by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
I’ve been watching anime since the 80s, and I’ve yet to come across a more complex or confusing franchise than FATE by Type-Moon. I’m sure that the product exists, but I have yet to find it. From what I’ve gathered, Fate revolves around a powerful computer that creates these anime versions of history’s most legendary heroes: Nero, Tamamo, Cuchulainn, Lu Bu, Darius III, Robin Hood, and so many more. Fate/Stay Night originated as a visual novel, which has branched out into a wide variety of genres. A great deal of the story seems to involve wars over the Holy Grail, and everyone covets it for its power. Fate/Extella LINK takes place after one of these wars, which Nero Claudius and her Master won and control Rome. Fate is one of the few games I’ve reviewed that I feel need a glossary if you’re new to the franchise. Most RPGs have keywords that are easy to remember. But in Fate, you have Masters (that’s you; they control the Servants), Servants (the legendary heroes in question), and Moon Cell (the Holy Grail).
The Fate/Extella games are more in the vein of Dynasty Warriors, where you control one of the Servants, who each have a class (Saber, Rider, Lancer, Berserker, et cetera), and demolish thousands of digital villains and their masters (Aggressors – Lieutenants). The enemy forces also have their own Servants, some of which used to fight side-by-side with the heroes in this game, but all gets revealed in time. While you usually don’t have to clear or secure all of the Fields, having more of them controlled gives you a higher rating at the end of a stage, and more exp is never a bad thing. The maps are pretty big, and you can use your “Command Seals” to teleport to key points on the map if need be. That’s an interesting thing, Command Seals. You get three of them a map, and can use them to teleport to any field you have access to (not including fields that are locked off), revive with full health, or you can use all three to fill all of your gauges. It adds another level of tactics, and a comeback if you’re overwhelmed.
One of the only things I hate about the game’s levels is that you don’t seem to have a Run/Dash ability. Instead, you spam your Dash ability and you roll/leap. I do sort of wish you could just hold it down. Combat is incredibly simple, and fans of the older Dynasty Warriors games will eat this up, no matter how complicated the story is. I know I sure did. You start off with just a few of the servants, but as you complete stages, more of them unlock for you to pick from, though you only use one at a time. You will be able to take a pair of them in with you to defend you at key moments though. Depending on that Servant’s characteristics, they might leap in to block an attack, or help you during Rush Attacks. Since you’re also the Master, you really don’t do all that much in that role. Having your Master die typically means game over, but they are key to utilizing these Servants.
Each stage is broken up into fields, and each of those fields is color-coded. The Blue Fields are yours and the Red Fields belong to the enemy. Each Red Field will have at least three Aggressors in them, which act as the generic Lieutenants that must be beaten to gain command of the Field and move on. If there are other Servants here, they must be defeated also. As a Servant, you have two main attacks, Light (Square) and Heavy (Triangle). You also have two Meters that, when filled, have new attacks for you to use. Circle (Blue Meter) is your Moon Drive/Drive Skill. The first press activates Moon Drive, which increases your attack and effectiveness in battle. Killing enemies during Moon Drive/Drive Skill gives you yellow Mana Crystals, which build your other meter, Noble Phantasm.
Hitting Circle again lets you use whatever that Servants Drive Skill is, which is effective in blowing up lots of enemies nearby. Noble Phantasm is a big anime cutscene attack that absolutely decimates whatever you’re dealing with. It won’t always kill everyone, but it sure gets close. It’s awesome, and it’s worth remembering to build and use these meters as needed. Sure, it’s fun to dash around and mash Light/Heavy combos, but you have one more awesome combat option: Active Skills. Each Servant starts with three, but unlock more to utilize and swap in/out as you please. These are used by holding R1 and then one of your four face buttons. These vary depending on character/class but are flashy, showy, and awesome. They also have cooldowns, so you can’t just spam them.
On the note of combat, you also have “Rush Attacks”, which I mentioned earlier. These are attacks where you knock up a Servant into the air, and mash Square as fast as you can. It’s not made clear in the game or in the tutorials what causes these, but I received them frequently by attacking, comboing those into any skill that could potentially knock someone into the air. This is free damage where the enemy can’t fight back. Any time you get one, abuse it and mash hard, mash fast. There are also clashes, which aren’t adequately explained. When two Servants clash and attack at the same time, it can trigger a battle where you mash Square again (very fast). Whichever wins deals damage, and knocks the other back.
