Granblue Fantasy: Relink Interview: how to get new playable characters, how multiplayer progression works, and will Relink be a games-as-a-service title

RPG Site travelled to San Francisco, California a few weeks ago to check out Granblue Fantasy: Relink. We learned many new details about the upcoming action RPG, including its February 1, 2024 release date. We also sat down with Motohiro Okubo (CEO of Cygames America), Tetsuya Fukuhara (Granblue Fantasy: Relink General Director), and Yasuyuki Kaji (Granblue Fantasy: Relink Director) to learn more about it. There's a lot of new information we learned about the title, including how acquiring new characters works and if the game will include any games-as-a-service elements.


- RPG Site: Cygames expanded its business overseas back in April with the establishment of Cygames America and Cygames Europe. Can you walk us through the challenges of opening up these new branches and the reasoning of why now when Cygames has previously partnered with other western publishers previously?

Okubo: Cygames has principally done business in Japan but with the release of these two console titles (Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising & Granblue Fantasy: Relink), we wanted to have more of a presence in the global community. As you probably are already aware, the market share globally for the games industry, if you account for Japan alone, is quite small. As a business, we need to expand into other markets so it seemed like a good idea to go ahead and begin that expansion process, since we’re releasing two major console titles.

- RPG Site: In the Anime Expo 2023 presentation for Granblue Fantasy Relink, Cygames mentioned that players can progress the story to recruit more party members in whatever order they liked. Can you elaborate more on this? Will players be able to choose from a list of different destinations and will each destination's difficulty level change based on when players decide to visit them?

Fukuhara: It’s a little more simple than going to a destination and unlocking a character by completing a story beat. Actually, it’s not progressing the story that unlocks the character. By progressing the story, you’ll receive items throughout the story that will allow you to unlock a character from a facility in the base area. That’s what we meant by unlocking characters in whatever order you’d like. You’ll receive an item and then you use the item to unlock your preferred character. You’ll just get items - that same item - to do that multiple times throughout the story.


- RPG Site: Cygames has many years of experience designing, reworking, and refining a turn-based battle system with the main Granblue Fantasy game. Meanwhile, Relink is a full action RPG where everything happens in real-time. Cygames previously worked on Dragalia Lost, which was also an action RPG. I'd like to know the challenges the development team faced when conceptualizing how the battles in Granblue Fantasy would work in real time and did the team interact with Dragalia Lost at all when developing Relink?

Fukuhara: Those games are actually developed by completely different teams. Even though as a company we might be sharing some technology when it comes to online communication and online play, there wasn’t necessarily communication that we can prove between the two teams, but there might have been some influence - but none that we could say for sure. It definitely wasn’t a big part.

- RPG Site: In Granblue Fantasy Relink, players progress the main story in single player only, but can tackle quests with other players online. If the quest has not been completed by anyone in the party yet, will completion of the quest be counted for everyone in the party or will it only count that the host completed it?

Kaji: Yes. If one person in the party clears a quest, the people that are playing with them will also count as a clear for them as well - with one notable exception. Let’s, for example, say that player 1 has progressed much further than the other players and these players haven’t actually unlocked this quest yet, you can still play with each other; however, the completion will only count for player 1. It won’t count for the others who haven’t gotten that far yet to unlock that quest.

Fukuhara: You do get the same rewards though, even though it doesn’t count as completed. You’ll still get rewarded.


- RPG Site: Granblue Fantasy Relink is looking like it'll have a lot of playable characters to choose from. Are experience points shared with reserve party members or will players have to grind experience points on characters they haven't been actively using?

Kaji: It depends on which mode you’re playing. If you’re playing the main story, all characters will receive the same amount of experience points, so they’ll be leveling up together. If you go on any of the quests, just the four party members you’re using will receive the experience points.

There’s another exception to this system. Earlier (during a presentation shown to the press) when we were talking about the character upgrades system, that is actually from a pool of points that are shared by the entire party. So you’ll be earning those upgrade points altogether and you can use those points for whichever character you want. If you’re going on quests with one character, the character points that you obtain with that character are going to the same pool, so you can use those upgrade points to upgrade whatever character you’d like.

- RPG Site: Will Granblue Fantasy Relink be a live service game? Does it have daily and/or weekly activities players to work towards and will there be some sort of battle pass? Does it require an internet connection to play?

Fukuhara: The game is not a live service game. As far as dailies and weeklies are concerned, there’s not really anything like that in the game. If you progress the game into the later stages, there is a bonus system for playing the game but there’s not any sort of system set up where you’re going to really hurt yourself by missing days of play. There’s nothing that requires you to come back and play everyday. There also won’t be any battle passes. It can be played offline.


- RPG Site: Are there any plans to add new playable characters and stages in content updates after Granblue Fantasy Relink launches?

Fukuhara: As for what we can talk about right now, we would like to mention that the story of the game does wrap up neatly. It is not a cliffhanger. As far as updating the story after it releases, it is already a full story. But for people who completely played the story and they’ve gotten a lot of the game already, we will be releasing endgame content - the really difficult stuff for players to play through as well. Other than that, it’s still quite a bit off for the release date of the game, so we have nothing else to add at this time.