Fighting game players already know what hampered Granblue Fantasy Versus during its lifetime - shoddy delay-based netcode and combo strings that weren't all that exciting stand out as the main reasons why that gorgeous fighter got such a raw deal. Hopes were low among the game's community regarding major fixes to those two notable issues. Thankfully, Arc System Works made that subset of FGC (Fighting Game Community) members ecstatic when a new and improved version of that anime fighter was shockingly revealed. I've put this game through its paces via its pre- and post-Early Access periods, which means I'm finally ready to provide my final thoughts on this exciting fighter. Here's my Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising review.
'Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising' Review: Refreshed and Retooled
'Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising' Review
If there's one thing you can always count on when it comes to Arc System Works fighters, it's that they all look incredible thanks to their flashy anime sprites that pop off the screen in an impressive manner. That's certainly the case here for Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising - I don't know how they did it, but ASW found a way to make the roster, stages, and cinematic super moves look even more amazing. New shading techniques are responsible for this upgraded release's obvious uptick in visual splendor. The pleasing amalgamation of orchestral and rock 'n' roll tunes from the original game remains intact here, which should come as little surprise - the inclusion of new themes for the game's added roster members is simply a cherry on top of an already strong soundtrack. I found myself in awe of all the eye-popping action happening onscreen and the hype-inducing songs that played out during clashes between chosen rivals.
As I mentioned beforehand, Granblue Fantasy: Versus didn't have the most inspired combo routes (which I why I kind of fell off the game even as new DLC characters joined the fray). The main reason why I love this retooled version of that game so much is because of the welcome adjustments made to its moment-to-moment combat mechanics. Light, medium, and heavy strings that have always ended in three hits can now be altered simply by pressing forward while holding down the attack button for the final hit. You can now pull off a dashing attack that trips up standing opponents or catches them off guard with overhead attacks. The new "Raging Strike" can lead right into a "Raging Chain" that lifts your foe into the air for a more lethal extended combo string. The "Ultimate Skill" gives each character devastating special moves that damn near come off as extra super moves in some cases. Defensive-minded players will love the addition of the "Brave Counter," which is capable of knocking opponents away or countering their use of the very same mechanic. I found myself having way more fun with this game just by pulling off a three-hit combo, activating my Raging Strike into a Raging Chain, and then landing two more basic hits before I finished everything off with an Ultimate Skill.
On the topic of new characters, I'm pleased with the debuting members of this game's refreshed roster. Old favorites of mine (such as Percival, Vira, Soriz, and Ladiva) are now joined by cool newcomers I've taken a liking to. The hulking Siegfried is a powerhouse that's become a new main of mine due to his similarities in regards to a certain Soulcalibur character with the same name, plus Anila's Terry Bogard-inspired moveset is legitimately funny to pull off during heated online encounters. While Grimnir and Nier's playstyles don't appeal to my tastes, I still have to applaud them for having slick character designs. Now when we're talking about this game's content mode suite, more positive impressions enter my mind - players who love single-player content can busy themselves with the arcade and story modes, while competitive players can hop online to enjoy casual/ranked/lobby matches and an all-new mode that's reminiscent of everything fans love about Fall Guys.
I must admit, though - while finalizing my Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising review, a bout of disappointment swept over me regarding this game's story mode. That's because of the omission of the first game's local/online co-op option, which made all the beat 'em up action so great in the first place. While the first game's story chapters and boss fights return with a batch of new content, I can't help but be let down by that aforementioned exclusion and the lack of deeper gameplay mechanics implemented in that game's RPG Mode. I prefer the process of unlocking weapons and skins for my favorite characters simply by playing online to raise their mastery levels over having to farm materials in RPG Mode to find them, however.
My biggest compliment for Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is directed at its incredibly stable rollback netcode. I ran into players within the States and even encountered a rare international player or two & found myself shocked at how good the connections were for the majority of those matches. Now sure, I experienced a few hiccups during my online sessions from time to time. But for the most part, I got great connections that made most of my matches play as if they were being contested in a local offline setting. Speaking of online, I have to hand to ASW for giving this game a less stressful competitive component to enjoy. "Grand Bruise" owes its inspiration to Fall Guys as it also implements highly amusing party modes that include crossing the finish line for a zany obstacle course, trying your damndest to survive dropped bombs & falling stage platforms, surviving an onslaught of goblins & additional baddies, and more. I would have been perfectly fine with all the other new additions this updated fighter features, to be quite honest. Having a super lively party mode filled with cutesy avatars to play in between heated ranked matches is just an awesome bonus on top of this game's other worthwhile additions.
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