Guilty Gear Strive is the next instalment in Arc System Works’ longrunning 2D fighter series, and it’s as pretty as usual—the studio did Dragon Ball FighterZ and Granblue Fantasy: Versus, after all. But a recent open beta test left a bad taste in some players’ mouths, with its online lobby system being the main point of criticism. As a result of player feedback, Arc System Works delayed Strive to June 11 from its planned April 9 launch.
It’s easy to see why the lobby proved so controversial. It’s set in a sidescrolling pixel art environment where players roam and interact before launching into matches. The art style is dramatically at odds with the lush animation of the fights themselves, but it’s the practical aspects of matchmaking that drew the most ire: Because all of the game’s online modes filtered through this 2D lobby world, the whole system proved very cumbersome if you were, for example, hoping to throw down with one friend in particular. Basically, people don’t want a cute retro platformer for a lobby—they want a simple menu, or else a return to some of Arc System Works’ previous 3D lobbies.
Whether Arc System Works will do away with the 2D aesthetic in favour of something simpler isn’t clear, but the studio is well aware of the feedback. "Since we have received valuable feedback after the recent Open Beta Test, we would like to make the most of this opportunity to provide the best game possible," its statement reads. "We need extra time to polish some aspects of the game, such as the online lobbies and the server’s stability."
「Important announcement regarding #GuiltyGearStrive」 pic.twitter.com/siP46ketuEMarch 4, 2021
The lobby system isn’t unique: Guilty Gear xrd Rev2's and Dragon Ball FighterZ’s online lobbies are also "playable." The 2D view in Strive seems to be the biggest offender, as UI elements become crowded when several players are hanging out in the same area. That’s not to mention some connectivity issues that plagued the beta, according to player reports.
Whether the lobby stays or not, this Guilty Gear is designed to be more accessible to new players, series creator Daisuke Ishiwatari promised back in 2018. We’ll find out when it launches on June 11.