Yo, you wanna play some footsies?
Granblue Fantasy: Versus is finally out, and if you’ve read our review, you should have a solid idea of how it works compared to other fighting games. Granblue Fantasy: Versus, I think, succeeds in making every character feel distinct in their playstyle and preferred strategy. You’ll just need to take some time testing each of them in the training mode to really figure out which fighter is right for you.
If you pick based on aesthetics alone, then it may be easier to pick the seductive Metera or the edgelord Vaseraga. But if you want to figure out who best fits you in terms of playstyle like keepaway, rushdown, or mixup, then here is a general overview of every initial character from launch, from someone who has been at the game since it first debuted overseas.
I’ll go over each character from the launch roster, in a simplified explanation of how they play, and important moves they’ll be relying on. Damage is high, so matches can end quickly if you guess wrong a few times in a row. Plus, there’s not a lot of distance to the corner, so a good chunk of a match is going to be spent either doling out or suffering through some especially powerful corner combos.
Gran, as the main hero, is an all-around fighter with incredibly potent stagger pressure. Depending on the matchup, he can make it very difficult for his opponent to do anything other than block. Because of all of his tools, he’s a very good all-rounder, using his fast fireball to control space when he wants or just rush in with his advancing attack, Overdrive Surge, before pressing a lot of buttons that are plus on block.
- Gran literally has a tool for every occasion: Reginleiv is a fireball for zoning, Overdrive Surge gets you in and is safe on block when spaced right, and Rising Sword is an invincible reversal to get out of jail free.
- Close M and crouch L are notoriously plus on block and fast to start, letting Gran pressure opponents into making mistakes if they panic to break out.
- His Skybound and Super Skybound Arts are invincible on startup, giving you high damage punishes if you predict your opponent is going to do something dumb.
Katalina, the big sister figure to Gran and Lyria, has largely the same strengths as Gran: projectile zoning, an advancing attack, and a reversal. The difference is Katalina’s sword gives her longer reach for more effective pokes, but her advancing attack isn’t as safe compared to Gran’s. Otherwise, Katalina is also an all-rounder like him, with some slight trades that make her more suited to frustrating opponents with long-range pokes before capitalizing on mistakes.
- Katalina has a tool to handle anything that comes her way. Frozen Blade for zoning, Enchanted Lands to close space, and Emerald Sword as an invincible reversal.
- Katalina’s stand out buttons are close M and far M. Far M is a long-reaching poke to keep your opponent in check and close M links into itself, making it a great hit confirm for a combo or a strong pressure tool on block.
Lancelot is a fast rushdown character who relies on confusing mixups to bewilder opponents before opening them up. While his left/right mixups can be negated by holding the block button rather than holding back, his high/low game is still an effective way to confuse people while they block his slow-moving setup projectile. Once Lancelot scores a knockdown, he can suck his opponents down into a deadly vortex. His fast run, effective command dash, and multitude of air options making getting in on unprepared opponents a snap.
- Wogenstrom is a slow-moving but fast-recovering fireball that Lancelot can run behind to brute force the neutral into his favor. It’s not great in a fireball war but use it after knockdown to get his oki going and really start putting the pressure on as they’re forced to block it.
- Lancelot’s unique action is a command dash called Wirberlwind. When used in the air, Lancelot quickly hits the ground, letting him immediately go into his fast low-hitting crouch L, forcing a passive opponent to guess if he’ll jump for an overhead or hit the ground for a low.
- The first two hits of his rekkas, Southern Cross, are safe on block and create frame traps if you space the timing of the follow-ups. Combined with close M, crouching L, and his footspeed, Lancelot can keep his opponent blocking for a while.
