Granblue Fantasy: Versus – A Dive into the Game and Why It Matters

    Good things come to those who wait.

    For the past decade, the fighting game community has seen tons of growth. Lots of new fighting game releases and major tournaments contributed to this. One of the newer games we got to witness was Granblue Fantasy: Versus (GBVS)! You’ve probably seen the news of the game finally getting a new edition with rollback netcode, crossplay, and many more. But what is Granblue Fantasy: Versus? What is the story behind this game, the community, and what led up to this new announcement? I’d like to go over that with you today!

    What Is Granblue Fantasy: Versus? – Development Phase

    Granblue Fantasy Director Tetsuya Fukuhara sitting at table Granblue Fantasy logo

    In Japan, there is a mobile RPG that exists called Granblue Fantasy (GBF). You can fight boss battles with friends, experience a lengthy story mode, and lots more. It’s extremely popular in Japan and new players join in every day. However, Granblue Fantasy developer and publisher Cygames showed interest in reaching a different crowd. At Anime Expo 2019, Granblue Fantasy director Tetsuya Fukuhara said that he wanted to introduce the franchise to western audiences. After looking constantly for opportunities, Fukuhara saw the fighting game genre as a way to grab western newcomers. As a result, the company made the decision to adapt the world of Granblue Fantasy into a fighting game. 

    In order to create GBVS, Cygames needed a developer that could display Granblue Fantasy beautifully; both in gameplay and visuals. Cygames thankfully had their eyes set on Arc System Works (ASW). ASW adapted known franchises into fighting games before. Not only are their visuals stunning, but they put much effort into the mechanics which allows for so much depth. Arc System Works was the perfect developer to do a Granblue fighting game justice.

    GBVS Content And Its Story Mode

    GBVS RPG mode menu GBVS RPG mode dialogue cutscene GBVS RPG mode boss battle GBVS RPG mode weapon grid

    Granblue Fantasy: Versus ended up releasing everywhere officially on March 27, 2020. In terms of content, it has pretty much everything modern fighting games have. Arcade mode, training mode, online mode, replay watching, and many more. However, what stuck out the most about GBVS was its story mode. This mode combined side-scrolling beat-em-up gameplay with traditional fighting. Leveling up your character and being able to co-op online and offline was only half of the interest, however. The cool part about it was that you could strengthen your elemental damage using a “weapon grid”. Just like in the GBF mobile game, you can grind for strong weapons and add them to a grid. For example, the water element beats fire so if you’re up against fire, make sure your water grid is good!

    What Is Granblue Fantasy: Versus – GBVS Combat/Mechanics Explanation

    GBVS Percival walking up to Lancelot in battle GBVS button layout

    The gameplay of GBVS is probably my favorite part. It’s absolutely a grounded, slower-paced fighting game similar to Street Fighter. However, there are key differences that make this game so unique. Starting off, you have your button layout which is 3 attack buttons and 3 distinctive buttons. The 3 distinctive buttons consist of a unique skill, a guard button, and specials. The unique skill is a skill that every character has and they’re all different. Some have teleports, some have parries, and some have…..powerful command grabs….

    GBVS Ladiva unique attack

    Anyways, continuing on, the guard button is a special tool. Holding it will allow you to automatically block cross-up attacks from the left and right sides. This basically negates left/right mixups in GBVS but the traditional high/low mixup is still powerful in this game. You can also use the guard button to roll or dodge things such as projectiles. Input forward and the guard button at the same time to roll. Do back and the guard button at the same time to dodge.

    The special button allows you to do easy input versions of special and super moves in the game. It’s also important to note that your special moves have a cooldown on them just like the mobile game. This means that using a special move causes you to wait a while before you can use it again. Especially if you use easy input versions. 

    GBVS Combat/Mechanics Explanation – Meter Usage

    There are a lot of different ways to use the meter in this game compared to older versions. When your meter reaches 100%, you can use a Skybound Art (SBA). If your health is at 30% or lower, you can use a double powerful SBA called Super Skybound Art (SSBA). 

    GBVS Gran SBA Super attack GBVS Gran SSBA super attack

    There are 3 other usages of meters that you have to know about though. “Rush” is one of the usages of the meter. It’s a forward dash attack that withstands every normal attack except for projectiles and throws. If timed successfully, you can beat the opponent’s attempts at hitting you. However, if they block the dash attack then you are plus on block. “Backshift” is the other usage of the meter. This backward dash nullifies meaties and frame traps. In case your character doesn’t have a defensive option, backshift is the way to go. Both backshift and rush use 50% of your meter.

    GBVS Rush mechanic GBVS backshift mechanic

    “Overdrive” (OD) is the last mechanic. Using 100% of your meter, this move gives your several buffs. Your attacks and specials do great damage, your overhead is faster, and easy inputs specials don’t have long cooldowns. Also, your character’s normal attacks do chip damage while you don’t take chip damage. Keep in mind that OD has a timer meter. If you take damage, the timer drops massively.

    GBVS Overdrive Surge mechanic

    The Community Of GBVS

    GBVS players taking a group picture in lobby night GBVS community at Frosty Faustings

    Getting away from the gameplay side of things, the community for this game has been a very interesting story. When the game first came out, lots of players got into it. Competitors from different games, skill levels, and ages made for a very diverse community. As a result, this created many rivalries, regional battles, exhibitions, and even a Discord. Unfortunately, a year after the game was released, the player base started to dwindle.

    GBVS was born during the COVID-19 pandemic when offline tournaments took a halt for a long time. It didn’t help that the game had a delay-based netcode, so the online experience wasn’t great at times. Many people rejected Granblue as a result of rollback netcode being the norm. As a result of all this, the player base took a huge hit. There was no solution to save it with in-person events, as COVID-19 had everyone in lockdown. Despite all this, many tournaments still happen for the game and players play actively on Discord even today. While this group might not be massive, this dedicated fanbase is a reason why I’m so excited for the next title, Granblue Fantasy: Versus Rising.

    The Importance Of Granblue Fantasy: Versus Rising

    Granblue Fantasy: Versus Rising GBVS Cross-play announcement GBVS Rollback netcode announcement GBVS new mechanics coming

    It’s because of this that I think GBVS: Rising is so important. I’ve heard from so many people that they like GBVS but thought the online was horrible. Adding in rollback will fix this situation for a lot of those individuals. The online should resolve itself and become much more playable, which will keep GBVS: Rising alive for much longer than the original lived.

    Cross-play allows you to play people on all platforms GBVS is on, making the online presence to be even bigger. With Rising releasing on PC, PS4, and PS5, now players regardless of the platform they choose can battle each other online. Adding in new mechanics could attract those who want more piquancy for the game. Plus, who can say no to even more new characters?


    GBVS Gran, Vyrn, and Lyria walking together peacefully

    GBVS is honestly my favorite fighting game of all time so far. This game has so much potential but it never really got the chance to shine hard. I think the release of GBVS: Rising will fix that, and bring a wide variety of new players into the wonderful world of Granblue.

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