When Cygames announced Granblue Fantasy Versus, a fighting game developed with Arc System Works for PS4 and PC, I was excited even as someone who didn’t play Granblue Fantasy on mobile back then. I trust Arc System Works fighters, and Granblue Fantasy Versus ended up becoming a fantastic game held back by its online. It was accessible, gorgeous, and packed with single player content. It also excelled in its music and aesthetic. When Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising was announced, it seemed to be addressing all complaints I had with the original. I’ve been playing Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising on Steam Deck and PS5 for over a week now, and it is fantastic in just about every way.
If you’ve already played Granblue Fantasy Versus, Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising feels like a blend of an enhanced re-release and a sequel combined. In Guilty Gear terms, to me this feels like going from Xrd Sign to Xrd Rev 2 directly. There are visual upgrades, gameplay enhancements, new characters, story content, and a ton of modes offline and online. Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising also includes the full story from the original game so this is the version to get if you’re new to the series.
On the single player side of things Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising includes an arcade mode, versus mode, training mode (with a lot of useful data options in the UI), story mode (including the original game’s story), replay mode, journal (gallery), and a figure studio letting you pose specific characters for screenshots in different situations. The arcade mode also has its own requirements to unlock another path which I will not spoil here.
Before playing the second open beta to test the online on PS5, I wasn’t sure how different Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising’s gameplay would feel. I’m glad the team added enough to make things fresh with the Brave Point system for the Raging Strike and Brave Counter mechanics, and how it makes you strategize on the fly with its risk system. This is all complemented by the meter changes and dash system as well. It really feels like Arc System Works managed to get everything they could to Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising. After spending a week playing Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising, I tried playing Granblue Fantasy Versus with a friend. It was quite a difference.
I’ve now tested the online in the final build on both PS5 and Steam Deck for a few days. Everything is holding up well, and the only issues I’ve had, are to do with some lobby instability against a handful of fights out of the many I’ve played so far. There are no Mortal Kombat 1-like high ping issues, or anything. The online feels great, and I’ve even tested against friends and randoms in different countries over a wired connection on Steam Deck. The Grand Bruise Legends mode is a lovely blend of Fall Guys-style gameplay with Granblue, and it has its own unlock system. Barring that, you can create a lobby or opt to do ranked/casual matches. You can also create your own room to invite friends and more. My one complaint is the lobbies have 30fps movement that doesn’t feel good at all. I hope this can be fixed for PS5 and PC.
Granblue Fantasy Versus was already a gorgeous game, but the developers have outdone themselves with Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising. I adore how it looks and feels to play. The skill animations, character designs, cut-scenes, and stages look fantastic. It also runs really well on Steam Deck and PS5. Revisiting the original game alongside this one really shows how polished Rising feels. It isn’t a huge change, but has improvements in many areas.
I was also glad to see this release continue to offer an English dub option. I played both English and Japanese voiceover options equally in the original, and stuck to English so far. The new character voices are at par with the rest of the characters. This is definitely one of the better dubs in a Japanese fighting game. Barring the voices, Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising continues to have amazing music. Despite a lot of older songs, I love the soundtrack. The one oddity that I kind of expected, is the Uma Musume partner characters like Gold Ship who I immediately unlocked when servers went live, do not have dubs. I was curious if Cygames would dub them, but right now, it seems like there is no dub for the Uma Musume partner characters. Also make sure you claim the rewards so you can unlock Gold Ship immediately like I did. She’s beyond amazing with her dialogue here.
Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising’s PC graphics options include resolution (864×486 to 1440p for my monitor), display mode (fullscreen, borderless, windowed), v-sync, graphics quality presets, resolution scaling (20-100), anti-aliasing quality, post-processing quality, texture quality, shadow quality, and VFX quality. These quality settings go: low, mid, high, and highest. You can also use the optimize display settings option for the game to auto detect for your PC or Steam Deck.
On Steam Deck, Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising has no issues running and looks great in every mode I could test barring the pre-rendered cut-scenes in story mode. I tested these on default Proton, Proton Experimental (bleeding edge), and 3 versions of GE including 8-25 with no luck. GE gets them to display a static image at least, while the others show a color bar pattern. Barring that issue, it plays flawlessly, and I even used my Hori Fighting Stick Alpha and Razer Kitsune on it wired. On the visual side, if you play at 720p, everything at high will result in no performance issues. I forced 1080p and downsampled, and saw some dips in performance during special moves only. The actual gameplay had no issues in my testing, but I will be doing more testing on this front through the week. It feels like it was made taking into account handheld PCs, and I hope the cut-scenes can be fixed in updates or by Valve.
If you own a PS5 and Steam Deck, having played it on both, Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is better on PS5 visually and has faster load times. Barring that, the experience holds up brilliantly on the small Steam Deck screen, and this setup is great for portable play with or without an arcade controller. I got the original Granblue Fantasy Versus on both PS4 and Steam, and would do the same here given the option. Since there’s a free version, I’d recommend trying it out on your PC and PS5 to see where you find it better. Since the game has crossplay, there’s no real disadvantage to the online population.
Having now seen the launch day DLC available, I’d recommend buying the Deluxe Edition if you want to buy the full game. Getting the standard edition now and then upgrading will cost a lot more. I know some publishers encourage you to buy more expensive editions rather than standard and then upgrading, but this price difference is much higher than I’ve seen with other fighting game publishers.
Having now tested the netcode and multiplayer modes on Steam Deck, Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is chock full of amazing gameplay, characters, music, and a robust online experience. This feels like the complete package right from the get go, and is a great new option for any newcomer to fighting games with its low barrier of entry. If you aren’t sure if Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising is for you, give the free version a shot. In its current state, I can see myself playing this for a long time on Steam Deck and PS5. Cygames and Arc System Worked nailed everything I had hoped for here, and delivered one of the best fighting game day one releases in years.
Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising Steam Deck review score: 5/5
Update: This review has been updated to reflect the online experience on Steam Deck.
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