We got the chance to play the Cygames’ promising 2D anime fighter, Granblue: Fantasy Versus, at this year’s E3.
The game is the first full-fledged console experience set within the Granblue universe, and transports the series’ characters, visuals, and charm into a legit fighting game.
Read our full hands-on preview below:
Brandon Orselli’s Take:
I haven’t really given Granblue a chance on mobile, however the moment both Granblue Fantasy: Versus and Granblue Fantasy: Relink were announced, I was instantly very excited for both games. Cygames has been crafting a new universe, and I got my first taste at E3 with Versus.
From the get-go, the game feels like an authentic fighting game experience, mostly due to the fact that fighting game titans Arc System Works are at the helm with development. Combat is quick, fresh, accessible – and yet feels like there is a lot to explore and experiment with.
The demo that we played had only five of the currently confirmed seven characters, including: Gran, Katalina, Charlotta, Lancelot, and Ferry – Lowain and Ladiva are also confirmed. Each character played differently enough and had their own quirks. I found my favorite: Lancelot.
Despite his feminine looks, Lancelot packs quite a punch and shouldn’t be underestimated. He moves quickly, has several abilities that allow him to close the gap with your opponent (he even teleports a bit!), and is a blast to play. I also enjoyed the other characters, and overall balance feels great.
Lancelot’s teleporting and dash-strike moves are something I particularly got fond of. He has an ice projectile that I kept using as a setup, only to follow up with some dash attacks and some jumping/teleporting attacks. My goal was to really overwhelm and confuse the other staff, and it worked.
I think one of the downsides to Lancelot, though, is the fact that he relies heavily on short to medium distance with his twinfang combat style. Other fighters had a lot of range, while I had to really fight hard to get Lancelot over there and constantly on top of my opponent.
Visuals in particular were spectacular. I know Arc System Works has the pedigree for making beautiful and crazy stylish fighting games, but I just have to reiterate that these guys are simply artisans. I still can’t believe how good they nail the visuals, every time, with every fighter they do.
Regardless, the game is a blast to play and I’m honestly just excited to get my hands on it at launch – and to learn more about the Granblue Fantasy world in general. Let’s hope more wild and wacky fighters are confirmed for the game soon!
Caitlin Harper’s Take:
I’ll be honest, I’ve tried out a bit of Granblue fantasy on mobile in the past, but never got very much in to it. However, with the new spin off games in development for the franchise, I’ve had my interest piqued. Luckily, we were able to get some hands on time with Granblue Fantasy Versus this year at E3, and it appears to be just the kind of fighter I generally enjoy.
I’m not much for the more “technical” fighters, though I do enjoy them. Games such as Soul Calibur, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Tekken. But a good anime fighter, such as Granblue, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Guilty Gear, those I can sink some decent time in to even without others to play with. Granblue Versus seems to be trying very hard to join those hallowed games and really make an impact.
While there were only five fighters available during the preview, each of them played in a distinctly different manner and showed off what we can expect in a fairly decent manner. Some fighters were more ranged orientated, while others seemed more defensive or counter based.
The knight based Katalina was perhaps my favorite of the five, with her wide range of attacks and defense moves. Though the whip using Ferry also seemed like a strong contender for best.
However, I think the entire NG staff had the most laughs and fun when we had our mirror match using Charlotta, the potatoe-esque character who portrayed herself as larger than life, even as she was standing on several boxes to look other characters in the eye.
Other than the versus mode, there wasn’t anything else on demo during our hands on preview, but I can say that the characters all moved fairly fluidily and the button combinations where snappy and responded well to our inputs.
Most of the attacks were fairly intuitive and we had an easy time figuring out most of the basic movements and attacks. However, while we were able to pull off the “super attacks” during our time with the game, I’m not sure any of us actually knew how we did that.
But the animations that played when we pulled them off made the trial and error portion of our matches made the whole thing more than worthwhile.
Beyond all that, the animations looked incredible and where bright and vibrant, which just added to the enjoyment. From what I remember of the little I played of the mobile, everything seemed like it was lifted directly from that game and just ported to a new genre.
All in all, Granblue: Fantasy Versus is looking like it will be a really good and fun anime styled fighter, accessible not only to fans of the original game, but for others who may not be familiar with it, but are looking for a good, well rounded. I’m really excited to see what XSEED is able to do with this one.
In case you missed it, you can find a gameplay video recording of our entire hands-on demo session here. We also did a thorough interview with Granblue Fantasy: Versus director Kenichiro Takaki – you can find our entire interview here.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus is coming west for PlayStation 4, although a release window hasn’t been announced.