By Steve Baltimore / March 16th, 2020
|Title||Granblue Fantasy: Versus|
|Developer||Cy Games / Arc System Works|
|Release Date||March 3rd, 2020|
|Platform||PlayStation 4, Steam (coming soon)|
I’ve played the Granblue Fantasy mobile game off and on for a while now. A couple of my friends got me into it by showing me pictures of the various characters. I had always been interested in it, and when I was finally able to see Charlotta’s story, I became a fan. I don’t play the mobile game nearly as often as I should. I blame Azur Lane taking up all my spare time for this. I love this world and the characters in it, so I play when I find time. I was very excited to check out Granblue Fantasy: Versus when it was announced for PlayStation 4. The game had some of my favorite characters right out of the gate. I figured it featuring a brand new story with Gran in the crew meant this was likely going to be a ton of fun. Let’s see if I had a grand adventure or a big misstep.
The story begins with Gran fighting off imperials that are after Lyria, as always. They chase her because of her ability to control the primal beasts of this world. Lyria escapes imperial imprisonment with the help of Katalina and then meets Gran. Some life-threatening events took place that forced Gran and Lyria to join their life forces. The trio now travel the skies together, but for some reason Katalina has rejoined the imperial ranks and is now seeking to capture Lyria. They soon discover that creatures from the boundary called Exia are taking control of people and making them lose their memories. Gran helps Katalina remember who she was, and they once again set out to stop the imperials that are now on the move. Will they run into more friends that have lost their memories? Who is behind all of this? Time will tell!
The story mode plays out in what is called RPG Mode. It plays a bit different than the normal fighting game portion of Granblue Fantasy: Versus. The battles here play out more like a side-scrolling beat ’em up than a fighting game. I think this works really well, and this isn’t the first time something similar has been done. (Anyone remember TEKKEN Force?) This is much more fleshed out than that with huge boss battles, support skills you can unlock, weapon loadouts to upgrade and much more. Some of the boss battles can be very over the top. When fighting bosses they will get a large health gauge at the bottom of the screen. They will also have an overdrive gauge, and when this fills up they will go into overdrive mode. This will greatly increase their attack and defense, so be sure to guard and dodge accordingly.
RPG Mode is pretty involved and has a lot of nooks and crannies to explore, but we are just going to look at the basics here. There are a ton of in-game tutorials that will help you dive into this much deeper. After every battle in RPG Mode you will gain items and weapons. These items can be used to upgrade weapons or make new weapons via the shop. Some weapons will unlock new weapon skins for the characters. All weapons will be equipped on what is called the Weapon Grid. There are seven of these in total, one for each element found in the game. Weapon classes range from common to the highest rank of SSR. Each one can be strengthened by leveling up, and leveling up the skills they possess. Each grid has one main weapon and the skills there will be what you have in combat. The other nine on the grid will give the weapon a stat boost. You will either gain attack or HP depending on how you set this up. You can manually set each weapon on the grid or use the auto feature and tell it if you want attack focus, HP focus or a balance.
Using the proper element in the RPG Mode missions is vital. It will mean the difference between victory and defeat almost every time. The game will give you a heads up on which element should be used for that battle most of the time, so just set up the grid the way you see fit and you shouldn’t have any problems. Characters can also be equipped with two support skills. This means you and your partner can have up to four skills to use in battle. These do a variety of things such as heal your HP, raise your attack, lower enemy defense and more. I found the HP ones to be very useful in some of the tougher boss battles.
While the RPG Mode is really awesome at its core, Granblue Fantasy: Versus is a very solid fighting game as well. There are three attack buttons that can be used in succession or in combination to create easy-to-pull-off combos. Special moves are all super easy to pull off. Using R1 and a direction on the D-pad you can activate one of four special moves that each character has. These can be boosted by pressing triangle or circle at the same time, but beware since these moves have a cool down and using a bigger version will result in a longer cool down. These moves can also be performed with more traditional Street Fighter-type controller movements with a button as well. When the gauge under the player’s health is full you can execute a Skybound Art. These are powerful moves that can turn the tide of battle, and if your health is below a certain point, you can do a more powerful version called a Super Skybound Art. These moves are very flashy with some awesome animation sequences.
While some may think this sounds really simple there is a lot of depth here. There are dozens of different ways to chain together attacks. This is one of the best systems I’ve seen in a fighter in a long time. It’s super easy to pick up and play, but has enough meat to keep veteran players invested. You could spend hours just coming up with new combos and tactics for any one character here.
Graphically Granblue Fantasy: Versus looks amazing. All of the animations and character models are exceptionally detailed and everything in-game runs very smooth even on a vanilla PlayStation 4. Some of the animated intro can be a bit choppy but this does not affect the gameplay in the slightest. Every stage in the game is highly detailed as well. There are even things that will move around, such as rocks falling or Io getting bounced up and down on the ship deck, when a big move is pulled off or someone slams into the ground. I’ve noticed a bunch of small details that really make them shine the more times I see them. Characters also have unlockable colors and some awesome weapon skins for players to discover.
Players of the Granblue Fantasy mobile game will notice most of the songs found here right off the bat. This isn’t a bad thing, since the mobile game has an amazing soundtrack. They actually make some of them sound even better here with the new versions! The game is fully dubbed in English and all of the cast fits the characters well. I had previously played the mobile game so I stuck with the Japanese voice actors, but you cannot go wrong either way here.
I have to say Granblue Fantasy: Versus exceeded my expectations by miles. There is a great amount of single player content. RPG Mode is a ton of fun. The story is pretty basic but it’s fun for old players to see some of their favorites in a new adventure and a great introduction for new players. The gameplay is easy enough for anyone to pick up on and deep enough for advance players to still have fun with. This game is just simply a lot of fun. If you have a passing interest in Granblue Fantasy you should pick this up. If you’re a fan of fighting games looking for something different I think you will find a lot to love here as well!
Game was provided by the publisher for review.
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