Percival, Lancelot’s fellow dragon knight, uses the long reach of his sword Flamberge to keep his opponents blocking until he can open them up. Percival’s sword provides an immense range that lets him whiff punish his opponent’s bad decisions. He is also a resource character, stocking flame orbs from Trauemerei to reap increased strengths on his special attacks to really lay on the damage whether they block or hit. Since he is a resource character, Percival will be making micro-decisions on knockdown whether to ready his oki or charge Trauemerei stocks. But with his far M and H to use as spacing, you can potentially scare your opponent into giving you the breathing room you want to charge orbs.
- Far medium is an incredible poke, both reaching far and moving Percival forward slightly. Cancel it into Anzuenden, which is basically Sol Badguy’s Gunflame, to really force your opponent to block or act.
- Lord’s Charge is the cornerstone of Percival’s pressure and mixup. As a fast-moving command dash, he can hit low, perform a wide swing that keeps his turn on block, or do nothing and throw instead, with all these actions being enhanced with Trauemerei orbs. The heavy follow-up, Zerreisen, also does obscene damage, especially with orbs stocked on a clean hit. Learning his combos to punish mistakes into Zerreisen can really tip the match into his favor.
- Percival’s rising attack, Platzen, is very useful. Not only is it a reversal, but the medium and heavy versions start with a shoulder charge, making it easier to use in combos that end in a knockdown. Of course, it also benefits with increased damage with orbs stocked up.
Charlotta, also known as the pipsqueak reincarnation of E. Honda, is a difficult-to-contain and difficult-to-punish rushdown character whose constant barrage of safe attacks and mixups let her crush the opposition under her small, adorable heel. Her small stature is a double-edged sword, making her a smaller target to hit but with shorter range on her normals. While she has no way to deal with fireballs effectively, once she pushes someone into the corner, Charlotta’s damage skyrockets thanks to her corner combos and her demon flip mixup. It’s important to note that, thanks to easy inputs, Charlotta’s charge input special moves are always on tap with the touch of the easy input button.
- Sword of Lumiel is Charlotta’s way of keeping her turn. Anyone who blocks this is forced to respect her or get their counterattack stuffed. Combined with close M, which advances Charlotta forward, and she can be annoying to push out once she gets in.
- Shining Onslaught has a fast recovery on whiff. Not only is it difficult to punish on block, but spacing it so it whiffs right in front of the opponent can let Charlotta sneak in a surprise low with her crouching L.
- Noble Strategy provides Charlotta with Akuma’s Demon Flip mixups, including a dive that lets her start her offense and a grab that leads to damaging combos in the corner.
- Unlike most reversals, Charlotta’s Holy Ladder is difficult to punish on block depending on the matchup, ranging from unrewarding to impossible. There’s almost no reason to risk the longer cooldown on the EX version unless you absolutely want the extra damage, otherwise, the lesser versions have just as much invincibility with the same relative safeness on block.
Lowain might look like a joke character but he has several ways of throwing a ton of crap on the screen to control neutral, with Brofam and Lady Katerpillar, before becoming a setup character who thrives on people who decide to block rather than risk a trade. Asides from being a setup character, he’s also somewhat of a comeback character who turns dangerous when backed into a corner. His Super Skybound Art is capable of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, as even a knowledgeable opponent who knows how to avoid chip damage still has to deal with the Lowain player changing up his attacks to throw them off. Since there’s no way of stopping Lowain from using his SSA to call mom when in a pinch, you should never count him out.
- Crouch M and crouch U not only lets Lowain poke, but it also lets him low profile most attacks. True to Lowain’s smooth personality, these two attacks let Lowain slip through higher attacks and smack his opponent. Both moves are also special cancelable, with Awesome Sauce being his go-to move.
- Both Sammy & Tommy, as well as Magnificent Tool of Destruction, are Lowain’s main setup moves that let him approach or create oki. While they can be negated with just about any attack, Lowain is free to act how he wants while these moves play out. He can even create true unblockables by calling Elsam out to hit with his low hitting slide while Lowain prepares either a jump in or his overhead.
