This being our first actual review of a mobile game, will be reviewed like any other game before, and I’ll make necessary adjustments as we go along.
Initially known by many as the ‘Fate/Stay-Night’ series, the ‘Fate/’ universe is one of the most expansive in the world of anime. It generally concerns itself with popular characters in history who may have existed as humans, gods, or myths fight each other to obtain an omnipotent wishing device, the holy grail. One day, its creator decided that he should be able to have fun with that universe whenever he pleases, and Delight Works agreed.
‘Fate/Grand Order’ (F/GO) is a mobile game that allows you to explore the various worlds within the ‘Fate’ universe by letting you basically play Dr. Who. To be exact, you play as a mage who’s identified as the bottom of the barrel of his/her bunch and quickly goes up the ranks as everybody who can do a better job than you dies in an explosion. As the last mage capable of doing anything, you are left with the task of saving the humanity’s existence in the future by fixing anomalies in the timeline created by a traitor within your ranks and his boss.
Production (4 / 5)
F/GO decided to stick to 2D, layered art with some 3D background graphics. While it may raise suspicions for some it is able to keep up a rather consistent look between elements, making nothing stick out too badly while having your characters look great. A good bunch of the enemies as well as all the servants animate well. While there’ll be noticeable re-uses of basic attack animations, all the servants (basically characters you can play) have their own custom animations when it comes to their ultimate attack, their Noble Phantasm. Making exploring what each can do a visual treat as well. What’s not a treat is the on-screen UI during battle, having so many buttons so close next to each other can easily cause a mispress or two leading you to waste that valuable turn doing something you don’t necessarily want. There’s also cases of there simply having too much happening on-screen causing your phone to lag if its specs are a little less than ideal, and well, nobody likes lag.
However, it stands to note that the audio experience is pretty enjoyable. Music, especially during boss encounters, have some pretty memorable tunes that make even this completely turn-based game feel exciting and tense. All characters having a voice in the game is also a huge plus, making each action and event all the more dramatic. However, nearly all of the story conversations don’t have these probably to keep the app from bloating too much. Don’t worry though, there’s lots of ways to hear your favorite character talk whenever you want, in case you’ve decided to dedicate your life to any of these easily marketable characters.
Mechanics (4 / 5)
Fate/GO’s mechanics may be quite a bag to unpack, so I’ll just go in detail about the more significant parts of how it works. Generally battle works on a turn-based system where you always get to act first. Generally the objective is to defeat all the enemies before they do the same to you. How you attack them has a bit of luck to it as you’ll be picking 3 out of 5 attack cards per turn, where you don’t have any real control over which cards you get to pick from, but you can take a guess. You have to pick which cards get you the best result you want for that given turn, as each combination of cards will net different effects depending on the Servants using them. To help manage the battle, you can make use of skills or spells that the servants and you, the master, have have at ready.
While you typically gain experience after finishing a battle, the only way to enhance your servant’s stats is by fusing them with experience cards which is typical of these gacha type mobile games. Once hitting their current level cap they can be ascended to unlock a higher level limit and if available, one of its skills. You can also augment them by attaching a bonus skill card called a Craft Essence which usually passively boosts your servant in one way or the other. And everything I’ve mentioned so far can all be enhanced by levelling up, Servants, their skills, and even the craft essences that can be attached to them. In other words, this game wants you to farm with no end in sight. Not an idea to be fond of on paper, but as a game you ideally pop up to play for just a few minutes during your breaks or free time, probably does the job better than what I would normally give it credit for.
You also setup how your formation will look beforehand, where you can have up to 5 (plus 1 from the friend list) servants setup with 3 immediately active and the rest as reinforcements. This includes setting up Craft Essences and they all add up to your capacity limit dictated by your own level as a Master. This prevents you from simply abusing your most powerful assets in the game as you have a limit on who you can bring to battle. A certain level of planning and strategy is required of either building around a few strong servants or making a generally balanced party.
