There truly wasn’t a lot going on in 2020 for fighting games, whether due to competitive scenes being curtailed by the pandemic or the simple fact that many of the games that have come out are still going with expansion content. That said, there was a shining gem of 2020 and it was a fabulous blend of high-quality visuals, beginner-friendly inputs, high-skill ceilings, and so much more. We’re talking Granblue Fantasy Versus: a collaboration between Cygames and Arc System Works that would have been a top pick for Shacknews Fighting Game of the Year even if this was a packed year.
Granblue Fantasy Versus is a game based upon the mobile gacha RPG Granblue Fantasy. It’s a game universe packed full of characters that would make for interesting fighter archetypes, and the characters Arc System Works gathered and refashioned in its incredible prowess as a top-tier fighting game developer represented a great cast even at launch. You had your classic rushdown characters in Gran and Katarina, your barraging speed in Lancelot and Charlotta, your technique in Percival and Lowain, and power in Vaseraga and Ladiva, just to name a few. Even putting aside the fact that the cast has expanded by eight characters since launch, Granblue Fantasy Versus was a game that covered many of its bases in traditional fighting game combat styles.
One of the undisputed stars of the show was absolutely the graphics. Using a 2.5D cel-shaped style with some extremely sharp designs, Arc System Works created a signature style in Guilty Gear Xrd that translated over to Granblue Fantasy Versus. All of the characters look gorgeous and matches play smooth as butter (provided a good connection is in play). The supers in particular (dubbed Skybound Arts and Super Skybound Arts) are a cavalcade of fantastic destruction that are great no matter which character you play. From the intro animations to the finish, a Granblue Fantasy Versus match is a beautiful thing to behold.
And it’s not hard to bring the most out of your fight in the game either. In meshing RPG mechanics with a fighting game, Arc System Works and Cygames designed Granblue Fantasy Versus to be easy as pie to approach and rewarding to master. Much of the game’s moves and combos are strapped to easy inputs, but there’s also a skill button that takes all of the guesswork and technicality out of each character’s moves at the cost of having to deal with a cooldown to get that move back. With that in mind, any player regardless of skill could approach Granblue Fantasy’s moveset and even string together simple combos with ease while there’s still plenty of opportunities for avid players to build big combos and damage with enough practice.
It may have been a light year for fighting games, but even if a year had been packed, Granblue Fantasy Versus would have been a top-tier choice for Shacknews Best Fighting Game of 2020. The blend of accessibility, gorgeous visuals, and variety of playstyles and characters is representative of the excellence of Arc System Works’ fighting game mastercraft and the vast and interesting universe Cygames has built with Granblue Fantasy. In such a light year as this, nothing else even comes close to what Granblue Fantasy Versus does.
Check out the other winners from The Shacknews Awards 2020 in our Year of the Games: 2020 article.
TJ Denzer posted a new article, Shacknews Best Fighting Game of 2020 - Granblue Fantasy Versus