Gacha games are evil and you shouldn’t play them.
Now that we got that out of the way I just want to say that I’ve grown a huge amount of appreciation for Granblue Fantasy. I originally started playing it last year but have become somewhat obsessed with it over the past month. It’s simple, but it’s somewhat engaging and its characters and use of world-building offer something very different and engaging that I don’t see in a lot of other mobile games. Yes, it’s still a gacha based slot machine time sink, but I find the core gameplay to be satisfying enough to keep playing. Now what made me want to start playing this game, to begin with? Well as I’m sure I’ve made obvious several times on this website I am a big fan of fighting games and around 2018 or so Cygames announced that they were getting ArcSys to develop a fighting game based on Granblue. I thought the game looked gorgeous and I’m always willing to give a new fighting game a shot so I eagerly anticipated the announcement of a release date.
I then proceeded to wait for that information for well over a year and then they announced that Japan and Asian territories would be getting the game on February 26th while North America would be getting it on March 6th and Europe a full ass month later.
So then I bought the Hong Kong version because it had an English option and that’s how we’re going to be talking about it today.
Granblue Fantasy Versus is a 1 on 1 fighting game that is somewhat of a departure from ArcSystemWorks normal fighting game outings. It doesn’t have the high-intensity speed of games like Guilty Gear or Dragon Ball FighterZ as it’s a lot slower paced and in my opinion much more manageable. If I were to compare it to something I would say it’s a lot like Street Fighter IV with a run option as it has less of a focus on combos and more so rewards players for having good setups and hit confirms. GBFVS is also the simplest ArcSys game I’ve played yet since the control scheme is practically tailor-made for people that normally don’t touch fighting games. The game uses 4 buttons for attacks (Light, Medium, Heavy, Unique Action) and an additional 2 buttons for skills and guarding, though you can perform those actions without the use of them. What really shocked me about the neutral game of GBVS was that it uses proximity normals. If you don’t know-“Proximity Normals” basically means that the properties and animations of your standard attacks change depending on how close you are to the opponent. While the game doesn’t do it exactly the same as other games (you can cancel specials and supers out of them) it was still really cool to see them back in a fighting game.
In addition to that, all up close normal attacks lead into auto-combos which means if you’re a button masher you’re going to ABSOLUTELY adore this game. Every move is easy to pull off as well, especially with the skill button which lets you pull off supers and specials without the need for complicated inputs, and is capped off with a really neat in-game tutorial that gives a surprisingly in-depth look into how the game is played. I think Granblue Fantasy Versus is the perfect fighting game for beginners as it provides the perfect balance of what a fighting game needs to be, being difficult to learn but hard to master. Hell, the online is even decent too (if you can find American players for a game that’s not out in the States yet). Honest to god this is the game Street Fighter V wishes it could be.
Now, what if you want to play this game by yourself because you expect a full-priced game to have content? Well, good news! GBFVS just…straight up has an entire RPG inside of it! Oh, it has an arcade mode too but should that even need to be stated? RPG Mode is where the real meat of the game lies as its where you’re going to find the majority of the games unlockables (weapon skins, colors) and is pretty beefy in length in terms of a fighting game story. Damn thing clocks in a good 4-4 1/2 hours if you’re skipping all the cutscenes and for what it is? It’s pretty fun. It’s more or less a standard beat ’em up with a bit of the mobile game sprinkled in. You fight waves of enemies, big bosses with GORGEOUS set pieces, buy and level up weapons, grind for materials to craft a good weapon, hoard draw tickets so you can try to pull more good weapons but fail at getting the one you want so you keep grinding tickets until you hopefully maybe get the item you want from a virtual slot machine.
Now I said this mode was great for what it was…buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut I ended up hating it in the end. Why? Because I had to play the damn thing 3 times. Twice on Normal, once on Hard. Now you may be asking “Hunter, why on Earth would you do that?” WELL. You actually get bonuses for the Granblue mobile game if you beat RPG Mode on medium and hard. Sounds easy enough, right? Well the problem was that I beat RPG Mode the first time on my normal Playstation account, NOT the account I bought the game with, and the game won’t let you reap those rewards unless you’re on that account. So I beat it. Again. And unlocked hard mode. Again. Then I went through the tedious HELL that was hard mode and after a combined total of 8 HOURS, got the reward I wanted. All that time with RPG Mode really made me notice its flaws a lot more and the longer I played, the more frustrated I became with it. Stages last far too long and none of your upgrades and extra skills really feel like they’re doing a difference outside of the healing abilities. It just became taxing after a while but I can at least say this mode has a lot of replay value. There’s a lot to do here and unlock and if you’re the kind of person that enjoys that kind of thing? Cool. Awesome. Me? I may go back to it and get a few more weapon skins but that’s about it. I’m sick of looking at the damn thing.
Now before we wrap up, I want to talk about the elephant in the room. This game is just stunning. ArcSystemWorks continues to perform absolute black magic with their fighting games and having them look and animate beautifully while respecting the source material. Characters are insanely detailed and expressive and the stages show a wonderful amount of vibrancy and character to them. This really does look like a 3D version of the mobile game and is easily the best any of these characters have ever looked. RPG Mode even takes this a step further and shows off these amazing arenas and monster designs during key boss fights. The music as well is really catchy and suits the gameplay perfectly with how intense and sometimes frenetic it can be. I really enjoy a lot of the character themes and while I wouldn’t go as far as to say the OST is a new fighting game classic, I think it does the job really well.
Also, the English dub is really good.
Granblue Fantasy Versus is a wonderful fighting game for both new and veteran fans of the genre. What it lacks it hyper complexity it more than makes up for in content, charm, and engaging simplicity. While I have my problems with the RPG Mode, it provides a great amount of value to the package and you’ll probably get a lot out of it if you’re a massive Granblue fan and really, I can say that about the game as a whole. Even if you aren’t a fan of Granblue Fantasy or have ever heard of it, you owe it to yourself to get this game if you have a passing interest in fighting games.