It’s admittedly been a while since I last laid hands on GBVS in a serious capacity. A lot of games came out since that moved my attention elsewhere. However, with the upgraded Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising coming up, I’ve been eyeing it regularly as a chance to get back to one of my favorite accessible and stylish fighters on the block. I recently had a chance to try it for myself and came away feeling like it’s everything I wanted it to be: A perfect chance at a fresh start in GBVS with characters I love, new ones on the way, and a wealth of new mechanics to make even my favorites feel excitingly different.
Rising to the occasion
There are a lot of changes both drastic and subtle going on in regards to what Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising will bring to the table over the vanilla game. I wasn’t able to check out the rollback netcode, the crossplay, or the reworked lobbies alongside the Grand Bruise Legends party mode and games. However, I was able to see the nitty gritty of combat and it was as good as ever while also feeling refreshing for characters I’ve been playing since the beginning.
Two of the biggest changes in Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising are the addition of Raging Strike and Brave Counter. Raging Strike is an unblockable melee strike that requires 25 percent of your super meter to use. If you’re having a hard time opening your opponent’s defenses up, you can risk a Raging Strike to break through their defenses. If you land it properly, your opponent will take damage and be in Guard Crush state, so you can follow up with regular pressure or go right into a follow up Raging Chain attack for 25 more super meter. It also has immense recovery, so whiffing it against a roll or jump can be devastating. This makes for an interesting risk vs. reward scenario where you can bet it all on breaking your opponent open and I like that risk factor.
Brave Counter is something GBVS arguably should have had from the get-go as it’s a staple throughout other fighting games. GBVS: Rising has a new system with Bravery Points where players start a round with three points and Raging Strikes and Brave Counters will deplete them. If you have at least one Bravery Point and 50 percent super meter, Brave Counter is a reversal move that can be used in the middle of blocking an opponent’s combos or after having been hit by a Raging Strike. It throws your opponent back and gives you leeway to chase after them or regain your composure. In a game where you can easily get bogged down in combos, Brave Counter is a much-needed defensive accessory that allowed me to turn the tide on my opponents when they got too confident.
Less staggering in the mechanics department, but still cool was the new Triple Attack combo system. For my money, Granblue Fantasy Versus has always had the most accessible and reasonable autocombos on the block. Now they’ve been given a neat new trick: You can change the input on your third hit of any autocombo to be an overhead or low hit. It’s about as simple to input as everything else has always been in GBVS, but the options it provides are fantastic.
All of these mechanics went the distance in making my original main, the grappler Ladiva, feel fresh again. Getting in on my opponent meant subjecting them to a wide variety of new threats. I could go for normal melee, an overhead or low, a command grab, or a Raging Strike to break them open and lay down the pain. In the past, I sometimes felt completely stifled if I had my back to the wall. The new wrinkle of watching for and attempting to counter Raging Strike, as well as knowing when to use Brave Counter feel like they are going to be fun new mountains for me to conquer. I came away feeling like I could start fresh and learn all new ways to play a character I’d spent plenty of time on before, and I feel many other players that spent any amount of serious time in GBVS are going to feel the same with Rising.
The skies are calling again
We still have quite some time before Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is upon us. It was at EVO 2023 that we learned of its official November 2023 release date, but there will also be betas to try along the way. Given what we saw of the beta tournament we saw at EVO, I’m interested to see how Cygames adjusts as they move towards launch. However, I’m also excited about what I experienced for myself. The new mechanics in the game aren’t frivolous. They add interesting choices you can make at nearly all stages of a match. Not only am I excited to learn Ladiva like it’s Day 1 all over again, but I’m also interested in giving characters I previously wrote off another try with the new tricks. I only got a taste of what GBVS: Rising had to offer, but it was enough to feel like the main course will be truly grand when it arrives.
This preview is based on an early PS5 version of the game played in a closed event hosted by the publishers. Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising comes out on PS4, PS5, and PC on November 30, 2023.