Granblue Fantasy: Relink — Here Soon!
Very soon. In fact, it’s possible — if not likely — that the demo will be available tomorrow. Unfortunately, the demo will only be available on PlayStation 4 and 5 even though the game will launch on PC as a simultaneous release come the start of February.
I’ll be giving the demo a shot, whenever it does land. We should be getting a slice of the single-player game, a selection of earlier game multiplayer missions and a playable roster of 11 characters, from a total of 18 characters at launch. (Or 19 if you count Gran and Djeeta separately, but they play the same, as the male/female option for the main ‘Captain’ character.)
But if you still don’t know what the game is, or why I’m so hyped for it… Well, perhaps I can shed some light there!
What Type of Game is Granblue Fantasy: Relink?
I think the best way I can explain it is to break it down into the three core elements that I see.
It is an Action JRPG, similar in visual style to the likes of Tales of Arise
Similar also in that you will select a limited number of character skills to equip at any given moment, to further enhance your fighting style.
Skills in Granblue Fantasy Relink cover the gamut of supportive buffs and heals, to long wind-up nukes, defensive counters and taunts and plenty in between. Overlaying this will be attack combos, dodges, and blocks. Executing a perfect dodge or block will provide a short period of invulnerability or a parry respectively.
The combat as a whole seems to be erring on the side of being a little more basic to control, providing depth through just how differently the various characters will control and feel to play.
If this was all there was to it… Well; I might still be interested. Tales of Arise was my Game of the Year in 2021, after all. But Granblue doesn’t have quite the same pedigree in games. It started life as a Gacha game, not exactly a genre I am most endeared to. Then it next took life in a fighting game. Another genre that doesn’t precisely call to me.
It doesn’t end there.
It has a Multiplayer Lobby / Quest structure similar to that of Monster Hunter
Quests will range from story missions with your more typical ARPG-style enemies, to big meaty boss encounters, the type of which may well fit the scope of a Monster Hunter game (if not quite the style).
Boss enemies will include breakable parts, weak and extra-strong armoured spots, drop loot used to power up your weapons and characters, and just generally follow the template laid out by Monster Hunter very closely.
Except! All within the trappings of a character-driven ARPG.
These quests will unlock throughout the course of the story campaign, so you’ll get access to these fairly quickly. They extend past the campaign as well though, and form much of the end-game content available.
If Multiplayer isn’t quite your thing though — you can go in with your AI party from the main game. Or just go it solo with a single character if you’re looking to really flex your muscles a bit. Any mix you wish in the middle works too, e.g., 2 humans and 2 AI, or just 2 humans and no AI, etc.
It has ‘Raid’ style content that puts me in the mind of Final Fantasy XIV or Guild Wars 2
I should clarify immediately, that at least to the best of my knowledge, the player cap for any mission is still just four. So, when I say ‘raid’ style content here, I’m not — for better or worse — referring to the involved player counts.
Rather I’m referring to the mechanics of the bosses, their scope, and the feel of doing battle with them.
Cygames recently released a ‘Boss Battle Trailer’, which I’ll put below for perhaps a little insight into what I mean here — although it looks like the bosses on display here are from the main campaign rather than jumping into the post-campaign bosses, like ol’ Radis Whitewyrm shown just above.
Arekkz Gaming has footage of the Radis Whitewyrm fight you can take a look at if you wish, too. They didn’t get to go hands-on with it, rather it was two of the more seasoned developers (joined by 2 AI) giving a demonstration of how it works.
In the demonstration, we can see mechanics on the order of needing to defeat adds and throw them at the boss in order to strip buffs, a barrage of ground AoE strikes, breath attacks, tail whips and more. From the players, they had a tanky character called Vane, capable of channelling an invulnerability bubble. Inside which, their caster was able to stand in safety and fully charge their mega nuke to get off a boatload of damage which would’ve been much trickier to get off while also having to deal with everything going on around them.
And apparently, this is by far not the most advanced or difficult boss coming with the launch content.
What Might Go Wrong?
So those are the main reasons Granblue Fantasy: Relink went from ‘I don’t even know what you are’ to ‘Give me nowwww!’ so quickly.
But I have a few areas of concern which might kill off this hype fairly shortly after contact with the reality.
The most likely to happen, but also the least impactful to my enjoyment, in my reckoning, is that the story will be a bit pants. I don’t really have a lot to base that feeling on, so I could be completely wrong and utterly blown away. But frankly, should it indeed be pants, well… I can’t say that I enjoy Monster Hunter games for their story, so I don’t expect it to have much of an impact on me here, either.
Much more worrying to me would be if either of the following is true.
- The combat lacks any real depth
- Character progression is locked behind a truly intense grind
On the combat; I’m neither expecting nor even necessarily wanting Devil May Cry-level action combat; but if you can one- or two-button your way through the entire game with no regard for the enemy or what your build is, then I don’t expect the game will grip me for very long.
For what it’s worth — I don’t think this is very likely to be the case. Each character’s playstyle is different and there are some easier than others to be sure; there are some characters that lean more into timing mechanics, others that are more combo-focused, and yet others who have most of their impact through utilisation of their skills at the right times in the right ways — so I think I’ll find something to enjoy here.
In terms of the grind… Well, once upon a time, I thought the ‘grind’ would be enough to prevent me from enjoying Monster Hunter. And boy was I wrong about that. However, I think the time requirements and progression of power in Monster Hunter is very finely tuned. It wouldn’t take much to push it over the edge in the wrong direction, but they didn’t.
Will Granblue Fantasy: Relink have that same balance? Enough systems or ways to progress that even if you’re experiencing a blocker on one particular area there is something else to still feel good about? Will progression feel meaningful enough to warrant the time spent?
I really don’t know, nor do I think the demo will provide too much more clarity on that either.
I hope that’s not an issue; as there is a lot to like here otherwise. It seems like Cygames are taking steps to be as inclusive as possible, too. Not only through difficulty modes but also with accessibility modes — freely usable without penalty by anyone.
There will be an assist and full-assist modes. The former will execute combat combos for you with the press of a single button. The latter will only require the user to use the directional controls to move in the direction of what they want to attack.
That’s awesome! It harkens back to the difficulty debate post from a while back, asking that we consider the difference between difficulty and accessibility.
Pending either an absolutely atrocious experience with the demo, or overwhelmingly poor launch reviews, I’m pretty much in for launch. So we’ll see how things go, I guess! Can’t wait. :)