Cygames’ and Arc System Works’ Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is the sequel to Granblue Fantasy Versus. It builds upon its predecessor’s foundation and introduces substantial improvements, diverse characters, and an array of new game modes. However, amidst its merits, the confusion surrounding its classification as a standalone title and the absence of pricing options for existing owners of the original game does raise some concerns.
Despite the laudable additions, communication regarding Rising’s status as a sequel is muddled. The misconception of it being an expansion lingers, compounded by the absence of a reduced pricing option for existing owners of Granblue Fantasy Versus. This oversight detracts from the potential appeal for those invested in the original game, as they face the dilemma of a full-price purchase for what seems like an expansion.
Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising emerges as more than a mere expansion, with some drastic changes to its gameplay. The idea behind this change is to attract mobile RPG players to the fighting game genre, broaden the game’s appeal, and create an accessible experience for all sorts of players. This philosophy aligns with the industry-wide trend of simplifying controls, incorporating auto-combos, and prioritizing strategic depth over complex input strings.
Rising’s combat system embraces the aforementioned philosophy, offering simplicity in execution with a limited number of buttons. The emphasis on controller-friendly gameplay aims to eliminate the barrier to entry. Special moves can be executed with a single button, though their use is limited via a cooldown mechanic. The addition of an auto-combo feature ensures a straightforward yet engaging combat experience.
A comprehensive tutorial further strengthens Rising’s commitment to accessibility. The tutorial encompasses challenges, character-specific information, and essential concepts, enabling players to grasp canceling, zoning, specials/supers, and perfect guards. Rising’s combat system transcends the genre’s traditional learning curve, focusing on strategy rather than intricate controls.
Addressing a common critique against the original game, Rising notably expands upon the original roster with the addition of new characters, strengthening the lineup to 28 fighters at launch. This influx not only diversifies the character pool but also improves the variety in online matchups.
Solo and multiplayer modes serve as pillars for any fighting game’s longevity. Rising incorporates classic arcade and story modes, the latter serving as a narrative-driven experience intertwining events from the first Versus installment. The story mode’s role-playing system, skill customization, and cooperative play further strengthen the journey. While not the most spectacular story mode, it provides context to character relationships, avoiding the passivity seen in other narrative-centric fighting games.
The decision to integrate Rising into the expansive Granblue Fantasy lore presents a double-edged sword. While it caters to fans familiar with the franchise, it risks alienating those unacquainted with the intricacies of Granblue Fantasy. The game’s reliance on a lore that might not be universally appealing raises questions about its broader market positioning.
Training modes, illustration collections, and character photography further cater to solo players seeking diverse activities. However, the heart of Rising lies in its online component, featuring cross-play between PlayStation and PC, rollback netcode for fluid and responsive gameplay, private rooms, 3D lobbies, and unconventional game modes, including Grand Bruise Legends, an online battle royale mode akin to Takeshi’s Castle or Fall Guys featuring various mini-games that offer an entertaining departure from standard fighting game fare. The absence of bots or local play in this mode may limit its appeal, but its lighthearted approach offers a refreshing diversion from intense versus sessions.
Arc System Works is renowned for its mastery in crafting anime-inspired visuals and animations. The same holds for Rising, with character designs, attacks, and animations that ooze with elegance and style. While the visuals generally maintain a high standard, environmental elements fall short compared to other titles in the developer’s portfolio.
Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising stands as a commendable update and expansion of its predecessor, offering an engaging experience for both franchise enthusiasts and newcomers to the genre. Its accessible combat system, enriched content, and innovative multiplayer elements contribute to its appeal. However, deciding to position Rising as a standalone sequel rather than a paid update is a double-edged sword. While it provides a fresh entry point for new players, it complicates matters for existing owners contemplating a full-price purchase. Despite these considerations, the game reaffirms Arc System Works’ commitment to delivering a solid fighting game experience.