"Granblue Fantasy: Versus" takes fighting games to a new level

"Granblue Fantasy: Versus" takes fighting games to a new level

The new 2D fighting game "Granblue Fantasy: Versus" looks great – and simplifies many mechanics of the genre. Seldom has the entry hurdle been so low.

Beatings once dominated gaming, but today fighting is more of a niche genre. One main reason: the mechanics have become increasingly complex, the inexperienced entry is difficult. Therefore I would like to recommend "Granblue Fantasy: Versus", the new game by the Japanese genre professionals from Arc System Works ("Guilty Gear", "Blazblue").

"Granblue Fantasy: Versus": Innovative, intuitive

As always with this development team, the graphics are expansive, with beautifully drawn backgrounds and detailed anime characters. But of course very "fantasy anime": the young knights look like boy band members, the girls rarely skimp on charms.

granblue-fantasy-versus-characters-keyart

© Cygames / Arc System Works 2020

The twelve basic characters of the game. Others are added as DLC.

Whether anime fan or not, the gameplay is much more important. And that is extremely easy for beginners. The developers have continued the path they have taken with the great "Dragon Ball FighterZ" and have broken down classic fighting game mechanics down to the essentials. "Granblue Fantasy: Versus" uses an elegantly simple control scheme. There are three weapon-based attacks, light, medium, heavy, plus a special attack. Handle, block and dodge as well as an overhead blow lie on dedicated shoulder buttons.

Special moves? No problem!

Just like the basics, the basic special moves and combos are similar in all figures. Pressing the three basic attacks quickly results in impressive strike sequences.

As specials there is always a ranged attack, a counterattack and two other attacks specific to the character, for example a quick advance. The moves are triggered classically like in "Street Fighter" via quarter circle inputs on the directional pad. Players who do not know these techniques from Ryu and Ken from "Street Fighter" have an alternative: You can use a shoulder button plus a direction on the directional pad for the same movements. For example, R1 on the PlayStation pad usually triggers a ranged attack.

Here the developers at Arc Systems Works seem to have "Super Smash Bros." be inspired, where many specials are also triggered by pressing two buttons.

granblue-fantasy-versus-mechanics

© Arc System Works / 2020

Innovative: The bordered areas under the bar with the life energy show the four basic specials.

The special thing: the movements cannot be spammed, each of the four basic specials has a cooldown. This also applies to manual entry, without the help of the Special Move button – the cooldown is then shorter. The specials are displayed permanently in the game, below the life energy.

Thanks to the elegant controls in "Granblue Fantasy: Versus" even newcomers to the genre quickly have a sense of achievement that motivates them to continue playing. Every player basically masters several unique specials and combos – which can also be combined. Even a super special, also called "sky storm" in the game, is not a problem after a short period of familiarization.

In solo mode against CPU opponents, the player can also determine the level of difficulty of the next fight after each round. Practically.

granblue-fantasy-versus-super

© Arc System Works / 2020

Effective super specials like this are easy to handle with a little practice.

Quick facts about the game

  • Genre : 2D fighting game, RPG brawler (extra mode)
  • Platform : PS4, PC (Steam)
  • Developer : Arc System Works, Japan
  • Publisher (D) : Marvelous
  • Test pattern : Marvelous
  • Release date : Available

Great fun: testing different characters

The simple controls have another advantage: it is much easier and more inviting to try out different characters. The basic skills are similar for everyone, but each character has a different feel. This is mainly due to the weapons that the figures swing. The protagonists Gran and Syta, for example, are the classic all-rounders, they attack their opponents with a short sword. Ice knight Lancelot relies on speed and his double blade, the tough Zeta keeps enemies at a distance with her spear. Noble knight Parzival, the "flame emperor", swirls his fiery long sword across the screen.

Getting used to these different fighting styles is easy thanks to the standard move set. As much as I like "Street Fighter", I almost always play Ken because I know his moves best. The control of characters like Blanka, E. Honda and M. Bison, where "special moves" are "charged", never got into my flesh and blood.

granblue-fantasy-versus-character-select

© Arc System Works / 2020

Each character in the game has its own weapon, noble lady Katalina presents her elegant sword.

The "Granblue Fantasy" franchise

"Granblue Fantasy: Versus" is not a new IP, but a spin-off of the mobile RPG "Granblue Fantasy", which was only released in Japan and was very successful there. The game of Cygames in the tradition of the early "Final Fantasy" titles offers several hundred characters in the most beautiful anime look – so the creators of the fighting spin-off will not run out of DLC characters anytime soon.

Easy to learn, difficult to master

"Granblue Fantasy: Versus" is another excellent beating game by Arc System Works because the gameplay offers enormous depth despite the easy start. The basic moves are learned quickly, but by no means the right timing for their execution. Professionals know exactly when which move in which form makes sense.

If you've trained a lot against AI in solo mode, feel free to take on online combat. But be careful: there are real experts! It is not for nothing that "Granblue Fantasy: Versus" is one of eight titles that will be played this year at the renowned fighting game tournament Evolution Championship Series ("Evo") in Las Vegas. Along with another game that is easy to learn but difficult to master: "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate".

Thanks to games like "Granblue Fantasy Versus", more players may soon discover the wonderful world of 2D fighters and enter tournaments like Evo.

Believe in Victory!

Engage!

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