- While Human Pyramid Attack is certainly usable, any Lowain player worth their salt will wait until they can call mom with his SSA, Try This On For Size! There’s no stopping this move from coming out, so Lowain can use this when he’s in a bad spot to immediately get out of jail free. All of Yggdrasil’s moves can be spot dodged but do a ton of chip damage if the opponent isn’t confident in timing it correctly, so the real challenge is tricking your opponent into messing up their timing with different moves. The most effective strategy tends to involve trying to trick the opponent into blocking either the green projectile or the lightning strike so that the unblockable lava is guaranteed. In most cases, even the most basic patterns tend to push an opponent to the opposite end of the screen, letting Lowain reappear onscreen safely. Skilled opponents can figure out a way to sprint up before Yggy disappears and be in a position to punish Lowain.
Ladiva is the grappler of the game, and the character I personally main. She differs from other grapplers in the genre in that her game plan doesn’t 100% revolve around landing her command grab but rather putting her opponent in 50/50 mixups to either block her attacks or jump to avoid a buffered command grab. She can’t play like Zangief because the range on her command grab isn’t extreme and Ladiva’s neutral strategy almost non-existent. Despite that though, since it’s relatively simple to carry someone to the corner, Ladiva is capable of doing 50% easily with her corner loops. Ladiva’s matchups are tough, but you’ll definitely like the damage she puts out as a grappler if like you like grabbing people out of crouch block and making them sweat on her grab mixups. Just be wary of how she absolutely devours cooldowns since her EX moves make her especially powerful but she’ll sometimes be missing her special moves at critical moments.
- Far and away Ladiva’s most important move is the Jewel Resort Screwdriver. Since the light and EX versions come out as fast as her fastest lights, moves that give her frame advantage on block make her very scary to deal with. The main plan with her Screwdriver is buffer the 360 input or easy input it as late as possible during her blockstrings so that it actually works since grabs don’t work in hitstun. After conditioning people to fear it, she can substitute with other attacks that will hit opponents during the startup of their jump animation. The medium version is three frames slower but has great reach for that surprise factor,. Just be wary of people mashing lights to stop it. Since it’s slower though, it easier to time it outside of blockstun.
- Love’s Headbutt is extremely important in setting people up for Ladiva’s 50/50 guessing game. The frame advantage given from the medium and EX versions allow Ladiva to continue her pressure, but her EX version is special in how many uses it has. It provides frame advantage on block, extends combos on hit, and can be repeated two more times for just damage and hard knockdown. So depending on what you need, you can either go for guaranteed damage or put them through a 50/50 and gamble for more damage.
- Elegant Lariat is key in Ladiva’s corner carry and corner loops but despite it sending Ladiva careening forward, it’s generally not a great tool for closing space in neutral. It also whiffs on crouching characters, which makes it absolutely maddening to hit confirm correctly. Still, this move guard crushes on stand block, meaning Ladiva can once again prepare her grab mixup as they recover.
- Since every matchup will be looking to zone you, you’ll be using far M a lot to counter poke and maybe even fish for counter hits. Far H is a high risk/high reward move with more active frames but it tends to whiff on crouchers. Crouching M is Ladiva’s only reliable low outside of sweep but it functions like Ryu’s crouch M, being a reliable, long-range low that you can special cancel.
- Ladiva’s Skybound Art is of special mention as Maximum Love Bomb is a unique trump card she can use to immediately punish a fireball. Not only is it invincible, but it is also invincible the entire time as Ladiva quickly crosses half a screen’s length to deliver a punishing blow. It does not go fullscreen though, so you’ll have to hover around mid-screen before using it. Still, it’s fully invincible on startup, so you can easily react to a fireball and pass through completely while delivering this punish.
