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Review

Review: Fate/EXTELLA LINK

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It’s impres­si­ve just how big the Fate series is in the west, con­si­de­ring that the ori­gi­nal visu­al novel that star­ted it all hasn’t even recei­ved an offi­ci­al Eng­lish release. Fate/EXTELLA LINK is the latest spin-off to make its way here, and it attempts to fix some of Fate/EXTELLA’s gla­ring pro­blems with mixed results.

Fate/EXTELLA LINK is a direct sequel to the afo­re­men­tio­ned Fate/EXTELLA, which in turn is a sort-of sequel to Fate/Extra. The lead-up to this game is con­fu­sing to say the least, and LINK bare­ly even tri­es to exp­lain the events of its pre­de­ces­sors. The qui­ckest way to exp­lain it is that your cha­rac­ter won the Moon Cell’s (essen­ti­al­ly a super­com­pu­ter on the moon) Holy Grail War, an event that pit wizards against each other to deci­de who gets to make a wish. Each wizard is the mas­ter of a heroic spi­rit, other­wi­se known as a ser­vant, a being that is usual­ly based on a famous figu­re from histo­ry, mytho­lo­gy, or lite­ra­tu­re. After some shen­anigans that would take far too long to exp­lain, the main cha­rac­ter ends up being the sole wizard on the moon cell after win­ning the Holy Grail War.

The sto­ry for this ent­ry takes place direc­t­ly after Fate/EXTELLA, whe­re the main cha­rac­ter is the last remai­ning mas­ter on SE.RA.PH, the vir­tu­al world insi­de the Moon Cell. A new vil­lain, Rex Magnus, has star­ted cor­rupt­ing ser­vants and using them to take over SE.RA.PH. Ano­t­her new cha­rac­ter, Char­le­ma­gne, saves the last mas­ter after they are atta­cked, and this begins your offen­si­ve again Rex and his forces.

It seems that the wri­ters tried to crea­te a sto­ry that was the oppo­si­te of Fate/EXTELLA’s. Ins­tead of over­ly long sto­ry sce­nes that don’t go any­whe­re, most events are short and get to the point. The pro­blem with this is that the sto­ry over­all has been cut down too much. Making it more focu­sed was a good choice, but ever­ything moves so quick­ly that cha­rac­ters have litt­le to no deve­lop­ment, inclu­ding Char­le­ma­gne him­s­elf. Each rou­te ends up being a coup­le of hours long at most, and even then a lot of infor­ma­ti­on is repeated. Many cha­rac­ters, even some that were intro­du­ced in this game, have litt­le to no impor­t­an­ce in the sto­ry, while some only appe­ar for a coup­le of sta­ges at most. Alte­ra, who was argu­ab­ly the most important cha­rac­ter in Fate/EXTELLA, rare­ly even makes an appearan­ce during most of the sto­ry which is a was­te con­si­de­ring how she was the only decent part of that game’s sto­ry.

The way the sto­ry is laid out also ends up being far more line­ar than it would initi­al­ly seem. Choices made during the sto­ry will deter­mi­ne what mis­si­on you will go through next, though many of the­se end up lea­ding to the same rou­te any­way. Fur­ther­mo­re, due to level and unlock requi­re­ments you’re pret­ty much forced to do each rou­te in a cer­tain order. It makes the who­le sys­tem feel unne­cessa­ry, sin­ce a lon­ger, more line­ar mis­si­on lay­out would have done a bet­ter job at tel­ling the sto­ry wit­hout as much repe­ti­ti­on.

Once you’re actual­ly in batt­le, things start to beco­me a litt­le more posi­ti­ve. First­ly, ever­ything looks far more detail­ed than the pre­vious game. It was clear that Fate/EXTELLA has been made with the Vita’s limi­ta­ti­ons in mind, thanks to some ugly cha­rac­ter models and effec­ts. Here cha­rac­ters looks far clo­ser to the con­sistent­ly stel­lar spri­tes used during dia­lo­gue, even if some of the fema­le designs still have some comi­c­al­ly lar­ge eyes. The­se visu­al impro­ve­ments also extend to the envi­ron­ments, with are­as fea­turing water having the most noti­ce­ab­le upgrade. The frame­ra­te can be a litt­le incon­sis­tent during busi­er moments, but the most part this is a con­sistent­ly smooth game that actual­ly does jus­ti­ce to the many cha­rac­ters from the Fate series.

