Offense is the act of directly attacking the opponent, forcing them to block. All characters possess universal attack moves in addition to their unique Special Attacks, Overdrive Attacks, Force Breaks, and Instant Kills. They do not appear in command lists, and mostly do not require Tension to be used.
There are four—five since Guilty Gear XX—basic command attacks that can be used to damage the enemy: punching, kicking, slashing, heavy slashing, then Dust attacks. Like all fighting games, these and more advanced commands can be used in sequence as a "combo" for a cohesive series of hits.
At a basic level, hitting an opponent's hurtbox will cause damage. However, a number of factors will determine whether an attack is effective or not.
Attacks come in three broad categories—strikes, projectiles, throws—that define how they interact with other attacks; generally, attacks of the same category will clash. "Strikes" are the most common and are basically any standard, blockable attack. "Projectiles" become entities independent of the attacker, like Ky's Stun Edge. Each projectile has a durability level: When two projectiles of equal level clash, each will lose one hit (i.e. a 3-hit projectile becomes a 2-hit one, a 1-hit projectile disappears), while higher level projectiles will nullify lower level ones without losing any hits. "Throws" are short-ranged unblockable attacks. Some attacks are invulnerable (or invincible) only to certain types.
Since Guilty Gear X, a Counter Hit (カウンターヒット, Kauntā Hitto?) occurs when hitting an opponent out of their move, signalled by a "Counter!" on screen. They increase hitstun or cause special effects such as wall bounces or ground slides. In general, the higher Attack Level, the more additional off-balance time is inflicted. Hitting an opponent when their R.I.S.C. Level is flashing will be a guaranteed Counter Hit. Counters do not inflict additional bonus damage, but they usually enable stronger combos.
Clashes (相殺, Sōsai?) happen when two opposing hitboxes touch each other while avoiding each other's hurtboxes. During a clash both characters can cancel their attack into: any attack, a jump if the attack is jump cancellable, forward runs on ground, forward Air-Dashes or Double Jump in mid-air if air options are available, a Faultless Defense, or—in the Xrd games—a Blitz Shield. The cancel timing window is very small, however. In Xrd, when a clash occurs, there is a random chance that the game will enter Danger Time (デンジャータイム, Denjā Taimu?). Both players are given 25% Tension, and after a three-second countdown, a temporary period starts in which all hits will inflict 20% more damage. In addition, Mortal Counters (モータルカウンターヒット, Mōtaru Kauntā Hitto?) become available. With "Mortal!" appearing on-screen, it triggers Counter Hit effects but also more hitstop, time slow, and enables cancelling into anything that a clash can cancel into.
Also called "normals". They require nothing more than a single press of a button, and are a player's main means of attacking. There is a different variation for each when done while standing, crouching, or jumping.
- Punch (パンチ, Panchi?) - Usually a fast move with low recovery and safe, but have little damage and reach, as well as high scaling. They usually can combo into themselves, and in some cases, into other normals on whiff. Standing punches are mainly fast, short-range pokes, or low risk anti-air attacks; crouching punches are usually fast, sometimes safe, and are good for okizeme; jumping punches are for short-range air confirms, rising anti-air, or air-to-air guard pressure.
- Kick (キック, Kikku?) - The all-around button. Usually carries a myriad of functions, from anti-air, pokes, and sometimes standing low attacks. Usually can Gatling combo all around, or may even combo into a Sweep. Standing kicks strike a balance of speed and range; crouching kicks predominantly are most characters' quickest low normal with decent reach; jumping kicks tend to mostly be air-to-air pokes or jump-in buttons.
- Slash (斬り, Kiri?) - A button which usually utilizes a character's weapon, meaning higher damage and ranged attacks. It has two variations, depending on if the character is close or far from its foe. Close slashes tend to be punish starters with big hitboxes, limited by their activation range; far-standing slashes are usually long-ranged pokes of moderate speed; crouching slashes range in utility from anti-airs, alternate pokes, or blockstring enders which are safe; jumping slashes vary from air-to-air or air-to-ground and slower than jumping kicks but higher reward.
- Heavy Slash (大斬り, Daigiri?, lit. Big/Great Slash) - A high damage button with many purposes. They tend to: have the most range and damage, work best early in combos as they scale the least out of all buttons, and gain strong effects on Counter Hit (like launching, become untechable, or adding slide, bounce, or stagger). Standing heavy slashes tend to be a big ranged attack that are slow but powerful; crouching heavy slashes are usually a slow uppercut-like anti-air move or serves another purpose, sometimes they are safe or carry extra effects; jumping heavy slashes are very often a go-to for air combos.
Forward Thrust Attack
Forward Thrust Attacks (レバー入れ特殊技, Rebā-ire Tokushu Waza?, lit. Lever-input Unique Arts), or Command Normals, are common to all characters. With or (the latter added in Guilty Gear X), keeping the right directional button pressed down while attacking will transform the attack. Certain characters can use it with , too, while Bridget can only do it with . Most forward punches have some form of upper-body invulnerability and are useful as anti-air attacks, while forward heavy slashes are mostly slow, far-reaching attacks.