Welcome to Metera, the exact opposite of Ladiva, being a keepaway zoner. Nearly everything revolves around frustrating her opponent with a variety of projectiles at mid-screen before committing to offense established either from set-play with Aetherial Seal or fast overheads with her Zephyr hop. To counterbalance this, Metera has mediocre frame data and no reversal to contest people who get close. However, Metera’s Zephyr gives her great, if not predictable options in the air to escape the corner. If you want a character who zones like Sagat but still has damaging combos in the corner, Metera’s your girl.
- Metera’s far H is actually a mid hitting projectile which can be canceled into either high or low Starry Sky. She prefers mid-screen zoning to fullscreen because the opponent has time to use the crossover move to pass between far H and Starry Sky. If the opponent is between mid-screen to close, far M is her safest poke. If they get any closer than that though, Metera is better off blocking.
- Metera also has access to three different lows, far L, crouch L, and crouch U, which is also a sliding sweep not unlike a certain dictator’s slide from Street Fighter V. Since Metera also has bad movement speed, crouch U is not only used to knock people down but also push them into the corner where they’re bound to have a bad time.
- Crouch H is an anti-air shot that can be fired as a low angle for pre-emptive jumps or a steep angle for people jumping right on Metera. Metera lacks any good defensive options if an opponent is right on top of her head, so being ready on the draw with this early is important for Metera to capitalize off anti-air shots.
- Since Starry Sky can be ducked or jumped over like Sagat’s fireball game, Metera has two other tools to establish dominance during neutral. The Great Fall creates a shower of arrows at certain points away from Metera that can stop advances and is also an air unblockable hit on the way up. Aetherial Seal is a butterfly that does nothing by itself but explodes when it comes into contact with any of Metera’s arrows. Both of these moves are especially useful on oki since most of Metera’s other moves aren’t all that great at challenging other attacks.
Of the two hardcore zoning characters, Ferry is stronger than Metera in terms of pure keepaway. Her main tools to challenge neutral have huge, active, difficult to avoid hitboxes. It’s not a stretch to say that she can tilt players by just pressing H and keeping people out with a face full of whip.
But her game plan isn’t the same as Metera’s because Ferry is a setplay character. Ferry’s plan revolves around hitting her opponent with her pet, Geegee, which hits multiple times and sets them up for Ferry’s mixup game on block. She mainly achieves this by hitting them with Gespenst then using Heel to drag them in and knock them down so that Geegee can park on top of them to start the mixup. Ferry’s keepaway also benefits Granblue Fantasy Versus’ unique cooldown mechanics, as she can keep her opponent in check with her long-range buttons while her moves go into cooldown until you’re ready to use her setplay again. If you’re a fan of zoning and setups like Menat from Street Fighter V, you should try Ferry.
- Far M, far H, and crouch M are all of Ferry’s long-range moves, perfect for keep people out and conditioning them to block at a distance. Gespenst can’t combo from most of these moves unless it’s the EX version, but staggering this move after Ferry’s big buttons keep people on their toes unless they want to lose health for not paying attention.
- Ferry’s main trap is called Geegee, Get’em! And any player will quickly learn to hate this little guy if they’re at the receiving end of this move. Like any good setplay tool, Geegee turns into a multi-hitting hitbox, being easy to block in most situations but creating a lockdown that holds people down while Ferry goes for a high/low mixup. It’s important to time Geegee’s arrival exactly as hitting Ferry in any way causes Geegee to disappear.
- Most keepaway characters would kill to have a reversal like Ferry does in the form of Beppo, Sic’em! Only the EX move is invincible on frame 1, which makes this one of the riskier defensive options in the game since a blocked attack means you won’t have access to this move against for quite some time. As if frame 1 invincibility isn’t enough, it also inflicts a hard knockdown, letting Ferry throw out Geegee as an added bonus.
Zeta can do a variety of things thanks to the versatility provided by her spear. She has a beam that will pierce through fireballs, a rush attack that can be repeated in any direction including backwards, and generally good range on her normals thanks to using a polearm as a weapon. All these tools together allow Zeta to engage her opponent freely however she wants and never have to meet them on their terms. If she is forced to deal with an opponent on defense, her options are poor, having no reversal and having to depend on an armored guard point instead. Zeta is a good choice if you want to play rushdown but be flexible outside of it to dictate the match the way you want it to go.
