Can’t hide from it. Can’t escape from it. Fate found its way to me once more with Fate/Extella Link, the follow-up to last year's Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star. The sequel to the lackluster hack n’ slasher has a few more tricks up its sleeve to liven up the action.
A new playable Servant, Charlemagne, takes center stage in Fate/Extella Link. He’s not only savvy in the way of the blade, but also happens to command an arsenal of floating weapons as well. No one from the original Fate/Extella has been cut; everyone is coming back.
Fate/Extella Link still has players scurrying around stages through sectioned-off Sectors in a battle for control over the map. It retains the tug-of-war nature as players clear a Sector’s enemy Aggressors to seize control of them. Eventually a stage’s Boss Servant will show up once enough Sectors have been conquered.
One of the many new systems will be familiar to fans of the Fate franchise; the Master character of your Servants serves a somewhat more involved role on the battlefield now. He or she will be tucked away in a specific Sector and if the Master is forced to retreat from battle, it’s game over. Servants can receive addtional support from the Master if they're nearby.
It’s rightfully over-the-top and the flashiness greatly enhanced my enjoyment of this new entry. This new addition alone convinced me that it’ll probably be a much greater game than its predecessor - but after the last game, maybe the only way to go is really up.
Another big improvement is the removal of the awful Extella Manuever system in the original title. This allowed Servants to fire off continuous attacks to crowds of enemies in an immensely dull, drawn-out sequence. It killed my enjoyment after seeing it again and again and again.
The better thought-out Moon Drive mechanic replaces Extella Manuever by enhancing Servants for a set amount of time. When Moon Drive is active, everything packs an extra punch and players can expend their remaining Moon Drive with an explosive finisher… but it may be in their best interest to hold that off until the last possible moment.
Perhaps one of the most interesting dynamics in Extella Link is how it manifests some of the established “rules” set by the popular mobile game, Fate/Grand Order. For instance, Tamamo no Mae’s Noble Phantasm reduces the cooldown of skills in that game by several turns. Meanwhile in Fate/Extella Link, Tamamo no Mae’s NP reduces the cooldown timer of your Servant’s Active Skills by a considerable amount temporarily. It’s a neat little detail I appreciated, but maybe that just makes me a madman.
Fate/Extella Link is shaping up to be a much better realized game than its predecessor. Its graphical overhaul makes it leaps and bounds ahead of Fate/Extella: The Umbral visually. The action is even more frantic and I simply felt more involved with battle due to my expanded options in the heat of battle. Apparently it’ll also feature a 4vs4 online multiplayer mode and with the absurd amount of chaos I witnessed - I can’t even imagine how that’ll shape up. Every time I think I’ve escaped the chains of Fate, it seems to rope me back in once more.
Fate/Extella Link is now available in Japan for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. It will come to North America and Europe sometime this fall.