7 useful things to know if you're trying to get good in Granblue Fantasy Versus

New fighting games always bring their fair share of challenges — here are some interesting tidbits to help you out with Cygames' fighter

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • February 14, 2020 at 1:45 p.m. PST

Granblue Fantasy Versus came out last week in Asian territories, and I'm one of the overseas players who decided to get the Japanese version to play it as early as possible. I wasn't playing alone of course, and had several of my fighting game enthusiast friends stay over for a few days, picking apart the game and its intricacies together as best we could.

Playing matches was of course the main event and the most fun part, and while doing so as well as some training mode sessions to try and figure out certain situations we'd ran into, there were a lot of things about this game that dawned on us that weren't immediately obvious. As such, it felt apt to write this piece for anyone trying to get into the game. A lot of this isn't readily apparent from just playing the game, so there may be some nuggets of information you aren't aware of.

Go for links over autocombos when possible

Although they aren't as prevalent as in our other recent Arc System Works-developed licensed fighting game, Dragon Ball FighterZ, autocombos do indeed exist in Granblue Fantasy Versus, and are a quite useful 3-hit option when you aren't sure exactly what you can confirm to in the heat of the moment, or even if you're playing a character like Metera who doesn't really have that much in the way of links outside of airborne juggles.

What's worth noting, however, is that whenever you have an opportunity to go from a normal to a special or a super, it might be worth checking in training mode just how much value those extra hits are netting you. The thing about autocombos in this game is that the first hit will be quite powerful, while the next two will pale in comparison, meaning that in combos they will scale the end result very heavily.

In most situations where you have a juggle opportunity for a super, it's much more favorable to just do a regular medium or heavy attack straight to the super rather than padding it with those extra hits — even if they might feel better or look cooler.

Crouching state adds one more frame of hitstun

This shouldn't be too much of a foreign concept for players of certain titles, as this is customary in for example Guilty Gear as well, but if you happen to be coming from something like Street Fighter, this might not be something you'd think to look for at first glance.

What this means is that there are several links in the game that are only possible if the opponent is crouching, one such example being Katalina connecting her close standing medium to her crouching medium, a very useful tool for her which you'll have to visually confirm your opponent's state to use effectively.

There doesn't seem to be any difference on whether you're blocking a move in a crouching state or a standing state, though, so don't worry about holding down back when you're getting pressured ... Well, besides for the obvious overhead risk, of course.

Easy inputs have notable drawbacks, though they aren't always obvious

It's well-known that Granblue Fantasy Versus has a easy input system for both specials and supers, presumably to make newcomers more comfortable if they aren't used to the slightly more technical fighting game motions, and the universal drawback we've all seen in the past is that this puts the move on a much longer cooldown than regular inputs would.

However, there's more to it than that — as one might expect, command grabs all do less damage across the board if you do the easy input for them, and while regular supers do the same amount of damage through easy input, a friend of mine did an extended combo with Zeta and found that in a lengthy combo, the easy input super would end up doing less in the end.

Outside of this, there have also been several examples uncovered, such as in this tweet from toashel showing that Gran's okizeme is worse if he uses the easy input for his Rising Sword as well as this tweet from EC LaForce showcasing that the effective range for cinematic hit with Gran's Catastrophe is decreased when using easy inputs.

It's worth going into training mode and trying to figure out exactly what drawbacks easy inputs have for your character, obviously outside of the extended cooldown period. I'd recommend to check your supers in particular, since they're more enticing to use quick inputs for when you need to react quickly, since supers already eat your entire bar and therefore aren't susceptible to any cooldown drawbacks.

As they're more likely to be used because of this since you won't be seeing an obvious negative to them, it's a good idea to do the lab work so you can see just what the easier route is actually costing you — there's no such thing as a free easy input super, as they say.

Universal overheads are natural throw counters

Universal overheads in Granblue Fantasy Versus are performed by pressing the medium and heavy buttons simultaneously, and they all have airborne properties a while after startup, and will lead to a combo on counter hit for each character.

What's interesting is how they're designed to specifically counter throws, as most of the throw's recovery will register as a counter hit, meaning that not only will your overhead dodge the throw due to its airborne properties, it will also catch the long recovery of it and give you a counter hit, letting you net a combo as well.

This makes it something of a rock-paper-scissor game between overheads, throws and regular hits when pressuring your opponent, so you'd do well to remember your options to avoid getting stuck in sticky situations.

It's also worth noting that universal overheads seem to be -4 across the board for every character, with the fastest move (that we've found anyway) being 5 frames. In other words, universal overheads are just barely safe on block so while you won't get punished if your opponent is ready to guard, but they'll gain the advantage.

Sweeps and EX moves will always lead to a hard knockdown

Although we did see a massive reduction to the hard knockdown capabilities in the game compared to what the original beta offered back during last summer, that's not to say that hard knockdowns don't exist anymore. They definitely do, but you have to either take big risks, have a good handle on which hits can lead to your sweep or burn some cooldowns to get them.

As the header above states, hard knockdowns will, from our experience, always occur after sweeps or EX moves. It's possible that a few EX moves in the game are exceptions to this rule, but from every single one we tried out, hard knockdowns would always occur.

Although it can be scary to burn that EX move since it'll render even the non-EX versions unusable for a period of time, this is quite the enticing payoff for doing so. In order to properly pressure your opponent and keep them subdued, you'll have to manage the risk/reward of cooldowns... Or just have some really scary confirms into sweep, or even godlike reads on it.

Anti-airs are where the real damage of the game lies

One interesting aspect of Granblue Fantasy Versus is that oftentimes, grounded combos won't net you very much damage, especially not midscreen.

What will let you lay heavy smackdowns, however, is if you manage to catch your opponent in the air, as juggles from anti-airs or just airborne hits in general can give massive rewards, and lead to very long sequences that often have solid corner carry as well, giving you the much coveted okizeme situation.

This seems to be fairly universal across the cast, where a anti-air hit will net you massive damage and a good situation afterwards, making jumping a fairly risky option in this game.

Of course, it's also possible to block in the air, so you can't take your anti-airs entirely for granted. While some moves have unblockable properties against airborne opponents (often EX reversals or supers), these are rarely hits which will let you juggle for high damage afterwards, meaning that the jump and anti-air situation is a bit of a mindgame, but one which can net very heavy rewards if you're on point when your opponent comes flying at you.

You can't block right after dashing, but you are able to roll or spot dodge

This one may feel extremely unintuitive to players who are used to games that are highly mobile as there's usually ways to mitigate this by cancelling your stop motion, but in Granblue Fantasy Versus, once you commit to dashing (which is more like running), you're not going to be able to block right as you stop.

In other words, you'll have to be very careful with your movement, and either only run up while your opponent is downed, or stop at a distance where you feel safe about not being counterattacked, or even just go for attacks yourself right as you stop running — going in with guns blazing, as they say.

The other available option is the one mentioned in this section's header, namely rolling or spot dodging, which is possible at the very end of a dash. These defensive options are risky, since neither has invulnerability to throws and rolls can be caught by low attacks, but they are viable options if you've got a good read.

It's worth remembering that these manoeuvres are part of your arsenal when you're looking to rapidly advance on your enemy.

We're still just about a week out from Granblue Fantasy Versus' release, and although we live in a social media landscape where fighting game tech spreads like wildfire and new discoveries reach the entire world in a matter of seconds, it's still very early in the game's lifespan and there will without a doubt be many more details to uncover about the game's intricacies.

Just based on the very first week, these are some interesting features worth knowing if you're interested in trying out the game and want to level up, so hopefully at least a few of them were helpful.

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