- Zeta’s projectile, Infinite Wonders, is unique in that it is a true beam, so it’ll absolutely crush any other projectile in the game short of another Infinite Wonders in a mirror match. This is the main reason why a rushdown character like Zeta doesn’t fear a zoning strategy as much as most other characters.
- Spear of Arvess is Zeta’s bread and butter move, used as both a combo ender and occasionally as a cheeky poke, so long as you lunge backward after hitting. Angling the follow-ups, especially with the extra follow up on the EX version, allow for more combo potential and safe jump opportunities.
- Knee Assault is the heavy follow up from Zeta’s guard point stance, Rhapsody. This move catapults her forwards while allowing her to continue to attack from the air, adding to her pressure. This move is one of the reasons Zeta’s rushdown can sustain for a long time, though gutsy opponents can reversal out in the small gap in pressure.
- True to being a spear user, Zeta’s far M is a good old fashion thrust that can keep opponents in check. Her crouching M is largely the same but faster. Taken together with far H alongside Infinite Wonders and Zeta can keep people at arm’s length until Zeta is ready to commit to some serious offense.
Vaseraga, the big edgelord with a heart of gold, easily appeals to the player who has a preference for big, bulky, powerhouse who can dish out as much damage as they’ll probably take due to the sheer size of their hitbox. Vaseraga’s main tool is his unique move, Soul Forge, which grants armor to several of his key attacks. In simplified terms, what Vaseraga hopes to do is bully the opponent with his armored moves until they get so scared of pressing buttons against him that they leave themselves open to his command throw. Vaseraga will oftentimes find himself in a catch-22 whenever he scores a knockdown: Vaseraga wants to press the offensive whenever he has the chance but he also needs space to use Soul Forge safely without fear of a punish. If you want to play the biggest character in the game with access to some of the highest damage per hit, Vaseraga (who in English is voiced by SungWon Cho) is your man.
- Far H is similar to Zangief’s fierce punch in Street Fighter V, being a monstrously powerful button to push with a very high commitment to recovery if you whiff it. Crouch H is one of the best anti-airs in the game, being key to some of his highest damage juggles and more than capable of plucking people out of the air from far away. Playing against a Vaseraga that knows what this button is capable of means limiting the time you spend jumping against him.
- Vaseraga’s projectile, Instinction, is invaluable for a character as large and as slow as him. While it doesn’t go fullscreen, it allows Vaseraga to challenge people from farther away without extending his hurtbox, and using it at the end of blockstrings is safe. It, of course, has the double-edged effect of knocking people away to fullscreen, where Vaseraga can’t do anything but chase them down.
- Battalions of Fear is one of Vaseraga’s most valuable moves in neutral, allowing him to force his way into his opponent’s face under the protection of armor if used after a Soul Forge. Like any advancing move, it’s unsafe when used up close, but Vaseraga will usually be using this attack from max range anyways in an attempt to get in on unwilling opponents.
- Savage Rampage is Vaseraga’s special walking stance, each follow up having important properties to take advantage of especially since the stance has armor after Soul Forge. Light attack is a high swing that knocks people out of the air, medium is a nasty low sweep, heavy is plus on block and ground bounces on hit, setting up for extended combos, and the unique button is a mid attack that has its own separate instance of armor for when you think the opponent is going to attempt to challenge you with a fast attack.
That covers the launch cast of Granblue Fantasy: Versus. Two new characters are already on the slate for March 3 with more to follow, so more matchup knowledge will be needed even then. Hopefully, this guide can help you choose who fits you based on your preferred playstyle and even if you pick based on aesthetics, this will hopefully educate you on how your cool new character choice plays in a nutshell.