Tokyo-based developer Cygames is aiming to make it big on PS4 with Granblue Fantasy Versus and Relink, with the still-mysterious Project Awakening following.
With Versus already relerased, and more Relink gameplay revealed in December, there are still many questions to be asked and many details still missing, especially about the upcoming action-JRPG.
To know more about both games, Twinfinite visited Cygames’ headquarters in Tokyo and talked with director Tetsuya Fukuhara, who shared a lot of interesting morsels of new information.
Giuseppe: We still don’t have a firm launch date for Granblue Fantasy Versus in the west. Will western gamers have to wait long to play the game in English?
[Editor’s note: the interview was recorded before the reveal of the western release dates.]
Tetsuya Fukuhara: It’s still to be decided at this point, but we are working very hard not to have it not very late after the Japanese release. Soon we’ll be able to announce it, so please look forward to it.
Giuseppe: Are you planning to try to have a simultaneous release date for Relink, or there will be a gap between Japan and the west there as well?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: There is still some time before the game’s release, so we can’t give a firm answer on this at this point.
Since we’re releasing the game worldwide, there is actually no merit for us in having a gap between languages and regions in the release dates, so we’re planning to release it simultaneously.
Giuseppe: There are quite a few bonuses in the mobile Granblue Fantasy for purchasing Versus and its DLC. Do you think it could go the other way around at some point? With mobile players getting bonuses in the console game? Are you planning similar synergies with Relink, or maybe between Versus and Relink?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: In general, the mobile Granblue Fantasy is quite a time-consuming game, so if we had sizable bonuses awarded in the console game for playing it, it would probably cause a burden for many people, especially those who have not started playing Granblue Fantasy. That’s why we have not planned for that direction.
The same goes for Relink: We can’t really provide information at the moment, but if there would be some kind of bonus, then it will be in the same direction, as in getting bonuses for the original Granblue Fantasy by playing Relink.
Giuseppe: Could there be bonuses between Relink and Versus?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: Since the release date isn’t really close between those two games, probably it wouldn’t be a good idea. We can’t really be sure at this point, but we’re not planning that.
Giuseppe: So far, we know that there will be two character passes for Versus, but Granblue Fantasy has enough characters to release tens of character passes. Are you considering going beyond two if players keep supporting the game in the long run?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: Of course, we know that we have vast resources of characters, and even before the game’s release we have received many requests for this or that character to be included.
Ideally, we would like to continue, as we want to please the fans. On the other hand, since it is a fighting game, adding characters will also mean adding new mechanics and new fighting styles. If we added unlimited new characters, for instance putting all of Granblue Fantasy characters in one game, that would probably be too overwhelming in its difficulty.
That’s why, in regards to the number of characters and which ones we’ll consider, we’ll probably narrow that down in the future.
Giuseppe: Will new DLC characters also add story content to the RPG mode, or they’ll be strictly an addition to the versus mode?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: Of course, you’ll be able to play them in both Versus and RPG mode as your main character. In addition to that, there will also be a short introductory story for each DLC character when we introduce them to the game. That way, players will know each character’s background.
Giuseppe: Players will be able to change the appearance of their weapons in Versus with the weapon skin system. Are you looking into doing something similar with armor as well? Granblue players love seasonal costumes, after all.
Tetsuya Fukuhara: We know that many would like this, but technically speaking, we’re using the same animation style as the Guilty Gear series and that creates an issue in terms of technology. If we wanted to change a character’s outfit, that would require rebuilding the character model from scratch.
Using that kind of resources simply to change the appearance of characters would not be realistic.
Giuseppe: With the original Granblue Fantasy you have acquired a ton of experience in running live events and time-limited storylines. Are you thinking about adding something like that to Versus or Relink?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: Updating a console game with the same frequency as a mobile game isn’t really feasible, so we won’t have the exact same style as the original Granblue Fantasy.
Also, time-limited events are kind of a thing that works well on mobile, but doing it too much on console games may feel unfair to some players. Ultimately, mobile games have their own style and console games have their own style.
That being said, we do want to expand the story, so there are going to be new subquests, new characters, and alongside that, we will probably extend the main story as well. That is just a plan at this point, but we want to do that.
Giuseppe: Some expected at least a release window for Relink at Granblue Fantasy Fes, but I certainly understand why you want to hold back until you’re completely sure you can hit the date you announce. Is there any hint or insight you may provide as to when we might hear more, considering how development is going?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: The development of the game is going very smoothly, and we’re working as hard as possible to reach the moment in which we’ll be able to announce the release date. Yet, at this time we really can’t say more.
