In a lot of ways Arc System Works reminds me of Omega Force. They’re known for a specific thing, though in this case it’s more of a genre, that has expanded to various different IPs with generally good results. Among their successes is Granblue Fantasy Versus, the unexpected fighting game based off the extremely popular mobile game. With the mobile game constantly evolving, it made sense for the fighting game to also change, resulting in Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising. With a robust story, various tweaks, and new characters, does it warrant a revisit, or is just expensive DLC?
The first change in Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising can be found in RPG mode, now named Story. While the modes are similar, which includes Granblue Fantasy Versus‘ base story, the DLC story, and an additional chapter, there are also some very notable differences about them.
For starters, the mode itself was streamlined. Instead of having islands to visit, it’s a linear chain of events. A lot of the RPG mechanics were removed in favor of a simple choices like character, partner, and skills. It also makes progression/difficulty a bit better since they’re balanced around predictable parameters. It also seems like co-op was removed, something I am sure some will find disappointing.
That being said, these changes also come with certain benefits. A lot of the tedium was removed, and story itself better acts as an introduction to Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising. Returning players who played the original on a different platform, or can’t transfer their save for whatever reason, also have the option to outright skip full parts. When I say this I literally mean you can click two buttons and skip the base story, and even the DLC story if you just want to see what’s new.
As for the narrative itself, I won’t reveal too much and just say it starts as an introduction to the world before evolving into a more involved fantasy adventure. One nice touch that I love about Arc System Work games is the included glossary, so even if you’re not overly familiar with the world you can look up concepts/people/terms and immediately understand what is going on.
In addition to Story, Training offers a wide array of options to help players improve. This includes standard dummy training, along with various missions to guide players through their journey. Perhaps my favorite inclusion are match-up trainings.
Great Options to Improve
Instead of teaching players a set combo, or possibly focusing on how a specific character works, players are taught how to counter specific moves. So if you’re really bad at Zeta’s Spear of Arvess, you can select any character and train against that specific move. There is also a small overview that explains the mechanics so you’re not without a paddle either. Likewise, if you prefer specific character training, or help with the fundamentals those are included as well.
While there is also an Arcade mode to have fun/learn, casual fans of the series can look forward to the new mode, Grand Bruise! This mode is basically just Arc System Works take on Fall Guys.
Players will need to complete a wide variety of mini-games, including obstacle course runs, against other players. There are some Mario Kart-esque item boxes that can give crafty players an edge, along with paths that reward/punish based off luck/skill. It can be a lot of fun, especially since it’s more than just a silly addition.
There are specific rewards, including a really fun lobby icon, for those who invest the time. If nothing else it’s a neat way to earn weapon pulls, or Rupies to purchase cosmetics. Speaking of, I love that the Rupie shop tells you which cosmetics can be earned, and which must be purchased. It’s a great option for those who might want a specific color immediately, or prefer to save for content you must buy.
Now I Don’t Have to Regret My Purchase
For most the big attraction will be online. Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising adds rollback net code and cross-play, so you shouldn’t struggle to find a match, or experience major issues in the heat of combat. From what we played was good, even if it was a good reminder how large the difference in skill can be.
To help players get the hang of things is a handy explanation of each character, followed by an ease of use rating. Keeping with the fantasy theme you need to actually read the full description to get an accurate understanding of what each character’s intended role is. This is a bit different from other titles where they’ll just say grappler, or ranger.
So Many Options
Combat itself remains a good compromise between fighter and its RPG roots. Characters are given a wide variety of tools, combined with over the top attacks. Similar to the first game, there is a range of abilities to prevent each of the sword fighters from feeling similar. You can feel the difference of weapon weight, along with their own unique take on the weapon.
This system also lends itself well to a fighter, since you even a newcomer can guess what advantages/disadvantages they may face in combat. Obviously Siegfried with his broadsword requires more planning than a quick dual sword user like Lancelot. The only real downside is while new attacks/mechanics were added, the foundation is very similar to Granblue Fantasy Versus and that means the overall skill of opponents will be noticeably higher.
Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising Review Verdict
Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising: In a lot of ways I find myself conflicted. On one hand, Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is basically the base game with all the DLC and more, but on the other it's a step much closer to traditional fighter. I don't think that is a negative per se, just a choice a lot of fans might disagree with given the mobile game and previous version spoke to a wider audience than just fighting game fans. Regardless of where you fall on the casual side, the core gameplay remains good. Anyone determined to learn has more than a few options to get there, plus a wide variety of offline modes to enhance your skill. So, fans of the fighting game will be happy, whereas RPG fans might walk away disappointed. – Grant
Editor’s Note: Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.