Granblue Fantasy Versus Rising review: An excellent entry point to the genre

Granblue Fantasy Versus Rising review: An excellent entry point to the genre
Images via Cygames

Written by 

Morgan Truder

Published 

13th Dec 2023 15:00

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is a sequel to 2020's Granblue Fantasy Versus, which was originally a spin-off of the hugely popular MMORPG from Cygames called Granblue Fantasy. If you haven’t heard of the series, don’t worry, you haven’t been living under a rock. It will likely be because the series is considerably more popular in Japan - even having an anime adaptation you can watch too. Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is my first exposure to this world but it feels like the perfect jumping on point. 

Despite being a nearly ten-year-old series at this point, the Versus offshoot is built with that in mind and is the perfect place to see if Granblue Fantasy is to your taste. Not only does this feel like a great way to introduce people to Granblue Fantasy, but also fighting games in general. Granblue Fantasy Versus felt approachable for many, and Rising not only continues that theme but sets a gold standard for acting as a welcome to fighting games - a genre many people are intimidated by.

GGRecon Verdict

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is another great fighting game from Arc System Works with particular emphasis on welcoming new players to this infamously challenging genre. The presentation of the game, alongside how accessible it is to just pick up and play, will remain the game's biggest strength.

It is thanks to games like this that Granblue Fantasy is becoming a household name now in the West and its anime style is sure to knock anyone's socks off. If you have always been intimidated by fighting games, this may very well be the one for you.

The secret ingredient is simplicity 

Katalina in Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising
Click to enlarge

The controls in Versus: Rising are as simple as before with a light, medium, heavy and unique attack each assigned to a button alongside blocks, taunts and throws. So far, the controls are pretty run-of-the-mill and to be expected but performing combos is simplified to a point where is 10 minutes with any character and you feel like you could take on anyone. 

To perform combos, you just have to hit the same input multiple times, so you won’t need to rely on remembering different combinations for every single character. On top of that, every character can perform special moves using R1 (on PS5) and a direction button, akin to Smash Bros. It's this combination that helped make someone like me, a player with a passing interest in fighting games, feel like some sort of wizard within a single session. It is the same for all of the fighters, but if you’re unsure of who to use, every character has a much-appreciated ease-of-use rating under their name, to further aid the player.

It is also very handy to be able to change your button configuration before you go into a match, meaning that even if you’re playing a pal locally they can quickly tweak their controls to how they play without having to go through the rigmarole of finding it in the settings.

A sight to behold 

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising roster
Click to enlarge

Speaking of the characters, there are 34 unique characters on offer to choose from and they all look absolutely stunning. Not a single fighter looks bad and there are multiple versions for each. I don’t just mean skins either, each character has how they look during a match, artwork for menus and cutscenes, as well as a Chibi style to use in the Online Lobby and Grand Bruise mode. It makes everything look so stylish, unique and aesthetically pleasing - as you fight opponents you can’t help but sit in awe of the visuals and artistry on display. 

34 characters also help make Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising a more complete package on launch than its predecessor, which only had 12 characters on release. The fighters are varied in size and style, each with their own special moves and Skybound Art that can easily be deployed by pressing both bumpers unleashing a devastating attack on your enemy. All the while the game maintains its style, consistently looking like an anime in motion. 

Same old story

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising
Click to enlarge

Granblue Fantasy Rising: Versus, has a variety of different game modes to explore online and offline, including a story mode. Unfortunately, this is where the game begins to fall down because the story is sadly uninspired. It is the traditional, paint-by-numbers story of old allies turning on each other but why? Naturally, we have a mystery, but it all felt very contrived. Admittedly, the story is a great way to learn the game but the training mode is so thorough there is no need to dive into the story to learn.

Despite this, the story continues to highlight how visually pleasing the game is. The way this tale is told is broken down into visual novel style sections, still frames of art and then full-on animated parts that could be an anime in their own right. It was wonderfully presented and if there was a story of any substance here, it could be a great blend for a compelling introduction to this world. Fortunately, the story is completely original for the game, so if you’re planning on jumping into next year's Granblue Fantasy: Relink, you should be more than okay if you skip out on it here. 

The story being subpar is a shame, especially because this entry is also missing the popular RPG Mode from the original meaning the single-player modes feel a little lighter, but this time around we do have the aforementioned Grand Bruise. These are a series of minigames including Fall Guys style races, a capture the flag style game and more. The mini-games are when you will use the more playful Chibi-style characters and so far the mode has a lot of promise - the only downside with this type of mode is it relies on other players.

Pre-release, this is the mode I have had the least luck finding other players to play with. In the Online Lobby, finding people to throw down the gauntlet with is very easy but when it comes to Grand Bruise games are few and far between. More modes are meant to be coming down the line for this too, and hopefully, it garners a good fan base because it would be a shame for it to be a redundant game mode a few months down the line. 

The Verdict 

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is another great fighting game from Arc System Works with particular emphasis on welcoming new players to this infamously challenging genre. The presentation of the game, alongside how accessible it is to just pick up and play, will remain the game's biggest strength.

It is thanks to games like this that Granblue Fantasy is becoming a household name now in the West and its anime style is sure to knock anyone's socks off. If you have always been intimidated by fighting games, this may very well be the one for you.

4/5

Reviewed on PS5. Code provided by the publisher.

Morgan Truder
About the author
Morgan Truder
Morgan is one of the Guides Writers at GGRecon. He first started writing about games for fun whilst doing his BA (Hons) in History and Film. Since then he has turned this passion into a career and was previously an Editor at VideoGamer before joining GGRecon. Despite enjoying all sorts of games, he can often be found playing Football Manager, Red Dead Redemption 2 or Sekiro.
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