While clearing Fields, you’ll also receive something called QP – Quantum Points. This is a currency used in-game, and you can receive an absolute ton of them simply by performing well. These can be used in a variety of ways like the “Money is Power” system and Mystic Codes. Mystic Codes are basically items you create that give you a temporary buff. Completing a stage with an EX Rank gives a Mystic Code+, which is a better version of its initial version. The game does not differentiate in difficulty, so you don’t need to grind on Hard to get these. “Money is Power” is a great system as well. I spend a lot of time playing as one or two characters (Nero and Tamamo), but as I unlock characters, I want to at least try them out. You can spend QP to increase a Servants level, with a cap of the highest Servant you have. This takes away an incredible amount of grinding and made me very happy.
The stages are very colorful, and though there aren’t quite as many as I’d hope for, the ones on offer are beautiful, and the wild contrasting colors are a nice change of pace from the Dynasty Warriors franchise that I’m used to. It feels like I’m blasting my way through anime episodes, and that’s awesome. When you aren’t in battle through, you’re in Charlemagne’s Noble Phantasm – conveniently, a gigantic floating military base. It only has three areas to explore, and Servants you’ve unlocked occasionally mill about to talk to, and sometimes offer you challenges to complete. This area is nice, quick to navigate, and compacts everything you need in one or two easy spots.
Your Room: Here you select your servant, equip Mystic Cores, create new Mystic Cores, and customize your Servant. You can change their Active Skills here, level them up with Money is Power, check out that servants Profile/Voices/Character view, as well as their Bond Level. This is also where you install skills, and change their costume if you have them.
Barracks: This is where all of the Servants reside. You can go and talk to them here to unlock more events. This also shows you who you have hanging around in your faction, which is nice.
Strategy Room: This is the Ready Room for your next mission. You can select a Servant here, their Support Team (along with seeing what those Supports do), equip Mystic Cores, check out Tutorials, and see your Side Missions. You can have up to five Side Missions, and completing that characters Side Mission will increase your bond with them. Leveling up a servants bond lets you equip more skills, gives a costume, and increases their effectiveness in battle.
Install Skills are important as well. This is where a major part of your Servants power comes from. As you complete stages, side missions, and demolish enemies, you’ll pick up colored orbs that are called Install Skills. You have three colors – Yellow (Support), Red (Attack), and Blue (Defense). As you can see, there is also a series of trees you unlock as you level up your bond with a Servant. Having the same colors on the same tree with increase their effectiveness, so plan carefully what you will put where. In addition, the more you have of an Install Skill, the greater its power will be, so it behooves well of you to do as much damage as possible. Don’t skip fields!
There is also a PVP mode! That’s right, there’s a multiplayer mode with a King of the Hill style battle, where two teams of Servants (4v4) team up to control choke points on a map. You pick a servant and a loadout, and the first to fill up their bar by holding these points wins. There’s only one point at a time, and it periodically shifts around. If you don’t have a match after a period of time, the game will match you with AI. It was me and another player, each of us having three AI Servants. It does not look like you can use your levels/skills you use for the main story, so that’s great. It all boils down to how well you know the Servants, but you can play as everyone, even people you haven’t unlocked, so when there are more people online, this mode could really be a lot of fun and something to distract you from the main game.
Wait. . . Why Does Artoria look like Nero?! 3.5/5 (Good)
While Fate/Extella LINK is terribly fun, and I’ve enjoyed it quite a lot, it’s not exactly a long game. It has 19 stages for the main story, and then there are the Extra Stages which offer an additional challenge. It does have replay value for playing as the other characters, but I don’t know if even the ten extra characters would entice anyone who isn’t a hardcore fan to pick it up. The story is pretty confusing to a newcomer, so that’s a potential turn-off. The gameplay isn’t ground-breaking to the Musou genre, but it is still fun. However, the leveling up seems to be more lenient compared to previous games in the series, and there are some incredibly high-level challenges awaiting. Fate/Extella Link does have one of the absolute worst cameras I’ve ever experienced. It gets lost and sometimes just frankly confused. The smaller the area, the harder it is to control. Not to mention, you can’t lock onto someone unless you’re actively staring at them. Some of the Servants are stronger than others, so you can tackle some of this stuff at a much lower level, with some skill and a little know-how.
Fate/Extella Link Screenshots: