Guilty Gear -Strive- Will Have Rollback Netcode

Mar 9, 2020
Today Arc System Works announced that the latest in their flagship fighting series Guilty Gear -Strive- will have rollback netcode. Rollback netcode is often considered superior to the delay based netcode model typically used in Japanese fighting games. In delay based netcode your inputs do not happen in game until your opponent receives the packet that contains the input. While this method insures that both players are seeing the same gamestate, the delayed input gets progressively worse with larger pings or network degradation during the match. This delayed input can cause all kind of havoc in fighting games. Making tight combos harder to execute, marring defensive options by reducing the window a player has to react to an opponents moves, and causing the game to stutter and sometimes even come to a complete halt due to a lag spike.

Rollback netcode takes the opposite approach and operates similar to input prediction in multiplayer FPS titles. Player inputs are always executed on the frame they are detected on, and then that packet is sent to the opponent. In the mean time, the actions of your opponent are predicted based on previous inputs they had, so if an opponent was running forward in their last several packets, they will appear to continue to be running forward. If their are 4 frames of delay between each player, then it's possible for this prediction to be off by up to 4 frames (because of the nature of fighting games and characters being locked in animations, this will be less frequent than you'd expect). Rollback netcode deals with this by "fastforwarding" the opponent sprite to the next predicable state (usually the point in an attack animation they should be in). While this method can cause your opponent to "warp" or skip the first couple frames of an attack, the overall benefit of being able to react instantly is often times considered worth the tradeoff.

Personally, I've only played a couple games with rollback netcode but they feel miles better than the delay based ones. Delay based netcode wrecks me constantly, particularly in UNIST. One of the most annoying issues in that game is that your connection to an opponent is measured in "bars" instead of just flat out telling you what the frame delay will be. Sometimes you might get a 4 bar match (the best you can get) and still have 4 or 5 frames of input delay.

I wasn't sure about getting GG-Strive- since I'm not a huge Guilty Gear player in the first place, but an ArcSys game with rollback netcode just might be the sales pitch I need to give it a shot. Maybe FrenchBread will follow suit and implement it in UNICLR as well *shrug*
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