Remember when content was king?
Blazblue Cross Tag Battle is a culmination of almost everything developer Arc System Works have developed since 2010, bringing together four renowned series for one massive battle against one another. When the game was first announced it was subject to a lot of criticism for the way that DLC was announced, but have Arc System Works made a good enough game in order for fans to be able to ignore that controversy?
The game brings together Blazblue, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth & RWBY – franchises that Arc System Works have turned into fighting games previously – to make an ultimate shared universe crossover fighting game with a focus on a story that attempts to make sense of each series’ worlds and how they’re all interlinked.
The story is set in Phantom Field, a world created by a mysterious entity who pulls in characters from each of the four featured franchises and gives one character from each a mysterious object known as a Keystone. To return to their own world each character has to team up with a buddy and obtain all four Keystones, and in order to do this they have to engage in two-on-two combat. If defeated in battle, they will remain in the Phantom Field forever.
The game is split into five chapters, one for each series and a final chapter which brings all of the games stories together for a conclusive ending. Each story follows that particular series’ main protagonist; in Episode Blazblue you’ll follow the story of Ragna The Bloodedge and in Episode Persona you’ll follow Yu Narukami as they meet up with characters from their respected series and figure out why they’ve been drawn into Phantom Field, bumping into opponents to battle along the way.
Gameplay is as you’d expect from a fighting game. You’ll have the choice to select two characters from a list of twenty and you can battle against two others, I found that using combos against enemies was the most effective way of winning but there could definitely be a more interesting and technical skill to the game should you wish to pursue it. No two characters play alike, so learning each character and finding a comfortable team is very useful.
When it comes to content, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle seems to be sadly lacking. While there is a story mode that takes around five hours to beat, there really isn’t very much left to do thereafter. A standard arcade mode is missing, and a survival mode would have been welcome. Instead, there’s a tutorial mode, local and online multiplayer and battles against CPU opponents.
As a fan of both the Blazblue and Persona series I was hoping that the game would have a lot more to offer. It’s just not a game I feel I’ll be coming back to. Just twenty characters are playable at launch, with an additional twenty coming as paid DLC, which feels shady for an already feature-light game. On the positive side, though, there is The Phantom Field special edition, a bumper package which will make you feel that you’re getting more of an experience for your buck.
Blazblue Cross Tag Battle isn’t all bad, though – in fact the story mode is quite fun while it lasts, but a lack of features beyond that make it difficult to recommend. There’s definitely better fighting games available on Switch already.
Blazblue Cross Tag Battle
Feature-light and shady DLC practices aside, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle isn’t a particularly bad game, but its lack of content will struggle to keep the attention of fans of the represented series, who may be expecting more.