Granblue Fantasy: Relink will have a solid original story full of dozens of hours of content for players to explore, but once you roll credits on that, there will be plenty more to do. This game emphasizes co-op, big encounters, and a bustling buffet of endgame content that will challenge players to their fullest across a variety of battles and quests. Recently, Cygames invited myself and others to sit down and give both co-op and the endgame quests a try. I came away with the feeling that co-op composition is every bit as important as a raid in World of Warcraft or Destiny 2 while the action remains as stylish as the Devil May Cry and NieR series.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink is a party-based action-RPG, and you can assemble a party of up to four characters for most of it. What’s more, you also have the opportunity to have each character of the party manned by either CPU or another player. You can even leave a slot in the party open and run a smaller group if you want that kind of challenge. More important, however, is that every party member fills out the team with their own unique skills and abilities. It’s hack-and-slash action game in the style of titles like Devil May Cry where you use a combination of attack strings and skills to demolish and evade foes, but you only control one of the four characters at a time. It might be a little hard to choose, too, because Granblue Fantasy: Relink is full of fan-favorite playable characters from throughout the GB universe, not the least of which includes Gran/Djeeta, Katalina, Io, Eugen, Rackam, Rosetta, Lancelot, Perceival, Narmaya, Zeta, and Charlotta, just to name a few.
Every one of these characters has their own playstyle and niche to fill in the party. Some of them are built for offense, others for defense, some for agility, some for lifesteal, and so on. They also each have a core element to their attacks such as fire or wind, which you can take advantage of if your enemies happen to be weak against that character’s element. As my colleagues and I took on quests, we learned the value of not only figuring out which characters fit our playstyles solo, but also which ones worked out best for the group.
Take Vane for instance. He’s a water type warrior with a big poleaxe, and a lot of defensive abilities, one of which puts up a shell that negates damage to himself and allies inside of it for a certain duration or until Vane’s player lets go of the button that activates the skill. That allows a huge damage dealer like the mage, Io, the safety she needs to bust out her most lengthy and damaging spells. Cygames showed us that this synergy of defense and offense was just one option among many that you can assemble with the game’s cast.
Aiding your development of your playstyle are unique weapons and sigils found throughout the game. You can buy and discover weapons and level them up to provide various stat boosts to your favorite characters. Sigils let you customize your characters in a bigger way, though. They are equippable bonuses that offer all sorts of different effects depending on what you want to do. Have a character that you want in the mix doing damage and sustaining themselves? Attack and lifesteal sigils might be best. Want to tank for your team? Defense, HP, and enemy aggro sigils are good for that. Want to hide in the back and deal massive damage? Then you want sigils that reduce enemy attention on you while boosting your skill damage and cooldowns. We got a look at some of the available sigils and there are tons of combinations to explore.
The burliest of beasts
You’ll need all that customization and variety in your party for what Granblue Fantasy: Relink has waiting for you in some of its quests. As mentioned, the game has a robust main campaign, but it also has tons of side quests and endgame content, including ridiculously difficult encounters.
On one occasion, my colleagues and I went after a griffin that used area of effect whirlwind attacks to blast us while using tornados to draw us close to it or knock us away. I took up the dual sword-wielding Yodarha for that one and focused on dealing as much damage as quickly as I could up front. He’s a damage-per-second fighter that can cover the field fast with his dash attacks and become briefly invincible with his combo finishers. His mobility around foes allowed me to stay on top of the griffin and ensure it couldn’t keep me out of attack range for long. Thankfully, my team also had a heavy hitter in Ghandagoza, a summoner and long-range combatant in Ferry, and a quick striker in Charlotta. It was tight at times, but we were able to finish the griffin before it could finish us.
You can also easily bite off more than you can chew in both character level and composition. We fought another battle with a giant skeleton warrior that deployed dark orbs around the arena to power its abilities. Getting rid of these orbs was key to damaging it, but the big guy doesn’t exactly just let you do that. Unable to clear the orbs fast enough, we quickly became debuffed and were dispatched by that boss in short order. It was clear that our composition wasn’t fit for that situation and would take some leveling and upgrades if we were to stand a chance.
That said, Granblue Fantasy: Relink has a lot for you to do and if you want to take on another quest to get stronger, there are plenty. We enjoyed the cycle of figuring out what characters fit us and why, as well as determining if our parties would work against various foes. I enjoy comboing foes with big damage and good evasion given Granblue Fantasy: Relink’s action-heavy combat, but I couldn’t deny the allure of a defensive character like Vane making the fight safer for all allies. I feel like those who really enjoy raids and character classes in MMORPGs or something like Dungeon Fighter Online are really in for a treat with Relink’s gameplay loop.
Fight together & believe in victory
The more chances I’ve had to play Granblue Fantasy: Relink, the more I enjoy the sheer amount of variety it offers. The stylish action-RPG combat brings out the fighting expertise in me as I assemble the best combos I can while evading enemy attacks. The variety of characters means tons of opportunities to experiment and figure out what fits you and what fits the party. The sigils mean that even two players utilizing similar characters can really define their playstyles from one another. And finally, the peek at endgame quests tells me that we’re going to have our work cut out for us putting it all together to take down some of these nasty foes. I was excited for Granblue Fantasy: Relink before, but given what I’ve seen up to this point, I feel confident it has the makings of an early contender for 2024’s best co-op games.
This preview is based on an early PS5 build offered by the developers. Granblue Fantasy: Relink comes to PS4, PS5, and PC in January 29, 2024.
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