The Japanese mobile RPG hit Granblue Fantasy now has a cool fighting game spin-off so unsheathe your blade and get ready to fight.
Like many westerners, I had no idea what the heck Granblue Fantasy is. Apparently, it's a hugely popular mobile RPG in Japan and it has also been adapted to an anime series. Granblue Fantasy: Versus marks my first experience with the franchise and it has definitely left a fantastic first impression. The reason I wanted to play it is because I absolutely loved Guilty Gear Xrd and Granblue Fantasy: Versus is by the same team. In fact, it looks and plays very similarly which is a good thing. It also feels a bit like SoulCalibur with its medieval aesthetic and the fact that each character has their own unique weapons. On top of this, it features gorgeous character art, a beautiful orchestral soundtrack, and flashy visuals that rival Guilty Gear. It all adds up to make a distinctly stylish world that I'd love to explore further.
The core gameplay of Granblue Fantasy: Versus is generally what you'd expect from a fighter but it does feature a few innovative additions. For starters, there's an intuitive skill system where you can unleash various special attacks once their respective gauges are charged. You can either use shortcuts to activate these or more complex technical button inputs and it's great to have the option. Also, a special meter fills as you fight and once it's full, you can unleash an ultimate skill that results in a jaw-dropping animation. Next, the blocking system is handled cleverly as you can simply block but if you hold the button and tap left and right, you can cross over your opponent to end up on the other side of them or dodge attacks completely. It's nifty stuff indeed.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus includes some basic modes like Versus, Arcade, and various Training modes as well as Online multiplayer. The one stand-out mode is RPG Mode which tasks you with completing battles that are spread across a handful of continents. Many of these battles feel more like beat 'em up stages than a traditional fighting game as you may face off against multiple enemies simultaneously and you can even tag an AI or online partner to join you in co-op play. As you progress, you'll acquire weapons that are quite rewarding to upgrade. For example, you can increase weapons' max level by combining them with duplicates, level them up with earned rupies, and upgrade their skills. Amassing an arsenal of weapons then equipping them via 1 main slot and 9 extra slots is satisfying stuff. You can also complete Bonus Missions which are like achievements and earn new gear via spending Weapon Tickets to receive random stuff.
Although this RPG Mode is a fun distraction and acts as a welcome inclusion, there certainly isn't much content in Granblue Fantasy: Versus. I especially wish there were more modes such as various challenges, survival mode, etc. Aside from modes, the cast of characters is disappointingly small with only 11 to choose from right off the bat. Of course, there will be more via paid DLC but when the core cast is this small, it's hard not to expect additional characters to be patched in for free. There are also only 8 stages to battle within. Sure, they look great but it all starts to feel extremely repetitive on a visual level after playing for about an hour or so.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus offers promising gameplay that's sure to delight fans of fighters. On the other hand, there's so little content that it's probably best to wait for some sort of complete edition before giving it a try.
- + Solid fighting gameplay with a nifty skill system and intuitive evasive moves
- + Awesome graphics and soundtrack
- + RPG Mode is a fun inclusion
- - Small cast of playable characters
- - Only 8 stages to battle within
- - Could use additional modes