[PS4] Granblue Fantasy: Versus Review
Time to clash swords, take names, and kick some butt! There’s a new challenger in the fighting genre. Check out our Granblue Fantasy: Versus review!
Legendary fighting game studio ARC SYSTEM WORKS and Cygames team up to bring the beloved Granblue Fantasy universe to the home console in an action-packed, head-to-head fighter.
Also includes an RPG mode that features an all-new, original story told through beautifully rendered cutscenes.
I like the fighting game genre, but I’m not super tapped into the scene about up and comers. I first heard about Granblue Fantasy: Versus when the games for the EVO 2020 competition were announced, so I was surprised I hadn’t heard of it, so I did some research about what the game was going to do, and it got my attention. It’s from Arc System Works the company behind countless excellent fighters, including Blazblue, Guilty Gear, Persona 4 Arena, Dragon Ball Fighterz, and many more. Seriously the company knows how to make excellent fighting games! Marvelous made the right call by deciding to publish this one on PlayStation 4.
I was excited to see them working on a new IP, and that’s when I learned that Granblue Fantasy was actually a very popular mobile RPG only available in the east. It has some of the people who worked on Final Fantasy behind it, which definitely got my attention. I’m disappointed on there’s not being an official release here, but I’m certainly glad we got Granblue Fantasy: Versus. I jumped right into the fighter, not knowing what to expect. Arc System Works usually tries to put something special in all of their games to make them feel different from each other, and Granblue Fantasy: Versus feels quite a bit more different than I was expecting! There is an RPG mode which I really haven’t seen done in a fighter that much, and then the fighter’s gameplay mechanics switch things up in unique ways.
Let’s talk about the gameplay first and what sets it apart from other fighters. The things you expect are here. It has what some might consider a smallish roster, and I was playing with the Digital Deluxe version, which does include an extra DLC character, as well as the final boss of the game as an unlocked character – which you can also unlock by completing the game’s RPG mode. If you get the Digital Deluxe version, or the regular version and get the season pass, you can get five extra characters (including the unlocked final boss I’ve mentioned), with three more releasing at a later date.
One of the big changes to the fighting formula is almost like attack options in Super Smash Bros. Your fighter’s special attacks can be performed by pressing the R1 button on its own, or by pressing a direction on the D-Pad or the left analog stick. When you use special attacks like this, your special attacks will have a special cooldown period before you can use them again, which is a neat mechanic that brings some of that RPG flair to this fighting game. You can still do a technical command, which is using traditional fighting game inputs, making each move a bit stronger, and with a smaller cooldown. I really liked the system as it’s probably the easiest entry-level for newcomers into the genre, especially if you have people coming to the game from the mobile RPG, but there are reasons to learn the moves to get better at the game. It’s rewarding for both new and experienced players.
The game has auto combos for you to use as well. It will automatically start a combo attack when you press the same attack button in quick succession three times in a row. You can then tie your specials moves into this as well, adding some extra hits to the combo. One of the other things I noticed was how quickly the super meter filled up in the game, allows you to hit your supers at least once per round, helping to even things up when the battle is getting tough. All of the supers are really unique as well, providing some really cool unique animations on the screen.
The big hook of the game beyond the standard modes you will see in other entries in the genre is the RPG mode. Right from the start, it starts with the story of hero Gran. It goes over a bit of backstory from the original title, before you start a new story in this 2D adventure. It is too bad the story is starting off after the original game since I’m really curious to see what happened before. As the story progresses, more characters will join Gran, allowing you to switch between them, adding partner characters to battles, allowing both to be on the screen at once.
The missions in the RPG mode play more like 2D brawlers with fighting game moves, along with your regular attacks. If you’re not into beat ’em ups, you might feel the action will get a bit repetitive, as it just feels like you are going through the motions trying to beat them so you can get to some more regular battles. What I did think was really cool were the boss battles, often against powerful characters that cover the screen. They have a gigantic health bar that you will tick away at with everything you have at your disposal. Once a boss is almost defeated, they will go into OVERDRIVE mode, with even stronger attacks.
I think where the mode suffers is with the overcomplicating of the weapon system. The tutorials for the new modes seemed very obtuse, and take some getting used to in terms of powering weapons up and the different elemental properties. For a story mode that will take around 5-6 hours to complete, I would have made it a bit easier for players.
Visually the game is a stunner. Everything has a very crisp look with nice strong dark lines around the characters. The backgrounds and the fighters look as if they were pulled straight from an anime. I was really impressed by the quality of the visuals as I played. I was playing on a PlayStation 4 Pro and did notice that the overall framerate was a bit lower than the 60 fps you’d expect in a new fighting game, but this feels like an intentional choice by the team. It did catch me by surprise, but I quickly got used to it.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus is a strong entry in the fighting game genre, and I can see why the fighting game community is abuzz about this title. It’s probably the most accessible fighter that’s been released in a while on PlayStation 4, which is a great way to bring more people into the genre, especially those who are trying this one after playing Granblue Fantasy on mobile. It’s a great looking fighting game that is a lot of fun, and that you should check out on PS4.
This Granblue Fantasy: Versus review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Marvelous Europe.