Granblue Fantasy Versus Review | Reviews | Backlog Battle

Granblue Fantasy Versus Review | Reviews | Backlog Battle

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15% off on your purchase at! What’s up everyone? Alex here! I must admit that it’s been a long time
since I seriously dug into a fighting game, and, by that, I mean picking a main, knowing
the matchups, practicing BnB combos, and, generally, getting good! So why, pray tell, am I reviewing Granblue
Fantasy Versus? As it turns out, this fighting game – much
like Arc System Works’ work on Persona 4 Arena and Ultimax before it – is based on
a popular free to play turn based RPG that I’d never heard of! Naturally, as someone who’s always keen
on learning and discovering new things, I dove right in, playing, researching, and absorbing
as much Granblue Fantasy as I could prior to making this review! The result? Backlog Battle’s first ever review of a
fighting game, Granblue Fantasy Versus! Granblue Fantasy Versus is a traditional 2D
fighting game co-developed by Arc System Works and Cygames. It’s because of this that Granblue Fantasy
Versus is an authentic Granblue Fantasy experience, managing to not only honor how the original
game plays, but also successfully blending it with Arc System Works’ fun and meticulous
fighting game design. The game features characters from the long
running free to play mobile RPG and offers a season pass to extend its roster. Given that there’s a considerable amount
of depth and choice in Granblue Fantasy Versus’ gameplay, I’ll be quick to admit that I
won’t be able to offer detailed system and character breakdowns that hardcore fans of
the genre will want to hear. However, given that the game’s design has
a lot of unique, built-in features – such as a full fledged RPG Mode and expanded simplified
inputs – I will be focusing my review to talk about these features in greater detail while
lightly touching upon its various other parts. Looking through Arc System Works’ library
of incredible fighting games, Granblue Fantasy Versus feels as though it’s deliberately
slowed the pace of combat compared to the developers’ more recent releases. However, long time fans of fighting games
know that slowing down the pace of combat doesn’t necessarily equate to easy wins. Granblue Fantasy Versus also contains some
now-standard Arc System Works gameplay features such as clashing and just guards. But the speed of combat and the inclusion
of these familiar elements aren’t the only things that make Granblue Fantasy Versus’
system unique. For starters, every character’s special
moves are represented as cooldown meters reminiscent of modern MMOs. The more powerful the attack button you use
to execute said move, the longer you’ll have to wait until that special move becomes
available. This creates situations where you or your
opponent may have fewer tools to use to retaliate or defend themselves. For example, if your opponent misses or whiffs
an anti-air special move using their most powerful attack, they’ll have fewer options
to protect themselves from jump-in attacks because this move will be on cooldown. In addition to three different attack button
strengths, each character also has a unique move that you can activate using the X button,
and – an interesting addition – a dedicated block button in R2. You can also block attacks by holding back
or back down on your joystick or D-pad, but having a dedicated block button can help newcomers
feel a bit more confident as they focus on learning how to properly defend, counter,
and punish their opponents. If you don’t play fighting games often – or,
at all – Granblue Fantasy Versus offers a plethora of options that displaces the game’s
more technical execution requirements into a simple button press or two. For example, auto-combos can be executed through
the repeated pressing of the Square, Triangle, or Circle buttons, executing a 3 hit combo
as a result. From there, executing a special move to follow
it up can simply be done by pressing the R1 button at the end of the combo. In order to provide more specificity, you
can either press the forward, back, or down direction when pressing R1 to control what
special attack executes. Speaking as someone more used to the technical
execution of fighting games, and who had a certain amount of pride in my dexterity, this
provided a daunting challenge, especially with my aging reflexes. Muscle memory has its own way of taking over,
and choosing between two different ways of executing special moves, often left me with
decision paralysis mid-battle. Nevertheless, it’s great that the option
is there for everyone else! Perhaps the biggest advertised feature of
Granblue Fantasy Versus is its RPG Mode, which comes with an all original story that takes
players through a variety of locales, engaging in skirmishes with enemies of all types, along
with screen filling boss battles! The story is told through a series of quests,
with dialogue presented in a visual novel inspired format, fully voiced in both English
and Japanese. Most of the English voice cast are comprised
of the same actors and actresses who voiced the characters in the anime, alongside newcomers
whose characters were never voiced before. What’s so interesting about how I described
this is that – save for the voice acting – Granblue Fantasy Versus’ RPG Mode is an authentic
Granblue Fantasy experience, almost mirroring how the original game is played and presented. In fact, RPG Mode’s weapon grid system is
lifted almost entirely from the original game! Each grid has a slot for the main weapon you’d
like to use, which determines the kinds of skills that’ll be active and what elemental
affinity your character’s attacks will be dishing out. To improve your character’s HP and Attack,
you can equip additional weapons onto the weapon grid, and its HP and Attack bonuses
will be totalled and added to your current character’s stats. Each weapon has different rarities, designated
from N for Normal, to SSR or Specially Super Rare, with the latter offering more powerful
skills and stats. You power up your weapons by spending in-game
currency, to which you’ll eventually hit its level cap. In order to get past this, you will need to
have a weapon of the same type and rarity to consume. This then leads to some interesting quandaries:
Should you spend your resources to max out a SSR weapon with high stats, knowing that
finding another weapon to break its level cap might take a while? Or will you play it safe and invest resources
on more common weapons? You’ll find weapons in the game as either
quest rewards or as random rewards when redeeming tickets a la loot boxes, a reference to the
original game’s gacha mechanics. The battles in RPG Mode play like side-scrolling
brawlers blended with the game’s fighting engine, and the skills you’ve learned playing
your characters in other modes translate well here. One major difference is that pressing the
back direction immediately faces your character in the opposite direction. This means that executing special moves via
the R1 button is a highly preferred way of doling out special moves while playing in
this mode. Later in the story, you’ll be able to play
alongside the AI or a player controlled character, whether via online or locally, and is a fairly
entertaining way to go through the story with a friend or a loved one. While RPG Mode is one of the more entertaining
