A couple of years back, a Musou-style Fate game released and now we have a sequel so let's see if it's a worthy successor.
Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star was an impressively fun real-time slash 'em up in the style of Dynasty Warriors. Its charming cast of characters and unorthodox story and setting made it a very unique game that I thoroughly enjoyed. Thankfully, Fate/Extella Link builds off of its established formula to create an even more fulfilling experience. Hacking and slashing your way through rooms full of enemies while trying to prioritise who to topple next is great fun and the amount of stylish moves and powerful attacks that the characters are capable of makes the gameplay all the more exciting. Plus, Link looks much more polished with its colourful stages, flashy effects, and sleek user interface and the fact that there are 26 playable characters this time around is just awesome.
For better and worse, Fate/Extella Link carries over a lot of aspects from The Umbral Star. The formula of clearing out key enemies in order to take over rooms within each stage map is as repetitive as ever and customizing your characters remains virtually unchanged. You'll still equip Install Skills to provide boosts and Mystic Codes which offer an array of support abilities. You can also equip Active Skills which act as special moves as well as form bonds with your Servants which grants interesting rewards.
In addition to character customization, the core gameplay certainly doesn't deviate much either. Aside from basic attacks and Active Skills, you'll be able to enter Moon Drive mode whenever its gauge is full. While in that mode, you'll fill a second gauge that allows you to unleash an ultimate attack known as Noble Phantasm and you can also choose to deplete the rest of your Moon Drive gauge to execute a Drive Skill attack. Another nifty aspect is that whenever you're near an ally, you can strengthen each other with Class Skills and perform Rush Attacks with them to cause even more damage. These gauges and cooperative aspects are well implemented but they still don't make the gameplay feel fresh enough. I did enjoy trying to master the side missions in each stage, though.
Fate/Extella Link includes a lot more content than The Umbral Star. For starters, the Story mode consists of 27 stages that you can challenge on various difficulty settings. Extra Battle mode contains an additional 42 stages that offer some distinct and enjoyable scenarios as well. That being said, many of the missions feel far too samey and you'll find yourself having to fight through the same situations over and over again. For example, one enemy likes to disguise itself so you'll have to try and attack a few different foes who are scattered across the map in order to figure out which one it is. After doing this a couple of times, I was pretty fed up with the scenario but I ended up having to do it many more times as I worked through the missions which became exceptionally tedious.
One aspect of Fate/Extella Link that goes above and beyond is its online multiplayer component. In this mode, you'll battle in team-based King of the Hill matches with up to 4 players on each team. Surprisingly, I had absolutely no trouble getting a whole room of 8 players together and the battles are intense and a ton of fun. I was also impressed by the fact that I wasn't the worst player considering this released 9 months ago in Japan so players have had plenty of time to hone their skills.
Before wrapping this up, I should mention the Gallery mode which is brimming with unlockable content. You can view all of the unlocked Servants, browse through hundreds of events, listen to the full soundtrack, educate yourself with an in-game terminology glossary, and view all of your collected Mystic Codes and Install Skills. Filling out all of these menus as you play is very satisfying and being able to complete everything 100% will take an exceptionally long time which is great news for all the perfectionists out there.
Even though Fate/Extella Link feels a lot like its predecessor, it's still a much-improved game that'll keep you hacking and slashing for hours. Its super-fun 8 player online component is just the icing on the cake.
- + Familiar Fate/Extella gameplay that's even more refined and enjoyable
- + Lots of content to work through
- + The online mode is fantastic
- - Core gameplay doesn't deviate much from Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star
- - Gameplay still quickly gets tedious
- - Missions are very repetitive