More Like Fate/Warriors, Am I Right?
January 28, 2017 • 374 views
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In an alternate universe in the future, the Holy Grail War is not fought in Fuyuki between seven Masters and their Servants. Instead, it takes place on the Moon within cyberspace and is fought between 128 Masters and their Servants. Overseen by the SE.RA.PH (Serial Phantasm) System, the war is fought like a single-elimination tournament due to the sheer amount of Masters, with the Elimination Battles occurring at the end of each week. The player character was one of these Masters, eventually emerging victorious. Some time later, they suffer from a nightmare that seems all too real, waking up with little-to-no memory as to what happened. With their faithful Servant at their side, they learn of a new conflict brewing as the forces of various other Servants gather to take control of SE.RA.PH and reign supreme over the Moon Cell. With other allies behind them, the time for war is at hand to bring peace back to the Moon Cell, but a more sinister force is at work behind the scenes, jumping between timelines to usher in a 14,000 year old calamity once again…
The sequel to 2010’s Fate/Extra and 2013’s Fate/Extra CCC, Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star was released in November of 2016 and, miraculously, localized and released in the west in January of 2017, making it one of the very few Type-MOON properties to make it over here. Departing from its predecessors’ RPG gameplay, the game is a straight-up action game in the vein of Dynasty Warriors. Taking control of one of 17 Servants, players will lay waste to entire legions of enemies, taking and protecting territory before confronting the Servant leading the forces. Most of the Servants are ones that have appeared in the previous Fate/Extra games, each with their own movesets, special attacks, and Noble Phantasms. As the story is progressed through, the Servants that are on each team are unlocked for play, though by the time the entire story is done, only 16 of the 17 Servants are unlocked. The last, Artoria herself, is unlocked through different means.
The story takes place over three different routes, following a different aspect of the main character from Fate/Extra after they are split into three different parts: the Mind, the Body, and the Soul. The Mind’s Servant is Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, a Saber, the fifth emperor of Rome, and the loving and passionate Servant that helped the MC win the Holy Grail War. Her forces includes Archer himself, the very same dour and snarky Servant from Fate/Stay Night; Sir Gawain, one of the honorable Knights of the Round Table and a Saber; Cu Chulainn, the Hound of Culann and the original Lancer; and Li Shuwen, a powerful Chinese martial artists that takes up the role of Assassin and loves a good fight. The Soul’s Servant is Tamamo-no-Mae, a Caster, aspect of Amaterasu, and self-proclaimed and devoted “wife” of the MC. Her lackeys include the ranks of Karna, a Lancer and the kind, invulnerable hero of Mahabharata; Elizabeth Bathory, a wannabe pop idol, an okay Lancer, and the hapless maid of Tamamo; Lu Bu, the greatest and most dreaded warrior of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and now even more powerful as a Berserker; and Medusa, the original Rider from F/SN and noted sympathetic anti-hero. Later, a third faction led by Altera, a mysterious but stupidly powerful Saber, interrupts the war and seeks to destroy the Moon Cell and Earth. Her forces consist of three of the most powerful Servants in the entire Fate franchise, which include Iskandar, otherwise known as Alexander the Great, the King of Conquerers and the charismatic Rider from Fate/Zero; Joan of Arc, the selfless Saint of Orleans and a special kind of Servant class known as Ruler, a mediator of the Holy Grail War; and the King of Heroes himself and possessor of the universe’s largest arsenal, treasure hoard, and self-inflated ego, Gilgamesh. Archimedes of Syracuse, a Caster, acts as an administrator for the Moon Cell and his sole goal is to bring peace back to SE.RA.PH by any means necessary. Finally, the original Saber, Artoria Pendragon, does not have a presence in the main story mode, but can be unlocked through some rather obscure means.
Much like Dynasty Warriors and other games of the same kind, the player controls one of the many Servants on a battlefield, with the objective being to capture as many zones as possible and to beat the enemy Servant at the end. Between them are thousands of enemy combat programs that serve as nothing more than punching bags as the player WILL delete legions of them by the time victory has been won. A number of events can happen during gameplay, such as enemy forces invading friendly areas or something that affects the entire battlefield, such as Medusa activating Blood Fort Andromeda to empower Lu Bu or Gilgamesh using the Gate of Babylon to bombard your troops from another area. Each Servant levels up as objectives are fulfilled and enemies are defeated, with their stats increasing and additional attacks and combos being unlocked. In battle, aside from their different movesets, each Servant has a few different mechanics to give them an edge. The Extella Gauge fills up as enemies are destroyed, though it can be deployed at anytime to rush all of the enemies in an area and hit them all with a devastating flurry of strikes. Fighting also fills up another gauge that, when filled, unleashes a super mode that increases damage, attack range, and defense for a limited amount of time. Whenever Nero or Tamamo unleash this ability, they gain a completely new form with different movesets and abilities. Finally, scattered throughout the battlefield are a set of three fragments that, when collected, allows the usage of the Servant’s Noble Phantasm, their ultimate move that defines who they are/were as a hero. From Archer’s Unlimited Blade Works and Iskandar’s Ionian Hetaroi to Lancer’s Gae Bolg and Gilgamesh unleashing Ea’s Enuma Elish, this abilities will absolutely devastate enemy Servants and will usually deliver the killing blow. However, Noble Phantasms can only be used once, so waiting for the right opportunity is vital to claim victory.
Alongside the main story that is comprised of four story arcs, there are two other game modes. Side Stories follow the other Servants of the game as they become unlocked and Free Battle allows any unlocked Servant to participate in any of the stages in the game. The gallery features a number of other features, such as the music room that contains music in the game and remixes of more familiar themes from the franchise, a viewer to replay all of the story cutscenes from the main and side stories, profiles on all of the Servants and their abilities, and a glossary to help explain terminology that players might not be immediately familiar with. This game is pure fanservice for fans of the Fate series.
The Warriors genre is a bit of an acquired taste. You either love the fast-paced action and glee of cutting through armies of mooks or you hate the repetitive gameplay. For the Fate franchise, an action game of this type is new and will definitely appeal to series fans. Warriors fans will also likely enjoy familiar mechanics wrapped up in a new and interesting presentation. As for people that have not played Dynasty Warriors or games of the same nature, it is a bit harder to suggest this game as it was made for Fate fans in mind, and as such, will have story elements that will not make much sense. Still, I have a lot of fun with this game and think that if you think you will enjoy it, you should buy it. Regardless, there is nothing quite like controlling a one-person army and seeing just why Heroic Spirits are the strongest warriors the world has to offer.