fighting game modes I’ve played in recent memory, the loading screens that break up
the action and the management of your weapons and characters leave something to be desired. Loading up a quest can take up a good bit
of time, often preceded by flavor text, followed immediately by a black screen with more loading. This isn’t made any better by the fact that
some quests have 2-3 “different” locales that also require a good amount of loading
in between. I say different in quotes because most of
the time, the new locale utilizes the exact same background, with maybe a revised rule
or two and a few new enemies. What winds up happening then, is that you
experience small bits of gameplay, in-between story sections of varying lengths, punctuated
by chunky portions of loading. It’s because of this that the RPG Mode’s
pacing is affected greatly, and instead of feeling like you’re making meaningful progress,
you feel as though you’re mostly waiting for the game to allow you to interact with
it. I recognize that there’s a necessity to
build this game mode around the core of Granblue Fantasy Versus – that being its fighting game
engine – but ultimately, the player experience in RPG Mode is compromised as a result. It’s unfortunate, because I feel that RPG
Mode is, in fact, a worthwhile distraction and a unique game mode that gives people a
taste of the original game. While the story of RPG Mode does take you
on a fun romp through familiar locales, it’ll only feel that way if you’ve actually interacted
or watched any Granblue Fantasy media. Coming into this game, I had cursory knowledge
of who Gran, Vyrn, Lyria, and Katalina were, but didn’t know anything about Rackems and
Io. RPG Mode’s story does very little to endear
new players to the cast, and I feel that this is a missed opportunity for Cygames to engage
with its new audience. That said, the storyline, strewn across 8-10
hours of gameplay, is par for the course for both the anime and the original game, in that
it is heavily plot driven and not so much interested in creating interesting character
moments that effectively show the motivations and personality of its cast. Beyond Granblue Fantasy Versus’ RPG Mode
however, is the true heart and soul of any Arc System Works’ fighter: competition! But despite its best efforts to get new players
into a battle quickly and fighting, you might think to yourself that you still need some
additional aid. That’s where the game’s Mission Mode comes
in! Mission Mode is a specialized mode that teaches
you everything about Granblue Fantasy Versus (and fighting games) and has you practically
apply these lessons in real time to ensure that you understood them. There’s a wide array of lessons here, ranging
from your typical basic tutorials, combo tutorials, to even learning how to punish characters’
special moves! Unfortunately, I am in no situation to truly
measure whether this mode is successful in its goal. After all, I’ve been entrenched in the fighting
game community and its games since the early 90s, and this prior knowledge muddies my understanding
of what new players really need to learn in order to enjoy fighting games. That said, I was really surprised how the
well game’s roster was integrated into the lessons, and I appreciate the ease in which
I can take as much or as little of the lessons as possible. It’s also quite appealing to see that even
with its most basic lessons that there are a variety of sub-objectives that players can
aim for in addition to the required task! This small change makes learning a lot of
fun, and slightly nudges players to learn more of the game’s nuances. As is standard for most fighting games, Granblue
Fantasy Versus features both ranked and online lobbies for online competition. However, playing matches online doesn’t
feel all that great. It’s at this time that I want to remind
everyone that playing anything online before actual copies of the game in that region get
released is never an accurate measure of its eventual performance. But given that my experience with its online
functionality isn’t all that great with so few people playing, I don’t see how it’s
going to improve when the game actually goes live. Disappointing as it is to hear that, yet again,
another Arc System Works’ fighting game doesn’t have good netcode, I am thankful
that much of the game feels like a solid, worthwhile package! As soon as I started the game, I was immediately
drawn into its vibrant and colorful world! It’s really breathtaking to see Arc System
Works’ technology in action, rendering 3D characters and environments as though they’re
traditional 2D cel animation, all with the greatest of ease. This, combined with the incredible amounts
of detail that the developers put into the design of every UI element, logo, and artwork,
and you’ll be quickly inclined to forgive small UI faux pas. What’s just as impressive, is the lineup
of characters that are a part of Granblue Fantasy Versus’ roster. The game has a mixture of characters that
range from the obvious Ryu-type personage in Gran, the diminutive knight in Charlotta,
to the ever lovable and fourth wall breaking Lowain. And these character designs, in conjunction
with their intro and outro animations in matches, do so much to breathe personality in them,
encouraging players to start thinking of who they might want to play as next just by the
basis of who they like. I can honestly say that there hasn’t been
a fighting game roster in a long time that’s excited me as much as the roster in Granblue
Fantasy Versus, and a part of me wants to spend the time to learn as much of these characters
as I can just because the game is just so gorgeous to look at! But Granblue Fantasy Versus isn’t just a
feast for the eyes, but also for the ears as well! Many of the game’s compositions are so catchy
and rousing that I’ve listened to the entire soundtrack on loop! I was really surprised how much of its songs
transcended the game that it was written for, reminding me of some of the more elaborate
and incredible compositions I’m used to hearing from some of the best RPG soundtracks. Given how many of the original game’s songs
were, in fact, composed by the legendary Nobuo Uematsu, it shouldn’t have been a surprise
to me that Granblue Fantasy Versus’ soundtrack would uphold the established quality of his
compositions and properly evoke an epic feeling of adventure. Granblue Fantasy Versus is a game that I didn’t
think I’d really get into. But after playing for so many hours in its
various modes, I found a lot of enjoyment in trying out and experimenting with the different
characters that this roster offers. I find that its appeal to me is something
that goes well beyond how beautiful it looks and sounds, or even how charming its character
roster’s designs can be. It reminds me of a time that I spent countless
hours mastering combos, learning the many nuances of a fighting game, and really diving
deep into combo strings and videos that the community shared with one another. It’s a game that makes me want to pick up
technically challenging characters to want to try and learn, despite the numerous excuses
to myself that my eye-hand coordination isn’t as good. If Granblue Fantasy Versus was able to light
up that passion I once had for fighting games, what more for anyone curious enough to pick
up this game.

