When Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- hit the scene in 2014, it brought back Guilty Gear in a grand way, reinventing its own high-octane 2D fighting formula with an injection of 3D elements that not only put it in line with Street Fighter 2.5D releases, but arguably surpassed them in artistic and technical style. This was the second coming of the series and while it brought many of the things players loved about the series back, it lost a few characters and features perhaps considered extraneous to rebuilding its reputation as a premier fighting franchise. Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- is a continuation from where -Sign- left off and though it still doesn’t quite support a Guilty Gear XX-level cast of characters or features, it nonetheless continues to advance the excellence of the series with new characters, fan favorites, and a few new tricks.

The roster from -Sign- is entirely present, including DLC characters and they are joined by five new characters. Jam Kuroduberi and Johnny make their return to playable form. Jam has a rushdown martial arts style in which she can power up and chain several different kicking special attacks while Johnny is centered around a coin-throwing projectile attack that powers up a rapid sword strike and gives him greater options for combos. Each keeps most of their familiar techniques intact for long time fans while introducing a few new tricks that keep them fresh and balanced in a new generation of Guilty Gear.

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Longtime series antagonist Raven makes his playable debut for the first time in a Guilty Gear 2D fighting game alongside newcomers Jack-O’ and Kum Haehyun. Raven uses high mobility, projectiles, and damage sponging abilities to harass opponents at range, invite them in, and punish them hard. Meanwhile, Kum Haehyun is a young priestess utilizing a mech styled like a very large old man that dishes out hard hits and high damage specials. Jack-O’ is the stand out among the newcomers. She uses a metal jack-o’-lantern chained to her leg to dish out projectiles and command throws as well as being able to deploy little huts that spawn minions to attack opponents for her. While each new and returning character adds something unique to help round out Guilty Gear Xrd’s growing roster, only Johnny, Jam, and Jack-O’ are selectable from the get-go. Raven and Kum Haehyun are a different story. As of this time, they can downloaded to play for free, but following June 21, players will have to get Raven through in-game or DLC purchase while Haehyun will be exclusively purchasable with real money. The characters are balanced, so it's not really pay-to-win anyways, but it's a bit of a shame that those late to the party will have to work or pay to get a complete roster for PVP.

The mechanics of Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- continue to be one of the most extensive in all of fighting games. Much of it remains the same, but there are a few additions such as being able to deliver a charge attack following a blitz shield to punish players and set up new combos. To aid in learning all of the tricks, -Revelator- brings an updated version of the training mode found in -Sign-. Whether you need to learn basic mechanics, challenge yourself on character moves and combos, or train and formulate your own playstyle in a variety of scenarios, -Revelator- continues Guilty Gear’s standard of excellence in providing one of the most expansive and inviting training systems around.

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Of course, once you’ve learned the tricks of the trade, you’ll want to use them. For this purpose, -Revelator- gives you ample opportunity online and offline. Episode mode is your standard arcade affair, pitting you against a gauntlet of AI opponents. One of the more interesting new aspects here is that you can set the difficulty, or the AI will set it for you, calculating your skill and changing it appropriately after each match. Although it can start out easy, you’ll find end of game enemies effectively giving you a challenge suited to your skills. In addition, Battle Mode and M.O.M. Mode return with Battle Mode offering singular matchups between player vs player and player vs AI while M.O.M. has the player battle through growing tiers of enemies in which they can level up and earn skills for their selected character. Unfortunately, there’s still no sign of old series staples such as Mission Mode or Survival Mode at this time.

Once you feel comfortable taking on the world, -Revelator- is ready to provide. Player lobbies have been revamped, giving you a room in which you control a little avatar and can interact with different facets of online play. You can jump on any of the arcades for training or player matches or jump into ranked matches and battle for your place on the world stage. Ranked match lists are still a little slow in populating, but you can also set yourself to actively search for ranked matchups while you play other modes. Once in match, the game generally plays as smooth as it does offline. After dozens of online matches, we only had one where lag was an issue due to connection.

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Story Mode returns in -Revelator-, picking up immediately where -Sign- left off. The mode does well to get players up to speed and provide a meaningful continuation of one of the more interesting continuing stories in fighting games. Unfortunately, much like -Sign- the Story Mode in -Revelator- lacks playable features, instead playing out as an entirely view-only experience. Much as it keeps everything in line and provides a great addition to the lore of the Guilty Gear universe, the inability to take characters through their own story lines in a more interactive setting is something we miss. Moreover, the story continues to introduce familiar faces that aren’t playable in the game. As exciting as it is to see these faces and think they’ll be added later as Johnny was following his appearance in the ­-Sign- story, it still leaves us wishing we had them in the current roster.

Guilty Gear Xrd is continuing to stand out as the game that deserves to bask in the spotlight. -Revelator- doesn’t reinvent the wheel the way -Sign- did, but it does add a significant amount of content and gloss to what was already awesome. The new characters play well and each of the modes, customizations, and options continue to delight on every level from the simple to the mind-bendingly complex. We still found ourselves missing a few features from the old days and especially felt wanting at the ones that were teased within the content of the game, but -Revelator- doesn’t cheat the player out of a well-rounded and content-rich game. It delivers a premium fighting platform unmatched by pretty much anything else on the market and certainly leaves us chomping at the bit to see what Arc System Works has up its sleeves for future additions and entries.

This review is based on a digital copy of Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- provided by the publisher for PlayStation 4.