At time of publishing, the Guilty Gear Strive balance patch will have been released. I will not know what will be in said patch, but there has been a lot of speculation and hope for some fairly drastic changes.

Since the last balance patch, most characters have been quite good to great, with the outliers being Nagoriyuki, Anji, Potemkin, Happy Chaos, and Ramlethal. At low to mid-level, you’ll see a really nice spread of characters, especially with players who have played the game long term. There’s still quite a bit of work to be done when it comes to balance, however. Nothing too major, but just small adjustments to truly make the game enjoyable for everyone.

What we already know: Their plan is to buff underperforming characters, take a look at the damage values of normals, and change overall properties of certain specials. We already have a foundation on what we can expect to change, and with this in mind, we can further speculate on how things will shift around. 

Previously, we talked about the power of Positive Bonus and how it could be changed, along with other quality of life changes. This time, I want to go into the actual balance of characters and what changes could be made.

The obvious, low-hanging fruit of the balance changes is too easy for me. So, I wanna dig deeper into why the strong strategies are strong. Happy Chaos is a really good example of how oppressive a gameplan can be, with some characters almost unable to execute their gameplan. Some play patterns are simply not enjoyable or interactive. Think of the way Nagoriyuki generates blood, creating a pressure loop you kind of have to wait out. This isn’t exactly the most problematic thing, but the threat of his command grab is what encompasses the whole risk-reward gambit. No other character gets a reward for landing a grab as hard as Nago. It’s a lopsided issue that is hard to solve due to the nature of the design. Do you nerf the blood loss from Nago on a successful grab? If so, why would you want to use it? While the buffs to Nago in the last patch made him extremely oppressive, they succeeded at making all of his moves good. This is something not every character has the luxury of being able to do.

Do you give a reward to the other characters who have command grabs? If so, how? More damage? Something else? I don’t know the answer, but maybe the pressure wrapped around it all might need addressing. If Ramlethal gets to have incredibly disjointed normals across the board, then why not Sin or Bridget? Does I-no’s Heavy Stroke really need to be -2? Would making it 0 on block hurt that much? Can Potemkin actually get some form of neutral?

I think the character that the game should be balanced around is Testament. Everything about them is what Strive is all about. Super oppressive pressure, but not without an answer, no real clear weaknesses, but obvious strengths which encourage you to play to them. 

Lastly, I would love to see damage toned down greatly, especially off of characters that are blessed enough to confirm off of literally any hit. Happy Chaos should absolutely not be able to take half of your health from an anti-air 5p. Having the game be a consistent two-touch contest isn’t exactly the most productive, especially when it comes to learning either for a lot of players. You’ll often not understand what got you in the position in the first place, considering how cursed some interactions can be. The difference between a two-touch and three-touch game is massive. Aside from characters like Sol, who should blow you up for getting hit by a heavy, most characters should have to get you a number of times to win.

I’m so excited for this patch, as I feel it would bring new life into the mid-level of the game. I’ll definitely give a lot of characters a try, but my eyes are on Jack-O, Sin, and Baiken. 

But seriously, Happy Chaos needs to go.

Anthony Lowry (they/he) is a seasoned TCG, MMORPG, and FPS veteran. They are extensively knowledgeable on the intricacies of many competitive outlets, and are always looking for a new challenge in the gaming sphere.

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