Granblue Fantasy: Versus
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 9

Even if you know nothing about the Granblue Fantasy franchise, this fighting game collaboration between Cygames and Arc System Works is a beautiful, yet accessible brawler. With in-depth training modes and a massive RPG section, there’s plenty of content here for players even before sinking their teeth into the multi-player modes. It might not have the biggest roster or most original story, but it is a lot of fun and that’s what matters the most.

Gameplay: Plenty of modes to keep players busy and the game is also very accessible.

Graphics: The art and animation are great.

Sound: The quality of the music, sound effects, and voice-overs are all very high

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Granblue Fantasy: Versus

Developer: Cygames, Inc., Arc System Works | Publisher: XSEED Games, Marvelous USA, Inc. | Release Date: 2020 | Genre: Action / Beat ‘Em Up | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

While Western audiences might not have had much exposure to Granblue Fantasy to say that it is a hit in the East would be a huge understatement. It’s not just the fact that Nobuo Uematsu and Hideo Minaba of Final Fantasy fame is involved with the franchise that has made it so popular either. The gacha style RPG for Android, iOS and web browsers won over millions of fans with its beautiful artwork, charming characters, and addictive gameplay. However, Granblue Fantasy: Versus takes all of these elements and thanks to the help of Arc System Works combines it into a 2.5D fighting game.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the PC market was starved for good fighting games, but in the meantime, all the major franchises, from Tekken and Soulcalibur to Street Fighter and Dead or Alive has stepped up to the plate. This means that GFV has its work cut out for it if it wants to steal the limelight from the competition. Fortunately, Arc System Works are no strangers to the genre and with franchises such as Guilty Gear and BlazBlue under their belt, GBV was in good hands. Of course, even a good fighting game can get overlooked in a crowded market if it doesn’t stand out enough, especially if it doesn’t have the same name recognition that it enjoys in the East. With that said, let’s see what it is that makes GBV so special.

When starting up Granblue Fantasy: Versus for the first time there are a couple of things to try out, but the most sensible option would be the “Mission Training” mode. Here the game teaches you everything about combos, blocking, dodging, offense, defense and everything else you need have a shot at winning. A lot of the stuff will be familiar to fighting game veterans, but GBV also has some things that are unique to it, so we suggest not skipping this mode if you want to get the most out of the game. The next stop should be “Free Training” to put all that knowledge to the test or “Arcade” mode where you can pick your character and progress through the ranks of CPU players to reach the end. “Versus” mode is great for taking on a local opponent, provided you have two controllers or know someone who can tolerate playing these types of games with a keyboard. However, it is “RPG Mode” and “Online” mode where you’ll find most of the fun.

The online mode should be self-explanatory as you go online and face opponents while working your way through the rankings. We found that it can take a while to find someone depending on your region, but once the match started we didn’t encounter any issues. The game does require you to fight a couple of CPU battles first to determine your ranking, but this will go up or down later as you begin facing real opponents. Then there is the RPG mode, which is where we spent a lot of time and where the real roots of the franchise can be seen.

RPG mode features several cutscenes that introduce players to Gran, the captain of the Grandcypher airship, and his motley crew as they travel across the floating islands that make up the Sky Realm where the game is set. While no knowledge of the mobile game is required the story does continue on from the events that took place previously. However, everything is explained to players, so you won’t miss out on anything if you have never played the original game. While playing through RPG mode it becomes clear that dark forces are at play and turning friends against each other as people begin to lose their memories. It is up to Gran and his crew to bring everyone to their senses before going after those who are responsible for the whole mess.

Battles in RPG mode allow for the same playing style as in the fighting portion of the game with a few exceptions. Firstly, it makes use of a side-scrolling beat-em-up format, so enemies can come at you from the left and right of the screen. Secondly, players can enlist the aid of a friend or the CPU to help out in battle. Having two players evens out the odds a bit, but outside of the “Raid” battles, the normal fights are not really that challenging. By completing levels players earn loot, experience points, new weapons, and other goodies to upgrade their characters. Gran is the default character for RPG mode, but you’ll unlock the other characters as you progress and can then make them your primary character or set them as a CPU controlled assistant. We had a lot of fun clearing out the levels while trying to earn the best possible rankings and collecting new weapons to set up various elemental load-outs. RPG mode also a shop to buy weapons and support skills using the in-game currency, a gacha system for drawing new weapons, and a “Tower of Babyl” where you can grind out more battles. It is also neat that you can use the online search function to find other players who need help with missions or put in a request of your own if you ever become stuck. All in all, it’s a very fun mode and offers a lot more content for single players than what can normally be found in fighting games. You can even unlock a certain DLC character by completing this mode instead of forking out real cash for them.

Visually there is nothing that we can fault about GBV as the artwork is simply beautiful. The characters all look great although they mostly follow the usual anime tropes. Also, the RPG mode has a ton of enemies such as soldiers, slimes, and goblins for you to wade through. Another great feature is that you get lots of visual feedback during fights, so there will never be any doubt if you got countered, punished or using a wrong block and so on. The animations in GBV look great, especially the mini cut-scenes that are used when you pull off special moves, and even the backgrounds look incredible. When looking at screenshots the game almost looks like a traditional 2D fighting game, but once you experience it in action you’ll notice that the characters are actually 3D, which is quite impressive.

We also have not except praise for the audio as the game is packed with nice tunes and sound effects that sound like something straight from an anime. Even the standard of voice acting is much better than expected. The game allows you to choose between Japanese or English voice actors and no matter which you pick the standard is very high. A quick glance at the voice cast shows that most of them have quite a bit of experience with voicing anime characters, which clearly shows.

Of course, none of this would have mattered if the game wasn’t fun to play, but thankfully it doesn’t disappoint in this regard either. Arc System Works managed to craft a fighting system that makes use of the usual Light, Medium and Heavy attacks, that is not just accessible, but still has plenty of depth. We are not going to go into too much detail as the game does a great job of explaining everything during the tutorials, but suffice to say you can start out as a complete newcomer and pick up plenty of techniques from this game. A lot of fighting games tend to cater only to veterans or dumb things down too much to appeal to newcomers, so it’s good to see that GBV managed to strike a good middle ground.

All in all, we really enjoyed our time with Granblue Fantasy Versus. The initial character roster can feel a little limited at first, but they have such diverse styles that you can spend a lot of time mastering each one. The character pass will also be adding more characters to the line-up in the future, with Beelzebub and Narmaya already available. The pace of the game is a little slower than some of the other fighting games and the balance might need more tweaking, but if you are a fan of the genre then Granblue Fantasy Versus deserves to be in your library.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7/8/10 (64-bit OS required)
  • Processor: AMD FX-4350, 4.2 GHz / Intel Core i5-3470, 3.20 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Radeon HD 6870, 1 GB / GeForce GTX 650 Ti, 1 GB
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Storage: 7 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX compatible soundcard or onboard chipset
  • OS: Windows 7/8/10 (64-bit OS required)
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 1400, 3.2 GHz / Intel Core i7-3770, 3.40 GHz
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Radeon HD 7870, 2 GB / GeForce GTX 660, 2 GB
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Storage: 7 GB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX compatible soundcard or onboard chipset

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