Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- is a 2.5D sci-fi fantasy fighting game developed by Arc System Works and released by Sega for arcades (using their PC-based RingEdge 2 hardware via the ALL.Net P-ras MULTI Version 2 digital service) exclusively in Japan on February 20, 2014.
The sixth main installment of the Guilty Gear series (after Guilty Gear 2: Overture), Guilty Gear Xrd brings the series back to its fighting game roots and features a new game engine built on Unreal Engine 3. All characters and environments are now rendered in cel-shaded 3D, using special rendering techniques for the characters (such as deliberately cutting frames of animation and limiting background lighting) to give the illusion of 2D hand-drawn character art. It is often called the "third" entry, both with the regular Guilty Gear naming (Guilty Gear and Guilty Gear 2) and Guilty Gear X naming (Guilty Gear X and Guilty Gear XX). It later received a sequel, titled Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator-.
The gameplay of Guilty Gear Xrd builds on the gameplay from Guilty Gear XX Accent Core, revamping both the "Roman Cancel" and "Slashback" (now called "Blitz Shields") techniques. For the arcade version, it now supports free selection of multiple game modes (Arcade, M.O.M, and a new limited-time practice mode known as Sparring), multiple button layouts to choose from, and multiplayer ranking (using Aime IC cards).
The game takes place in the year 2187, one year after the events of Guilty Gear 2: Overture and seven years after the events of the original Guilty Gear. A mysterious Valentine identifying herself as "Ramlethal" has declared war on the entire world. The game's main Arcade Mode presents the story voice-acted cutscenes, with the console version's Story Mode (which is now an unlockable non-interactive CG anime) further expanding on it (which involves a mysterious group's plot to revive the Gear Justice).
It was later released on both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 in Japan (self-published on December 4, 2014), North America (published by Aksys on December 16, 2014), and Europe (published digitally by SCEE on June 3, 2015). Arc System Works was later digitally released the game for the PC on December 9, 2015.
Much of the gameplay mechanics from Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R are retained, with some differences:
- The Roman Cancel system is revamped. See Updated Roman Cancel for more details.
- The Slashback technique is replaced with a new Blitz Shield technique. See Blitz Shield for more details.
- Force Breaks and Throw Breaks are removed.
- Following up from a Dust Attack is now called Homing Jump, and players can now perform a lateral version called the Homing Dash by pressing Forward on the joystick (which is used near corners due to the attack sticking opponents to the wall).
- The Clashing system is compounded with a new Danger Time mechanic, where performing a Clash would randomly cause the game to enter a 10-second "Danger Time" state. During this state, all damage is increased by 20% and hitting with a Roman Cancellable strike causes a Mortal Counter (a Counter Hit with extended hitstun that can cancel like a Clash).
- The Tension Gauge is now color-coded in quarters rather than halves (blue for 0-24%, green for 25-49%, orange for 50-74%, red for 75-99%, gold for 100%).
- The Guard Gauge is now known as the R.I.S.C. Level and is presented differently, with its neutral state being "empty" and the game hiding the "negative" damage-scaling values.
Updated Roman Cancel
The Roman Cancel system is revamped, with three color-coded variations (Yellow, Red, and Purple) based on the current state of both characters. Regardless of variation, each requires a portion of the Tension Gauge, temporarily reduces Tension Gauge gain, and leaves the opponent in a temporarily slowed down state. Force Roman Cancels are removed.
They are performed by pressing three of the four basic attack buttons simultaneously under the following circumstances:
- When the opponent is stunned from a hit/block, canceling from any point of the attack causes a Red Roman Cancel (for 50% Gauge).
- When the opponent is not stunned from a hit/block, canceling from early attack frames causes a Yellow Roman Cancel (for 25% Gauge) while canceling from late attack frames causes a Purple Roman Cancel (for 50% Gauge). Not all attacks can be cancelled in this way, showing a red X over the character when attempted.
Both Red and Yellow RCs can now also cancel neutral and movement states, allowing players to perform unique movement options and use the slowdown to assess the situation.
Replacing the Slashback technique, Blitz Shield puts the character into a defensive state that can attempt to deflect an opponent attack and, if it is a strike, leaves that opponent in a stunned state. It is performed by pressing Heavy Slash and another basic attack button (HS + P/K/S) while the joystick is neutral. While on the ground, holding Down on the joystick during this command performs a crouching Blitz Shield.
This technique uses 25% of the Tension Gauge and can be performed either in a neutral state (standing, crouching, or mid-air) or while stunned from an opponent's Blitz Shield.
While mid-air Blitz Shields can block all types of attacks, ground Blitz Shields can only block certain types of attacks (with standing ones unable to block low attacks and crouching ones unable to block overhead attacks). Blitz Shields cannot deflect throws or Overdrive Attacks.
The original arcade release included 13 playable characters (one of whom is new) and one unplayable boss (who was made playable shortly after).
The Console versions of the game added three new playable characters as paid DLC, although one of them can be unlocked in-game, for a total of 17 playable characters. All three of them were later added into the Arcade version.
- Bedman - A condescending young man who inhabits a dream world as his body sleeps, carried around by a weaponized high-density bed frame that he uses in combat. He is unique in that he can create a "phantom" of himself to repeat his special moves, parry attacks with his ground dash, and dash mid-air in any direction.
- Ramlethal - A "Valentine" life-form who issues a declaration of war on the world. She fights with two massive greatswords, each carried by her familiar Lucifero (who splits into two, "Venus" and "Valva"), which she can deploy for long-ranged strikes. Some of her punch and kick attacks have unique combo strings, similar to 3D fighting games. She is the game's final boss and was made playable on April 8, 2014.
- Sin Kiske - A happy-go-lucky bounty hunter, ward of Sol Badguy, and Human-Gear son of Ky Kiske and Dizzy. He uses lightning magic and fights with a war flag used as a makeshift staff. He uses a separate "Calorie Gauge" that allows him to cancel super moves into each other. Originally appeared in Guilty Gear 2: Overture. Added in Console versions (where he is unlocked either in-game or through paid DLC), and added in the Arcade version on March 19, 2015.
- Elphelt - A "Valentine" life-form and sister of Ramlethal, whose kind-hearted nature caused her to rebel against the Conclave's plans. Along with a comical series of attacks from her rose bouquet, she uses two ranged magi-tech weapons in battle (her "Ms. Confille" rifle for long ranges and "Ms. Travailler" shotgun for close ranges), both of which require a separate stance change (where she has limited mobility and firing/reloading mechanic). Added in Console versions as paid DLC on December 16, 2014, and added in the Arcade version on March 19, 2015.
- Leo Whitefang - The Second King of the United Kingdoms of Illyria and a friendly rival of Ky Kiske. He fights with twin cross-shaped blades (held underside) and has an alternate "Brynhildr" stance (with his back towards the opponent) for pressuring. Added in Console versions as paid DLC on December 23, 2014, and added in the Arcade version on March 19, 2015.