Granblue_en 8th Anniversary Interview

We had a chance to speak to Tetsuya Fukuhara and Yuito Kimura about Granblue Fantasy’s 8th anniversary. The two of them spoke about the current state of GBF, what lies ahead, and cats.

8th Anniversary Updates

Granblue_en: With the Resort Island and the new Villa, players finally have the Home feature they’ve requested for so long. Right now there are only two different possible looks for the villa. What are the plans for future customization?

KMR: We have plans to let you customize the inside of the buildings, in addition to what the current system allows. The team is working hard on this feature, so please wait for details in a future update.

More appearances are coming to the Resort Island

Granblue_en: Kimura-san, in previous interviews, you’ve talked about making the game easier for new players to get into. What grade would you give GBF’s current new player experience?

KMR: I don’t know if I’d put it very high. As live services continue, that grade keeps going down, so I think we need to keep revamping and improving the new player experience.

Granblue_en: What areas of the new player experience for GBF do you think still need work?

The “Home Sweet Moon” preview covered years of story events.

KMR: We have a few topics to tackle, like how to get new players to read the enormous amount of story content in the game, or making it easier for new players to understand what they can do to get stronger.

FKHR: While we’ve added a lot of helpful and detailed quality of life game functionality, some players don’t know about them, so I think we need to work on how we guide players to these features.

Aside from that, I’ve been concerned about new players and whether or not they’ve been able to keep up with the amount of time needed to enjoy our story events. They’re worth reading, but the time required to enjoy them is going up.

Granblue_en: Did the team take any lessons from the reception of last year’s anniversary event, “Home Stay Moon”, when working on “Created by the Stars, Loved by the Skies”?

FKHR: The stories of “Home Sweet Moon” and “Created by the Stars, Loved by the Skies” are very different, so we didn’t take much from that aspect.

When it came to the rewards, we tried giving out 5-star uncaps to Lyria and Zooey instead of an SSR character. When give out a free SSR character, their specs are usually on the safer side, so we felt that the 5-star uncaps would make people happier.

That said, Home Sweet Moon’s Cassius did a lot of work during January 2022’s Unite and Fight.

Granblue_en: As the Pride of Ascendant series enters its second lap, are there any plans to make the first set of Pride of the Ascendant series easier, via the Ascendant Prayer system or other methods?

KMR: We are currently not considering that at this time.

FKHR: The difficulty of the Pride of the Ascendant battles naturally decreases with new weapons, character rebalances, and so on. Since they’re single player content and are not meant to be played repeatedly, I don’t think we’ll be making them easier in the same way that we do with raid battles.

Granblue_en: Could you talk a little bit about the Ennead series of raids? For example, if there were any intentional gameplay goals from the team when designing them, the lack of a damage cap in them after a certain point, etc.

Building Defied stacks in Ennead raids leads to giant numbers.

KMR: The goal for the Ennead battles is to allow players to experience what Battle System V2 has to offer.

There are players who feel that a fight using the V2 system automatically means that the fight will be very hard, so we designed them to be a more manageable challenge.

In addition, we’re hoping that our players enjoy the rush of being able to do huge amounts of damage when they break the omens of an Ennead boss and build the Defied effect, which is something you can only do in V2.

Looking to 2022 and Beyond

Granblue_en: Another fan request for music is the return of the orchestral concerts. Are those a possibility in the near future?

KMR: At this point in time, it still seems difficult to do.

Granblue_en: As the developer, how do the first 4 years of GBF feel compared to the most recent 4 years? And how do you feel the next 4 years will be like?

KMR: In the first few years, it felt like we were working on filling gaps in the game, while in the last few years we’ve been focusing on expansion and adding more ways to have fun. For now, we’re focused on the game’s 10th anniversary as our next goal.

FKHR: What I did back at the beginning of the game and what’s on my plate now are so different that it’s hard to make any kind of broad statement that compares the two.

Granblue_en: With Princess Connect! Re: Dive season 2 ending at the end of March, all of Cygames’s major franchises have completed or are in their second season. Are there any plans to further expand GBF outside of the games?

KMR: While it’s still a game and not a different kind of media, we’re working on GRANBLUE FANTASY: Relink. Aside from that, we’re putting a lot of effort and work into our live events again.

Granblue Fantasy Versus and Relink

Granblue_en: Relink features an original story and new characters. GBVS had an original story as well, but all characters had pre-existing version in the mobile game. Will Relink have any ties to the mobile game in the future? For example, characters from Relink appearing in GBF mobile.

KMR: Please wait for more information in our upcoming announcements.

FKHR: Versus and Relink are both part of the Granblue Fantasy world, so it’s always a possibility. However, if that were to happen, we want to make sure that the player doesn’t have to play every single title in order to understand what’s going on.

Granblue_en: With GBVS being a featured title at Evo and Relink’s release, 2022 looks to be the year Granblue Fantasy has its biggest presence overseas ever. What are the challenges you anticipate, and how do you plan to handle them?

KMR: We are planning on promoting the Granblue Fantasy franchise very aggressively overseas.

FKHR: We would love it if many people across the world get a chance to get a look at Versus, Relink, and Granblue Fantasy and become familiar with all three of them as a set.

Granblue_en: Did you draw inspiration from any other games when designing the gameplay for Relink?

