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Guilty Gear Strive's online tower system could revolutionize how fighting games rank players moving forward with a few tweaks

There's so much potential in the frame Arc System Works has created

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • July 17, 2021 at 8:14 p.m. PDT • Comments: 27

When Arc System Works first announced that Guilty Gear Strive would be abandoning the typical online ranking system, many players were understandably skeptical as to how it would work out.

Now that we've been playing the game for well over a month at this point, however, Strive's use of tower rankings offer up some brilliant changes while opening the door to some exciting new possibilities once some of its issues have been ironed out and more features added.

In all of the matches I've played over these past weeks, I can't think of a single game that wasn't fairly close in results and player ability outside of the few times I've ventured into the Japanese lobbies and gotten stomped by some over there.

I can't really say that's happened before in pretty much any other fighting game I've played online at this point, which helps keep things fun and makes it feel as though you're growing right alongside your opponents.

Through some sort of sorcery, ArcSys appears to have achieved a ranking system that truly keeps similarly skilled players grouped together. That is, until you reach the 10th floor, but we'll get back to that in a bit.

One obvious benefit is that it's more difficult for stronger competitors to make a new account and head to the lower floors to bop newbies because they'll be quickly ranked up due to their play and barred from going below what Strive deems their current level to be at.

On the flip side, the tower also gives players who feel like they're ready to advance to simply jump up those floors and see if they can hang with the tougher crowd.

The biggest advantage this style of ranking system has over the likes of Street Fighter 5 and Tekken 7, however, is its ability to factor in much more than simply wins and losses to determine strength.

Of course the lobby system can serve more as a detriment than a benefit for the rankings currently in place

I can't say this for certain, but it really feels like Strive is monitoring how you play the game just as much as your overall record โ€” and if it's not, it really should.

Ditching the traditional ranked points based on wins allows for Strive and really any fighting game to take into account how much of the mechanics and systems are being used and so much more.

For example, players on floor six in Strive may be just starting to experiment with using Roman Cancels in matches to make their moves safe and in some basic combo extensions while those on floor seven are starting to use them to create more mixups and longer strings โ€” and those below six may not be using the RC system at all.

Are they using specials? Are they using Specials in combos? How long are the combos they're hitting? Are they landing wall break combos? Are they using Faultless Defense? Are they hitting the proper punishes when the opponent is negative?

These are all factors the game could take into account where a certain player is in comparison to their peers and group those similar in ability together.

An implementation like that would make playing online feel like a step-by-step learning process instead of asking players to sit in the lab for hours trying to figure out every nuance they can as quickly as possible to keep up / advance. Then they finally jump back in, hit another wall, and repeat the process again.

Fighting game developers could use this opportunity to give these particular floors or groups more specific advice as to what aspects of their gameplay they should probably work on to advance to the next stage. Maybe even suggest particular missions, trials or tutorials to complete as well.

This is something that Guilty Gear Strive currently doesn't do, but certainly should.

I've admittedly never reached the Celestial floor and not sure I ever will, but those who have I've been hearing say the skill gap between floor 10 and Celestial is actually wider than that of floors 1โ€“10.

If this is indeed the case, the gap could have been somewhat alleviated by perhaps consolidating the lower five floors into maybe just three while adding those two to the top.

That being said, it'd probably be near impossible to mitigate this entirely since those who spend a lot of time with the game finding moderate success will eventually float to the top with the rest of the killers though adding in some of those previously mentioned factors needed to break into the higher floors.

More floors could be added in general though could run the risk of getting too granular and split up if done too many times.

Maybe we should remove the ability to see your opponent's character beforehand outside of parks. It's understandable though if you want to avoid May players like they've got a disease

Outside of the many foibles of Strive's lobby system, one of the only other changes I'd like to see in the rankings would be to stop updating floors in the middle of a set. It's not really a deal breaker, but it can get annoying, especially when it happens multiple times in quick succession.

While all of the features mentioned here aren't currently in the game, Strive's first attempt at doing something different feels like the base for something new and exciting in the realm of fighting games that developers should explore more with the next generation of titles on the horizon.

Almost all of these modern games already track just about everything a player is doing in matches, and the creators should make that benefit the player beyond being a simple screen of statistics.

As it stands now though, Guilty Gear Strive has provided me some of the most fun and least frustration in playing a fighting game online beyond the issues of the lobby system.

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