One way to maximize your party’s effectiveness is by considering the rock-paper-scissor relationship that some classes share between each other, showing that no one unit or servant can automatically defeat every other servant in the game. Making it entirely possible that a 1-star servant can, in certain situations, prove to be a much stronger asset than its 5-star counterpart.
Everything I stated above generally points the game in 2 directions, you can be the type of player who will maximize a favorite servant and make small adjustments to make that one guy work. The other would have a well-rounded set of servants, each setup to handle certain enemies allowing you to switch around depending on the situation. It can be a mixture of both, or somebody can just spam Berserkers, easily the best class to have for about 90% of the current game. What’s generally great about this game is how it allows you to handle your battles however you want, while there would always be an ‘optimal’ method, other ways of playing are still viable. It’s completely playable without having to depend on paid premiums to do the work for you. A great example of how to execute F2P.
Content (3.5 / 5)
This mobile game has a strong reliance on its Visual-Novel style presentation for its story mode and its story battles. Completing them nets you rewards like precious gems for gacha or free servants. Completing one of the chapters will roughly take you one day of constant playing to complete, and at the moment only three chapters are available. The nature of mobile games to have constant additions or updates to its content is already expected and in general Fate/GO reasonably keeps up with this demand. It’s to be noted though, that a lot of its play time is padded by grinding for items you need to strengthen your servants.
While there’s usually a few months to count between chapter releases, there’s usually a few events between them that help keep things interesting and usually makes farming easier. The regular updates also include additions to the Fate/GO roster which may or may not tempt you to spend those gems you have been slowly been accumulating to the point that you might just buy some to keep trying to get that one servant you’ve dedicated yourself to attain.
Actually, let’s tackle that for a bit. Buying gems in this game may be taken as you losing to the game, being forced to shell out money for an otherwise F2P game. But the game never brings you to a point that you are forced to spend so much to simply continue the story which is its core gameplay. Though it’s also true that people work on this Fate/GO a lot, so perhaps spending a bit once in awhile to show appreciation for the work put forward isn’t so bad. But do tread carefully of spending too much on what is basically spending on lottery tickets. There is a difference between showing appreciation and following obsession.
Features (3 / 5)
One huge advantage that the younger, English version of Fate/Grand order has over its JP counterpart is how it already has a lot of Quality of Life improvements that was developed over the 2 years that the app has been running in Japan. This makes doing the more routine work in the game easier, and makes mistakes a lot less punishing.
The game hardly has any online interaction with friends as the friend list is pretty much the biggest interaction you’ll get. But hey, nobody’s going to say no to that one friend who always overpowers his available servants for support.
There’s also a ‘my room’ feature that lets you review your entire inventory, your servant list, story events, and even hear special messages from your ‘favorite’ servant who will happen to hang out at your room all the time.
The game also supports being able to transfer your account to another device without having to rely on third party services which is a big plus if you happen to be unable to access these services.
The price for the gems here are generally the same price if you had been buying from the Japanese version. And yes it’s expensive, but luckily having less of these doesn’t really lock you out of game content except for the chance of getting premier servants.
Overall (4 / 5 )
Fate/Grand Order for the US region is unique in the manner of how convenient it is to play compared to it’s Japanese counterpart when it was starting out. While I do play the Japanese version, it’s a pleasant experience to actually be able to read the conversations within the game’s story sections and understand the humor that’s thrown about every so often during the story. Though I had admittedly proceeded to skip through more than half of these scenes.
This mobile game is really meant for playing during that little extra time during break time, which is why it’s so heavily layered with grinding mechanics which I wish was less demanding, but most of the cast is highly serviceable without having to max out everything, so this issue is rather forgivable. Fans of the Fate/ universe will certainly be delighted with being able to play their favorite characters as well as discover new ones as they continue to play. Those who aren’t as attached may be put off by how massive the mechanics are within the game, but if they can be patient with it, can find themselves occasionally fun and challenging content within the game and it’s upcoming updates.
Fate/Grand Order grants a few wishes and nets a 3.7 / 5
Available on iOS and Android (region locked)