Game­play its­elf has also seen some chan­ges, though the basics are still the same. Each map is divi­ded into sec­tors, which can be cap­tu­red to wea­ken the sur­roun­ding area or to com­ple­te objec­tives. Each servant’s move­set is map­ped out like a typi­cal War­ri­ors-style game, with com­bos being simp­le light attack in hea­vy attack strings. The extel­la mano­eu­vre from the pre­vious game has thank­ful­ly been scrap­ped, ins­tead repla­ced with moon dri­ve. This mode boosts your servant’s stats for a brief peri­od of time, and enemies kil­led will fill up a sepa­ra­te Noble Phan­tasm gau­ge which is essen­ti­al­ly a flas­hy sec­tor clea­ring spe­cial move. This sys­tem is a nice chan­ge, sin­ce it doesn’t slow down game­play and is balan­ced com­pa­red to some of the other mecha­nics intro­du­ced in Fate/EXTELLA LINK.

Active skills are ano­t­her fea­ture that has been added to Fate/EXTELLA LINK to try and add a litt­le more varie­ty to batt­les. While hol­ding R1, each of the face but­tons can be used to unleash an active skill. The­se ran­ge from lar­ge area of effect (AOE) attacks to buffs for you and your allies. Each ser­vant has 7 skills that can they can choo­se from, though not all of them will be uni­que to just that ser­vant. It’s fun to try out dif­fe­rent skills when using a cha­rac­ter for the first time, and they do give each ser­vant a more fle­shed out move­set, though most of them end up being far too power­ful. Ins­tead of spamming extel­la mano­eu­vres, you’ll most­ly just be using skill over and over again. Again, this is still bet­ter than what it was like pre­vious­ly, but this makes most mis­si­ons in the game tri­vi­al to beat.

As men­tio­ned ear­lier, the game’s sto­ry is incredi­b­ly short and this ends up nega­tively affec­ting game­play. Many cha­rac­ters have next to no pre­sence during the sto­ry, which means that the amount of ser­vants you’ll be figh­t­ing during mis­si­ons is very low. This also means that the amount of mis­si­on objec­tives will be low as well, sin­ce only a few ene­my ser­vants have their own uni­que gim­micks that chan­ge how batt­les play out. The are­as you fight in have also bare­ly chan­ged out­si­de of their visu­als, and the­re are only a coup­le of new map types in Fate/EXTELLA LINK com­pa­red to the first game.

This lack of con­tent is by far the big­gest nega­ti­ve against the game, espe­ci­al­ly if you com­pa­re it to other games of this style like Hyru­le War­ri­ors and Dynas­ty War­ri­ors 8. Out­si­de of the short main sto­ry, the­re is very litt­le to do asi­de from the extra batt­les. The­se are a series of mis­si­ons that are unlo­cked as you play through the main cam­pai­gn, most of which acting as Fate/EXTELLA LINK’s post­ga­me con­tent. Many of the­se mis­si­ons have their own short sto­ries tied to them, but a disap­poin­ting amount of them are just rehash­es of exis­ting sto­ry mis­si­on with slight chan­ges.

Conclusion

Fate/EXTELLA LINK, for all its impro­ve­ments, feels more like an expan­si­on pack than a full release. The sto­ry is over befo­re anything real­ly hap­pens, and many of the new cha­rac­ters have litt­le to no impor­t­an­ce. I would still recom­mend this to fans of War­ri­ors-style games if you can pick this up for a decent pri­ce, but tho­se loo­king for an inte­res­ting nar­ra­ti­ve or a lot of con­tent should go else­whe­re.

This review was based on the Play­Sta­ti­on 4 ver­si­on of the game.

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