Zato fills the role of Guilty Gear's puppet character archetype.
Paired with his shadow, Eddie, he dominates in neutral and possesses arguably the most overwhelming offense in the game. He manipulates the power of Eddie in many of his attacks, such as having him fight directly along side him to attack at the same time. When Eddie is summoned, you must utilize negative edge to coordinate them in such a way that they defend each other's recovery. In other words, Zato performs attacks with a press of a button while Eddie only attacks while the button is released. This alone can leave dealing with them on the other end of their offense to be frustrating, as their gapless pressure leave plenty of room for them to enforce mixups, although Zato's unique Eddie gauge that depletes during the shadows use forces him to eventually stop. The ability to control two characters is a nightmare for your opponents as Zato's pokes, drill specials, and flight paired with Eddie's pressure tools, anti-airs, and underground movement options are difficult to deal with when they are used as a team. Eddie can also take a hit for Zato, which while beneficial, means that you lose control over Eddie, so you will be left weakened with your only hope being flight and using drill summons to kill time for Eddie's recovery. Zato is a difficult character to get the hang of, but is a monster when you get used to controlling two characters as a coordinated team.
Zato's goal at the beginning of each match is to get the shadow out. He can achieve this goal by using his many ways to get a knockdown, his great pokes like f.S and 2S, and even summoning raw in neutral. His drill special leaves shadow puddles on the ground, which he can summon out of as well. Once Eddie is out, the next goal is to get the opponent blocking. After this Zato can create pressure and enforce mixups while the shadow keeps the opponent in blockstun, and can also acts as combo filler.
Zato-1 is a high-skill puppet character with a plethora of offensive options.
- Overwhelming Offense: This includes, high/low/fuzzy guard mix-ups, command grabs, unblockables, and never-ending block stings limited only by his shadow gauge.
- Practical Unblockable Setups: Has many reliable unblockable setups that do large amounts of damage, and can also lead you to end with full Eddie gauge.
- Excellent Space Control: Superior ground and air game with Eddie. Both Zato and Eddie can cover each other's recovery points and easily frustrate the opponent.
- Horrid Defensive Options: Low health with 0 guts and poor defense modifier, awful Dead Angle and weak reversal options.
- HEAVY Reliance on Eddie: Without Eddie, Zato is very limited. Zato's poor hurtboxes and slow normals make him far less threatening when Eddie is not out and significantly weakens his neutral game.
- High Skill Floor: Unorthodox execution, extensive labbing time and having good knowledge and understanding of Zato's neutral game and Eddie control requires a large time investment.
Eddie is the name of Zato=1's puppet.
Eddie is controlled by the player, and can be used separately from Zato himself. Eddie is absolutely essential to Zato's game plan, and is basically half of the character. With Eddie, Zato becomes extremely threatening, but without Eddie, Zato becomes very weak.
Zato has a unique resource called Shadow Meter which is used to summon Eddie.
After Eddie has been hit, the Shadow Meter will be locked to its depleted state. After a brief period of time the Meter will replenish. Whenever Eddie is used, the Shadow Meter will constantly deplete.