Tension is a highly important resource in Guilty Gear. It's located at the bottom of the screen and directly affects many of your attack options. Perfect utilization of the Tension Gauge can often be the deciding factor of a win or loss. Knowing each of the features and subtleties of the Tension Gauge system is a definite requirement for high-level play. The Tension Gauge is emptied at the start of every round, so don't be afraid to use it all each round if you can. The Tension Gauge is divided into two sections, each representing 50% Tension. The gauge displays one gear for each metered action you can take, for a maximum of two.
To increase the Tension Gauge, perform some type of offensive action. This includes attacking the opponent, or simply advancing towards them. As a general rule: the more aggressive the action against the opponent, the faster the Tension Gauge will fill up. Performing these kinds of actions increase Tension Balance, which in turn dictates the amount of Tension gained.
Normal Attacks have a base Tension Gain on hit or block. Special Attacks have a base Tension both on start-up, and upon touching the opponent on either hit or block.
Ground backdashing, backward airdashing, walking backward, standing still etc. will contribute towards Negative Penalty and the Tension Balance will slow down. Experiment and notice that if you sit still or backdash a few times your Tension Gain off of movement, random hits, and blocked normals go down drastically.
The only way to spend less than 50 Tension at a time is through Faultless Defense or Instant Faultless Defense. All other metered actions will take half of your meter. Going into negative penalty will remove all of your Tension.
Tension Gain Penalty
Tension Pulse Penalty
Following its introduction in Guilty Gear XX, Psych Burst is possibly the most misunderstood feature of the game. While at first glance, it is merely a "combo breaker", there is actually much more to it. There are two different types of Bursts: Blue and Gold. Both have different effects, and understanding how each can be used is crucial to high-level play.
To perform a Psych Burst, press plus any other button with a full Burst Gauge (in other words, either +, +, + or +). The Burst will be blue or gold depending on what the character's current state. The differences between each are described below.
The Burst Gauge starts the match 100% filled and it is carried over between rounds; if you use your Burst at the end of one round, you will be waiting a while before you can use it again!
Disabling Psych Burst
Psych Bursts (namely Blue Bursts) can be temporarily disabled even with a full Burst Gauge. A red X will cover the Burst Gauge during this time.
Blue Bursts will be disabled while:
- Being thrown.
- Being hit by an Overdrive Attack.
- Getting hit by attacks that force the opponent in place in non-standard hitstun, such as a wall-splat state.
- Breaking the wall gives a high passive Tension gain bonus.
Your character will automatically gain Tension for a short duration. Positive Bonus also increases damage dealt by 10% for its duration.
- Negative Penalty is basically a feature designed to keep gameplay interesting.
While the common misconception is that it actually stops people from turtling, it really just deters players from avoiding any type of contact for a prolonged period of time. If a character consistently attempts to backdash, jump back, and air backdash (or sits in one place and does nothing... which most opponents won't allow) a warning will appear over the Tension Gauge. If the player still keeps avoiding all types of contact "Negative Penalty" will appear, and that player will lose all stored Tension.
Keep-away or run-away tactics will not incur Negative Penalty if the player is actively using some form of offense. Even if it's passive, it's more than enough to not get penalized. For example, if an Axl player remains full screen and tries to keep the opponent away from him using long-range attacks, he will not get penalized.
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