Burst is easily one of the more characteristic features of Guilty Gear (and games inspired by it). At first glance, it's a renewable, separate meter bar that gives you an occasional “Get out of combo free card” that you can use approximately once a round. If you use it when you're not getting hit, you can even fill your meter with it! This is how most inexperienced players see it, and it makes sense, from a design standpoint, why that may be a useful thing. Unfortunately for inexperienced players (And fortunately for the metagame), it's not that simple.
If you don't care about higher-level mind games in Guilty Gear and want to stop reading here, just take this advice: Never burst against anyone good. You'll probably win more than if you burst like a scrub.
The True Face of Burst:
Still reading? Okay, here's the ugly truth about burst: It's just an attack. It animates like an attack. It has startup and active and recovery frames like an attack. To get technical, it's actually two attacks, but blue burst is more interesting, we'll talk about gold burst later. The cool thing about blue burst, of course, is that it's the only attack you can do during hitstun. It also has some invulnerability because, well, it would kind of suck if it didn't. In fact, as it turns out, it has invulnerability all the way up to and through the active frames. However, there are some problems with burst: It's not throw-invincible, it's kind of slow, it's blockable, and it's got a lot of recovery. Therefore, just like dragon punches and throws and just about any other attack in the game, it can be baited, and it can be punished.
Ancient Kung-Fu Secrets: How to see a burst
Just like anything else, to beat a burst, you have to know it's happening. The startup are generally very subtle animations, so they are visually hard to confirm, even though they have 19 frames of startup. Sometimes, you can do this with a lucky guess, but I can't teach you how to be psychic. What I can teach you how to do is know what to look out for. There are three good indicators that a burst is happening:
- Momentum stops. One of the weird properties of burst is that the character completely stops their momentum and stays in one place to do it. In a game like Guilty Gear, where momentum is usually preserved, this can be very weird and obvious.
- Invulnerability is immediate. Even if you don't see the burst happening, you might notice that your attack went through the other character mid-combo. If you see this happen, though, it might be too late to do anything.
- The Burst meter disappears. This is the best indicator of a burst. It is the FIRST thing to happen when the other player presses burst, and it's obviously very visually distinct. If you watch the burst meter, you can visually confirm a burst when the meter disappears.
OH GOD WHAT DO I DO NOW?:
Now that you've seen/predicted the burst, you probably want to do something about it. Since a burst is just an attack, there are obviously some things you can do to avoid them:
- BLOCK. If you can get to neutral by the time a burst hits, you can block it (Preferably instant-block). Generally you will be neutral if:
- You were doing a short move/not doing a move when the burst happened.
- You can cancel whatever you were doing, with a jump, an FRC, whatever
[*]DODGE. If you're not where the burst is going to hit you, when it's going to hit you, you're obviously not going to get hit. To do this, you can generally:
- Actually be/move out of the way.
- Do something invincible through it.
[*]BEAT IT CLEAN. Bursts are strike-invincible all the way up through the active frames. You will never stuff a burst, and you will never trade with a burst. It just doesn't happen. If you want to beat a burst, be neutral and airthrow it. Bursts are always considered airborne, and they're never throw-invincible.
Note about gold bursts: Gold bursts are strike-invuln all the way through. Most gold-burst punishes are airthrows (Although you have 3 frames to ground throw after they land, too). That's pretty much all you can do about a gold burst.
How to avoid sucking: When not to burst
There are a ton of ways to bait a burst. Listing every single one for every single character? Probably would take a zillion years. Instead I'm going to clue you in on some general places to NOT burst:
- Fast moves. If there's a jab in their combo, it will bait your burst pretty well. Most jabs, for example, can start up, be active, and recover in less than 19 frames. That means by the time your burst hits, they're neutral, and you're going to get hurt.
- Movement in combos. Almost every kind of movement can be canceled. If there's a run or a jump or an airdash in their combo, it's probably a bad place to burst. Also note: If it's an air combo and they're at any point going downward, there's a good chance they'll fall through your burst if you do it. That's obviously bad, even if you're near the ground.
- Cancel points. If you know their move has an FRC in it, or can somehow otherwise cancel to some neutral state (Like jumping), or even a special (If they have something invincible to use), you probably shouldn't burst it.
Don't drop the soap!: Burst baiting as a reset
Getting burst baited, as anyone it's happened to can attest, can hurt like a bitch. You take a ridiculous amount of damage for it, sometimes. This is because the combo ends, the damage scaling resets, and you're in a brand new combo, from, if the other player knows how damage scaling works, what is probably an anti-air move with little or no proration. While this isn't a hard and fast rule, it's probably a bad idea to burst if the combo isn't going to do much damage (Because it's from a throw or something else that prorates like crazy). It can be the difference between a little chunk of health and your whole lifebar being gone.
Advanced Voodoo Magic: OS Burst
Some people try to bait bursts by delaying attacks in their combos. It's almost always a bad idea, but people do it. I certainly did, at one point. In fact, the first time I played Kyle Wattula, he yelled at me for it and then neutral-teched and beat me to death with a dolphin loop. Anyway, whether it's intentional or not, there will be occasions when you're unsure if you can tech, but want to burst if you can't. Like most situations where you have multiple options and don't know what's going to happen, this can sometimes be solved by an option-select. In this case, tapping a button (Not dust) and then quickly hitting Dust will option-select between teching and bursting. If you could have teched, you will tech from the first button-press. If not, you'll burst, because the input window for burst doesn't require you to hit the buttons simultaneously. The best part is, if you get the tech, the burst won't come out, because tech has recovery frames and you can't gold burst during them. This timing isn't hard, but you may want to practice it a little if you plan to use it, just to make sure you have it down.
Was that a DP?: Gold burst OS
Also notable is the throw/Gold burst option select, done by hitting 4 (or 6)+HS+D, with the D similarly slightly delayed. If done right, you will either successfully throw, or gold burst. You'll mostly use this for situations where you are unlikely to miss the throw unless the opponent does something throw-invulnerable through it.