It’s been a minute since I’ve indulged in fighting games. Granblue Fantasy: Versus sparked my interest based on its rabid mobile following, but it was the inclusion of a side-scrolling beat ’em up story mode that spoke to me. Having a fighter we could play together and against one another seemed like a great investment for our PS4 library.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus – Side to Side
RPG Mode was my starting point. This was the mode I was most interested in it, and thankfully doubles as a tutorial mode for how combat works. Things kick off with you learning the hero character’s moves. Gran is a sword-wielding nice guy and captain of the Grandcypher. He and his crew dock in Albion looking to pick up their vacationing friend Katalina. However, something in the air screams of danger. What follows is some of the worst anime storytelling ever and I am 98% convinced that’s because this is a giant gacha game in disguise.
Each quest on the first island in the skydom teaches you the basics. Walking you through attacks, defense, and the mechanics of pulling off his unique Skybound Art is only part of it. Underneath it all is a very predictable and repetitive story that after a few chapters I just auto-played through. The gist of it is something is corrupting the skydom and turning friends into enemies. Each and every time you rescue an ally you get to read/listen to the same “Oh my, how did I get here and what is going on” spiel. For a game that got two seasons of anime based off of it, the writing is a major disappointment.
In between quests, Granblue Fantasy: Versus teaches you about its interesting weapon system. Weapons may drop at the end of each battle and can be upgraded in three ways. The first is a normal upgrade process; spend some money to enhance the weapon’s damage output. Once it reaches the max, you may feed a duplicate of that weapon to itself to “uncap” it. Most weapons that I have encountered so far can be upgraded to fill the three stars on the information screen. The final upgrade you can perform increases the voracity of the skills attached to the blade, if they exist. Skills can be swapped to suit your needs and range anywhere from healing buffs to attack buffs and debuffs.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus – Head to Head
What it ultimately boils down to is 1v1. We all know that the competitive fighting scene is filled with players who memorize every move and pull off those 65+ combos in EVO tournaments. If you just want to play a fun fighter with your friends on the weekends, Granblue Fantasy: Versus might be what you are looking for. It is much more accessible than most fighting games. The command list is simplified and easy to learn. While it might take casual fighters a little longer to learn than veterans, you should have the hang of things after a few sessions.
We spent an afternoon playing through the various (and repetitive) backgrounds offered in Versus mode. And while it was fun getting to call upon Lowain’s brofam to pyramid stomp one another, we haven’t gone back to it since. I did check in after playing a lot of RPG mode and discovered that the weapons I unlocked are shiny new weapon skins you can cycle through for your character. My poor Gran only has his base sword skin. I should probably buy another sword from Siero’s just so he has some options.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus – Gacha Machine
If there’s anything I can count on Cygames for it’s the gacha drop mechanics. As a regular Dragalia Lost player, I am familiar with how they work. In Granblue Fantasy: Versus, you will earn drop tickets over the course of the game. Once you clear a certain part of the quest the option to Draw opens up on the RPG menu. You exchange your tickets (either singular or ten at once) for random items. Most of the time you receive weapons, but there are skins and other items you have a slim chance to get. So far I haven’t had any new skins added to my wardrobe, but I am hoping.
If you aren’t getting what you want from the Draw system, there’s always Siero’s shop. Here you can exchange special crystals for skins, weapons, and stickers. You can also forge new weapons if you have the required materials obtained in RPG mode. I’ve yet to forge anything since I really don’t want to waste my materials on bronze weapons when I could save up for those awesome gold ones.
All in all, Granblue Fantasy: Versus is a decent fighter whether you play solo or not. My biggest drawbacks are the “story” and the game’s eleven-character starting roster. I suppose the plus side of having so few characters means that you’ll pick a favorite pretty quick and have time to master their command list. Some of the series’ more popular fighters are coming out as DLC relatively soon. Not a great selling point, if you ask me. But with roots in the gacha-game genre, I shouldn’t have expected any less.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus review code provided by publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4 console. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.