A Throw (投げ, Nage?), also called a Fierce Strike, is a short-ranged instant attack that cannot be blocked nor chained into (with the exception of staggered opponents). One must press or + when close to the opponent to body toss them; the directional button will determine where they will be thrown to. Since XX, they can be done during Jumps. Ideally, an aerial Throw is done by being slightly below the enemy and rising up to meet them; they are also used to throw people out of techs or Bursts. During a Dash or Backstep the character cannot use Throws, and a miss will turn into a forward or backward . On the other hand, they have no start-up at all, enabling the player to do a Throw during a wake-up even if the opponent already has an attack out.
Some characters also possess "command throws", which are similar to Throws with startup/whiffing animations and are input with a motion. On the whole, they inflict more damage than basic Throws and often have better follow-up possibilities. They also have more range, can be canceled into from normals, and can be done while running. However, they have startup frames so they usually cannot be used safely as reversals unlike regular Throws can be.
Opponents cannot always be thrown. This happens when: the opponent is in hitstun (plus 6 frames after), or is in blockstun (plus 5 frames after), or is knocked down (plus 7 frames after); the opponent is airborne and a ground Throw is used, or viceversa; the opponent uses an attack that is Throw invincible (e.g. Baiken's forward ). Regarding priority, Throws always win against strikes, but lose against command throws. When a normal Throw is used against another Throw, a Throw Break (投げ抜け, Nage Nuke?) will occur in the Λ Core and Xrd series: It will push both characters away from each other and back into a neutral situation.
In the original Guilty Gear, each character has an aerial combo Launcher which is performed by pressing + . This overhead attack bypasses crouching Guards, and if the player connects with it via grounded hit, the opponent will be spun around and knocked down, becoming temporarily defenseless. As the opponent is launched into the air, one must immediately hold to follow with a Chase Jump (チェイスジャンプ, Cheisu Janpu?) and attack with a multi-hit, mid-air Gatling Combo.
In Guilty Gear X, this move was renamed Dust Attack (ダストアタック, Dasuto Atakku?). In Guilty Gear XX, it was assigned its own button, Dust (ダスト, Dasuto?) . Furthermore, its follow-up is renamed a Homing Jump (ホーミングジャンプ, Hōmingu Janpu?); after reaching a certain height in the Homing Jump, the background will change from the normal stage graphics to a burning blue display. At any time before the background changes, all air normals are cancellable into each other, allowing players to perform combos which would normally be impossible. Of note is that hitting an airborne or downed opponent will not result in a Dust Attack air combo opportunity, as it instead inflicts a different type of minor hit effect (a small knockdown launch on airborne hit for example).
The Xrd games introduce the Homing Dash (ホーミングダッシュ, Hōmingu Dasshu?) follow-up with . For a short period of time, all normals can cancel into each other freely and force the opponent into a tumble state on hit. The opponent will wall stick if they reach the corner of the stage, enabling corner combos.
Sweeps (足払い, Ashibarai?, lit. Leg Sweep), which first appeared in Guilty Gear X, are done by pushing + while crouching. Since Guilty Gear XX, the command is + . If this attack hits the opponent, they will be knocked down, i.e. they cannot bounce back from the attack with a Recovery move. They provide a great alternative to Dust Attacks as they must be guarded against low. For the most part unlike most sweeps in other flexible-chain-combo fighting games, sweeps in the Guilty Gear series can only be cancelled into specials or Overdrives, or with an RC.
Dead Angle Attack
A Dead Angle Attack (デッドアングルアタック, Deddo Anguru Atakku?) is a special attack done during a Guard. In Guilty Gear, when blocking an opponent's attack, quickly inputting a Special Move command will cancel one's blocking animation and strike the enemy while they are still attacking. This is changed in Guilty Gear X. At the instant the player guards against an attack, pushing plus any two attack buttons simultaneously will produce the counterattack from the guard position only if the Tension Gauge is at 50% or above.
It is an invincible attack, but it deals little damage. Its function is to knock the opponent away and stop their offensive momentum. Dead Angle Attacks cannot deplete an opponent's life to 0, nor can any move that follows it in a combo. Using this move will reduce the amount of Tension gained by 80% for 4 seconds.
Blitz Attacks (ブリッツシールド チャージアタック, Burittsu Shīrudo Chāji Atakku?, lit. Blitz Shield Charge Attack) are featured in Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator-. When performing a ground Blitz Shield, holding the button will charge the Blitz Attack (until the character glows red), and releasing the button unleashes the counterattack. While charging, most attacks are rejected. A Blitz Attack can be repelled by an opponent's Blitz Shield unless it is fully charged, at which point it also gains a greatly increased Attack Level.
At partial charge, it causes horizontal blowback with Wall stick; at max charge or on Counter Hit at partial charge, it crumples (on ground) or floats with Wall stick (on air). Partial charge version has 55% initial proration, while the fully charged version does not prorate. It always steals a small amount of the opponent's Burst Gauge on hit regardless of charge.