FKHR: About two years ago or so, I replayed Grandia for the first time in a long time. I was impressed when I saw how expressive the art was for the characters in their dialogue windows, so I decided that Relink should take a cue from it and prepare dialogue window-specific art for it, and not just use the art from the other parts of Relink.

Granblue_en: GBVS had features that made it easier for beginners to fighting games to play, such as the simplified specials. Will Relink have any similar accessibility features?

KMR: We designed the game to accommodate players who are not big on action games.

FKHR: Our overall concept for the controls in Relink was similar to Versus. We’ve set up the controls so that one button can activate multiple abilities that suit different actions, and paired with a simple system for normal combos (pressing the Square button repeatedly), you can both enjoy the action and support your party.

In addition, we are preparing a difficulty level for players who just want to enjoy the story of the game.

Granblue_en: Approximately how many hours will players need to complete the main story in Relink? Will additional story content be added with DLC like Versus?

FKHR: We’re still not at the point where I can get into specifics, but we are working on some things that the player will be able to enjoy for a long time, even after they finish the main story.

Granblue_en: Compared to the first trailer, Relink looks like a completely different game now. What were some of the challenges you encountered?

FKHR: This is the first time that Cygames has developed a console title of this magnitude on its own, so we faced a number of challenges when it came to figuring out the right workflow, assembling the necessary tools, and organizing our team before we were able to get the development onto the right track.

The final assets have been completely remade, so if you compare them to the ones in the first trailer, you might be able to spot some differences.

I feel that the quality of this game is high enough for the staff at Cygames to be proud of, so I would like for everyone to look forward to the next trailer.

Questions for Fun

Granblue_en: Do you have a favorite story event out of the ones released in 2021?

We have to write out the full title of “The Time a 37-Year-Old Former Imperial Soldier Got His Life in Order by Awakening to the Greatness That is Saunas” every time. It’s the rules.

KMR: “The Time a 37-Year-Old Former Imperial Soldier Got His Life in Order by Awakening to the Greatness That Is Saunas”. I’m a big fan of saunas.

FKHR: They’re all favorites. The 8th year of Granblue Fantasy had great variety in its event lineup with strong content in each one.

Granblue_en: Kimura-san, you’ve mentioned before that the pitches and presentations from the GBF team often bewilder you. Are there any more recent examples of ideas from the GBF team that made you question their sanity?

KMR: This year’s April Fool event felt incomprehensible to me. On the other hand, the idea for the Resort Island took me by surprise — the team said “we want to make this, and we’re already making it”, then they were done.

Granblue_en: If you could take any two or three characters in GBF who do not normally associate and have them hang out for an event, who would that be, and why?

KMR: This is a hard question to answer because if I answer it seriously, people will ask “so when is this happening”, but since we had a cat-focused event already and haven’t had a dog event yet, how do you feel about an event where dogs and dog lovers come together?

FKHR: For a few years now, the seasonal mini-events like Halloween and Valentine’s Day have depicted a lot of crew members interacting with each other. We’ve had some especially unexpected groupings in these stories recently.

As a note, I do like dogs, but cats are highly entertaining, so it’s easy to plan content for them. Dante, “The Many Lives of Cats”, Ewiyar, and other pieces of cat-focused content are all very popular.

Granblue_en: When you went to Los Angeles, each of you gave a list of your favorite GBF characters. Has your list of favorites changed in the last 3 years?

KMR: Vikala’s been rising on my list lately.

FKHR: The characters on my list are deeply linked to the memories I have of the hard work we put into creating them, along with all of the random things that happened with the staff behind the scenes, so my original top 4 stands.

That said, Meg took a lot of work to create, so I’m very fond of her.

At Anime Expo 2019, KMR and FKHR listed their favorite GBF characters. KMR picked Tweyen, Jeanne, Zooey, and Karyl, while FKHR tabbed Nicholas, Yngwie, Lucius, and Juri.

Granblue_en: In the past, one of the concepts proposed for Vikala and printed in Graphic Archive Extra Works was for her to be a set of twins. What led to the twin characters idea winning the Cygames design contest this year?

FKHR: We picked it because having a gold and silver tiger fit really well with the twins concept. The feng shui elements helped evoke an image of Chinese culture, so that, combined with the cute design and the freshness of the concept, made for an incredibly well put together design.

Granblue_en: Can we have plump Cassius as a skin for the eventual rerun of Ramen Travels with Cassius, with a dancing Charge Attack?

FKHR: I originally requested one, but there were concerns that some of Cassius’ fans would be upset by it. That, plus the time and effort needed to develop it, led us to omitting it this time.

That look was a big hit, though, so it turns out we didn’t need to worry much at all.

As for making that outfit, though… wouldn’t you rather have a Ramen Chef outfit ready when Ramen Travels with Cassius comes back?

Granblue_en: Please give a message to all of the Granblue Fantasy fans overseas.

KMR: Thanks to everyone’s support, we have been able to make it to our 8th year. We will be releasing Relink sometime next year, which will increase the amount of official content that we have overseas. As we head for our 9th and 10th years, we are working hard to bring you all the most enjoyable Granblue Fantasy that we can, so please continue to give us your support.

FKHR: I said this last year as well, but it is very disappointing to not be able to go to any overseas events this year. Despite the situation, many folks are continuing to support us, and for that we are grateful. Thank you very much.

Relink will be sold worldwide, and GBVS has finally been chosen as one of the events for EVO. It would make me happy if everyone were able to enjoy both of them, as well as the main game itself.

All images are © Cygames, Inc.