Gacha Hell: Granblue Fantasy – 1

Gacha games dominate my circle of Twitter, because everybody wants anime wives and husbands to carry on their phones. Of these gacha games, one of the biggest is Granblue Fantasy, by Cygames. While the game has an official English translation, there is no official localization of the game. Considering how much of the game is surprisingly voiced, could it be because English dubbing would be too expensive? Or would Cygames run into trouble setting up separate servers for English players? Whatever the case, English-speaking players have found easy ways to circumvent region blocking to fill my timeline with anime.

At least one of Granblue Fantasy‘s spin-off games may hit English-speaking territories before the actual main game does. Arc System Works is coming out with Granblue Fantasy Versus, a fighting game that’s stated to be coming out in 2020. For some, this game may be the first exposure they’d have to Granblue Fantasy. On top of that, the game is getting an action-RPG kinda spin-off, Granblue Fantasy: Relink, which did get some notoriety in that Platinum Games briefly worked on it.

With all this stuff happening, Granblue Fantasy has taken a hold on my friends and a lot of people I follow recently. Like, even moreso than usual, I guess. Combined with the generosity that I heard Granblue has on holidays, I decided, sure, let’s hop in. And since I’ve blogged about gacha games on this site before, I may as well blog and recap this experience.

For the purposes of this blog, I’m playing through the game’s browser version because I don’t feel like setting up a Japanese iTunes account. If you want to play Granblue Fantasy, here’s the guide I looked at.

The world of Granblue Fantasy is a collection of floating landmasses, with a few of them divided into “skydoms.” In the past, beings known as Astrals used the power of Primal Beasts to rule the skies, but other skydwellers managed to repel them after a war. Nowadays, the skies are being tormented by the Erste Empire, your local evil JRPG empire. And also, your character gets a letter from their father saying that the sky is ending, which seems like a pretty big deal.

Your character is about to leave the village with their little dragon companion Vyrn (as all silent protagonists needs a companion) when an airship suddenly shows up in the sky. A girl falls out of it and lands in a nearby forest, trying to escape her captors, who are Erste Empire soldiers. Despite the girl apparently being a big deal, they only send two soldiers after you, whomst your character beats the shit out of in the tutorial battle.

Granblue’s battle system is easy to get the hang of. There’s the usual elemental system in place with water beating fire, dark and light beating each other depending on who’s on the offensive, etc. If an enemy is left alive for a certain amount of turns they can use a stronger charge attack while you build up your own charge attack through dealing and taking damage.

After the battle, a knight called Katalina shows up, revealing that the girl’s name is Lyria. It’s also at this point that the game finally asks for your character’s name. You also get to choose the gender of your character before the game starts since the initial battle stars your player character, though you can readily change their gender whenever you want. I started out as a girl, but for my own personal preferences, I will switch my gender around depending on my mood. Like, whatever makes stuff look gay, you know?

Anyway, a guy with a really smug voice shows up named Captain Pommern shows up. Katalina apparently works under the empire but has chosen to betray them to spirit Lyria to safety. Lyria apparently has the power to control primals and Katalina wisely decided that maybe that power shouldn’t be in the hands of an empire.

The island your character’s village is on has a shrine dedicated to the primals on it, but because he’s petty, Pommern brings in a hydra to destroy the island out of spite. Your character gets owned, but Lyria taps into the power of the shrine to give the ability to summon. You can have a bunch of creatures to summon to do damage after they’re fully charged, while your main summon also gives you passive benefits. If you’re friends with someone, you also get the passive benefits of the summon they’ve equipped; quick shout-out to Marie, Trick and Jawnsunn for their summons, thank you.

Lyria invokes the power of Bahamut and destroys the shit out of the hydra. Also your character’s life and Lyria’s are also permanently tied together, which seems kinda bad.