10 thoughts on “Granblue Fantasy Versus Review | Reviews | Backlog Battle”

  1. can't wait for the game tomorrow got the Premium Edition
    pre-ordered and ready to pick up. gonna go thur the story mode and such

  2. Ok, you have convinced me……cough even though I already preordered my copy and am still excited to play it cough. It really does sound like the game has a good amount of love into it, especially with the roster. Like you, I had some experience with the series but not much apart from reading up the characters, the lore and even some terms that a friend who is also a fan taught me. Still can't wait to try out the cast, go through RPG mode(may need to bring something to drink for those load times) and practice to see who I will use as my main. Apart from load times and the snafu of ArcSys netcode problems, this game still feels worth it in my book, since I was excited about the game the moment I heard it was coming out. Very soild review on the game and great to see that it resparked your want to get better with those characters and want to learn them. I feel the same way, so again great review and thanks for making my hype burn strong!

  3. Awesome review! Its been a hot minute since I've really gotten into a fighting game. BBTag was the last one. This looks amazing though, may be time to jump back in…..

  4. I don't understand what you mean when you say no one is playing here, tons of people imported and are playing on local servers.

  5. Great review. I started playing a few hours ago ago and and I love it. The textures on some of the closeups of the airship look a little rough but everything else runs great with nothing slowdowns. I haven't tried online yet but I will after I beat the RPG portion of the game.

  6. The graphics, character designs and voice acting look amazing. Just not into this type of combat, so kinda disappointed they went with a fighting game… it’s a shame.

  7. Hell yeah! Now that's the review I've been waiting for o(>ω<)o!! Been hyped for this game ever since it was announced and man I so can't wait to finally grab it this month (╯✧▽✧)╯!!! Definitely gonna try to master Metera, love her fighting style and daaaamn she's hawt (✧ω✧)!!

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