Impressions: BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle – Distortion Finish

I have been playing the BlazBlue series since the first title, Calamity Trigger, which released in 2009. While I get excited for every new entry in the series, I usually expect more of the same, albeit a few added features, in every sequel. It seems that may be changing.

The newest entry in the series is BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle. A 2v2 2-D fighter, Cross Tag Battle is a mashup title featuring characters from the BlazBlue universe, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth and the RWBY animated series. The game changes up the normal formula expected from BlazBlue, making it a little simpler while still keeping the series’ identity.

The beta for Cross Tag Battle was held recently, giving us our best look at the title so far. While the game is entertaining and fun, there were some issues that I ran into when trying it out.

The Good

Beautiful Visuals – If there is one thing that developer Arc System Works is good at, it is making their fighters look amazing. From Guilty Gear to BlazBlue to Dragon Ball FighterZ, every game that the developer puts out looks great. Cross Tag Battle is no exception.

I was playing the beta on the Switch, and Cross Tag Battle looks good both docked and in handheld mode. The 2-D sprites and 3-D backgrounds are beautiful, and look great in movement. Some character designs have been changed slightly in order to match the BlazBlue art style, but they do fit. This includes the RWBY characters, who are taller, and a few of the Under Night characters, who were redrawn to match the BlazBlue look. Waldstein is one such character, who was drawn to be a bit bigger. Cross Tag Battle is incredibly pleasing to look at, and moves incredibly smooth. Arc System Works has made another beautiful looking fighter.

Simple Yet Complex Combat – Anyone who has played a BlazBlue game can tell you that they are incredibly difficult. There is a lot to these games, which can be combo heavy. While there are some complexities to Cross Tag Battle, the game is much more inviting to fighting game beginners than past titles have been. One example that can be seen is in the controls. Where regular BlazBlue games featured three attack buttons and a button that had an ability unique to every character, Cross Tag Battle only features two attack buttons. The other face buttons are the same for all fighters: one for switching between characters and another that initiates Cross Combos and special attacks. It is a simple set-up that can help beginners.

Despite the controls being much simpler than previous BlazBlue titles, there is still enough depth for more experienced players. There are different systems to master, whose timing in battle has to be learned. Learning to utilize these mechanics takes some practice, and can be enough complexity even for those who have played 2-D fighters before.

The Music – The music in Cross Tag Battle is just as good as any other game in the series. However, the music this time is a little different. Rather than using music from just the BlazBlue series, Cross Tag Battle also utilizes music from the other games whose characters appear in the title. The music does a good job of pumping you up right before a match, especially the RWBY tracks. It is good fighting music, as it has a heavy drive to it and compliments the action going on. Arc System Works did a good job of picking pieces that help drive the combat and are also subtle while the match goes on.

The Bad

Server Issues – The one set of issues that I ran into during the BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle beta had to do with the servers. As this was a beta, I was expecting some issues, but it  was bad even for a beta. There were consistent lag spikes, and some games were so choppy that it was almost impossible to play. I tried different lobbies to test them, but the lag issues were consistent all across the board. As the beta went on, some of these issues were taken care of, but there were still severe lag spikes by the end.

I also had issues finding matches. In some lobbies I would sit waiting for another player to come and challenge me. This would happen even in full lobbies. Loading times for matches were also sometimes long (I once waited for around five minutes for a match to start). Since matches can be rather short (some are over in less than 30 seconds), these long load times can be frustrating. This is something that I really hope is fixed when the game releases.

Preliminary Thoughts

Overall, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is shaping out to be a solid fighter. Though the beta did have its problems, Cross Tag Battle was still enjoyable. If Arc System Works can address the problems that the beta presented, we will have another great fighter to enjoy. I have loved every BlazBlue title that has released, and it is looking like I will also be happy with Cross Tag Battle. I am sure that this will be the fighter that I have been waiting for.

BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle releases on June 5 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Switch.

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