Fight across the Skydom!
What They Say:
Granblue Fantasy has soared into the hearts of millions since its release as a browser game for smartphones in 2014, and will celebrate its sixth birthday in March 2020. Featuring Cygames’ high-quality art, captivating sound design, and an ever-expanding game system, Granblue Fantasy has continued to charm its fans throughout the years.
Now Cygames has partnered with Arc System Works, known for such popular fighting franchises as GUILTY GEAR and BlazBlue, to bring Granblue Fantasy to the world of fighting games, complete with top-notch game design and one-of-a-kind 3D graphics.
Granblue Fantasy is an extremely popular role-playing game that was released back in 2014. The game is celebrating its sixth birthday this month and what better way to celebrate than with Granblue Fantasy: Versus, a fighting game based off of it!? I know a lot of people that play the Granblue Fantasy mobile game and they seem to enjoy it. I never really got around to trying it myself. I’m more of a rhythm mobile gamer. That being said, I don’t have much knowledge about the Granblue Fantasy world. I did watch part of the first season of the anime so I guess I do have a little. On the other hand, I know a lot about Arc System Works. They’ve made some of my favorite fighting game series of all time – Blazblue, P4 Arena, and Guilty Gear. As far as fighting games are concerned, they have my trust. When I heard that Arc System Works were the ones behind this game, I was very excited. Does Granblue Fantasy: Versus deserve a place alongside the fighting game series I previously mentioned? Let’s find out!
As far as fighting games go, Granblue Fantasy: Versus is probably one of the most beginner-friendly games I’ve ever come across. It’s definitely much simpler than the fighting games Arc System Works is usually known for. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I can certainly appreciate companies wanting to get new players into fighting games. Making the controls simple is one method to achieve that. A lot of fighting games these days have that one button you can just mash to land auto combos. Well, Granblue Fantasy: Versus has three buttons that let you do that! Mashing the buttons for weak attack, medium attack, and strong attack all lead to auto combos. Sadly, lost in all of this are the flashy combos that you’d find in other fighting games which I love. It just feels so good when you pull off a combo you’ve worked hard on mastering, you know? Again, Granblue Fantasy: Versus is a more simple fighter that hopes to attract newer fans. It’s understandable that there isn’t a focus on combos. Of course, if you manage to get your opponent into the corner, you’re in for a good time. Your opponent, not so much.
Every character also has a unique action that’s kind of like a special move only they can do. Each character also has four special attacks attributed to a directional input. The harder you hit with these special attacks, the longer the cooldown is for using them again. Everyone also has an overhead attack which is great. Mix one of those in when your opponent is blocking your attacks. Of course, you can always grab them and hit them with a grapple attack which is always fun. I don’t need to tell you that defense is important. Besides blocking, you can dodge attacks or perform a cross-over which is an invulnerable dash towards your opponent. Learning how to time your dodges and cross-overs will prove invaluable in this game. As for special moves, every character has a Skybound Art and a Super Skybound Art. You’ve got to build your meter to 100% in order to use them. Thankfully, the meter charges rather quickly so you’ll be able to bust them out occasionally. But most importantly, at least to me, is that these Skybound Arts are some of the most beautiful-looking specials I’ve seen in any fighting game. They’re absolutely gorgeous. I freaking love Ladiva’s Skybound Art where she slams the opponent onto the mat inside a wrestling ring and the ref counts the 1, 2, 3 for the pinfall! Even better, if she doesn’t finish the opponent off with that move, the ref stops the count before reaching 3. I love little details like that.
Character-wise, the roster is quite slim. As of launch, there are only 11 playable characters. On the bright side, two DLC characters, Narmaya and Beelzebub, are also available at launch. While I wish there were more characters to choose from, the ones that are in the game are all great. They’re honestly a fun bunch. As a whole, Granblue Fantasy: Versus probably has one of my favorite roster of characters based on their personalities. Each character also brings their own unique playstyle to the table. Anyone else maining Ferry? She’s a great zoner and I love being able to create space. As a huge wrestling fan, I’m also quite fond of Ladiva. Since she’s a wrestler, it’s no surprise that a lot of her moves involve grappling and getting in close to your opponent to deal massive damage. Also, she’s just awesome in every way possible. If you like rushing down your opponent, Lancelot is your guy. If you like relying on luck, Lowain is your bro. He’s a really cool dude, too. If you want balanced characters, Gran and Katalina are the way to go. No matter your playstyle, you’ll find the right character for you!
Practice makes perfect, yeah? Before you take on the world, you might want to get some training in. Luckily, Granblue Fantasy: Versus has an excellent training mode. The tutorial is actually quite helpful and does a good job of teaching you the basics. There are numerous training missions you can do to help you better your understanding of the game. My favorite feature is the match-up lessons. You get detailed advice on how to deal with certain situations against each character. It’s a fantastic way to learn about each of the characters and how to beat them. And of course, training mode is there to help you practice anything you want. By the way, I really love being able to control what the training dummy does in certain situations in training mode.
The original Granblue Fantasy game was a role-playing game. I was surprised to learn though that Granblue Fantasy: Versus has an RPG Mode. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a fighting game that had an RPG mode. Honestly, I was really excited to try it out! Unfortunately, my excitement was short-lived. I wanted to walk through towns, talk to random people, and explore dungeons. I did not get to do any of that. Well, I did get to talk to random people. Hilariously, I think every random character that wasn’t a part of the roster or important to the story had the same sprite. They had different voices, but they all looked the same. It made me chuckle every time. I wonder if the same person did all the voices? Anyway, the story itself was okay, I guess. Like I said at the start, I’m not very familiar with the world of Granblue Fantasy. I like the characters, I just don’t know their stories. Would have I enjoyed the story more if I played the mobile game? Maybe. Who knows?
As for what you do in RPG mode, you go from island to island and defeat enemies to progress the story. It basically plays like a beat ’em up. Most of the enemies aren’t much of a challenge. On each island, you’ll save one or more of the characters on the game’s roster from corruption. While those fights are a bit more challenging, they’re still not too difficult. The most challenging fights are usually the boss battles at the end of an island. Not going to lie, some of those battles were pretty fun. As you cut their HP down, it becomes a race against the clock and you have to dish out enough damage to defeat the boss or else they’ll land their final attack and you’re back to square one. I should mention that you can always bring one character with you to these fights beside the one you’re controlling. You can have the computer control your partner, you can couch co-op it, or you can request someone online to help you out.
There’s also character progression in RPG mode. You start at Level 1 and can level up all of the characters up to Level 80. You can also collect and upgrade weapons. You gain weapons and materials from enemy drops. Of course, if you don’t want to grind for materials, you can always try your luck with the Gacha. They just had to include that in the game somehow, huh? Gachas haunt my dreams. Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of any of this. It didn’t matter to me what weapon I had as long as it could get the job done. Thus, I didn’t feel the need to grind. Although, there are a lot of cool weapon skins that I wouldn’t mind having. I’ll probably go back and grind for those. You also unlock Hard mode once you complete the story. In the end, RPG mode was a big disappointment for me. I can only hope that Granblue Fantasy: Relink does a better job in that department. Or maybe I could just play the mobile game.
There’s also Arcade mode which is a standard in any fighting game. And of course, if you really want to test out your skills, there’s online play. Why are the lobbies so adorable? I love walking around with my chibi Ferry! Anyway, my online experience wasn’t too bad. Well, besides me getting my butt whooped by Japanese players who had already played over 1,000 matches online. But that’s a story for another time! Just let it be known that I got my revenge, eventually. Only a few of my matches had significant lag. I’m still not the biggest fan of delay-based netcode though. I imagine the online experience will differ from person to person.
Lastly, the graphics for Granblue Fantasy: Versus are simply stunning. I love the cel-shaded style that Arc System Works uses. It’s gorgeous! Everything about this game is beautiful – the backgrounds, the character designs, the stages, and the animations. I’m also a huge fan of the music. There’s so many soothing tracks and I would often find myself relaxed just listening to the soundtrack. I also think the most underappreciated thing about the game is the fact that it has English voices! If I’m being honest, I didn’t think they’d bother with it but I’m pleasantly surprised that they did! It’s always nice to have the option to switch between English and Japanese voices.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus is a fighting game that’s worth trying. New to fighting games? No problem! This game is very beginner-friendly and you shouldn’t have too much trouble picking things up. To all you fighting game veterans out there, there’s still some enjoyment to be had with this game. Even though there’s less emphasis on combos, it’s still a fun game. It’s not without its flaws though. The RPG mode was a big disappointment. I really wish there were more characters to choose from. However, the characters that are in the game are all wonderful. Ferry mains, where you at?! The entire game is a feast for the eyes. The visuals are breathtaking and are second to none! The soundtrack is phenomenal. I don’t think the game is at the level of a Blazblue or a Guilty Gear just yet. Although, I think it certainly has the potential to be. Only time will tell.
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Cygames and ARC SYSTEM WORKS
Genre: Fighting, Role-Playing
Age Rating: T for Teen
Number of Players: 1-2
Release Date: March 3, 2020 (North America), March 27, 2020 (Europe)
Platform: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Microsoft Windows
This review was done with a review copy provided by the publisher. We are grateful for their continued support.