In spite of this display of power, empire thugs keep hassling the crew, so Katalina backs your character up in the next battle. Now we’re introduced to skills, which characters will use before the “attack” round and has turn cooldowns. There’s probably a bunch of meta skill synergy stuff, but I’m still too early in to really care. We’re also introduced to chain bursts, where multiple characters that have their charge attack maxed out can do a big combo attack.

Katalina believes that your character’s father was referring to the secret island of Estalucia in his directions to them, where the Astrals were said to live. But first, the gang needs supplies. The party lands near the Knickkanck Shack on the nearby Port Breeze Archipelago, and by lands, I mean crashes. The crew meets Sierokarte, a friendly shopkeeper who runs the game’s shop and also introduces the gacha mechanic of summoning weapons and summon stones. By getting certain weapons, you also recruit a new character that’s attached to it. By the looks of things, Forest Ranger Walder seems to be the shoe-in summon.

I then took a break. After logging back on and getting a bunch of free goodies, I’m immediately catapulted into a New Year’s event… where I’m immediately confused because I don’t know any of these characters. There’s a man named Sova, a swordsman that wears a hat of soba noodles, and a girl named Kumbhira talking to a woman named Friday, who’s exalting the qualities of Final Premium Friday. Sova’s just as confused as I am, especially when Friday summons a fried shrimp to kidnap him. Alright.

Anyway, the first thing to do with a gacha is to do some draws. I first ended up doing two free 10x pulls. Of them, the first SSR I got was Lady Grey, a dark-elemental fighter who specializes in melee and spears that summons spectral skeletons to fight. I love her. I then realized, “oh, I forgot to pick up the shitload of stuff I just got,” so I had 6000 free crystal currency. The next pull was unremarkable, but my second and last one gave me a bunch more characters. I got Baotorda, a light-elemental sabre wielding guy in armor. I got Tanya, another dark-elemental fighter that looks like a thief/assassin character. Then I got a water-elemental dude named Richard who looks like a hot gambler character. Then for some reason I got another character, Barawa, a large looking guy with horns who despite being jacked as shit, fights with a dinky pistol, which I respect.

I took another break because I was playing this at like, 1 AM. After entering the new day, I’m back to the New Years Eve event story, which I guess is just a thing that happens when you log-in. The gang is apparently working security detail for a concert, and they’re doing a pretty bang up job considering that a guy got kidnapped. The search for Sova is rudely interrupted by people dressed up as giant bells named Joyas. Wack.

Anyway, I’m really feeling the generosity I heard that Granblue Fantasy has because I got 3 free 10x pulls. With it, I got what I presume is a Christmas skin for a character named Feena and… oh, it’s Walder again but now he’s in a Christmas tree outfit. Live your life dude.

Unfortunately, none of these people are a helmsman, which the party desperately needs for their journey. There’s a former one going by Rackam hanging around the outskirts of town at his broken down airship, so the gang goes out to meet him. While doing so, they find a bunch of Erste Empire soldiers led by General Furias, who looks like one of those racist Lalafells. Katalina hollers at them because they plan on destroying the town and at this point, I’m starting to wonder why Katalina even hung out with these people at all.

Speaking of Katalina, she only now decides to talk to you about classes. You can change the class of your player character, which changes stats, skills and what you’re able to equip.

So uh, speaking of equipment, it seems kinda confusing. So, there’s a main equipment slot and whatever you have as your main weapon dictates what element you’re attacking with and your charge attack. All the other weapons just kinda get equipped on as stat boosts, I guess? The same principle seems to hold true with equipping summons. I think it’s kinda dumb, but also, at least you’re not managing equipment for the whole party.

Back to the main story, our heroes attempt to run away from empire guards but somehow manage to run in a full circle. Furias orders the airship to be destroyed, which brings Rackam out to shoot him in the face. Rackam leads the gang to his hideout, but he refuses to help them out.

(We’re just. We’re just standing here.)

Anyway, forget the main story for a bit, because you can go back to past areas to do sidequests! They’re kinda small things like clearing an underpass of monsters and helping look for a lost girl. Also, somebody finally acknowledges how weird it is that Vyrn is a small talking dragon. Despite being minor stuff, I do kinda like that they still have cutscenes and all to fluff the experience up.

We go back to Rackam’s hideout, where he reveals that he tried flying in the past but was disillusioned after a crash. Despite this, he still puts his airship, the Grandcypher, above all else, including the lives of the townsfolk. If Katalina were not a holy woman, she would clearly beat him to death.

But screw him, the party’s going out to warn the townsfolk about the empire. Suddenly, Erste Empire cronies, Drang and Sturm, shows up. Drang tries to be a friendly affable villain offering free food but Strum keeps hitting him, reminding him that they’re supposed to advance the destruction of a town. Bizarrely, all they do is tell the gang to step off and leaves.

I then took another break because, you know, Christmas. I came back to get more free draws as well as a continuation of the New Year’s Eve plot. A guy named Aoidos, apparently a rock star, is celebrating New Years Eve in a dramatic fashion. Honestly yeah, let’s fucking destroy 2019 and head into the future. Anyway, the next act is supposed to come up but the singer is absent so Kumbhira’s taking the singer’s place. She doesn’t agree to this but gets dragged to the stage anyway.

But whoo boy, it’s free roll time again and I… really got a shit load of characters? Oh worm?

Back to the main story, Drang and Strum’s genius plan of telling the heroes to go away didn’t work, so they come back to hassle the crew again. They’ve captured Rackam, who had second thoughts about ditching town, and tell the gang to leave or they’ll kill him. Our heroes take the third option of saving him and beating the shit out of everyone. Because they’re named characters, Drang and Strum’s allowed to run away while Rackam’s now fully committed to the cause.

Furias really wants to kill the shit out of Drang and Strum, but because they’re there under the orders of a different commander, he can’t really do that. Meanwhile, a terrible storm is hitting the town, so everybody needs to evacuate. But whoops, Furias destroyed the evacuation ship. On top of that, he reveals that the empire screwed around with Tiamat, the local primal, who’s so big mad that she’s brewing up a storm that will destroy the whole archipelago.

Their last hope is to get Lyria to tap into her primal controlling abilities to stop Tiamat from wrecking everything. Drang and Strum show up to offer the party a chance to stow away on an empire ship in return for sparing them, but the gang’s confident that Lyria can fix the problem. Tiamat is unsurprisingly in the sky, but at this point Rackam’s found the resolve to fly the Grandcypher again. Tiamat’s too powerful to be swayed by Lyria’s own powers, so the gang needs to beat her up.

Tiamat is defeated and Lyria manages to take away her power while she’s in her weakened state, saving the archipelago. Drang and Strum still feel like they needed to repay the favor though, so they hand off a letter to Sierokarte telling the gang to head to the Valtz Duchy, a Draph run island. This is obviously a trap, because a superior other than Furias told them to give the letter. And what’s waiting at Valtz Duchy is…

…I cannot say, because I chose to take a break here. I did, however, log back in for another roll. The New Year’s Eve story continues, where Sova is rambling to himself about wanting to spend the holiday with his family. As it happens, Friday strongarmed him into being part of her performance; he chooses to go along with it anyway though, since his family’s apparently in the audience. Our crew doesn’t like this because Friday’s pretty extreme about her performances, apparently.

Anyway, I got 5 free 10x rolls and got a whole bunch more characters. So hey, I guess I need to look at some tier lists later to figure out how to make good teams.

So, how’s Granblue Fantasy so far? Well, I think the gameplay’s pretty alright and the story’s okay. Certainly more involved than a lot of other gachas. I have heard that some of the side stories are legitimately really good, but eh, I’ll get there when I get there. Also, I guess there’s a whole lot of fate episodes to read, huh? I guess I’ll save that for next time.

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