The fighting game genre can be a daunting one for many people, especially when you layer on dense systems and a whole lot of anime. Granblue Fantasy Versus challenges the notion that anime fighters need to be complex to keep you engaged. It weaves in simple ways to pull off stunning special moves and stringing together combos. It provides multiple modes as resources to usher in new players and veterans to just have a good time, and look good while doing it. Even with a more simplistic approach to fighting, it remains a worthwhile and standout experience.
Arc System Works are no strangers to fighting games, and in some respects are now the front runners when it comes to paving a new way for the genre. While 2018’s Dragonball Fighterz was a pull to maybe catch the appeal of a wider audience with a big franchise, Versus seems to want to try and help players understand the rules of the genre. There’s a lot of tutorial and various training modes to dive into. I won’t cover them in depth in this review but I’ll be doing a video to show why having all this is so important.
If you’re unfamiliar with Granblue as a franchise I’d recommend hopping into the RPG mode right out the gate. I was impressed with the production value in this as there’s plenty of nice cutscenes between chapters and it’s fully voiced in both English and Japanese. The mode plays like a side-scrolling beat em’ up that even has weapons to unlock and upgrade. The unlock systems feel like something out of a mobile game as Granblue Fantasy is an incredibly popular mobile game outside of the United States, namely in Japan. You’ll be getting tickets to roll for weapons of different rarity and elements. But luckily it’s not drowned in microtransactions.
Another way they incorporate that feeling is with raid battles in which you fight giant bosses or other fighters who have elemental affinities you might have to counter with elements of your own. In my time with this mode, I didn’t find it too difficult to combat pretty much anything they threw my way. Especially once you unlock multiple characters and can have an AI opponent fight beside you. At this point they ostensibly act as a free heal or super for more damage on top of your already powered up moveset. The story of Granblue itself is pretty generic when it comes to anime storylines. Medieval fantasy, an evil empire is after a young girl with magical powers. You have a special bond with her and are sworn to protect her. Different heroes or villains for warring factions get involved. There’s not a lot of untreated ground here, but the core fighting mechanics were fun and the lighter challenge gave me time to play around with all the characters and get a feel for them before being thrown into the deep end against online players.
All the staple single player modes are here and well done. Arcade mode is there if you want some extra colors for the characters and Mission mode lets you train for more specific matchups and practice combo setups for any given fighter. Of course the meat most players will look for is the multiplayer offerings. Local versus is here, the RPG mode does have co-op both local and online, and you can play online with friends and randoms at your leisure. My few hours playing online against random players went mostly fine. Granted in my first session I ended up matching with the same person for five matches in a row. In my second session I was able to find more players, but did run into a laggy match or two. Overall I was still able to get into some decent matches and there are options to set up online lobbies which I was unfortunately unable to try prior to writing this. but at least seems like a full-featured online system with ranked matches, the ability to save and share replays and spectating modes.
As a full package I really like Granblue Fantasy Versus. I enjoy its simple approach to a fighting game and because of that I was able to pick it up pretty quickly thanks to all of the onboarding modes it offers. It’s certainly worth the play for fighting game fans, but my worries ultimately lie about its longevity in the competitive scene. Online being hit and miss is worrying as it will probably turn some players away, but with most modern fighting games, updates will come and downloadable fighters are already being added. Time will tell if players will stick with it.. But regardless it’s still a great fighting game and entry point for all different kinds of players. It’s a fully-featured fighter worth your time if you’re looking for something new in the fighting scene. It serves as a great single-player experience and starting point for those curious about getting started with fighting games.
This game was reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro system with a review code provided by the publisher.