Giuseppe: The gameplay of Relink we have seen so far included a dungeon-like area with monsters to kill followed by a boss battle. Will this be the basic structure of the game, or there is more? For instance, will you be able to freely roam across different islands picking up quests at our own pace?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: The game is going to be divided into two segments. One will be the main story which will be similar to the original Granblue Fantasy. It’ll follow a story and it’ll develop in one direction. To get to a new chapter, you go to a new island. That is how it flows.
On the other hand, we’re also going to implement multiplayer quests. You’ll find or receive the quests in some locations, and the objectives will be scattered across the Skydom. In order to clear those quests, you will have to hop on the Grandcypher, fly to an island, clear the quest, come back, and get another mission.
Those two elements will be combined in one game.
Giuseppe: Can the main story be played in multiplayer as well, or only the side stories?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: The main quest itself will be single-player, but as you progress through chapters of the main quests, you’ll also unlock more multiplayer raid battles. It’s kind of combined.
Giuseppe: With the release of PS5 being so close, are you considering releasing Relink on PlayStation 5 as well? In particular, I noticed the latest trailer for the game doesn’t include any mention of a platform. Is that because you aren’t 100% sure of which consoles you’ll launch the game on?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: First of all, the platform information not included in the latest trailer is simply an omission and not a hint to something. To be completely honest, we forgot.
We’re still very sure that this is a PS4 game. During the transition between PS3 and PS4, there were cross-generation games. Depending on the timing in which Relink is going to be released, there is the possibility that it will be playable both on PS4 and PS5. That being said, PS4 will definitely be the main platform for this game.
It has also been announced that PS4 games will also be playable on PS5, that’s what we hear at this point, and we have big hopes for that.
Giuseppe: Would you rather just release the game on PS4 and then have people play it on PS5 via backward compatibility, or do a proper cross-generation launch on PS4 and PS5 like it was done for PS3 and PS4, adapting the game for PS5 to use as much of its power as possible?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: It’s not decided at the moment, but there is a possibility that it would be a proper PS5 disk. In that case, it probably wouldn’t feature a big jump in visual quality and resolution, but it’d probably have a better frame rate and faster loading times. This is one possibility, but we’ll see in the future.
Giuseppe: Will Relink have a playable cast comparable in numbers to Versus or maybe it’ll be significantly bigger or smaller? Do you plan to expand it after release with DLC?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: At this point, we already have at least ten playable characters, so it kind of matches Versus for now. About DLC characters, yes, we have vast resources for characters and each character has many fans that would like to see them in action in the game.
Of course, it’s just a possibility for now, but there could be additional characters released as DLC.
Giuseppe: How is the story of Relink related to Granblue Fantasy? It’s going to follow the same story, or it’s going to be a completely original story? Or maybe a retelling in a different way?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: Talking about the timeframe of the story, it’ll be something in the future for the current newest chapter of the original Granblue Fantasy.
The crew will eventually reach another Skydom and the Relink story will be another story occurring in that new Skydom. That being said, the story that will happen in the original Granblue Fantasy and the story told in Relink will be kind of different. It’ll be like a side story.
Giuseppe: At Granblue Fantasy Fes, you had those awesome concerts with the characters singing and dancing. Are those the same 3D models that you’re creating for Relink, or they’re completely different?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: The models for the live concerts are created by a different studio. There isn’t going to be much interaction because the 3D model requirements are very different.
Giuseppe: You told me earlier that for Versus you’d have to completely recreate the models in order to redo the costumes. Are you creating the models for Relink in a way that will allow you to have different costumes?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: The animation of Versus involves a lot of hand-tweaking, so changing things like the cloak or the hairstyle requires a whole rebuild.
On the other hand, like other action RPGs, Relink has models driven by a physical engine, so it’s much more possible to have different costumes, even if we can’t provide any details yet
Giuseppe: Every time you have showcased footage from the game in the past, you basically said that it will look even better when it’ll release. Is that still the case at this point in development? Is the final product still going to look even better than the frankly gorgeous gameplay we saw in December?
Tetsuya Fukuhara: Yes, we have further visual updates coming.
Granblue Fantasy Relink has been officially confirmed only for PS4, and it doesn’t have a specific release date yet.
Incidentally, the original Granblue Fantasy mobile game is available for iOS, Android, and PC via browsers. If you want to give it a try to prepare for the release of Relink, you can read my detailed guide on how to create an account, install the game, and play in English.