Anime fighting games must come out of the gates strong for their survival. When Granblue Fantasy Versus was released in 2020, it came in with mediocre fanfare. As promising as Granblue was going to be, a lot needed to be improved on. Some things, like the RPG element in its story mode, made it strenuous to complete. The small 11-person initial roster was weak, and, most importantly, the terrible net code to fight others online made the new fighting game from Arc System Works an uphill battle to keep a healthy fanbase. Some things improved in time, like the DLC characters increasing the roster. However, there remained several other underlying issues. Fortunately, Arc System Works and Cygames did not give up and created a new edition that significantly improved from the original. Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising was the answer to the issues the original introduced. With several upgrades, fixes, adjustments and more to the core game, Risng puts itself out there to give new breath and potential to the Granblue universe. How good is its predecessor? Here is my review.
A lot changed for the better for GranBlue Fantasy Versus: Rising. Thanks to the DLC packs from the original, Rising has a healthy 24-man roster and features four brand-new characters, increasing the roster count to 28. The new characters Nier, Anila, Siegfried, and Grimnir join the Granblue cast and add new mechanics in their unique ways. Take Nier, for example. She is a very technical character since she is a puppet caster. Her puppet does most of the fighting for her. However, where the puppet is placed and where Nier is on the screen is vital. The Lancer/Dragoon Grimnir is a master of the sky. He produces projectiles, allowing him to change trajectories in the air swiftly and do some incredible setups. Siegfried has incredible power behind his attacks. He can easily overwhelm an opponent with his powerful strikes and charging attacks. My personal favorite is Anila. She uses a mix of a long halberd and her adorable, fluffy sheep to get in on her opponents. These new characters mixed with the existing cast give players several options on their best personal play style.
The mechanics in Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising has changed significantly. It mixes the old style with new features, making Rising fun to play. I will not review everything that has changed, but I will discuss the most significant changes that make Versus better than the OG. First, the cooldown period of your special moves. Initially, if you performed a move using the easy one-button input system, you were penalized by having a longer attack cooldown. Rising ultimately removes the penalty, and now, all players are on an equal playing field when doing special attacks. Rising also introduces two new mechanics, ultimate skills and bravery points. Ultimate skills allow the player to perform a stronger-than-normal special attack that can do unique attributes. Take Anila, for example. Her sheep-charge ability allows her to dash in rather quickly. Using an Ultimate skill ability, it takes 50% of the meter. It boosts her special attack by going faster and farther, increasing the damage and potentially causing a wall bounce to extend combos. Most of the ultimate skills are instantaneous, so it’s a pleasant surprise to burst damage.
The second addition, Brave Points (BP), adds more technicality to a Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising battles. Players will use their brave points for one of two things. If you spend a brave point on a raging strike, you can break the opponent’s block and/or extend a combo from non-combo-enabled attacks. The raging strike is a strong move that stuns the opponent and opens them up for great damage. The other option is to spend your brave points on brave counters. This allows you to push the opponent back and make space if they aggressively go on the offense. However, you have to be cautious about spending your brave points. You only get 3 BP per round. Spending all your brave points in a round significantly reduces your defense of your character. If squandered, you can lose your entire health bar in one combo. It sounds complicated and possibly broken on paper, but the new mechanics make matches faster-paced, tactical, and fun.
Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising also revamped the story mode. Gone is the overly complicated RPG elements and weapon leveling-up system. In its place is a straightforward story with many cutscenes, special matches, quick tutorials for character allies, and an extended story that brings the new characters into the GBFV: Rising world. During Story mode, you earn additional abilities that may help you during the fight. Abilities such as heal, increase damage, and revive are great, but the story mode itself was not super challenging. It took about 2 hours to complete everything in the mode, and personally, it was all right. Some interactions made it interesting, but as a whole, the cutscenes overly extended the story mode. It got to a point where I was skipping the many dialogue points I encountered. Some of the fight stipulations made me enjoy going through the entire story. I would recommend going through the story to familiarize yourself with the entire roster.
The most significant improvement in GranBlue Fantasy: Versus is the online mode. Nowadays, there is no reason for any fighting game not to use rollback netcode. Rising upgraded to rollback and mixed with the new mechanics, it is entertaining and addicting to play all types of people online. Rising also added crossplay between PlayStation and PC owners and runs smoothly. Players either go to the online lobby with their avatar and wait for a match or, bypass the lobby entirely and wait for matches. Either way, the online is very stable. I played several players in Japan and had incredible stability. Rising also added challenges that give additional in-game currency to purchase character color sets, stages, avatars, weapon skins, and more. Besides getting into online matches, there is also a mode called Grand Bruise, where you use your online avatar to win a series of party games. It plays like Fall Guys but an even simpler version. I experienced this mode only once due to the long session time it took to get into a game. When finally in the game, it was a little underwhelming. It does have some potential, but clearly, it is not the focus of what Rising is making.
GranBlue Fantasy Versus: Rising is a fantastic fighting game for beginners and surprisingly technical for veterans in the fighting game community. Arc System Works puts a lot of tenderness, love, and care into this new IP for a game to improve this much in a short time. Improvements in even frame information, tutorials on character spacing, and even combo training can turn a beginner playing this beautiful-looking game into a fighting game connoisseur. I have clocked almost 40 hours playing Rising, making me play this almost ten times more than the original. I have had nothing but a great time playing it. Usually, anime fighters do not hold my interest for long, but they now have my undivided attention in Rising’s case. I highly recommend playing this game and see if the world of a sky pirate is the world for you.
Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising Review
GranBlue Fantasy Versus: Rising
A Fantastic fighting game for beginners and surprisingly technical for veterans in the fighting game community.