Skip to main content

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising review — excellent fighting clashes with bizarre minigames

GBVS Rising is a great fighter aimed squarely at existing fans
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Granblue Fantasy Versus was a great fighting game that got the short end of the stick. It launched at the worst possible time: just before a pandemic was about to shut down the world, and that includes a mostly offline fighting game community. Incredibly bad news for any fighting game that doesn’t have netcode up to snuff, and GFVS’ netcode was not up to snuff. If you could get into a game, it certainly wouldn’t be without latency. Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is a chance at redemption for a once promising fighter, but it might be too little, too late.

All 25 characters from the original game make the transition into this new edition, in addition to four new characters and yet more due to be introduced in upcoming DLC seasons. The base roster in this game feels meaty and will provide hours of entertainment, even just with a small group of friends.

It’s easy for your non-FGC friends to jump in and play too, since all special moves can be activated with a single direction and button press, and yes, there are even buttons dedicated to block and grab, but you can hold back and tap two buttons if you’re an experienced fighting game player with the muscle memory to match.

granblue fantasy versus rising gbvs glhf (7)

Seemingly in the interest of garnering fans that aren’t traditional fighting game players, Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising has a new party game mode. Grand Bruise Legends is playable from the Online Lobby and tasks dozens of players and their avatars to compete in a variety of Fall Guys-style races and competitions. It’s, honestly, a really strange addition, and you’ll be waiting in a queue for a very long time to actually get the opportunity to play this mode. Not bad, just strange.

The football (soccer) pitch in the Lobby pretty much sums up the Grand Bruise mode. There is a football pitch present, and a ball, and your avatar can push the ball around. The idea is that, by including the pitch, players might be tempted into, well, playing football. But when I went over to take a look, it was desolate. A fairly large chunk of Lobby real-estate dedicated to football, and aside from me, entirely empty.

granblue fantasy versus rising gbvs glhf (3)

Meanwhile, just a few steps away dozens of player avatars were sat at arcade machines with very few empty seats left for me to join in. In these early days GFVS:R doesn’t have a player population problem, it has an attention span problem. These new modes are a nice addition, but they’re not what the core players want to do, so they’re going ignored in favor of the actual fighting game mechanics.

Ultimately, Grand Bruise Legends amounts to little more than a marketing gimmick, something to slap into trailers – which is where I’ve seen the most of it, coincidentally. Luckily, it’s not needed, because GFVS:R is still a really good fighting game.

granblue fantasy versus rising gbvs glhf (9)

It has simplified battle mechanics when compared to a bunch of modern fighting games, sure, but GFVS:R’s grounded gameplay and solid mechanical variety across the cast makes it compelling even if you’re not interested in Granblue Fantasy at all. Characters have distinct personalities, weapons, silhouettes, and attacks, giving players a lot to experiment with, memorize, and counter.

And yes, the netcode is much improved. Rollback netcode has smoothed over the issues that were felt in the older game, and crossplay should hopefully ensure that the player community will thrive for years. Having said all of that, I’m struggling to love Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising.

granblue fantasy versus rising gbvs glhf (1)

I adored Granblue Fantasy Versus and put significant time into attempting to get the Platinum trophy – I gave up eventually, but the grind was fun while it lasted. Jumping into Rising, I don’t really feel any of the drive to play and improve like I did with the original. The side-scrolling beat-em-up style story mode feels truly dull after playing it for hours in the original, and while it’s fun to run through Arcade mode with new fighters, after that the luster wears off.

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is undoubtedly the best way to play Arc System Works’ Granblue fighter – the original can be uninstalled now – but if you fell off the original game, this probably won’t bring you back. However if all you wanted was some netcode improvements to keep you in the game, then Rising is essential. As long as you don’t buy it for Grand Bruise Legends, you’ll adore Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising.

Score: 8/10

  • Presentation: 8/10
  • Story: 5/10
  • Mechanics: 9/10
  • Performance: 9/10

Version tested: PS5

Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising technical performance

GFVS:R performs perfectly during battles, as you would expect, and rollback netcode ensures online games run consistently and smoothly. I had zero issues when playing online or with framerate during battle. The only inconsistency is some mild stutters when exploring the Lobby, but it’s a truly minor footnote.