E3 2019 Hands-On – Granblue Fantasy: Versus
I’ll be perfectly honest and upfront, I have never been a big fan of anime nor have I played Arc System Works various fighting games. However, with that being said, I can fully appreciate the artwork, music, and technical skill that anime and Arc’s fighting games posses. I may not be the best person to describe to you a fighting game from a developer I have rarely played that is based on a Japanese game I have never heard of. But I can at least give my impressions about the things that I did really enjoy about my time with Granblue Fantasy: Versus.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus is based on the hit Japanese mobile RPG Granblue Fantasy. It has become such a massive hit that it’s spawning spinoffs and this one is a fighting game by the well renowned Arc System Works. Versus takes a handful of characters from the mobile RPG and puts them into a flashy, fast paced fighting game. Hideo Minaba of Final Fantasy series fame contributes as art director, lending his extraordinary talents and unforgettable character and world designs to the Granblue Fantasy universe.
In my demo I was able to pick between five different characters: Gran, Katalina, Charlotta, Lancelot, and Ferry. I played each character and they are all varied with different moves, specials, and plenty of nuance to sink your teeth into. Gran was fairly easy to pick up as he was quick with his short sword and his moves conformed to a fairly typical fighting game setup. Charlotta, however, was much harder to use for a newcomer since she used more defense, close attacks, and reversals. Ferry used a whip which felt like playing Ivy from SoulCalibur or Dhalsim from Street Fighter; the goal with Ferry was to keep distance.
The XSEED representative told me that they wanted the game to be fairly accessible to new players and that the move set for some of the easier characters will feel similar to other fighters. Which seemed fairly accurate with my experience with Gran and Lancelot. That is not to say it lends to button smashing like an ape, something that Arc I’m sure has balanced well. I was able to win a couple matches within my short demo against the XSEED rep, but I think he was just being nice.
There was only one difficulty for the AI combatants which I would assume was only for the show floor, but it was almost too easy. There was also only one map, but it was gorgeous. it is a 2.5D fighter, but the art style is fantastic. It has a very sharp and poppy anime style that is very appealing, and the music and sound design was fantastic.
All in all I had a great time with Granblue Fantasy: Versus, despite it not being exactly my type of game or style. I could tell even from my limited knowledge of other Arc fighting games that this one will be a bit toned down. There wasn’t any double jump or tag fights like I have seen from Dragon Ball FighterZ. My other concern is the roster size. I was able to play five different characters, which I assumed was only a small sample for the demo. But after reviewing the main website, there are only two other characters listed other than the ones in the demo. There was also some framerate issues that plagued the opening scenes before fights. Hopefully the roster will get bigger and these seven are just the ones announced so far. Other than that, if you’re a fan of Arc System Works other fighting games, I’m sure you’ll enjoy Granblue Fantasy: Versus.