I remember trying Granblue on a mobile last year and it was around 4pm, the next thing I knew it was 2am and I wondered why I was still playing a game that took a few seconds after every attempt at anything to connect to its servers half the world away. Any Arc System Works 2D fighter is worth a go even when you don’t know the source material all that well and GFV is no different. With a passing knowledge of what to expect and a curiosity with the special system I jumped in!
The first thing that struck me from this closed beta was the lack of a tutorial or offline practice modes. I know these online beta moments are for testing the network and nothing else but we could have had a bit more than just a manual. Especially when you join to the chibi lobby (yes it’s another of those) to find a fantastically well made command list for skills. An amazing command list for controls that featured little videos showing the characters performing the skills. GFV is so far definitely positioning itself to be most accessible fighter yet.
There were quite a smattering of characters to try once you connected to the impressively specific region lobbies. Once you decided on your chibi character and found a space at an arcade machine with another player you were finally ready to wait a few seconds and get into battle. It does look like we’ll have rematches in the full game but the closed beta was kicking us back to the lobby over and over, thankfully the community is one that rarely backed away from the best of 3 and stayed sat down until the winner was found.
The controls were fantastic and mixed up the combat despite a standard setup of light, medium, heavy, ability attack buttons mapped to square, triangle, circle and cross. Those with any 2D anime fighter experience will be used to the basics. What was unique was having all special attacks working with these buttons with the usual motions and presses but also with just simply R1. If you press R1 you do a standard skill and using a direction and R1 uses a different skill. Each skill has a cooldown box like an RPG (regardless of how you performed them) This allowed a lot more focus on positioning for timing the guard and dodge than in most 2d fighters. You still need a motion and R1 to do a special attack (and your basic super meter) and L1 is your throw so there are some staples that haven’t changed but I found myself switching between standard inputs and R1 inputs often just to shake up the focus.
I’m a sucker for a good overkill special or anime moment in a fighter and GFV is (so far) full of these great moments. Just from the beta when you see this in motion it’s beautiful. There are 2 levels of super attack, one that’s nice looking and if you catch an opponent properly looks fantastic but there is another when you’re on low health that can be ludicrously over the top in the best way. If you liked Dragonball FighterZs over the top finishers you’ll love this. The one stage we got to play for the beta had a nice transition to a different area when it was pushed to 3 rounds and if the full game has more of this then it’s going to be something else.
A quick look through the playable characters then!
Gran is your go to Ryu/Goku. Not a lot of people playing as him until late into the beta. A very versatile character with a lot of invisible moves that were hard to see through at first. His final super attack is so ridiculous that you should see that before progressing any further.
Katalina at first felt slow and heavy but the more I played the more she became my main go to. Her range was always catching people off and her shield to swipe was a great “gotcha” counter.
Charlotta was a character that I only saw online when I played as her. The tall hat clearly helping add to her smaller hit box. I really can’t remember anything about her other than her Blanka style spinning around constantly.
Lancelot is most definitely Ken/Vegeta. Almost every fighter online was using Lancelot and he was every bit as annoying as fighting Kens back in the early SF4 days. He’s ludicrously nippy teleporting all over and crossing over attacks constantly.
Ferry was a rarity to see during fights but there were a few using her. With whips and familiars at her call, she felt the most technical character and needing to be in the right place to catch opponents in whip grabs. A lot was just hoping you got the spin around out before they hit first.
GFV started out as an interesting fighter where the more I played the more interesting it became. At the moment it looks set to be a great ‘easy to pick up and hard to master’ 2d anime fighter. There’s an interesting little clash system when similar attacks hit it pauses for a few frames then carries on with fighters gambling who will hit harder. Dodging and evading without super jumping all over results in the fights feel dramatic. The only thing I found myself missing was a burst system or way to escape from combos because once you’re caught you’re stuffed. Sure it’s fine for the most part as the longest combo is about 8 or 9 hits but when your getting piled on and trapped in a corner it feels like one touch and that’s it. There are some invincible moves but if you can’t get them out it’s no use.
Overall Arc has nailed a Battle Fantasia feel with GFV but boosted the experience to a better speed and a lot more oumph. Even I found myself crushing lazy Lancelot fighters once I had figured out that instead of trying to guard and evade you have to charge at them with a Cross Over (aka Roll/Dash) Obviously a mobile RPG isn’t going to have the same fanbase as a series that’s had numerous fighting games but what Arc has on its hands so far is a game that’s going to appeal to a lot of people if they give it a chance.
I just hope it’s not a Grand Blue Fantasy but a Versus game we all enjoy.
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