When Just One Servant Isn’t Enough

Gabriel Silvas, Columnist

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Within the Throne of Heroes lies the greatest and strongest individuals in the history of humanity, both past and future. Whether they be truly good people or are of the vengeance-fueled Avenger class, these Heroic Spirits represent the spirit of mankind and can be called upon in times of great danger or through other such rituals, most famously the Holy Grail Wars. Well, in this facet of the Kaleidoscope, the greatest of dangers has already occurred: the complete annihilation of of the world, and not a single known threat, whether it be Angra Mainyu, the Dead Apostle Ancestors, Gaia, or even the Aristotles, are behind it. Some unknown calamity has erased the planet, leaving only a handful of survivors within the secure complex of Chaldea HQ. Betrayed from within by one of their own, their mission is to travel to various “Singularities” scattered throughout history in order to fix them, hopefully finding some way to prevent humanity’s extinction in 2016/2018. So begins their Grand Order to restore the foundation of humanity and combat the threat that seeks their destruction. Also, start praying for your wallet, because it WILL be a casualty.

Initially released in Japan for mobile devices in 2015 before finally making it over to the west in the summer of 2017, Fate/Grand Order is the newest game in TYPE-MOON’s Fate franchise. Assuming the identity of the last remaining Master in Chaldea, players must amass and train numerous Heroic Spirits both old and new in order to avert mankind’s destruction. This is done by summoning them through several methods and hoping for the best. As the NA version is about two years behind the original JP release, not everything that is in the latter is available in the former, and it appears that the western release will be moving at roughly the same schedule the original had, though perhaps on a quicker timetable.

The player character, while having a distinct design, is very much like a standard Visual Novel protagonist, with the player deciding the name and gender of the Master. While dialogue choices can be chosen at times, it ultimately only slightly changes up immediate character dialogue in response to the chosen answer. Other than that, the main cast consists of the surviving Chaldea personnel. Mash Kyrielight is the player’s loyal and very helpful main partner and is what is known as a “Demi-Servant”, a unique blend of a human host and a Heroic Spirit. Taking on the classification of Shielder, she accompanies the player on every mission in order to protect them. The director of Chaldea was Olga Marie Animusphere, an initially cold-hearted girl, but after the events of the prologue, leadership is passed onto Dr. Romani Archaman, the cheerful and goofy head of the medical ward. Assisting him and running the game’s shop is none other than Leonardo da Vinci, appearing as a woman thanks to the influence of the Mona Lisa representing the beauty he pursued in life. As the player collects more Servants and travels through the various Singularities, the multitude of Heroic Spirits can take a part in the main story or their various Interludes, each with their own very unique personalities.

In order to avert the destruction of the world, the numerous Singularities where history has become distorted must be fixed. Each one is caused by its own Holy Grail, which must be obtained in order to fix the Singularity. Within, countless enemies from zombified humans to Phantasmal Beasts such as dragons are just some of the threats encountered. Thanks to the Holy Grail’s presence, enemy Servants are the main obstacles to be faced and one is usually the final enemy to fight in a Singularity. From the likes of Jeanne Alter, a corrupted and cruel version of Jeanne d’Arc herself, to other Roman Emperors appearing to topple the reign of Emperor Nero, players are in for quite a fight and must prepare their party accordingly. Behind all of this is whoever instigated the destruction of humanity. While they take their time to show themselves, they use the Demon Pillars of the Ars Goetia as their means to incinerate the human order. It is not until the London Singularity that the mastermind steps into the light, but even then, they are only a part of a MUCH larger, ancient threat, the extent of which will not be seen properly until the Babylonia Singularity. A threat that was the entire reason the Servant Summoning System was created in the first place…

The game is split up into a few different parts. From the main menu, players can choose to travel to the different singularities to complete missions or undertake the various Daily Quests, all of which cost Action Points. Rewards from completing missions can range from the valuable Saint Quarts to the just as useful Mana Cubes. Quartz are the main form of “currency” in the game in order to summon the more powerful Servants, but it is entirely up to hope and luck that you manage to get the rarer servants like EMIYA or Artoria. One could buy more Saint Quartz by spending money, but this is a risky move since someone could buy 60 Quartz and roll a total of 20 cards, but still not obtain a powerful Servant. RNG takes no prisoners. Regardless, completing quests, especially the Daily Quests that reward EXP cards or other materials, are vital in powering up your Servants.

The meat of the game is when it comes time for battle. Taking a turn-based approach, players bring a team of five Servants and one “Support” Servant that acts as an ally, though only three can be on the field at any time. Each Servant has a “deck” of five cards that consist of Quick, Arts, and Buster cards, which drop more Critical Stars, increase the Noble Phantasm Gauge, and do more damage respectively. At the start of each turn, the combined decks are shuffled and five cards are drawn, where the player must choose three to attack with. Each Servant has their own abilities that can be used to heal, buff up allies, or hinder enemies. There is also a “rock-paper-scissors” system where certain classes do more damage or are resistant to others. Six of the main seven Servant classes form two of these systems, with Berserkers dealing and receiving increased damage against everyone. The special Ruler and Avenger class Servants also have their own traits, but they are very rare and are difficult to nab.

Perhaps Fate/Grand Order‘s greatest success is bringing Fate, and the wider Nasuverse by extension, to a much broader audience. Not only is it the most successful Fate title in TYPE-MOON’s library, it is its most successful product ever. Who would have thought that the high school doodles of Kinoko Nasu would eventually become the flagship franchise of the company that was once a humble doujin circle. With F/GO continually improving and gaining a larger budget that is quite impressive for a mobile game, the future of this title is looking very bright. It will take some time before the NA version catches up to the JP version, but for a free game that has this much production value, this is an excellent addition for fans and a stellar jumping point for newcomers to the franchise. Just be smart with your money if you decide to buy additional Saint Quartz and remember the magic words when summoning: “Don’t spook me Kirei”.

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