why none of these crucial bits of information were incorporated into the tutorial mode is beyond me. This is a great reference guide, but things like throws, Roman Cancels, and Bursts easily should be taught in the basic tutorial as those are things you'll actively need when competing online.

A lacking tutorial in modern fighting games is inexcusable, especially considering the push developers actively make to design their fighters to be easier for beginners to understand and get into. Messaging about Strive being more welcoming to newcomers is something you can easily find, with Guilty Gear series creator Daisuke Ishiwatari saying as much on multiple occasions.

"The problem was that the ability gap between series veterans and beginners was still too large, even though Guilty Gear Xrd was intended to be a brand-new title," Ishiwatari told Games Radar in an interview back in December 2020. "[One thing] we are doing now is taking a hard look at a number of things in order to establish a new baseline for long-time players and newcomers to start from."

"A lacking tutorial in modern fighting games is inexcusable, especially considering the push developers actively make to design their fighters to be easier for beginners to understand and get into."

Guilty Gear Strive still has an opportunity to put out a great, in-depth tutorial, and I hope that we see one included with the upcoming title at launch. What I fear, however, is Arc System Works following in the footsteps of a game like Tekken 7, which featured no tutorial mode and instead showed players how to use a Story Mode-specific input shortcut that is never used outside of that particular mode.

To offset the lack of such an instructional segment, Bandai Namco released several YouTube videos alongside the launch of Tekken 7 that walked players through basic mechanics, movement, and other facets of the gameplay that competitors need to know. Arc System Works is currently doing the same with the beta, with basic character and combat guides being uploaded to YouTube and requiring players to step away from the game and search for specific things they want to know.

Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator's tutorial is extremely robust and highly revered as one of the best educative segments modern fighting games have to offer. Players are treated to in-depth explanations and tasks that teach how to block and punish moves, run them through advanced movement options, show them how to properly combo, and much more all in a fun and creative manner.

Arc System Works is clearly capable of putting together an effective and engaging tutorial mode for their fighting games, and I hope Guilty Gear Strive's follows suit at launch.

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