Arc System Works have become something of a fighting studio powerhouse over the past few years. With Guilty Gear, Persona Arena and BlazBlue amongst others, whilst other series’ may have jumped into the third dimension, Arc have stuck firmly to their 2D roots. The latest brings together four franchises for Arc’s very own Infinity War.
The franchises are BlazBlue, Persona, Under Night In-Birth and RWBY. BlazBlue is the primary focus with the majority of the game’s cast members from that universe. That and Persona were the only worlds I was familiar with. Under Night In-Birth is another Arc fighting series that has such a similar design to that of BlazBlue that I had trouble remembering which characters came from which series. Finally, bringing up the rear is RWBY, an anime style web series created by Rooster Teeth. The four main characters are featured, albeit two of which need to be downloaded as free DLC. Only released as free though when the community kicked up a fuss, because oh boy did this game court some controversy pre-release.
In a desperate attempt to get more money out of people, right from launch, you have DLC characters that can be purchased for a price. Not that expensive (£3.69 per pack of 3, £2.49 for additional costumes), but day one DLC always leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. It’s content that is complete yet is held back for more money. Annoyingly as well they’ve decided to split characters up from their franchises. So if you want the complete Persona 4 roster then you’ll have to buy two packs because Naoto and Kanji have been separated.
You could almost forgive the game wanting to get as much money from its audience due to its niche nature, but then you make your way through the game and see the amount of reused assets and wonder how much this actually cost to make. A good chunk of the stages and music come from previous games and graphics-wise it looks the same as the last BlazBlue title. The Story Mode though is all new, though not particularly impressive.
Four universes are brought together for an unknown purpose and forced to fight by a mysterious disembodied voice. All four arcs (you can choose which franchise to fight as) have the same cheesey, badly-written nonsense before finally getting to the fights. With 2D character cutouts (that again are mostly reused from previous games) it’s not exactly an eventful mode and I only continued to the final, true ending because of my completionist nature.
Other modes are plentiful though. For single players there are challenges and a survival mode; online you get your usual ranked, unranked and lobbies. Netcode is thankfully really good. After a number of online matches, there was never an issue where I thought lag affected my performance. And at the time of writing (a couple of weeks post-release) there are a good amount of players to fight against. The only downside is the game’s tendency to match you with people who are way above your level. A few embarrassing defeats are enough that I questioned whether I could truly get better at this game.
As expected with an Arc game there’s a lot of depth to the fighting mechanics, yet if you’re a relative newbie then it’s easy to mash out combos and look cool doing so. Keep pressing one of the attack buttons and you’ll flow into an easy combo. And with the assortment of training modes at your disposal the game does a good job of teaching you how to utilise everything from Distortion attacks to character assists.
It’s hard to not to judge Cross Tag Battle as like a “Best Of”. While there are some new elements here (the RWBY universe, story), it feels a lot like a hodgepodge of Arc’s previous games. Quite solid mechanically, there’s nothing really here that would make me recommend it over other fighting games. Unless you’re big into one of the franchises represented then you might come away disappointed.
Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle is available on PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch. Find out more at arcsystemworks.com/game/blazblue-cross-tag-battle/ or follow @BlazBlue_Europe.