Fate/Extella is a horrible musou game, and I say this as a giant musou fan. In my opinion it’s one of the worst products in the wide world of Fate spinoffs. However, it’s sequel Fate/Extella Link is a significantly better game, good even. So let’s take a look at the failings of Extella and the success of Link.
The original Fate/Extella is a very badly designed game, made while musou games were at their peak popularity, by people who don’t quite understand what makes musou games so compelling. They instead thought that just throwing the player onto a field with 3000 enemies per sector with very minimal objectives would satisfy them.
Clearing sectors in Fate/Extella just to make the boss appear was an extraneously tedious task. Which thankfully, THANKFULLY, Fate/Extella Link massively overhauled. No longer are you just standing around a sector bashing hundreds upon hundreds of enemies for several minutes until the sector leaders show up so you can kill them, and then repeat the same task at a neighboring sector. Now clearing sectors is a very quick task as the leaders are almost always already spawned, and when they aren’t the process of killing enemies to make them spawn will now half a minute at most, not several.
Related to sectors, every stage in the original Extella would require you to go around and take a certain number of sectors before the boss appeared, and pacing in the stages would always grind to a halt for the purpose of sector gathering. Fate/Extella Link does away with this stage structure, instead taking inspiration from the other musous like Dynasty Warriors and having the bosses appear naturally in the stage when the plot of the stage requires them to. You will still be capturing plenty of sectors as parts of the missions to beat the stages of course, but it no longer destroys the pacing.
Aside from the stage structure, gameplay itself has been…altered in Link, in a way that seems weird, but I think in a good way. Fate/Extella in terms of gameplay itself is not very distinguishable from most other musou games, with the only worth nothing difference being Noble Phantasms, which you would need to collect pieces of to use. Extella Link however makes a major change in the gameplay by introducing active skills. Skills that each character possesses that can be activated by holding R1 and pressing one of the controllers face buttons. Each with their own cool down meter after use.
Which active skills you want equipped can be switched out between missions
This might not seem like much, just a few extra attacks to take down enemies, however they change the game up immensely. With how strong these skills tend to be the flow up gameplay is sped up tremendously, normal attacks are now what you are doing just to keep your combo going during the cooldown for these strong attacks. While this is still a Dynasty Warriors inspired musou game at its base, these active skills make the gameplay feel much different, it’s a fresh of breath air to see Fate/Extella Link take the Dynasty Warriors gameplay in a unique, fun way after how baren the original Extella was of creativity.
While writing this I assumed Extella Link was the first musou game to do something like this, but to my surprise it turns out Warriors All Stars, an official Koei musou attempted to do something very similar to active skills first. However, I honestly think Extella Link has managed to do something better than an actual Warriors game. The cool downs in Warriors All Stars take far too long to the point that I would sometimes just forget they were recharging and not use them, the smaller cool down times in Extella Link make the active skill system much more interesting
Now after gameplay, let’s talk about the roster of characters, one of the core selling points that makes people buy musou games……or rather let’s talk about how the original Fate/Extella wastes it’s roster. The original Extella had 4 story modes, you can play as one character in each of them, except the last where you play as the same person you played in during the first story. Thus you don’t get to play as a majority of the roster during the story. Instead the original Extella had “side stories” where you play the exact same stages you played in the story mode, but with the occasional changed dialogue and a unique ending cutscene for each character. You will play nearly every stage from the story mode four times by the time you’re done with the side stories, Extella’s stages were already tedious affairs, but doing them each four times (EIGHT times if you’re a completionist going for the platinum like me) makes them a chore.
Thankfully, Fate/Extella Link does away with both the 1 character per story restriction and completely gets rid of Extella 1 style side stories. You are now able to choose between several characters every stage, allowing the player to either play as their favorite character the whole story or play as a wide variety of characters to mix things up. Side Stories have instead been replaced with challenge missions, challenge missions vary from just being harder versions of stages from the story (Extellas side story stages were always the same difficulty as the story) to unique stages where you unlock costumes for characters to a deathmatch against two extremely difficult bosses. While yes, it can be annoying to replay each stage but harder when doing the challenge missions, replaying each stage once (Twice if going for the platinum like me) is a much more bearable experience than replaying each stage FOUR times.
Now that I’m done talking about what I definitely think Link does better than the original Extella, I’m going to talk about something that I more personally like about Link; The roster itself. I am not a fan of Fate/Extra or it’s cast, not enough to actively reject playing as its cast, but Extella Link adding more characters from Fate/Zero Fate/Apocrypha and even some Fate/GO servants made the roster much better for me personally. Extella Link even turned me into an Astolfo fan, please post your insults in the comments.
I got to max lvl as Astolfo, curse you Extella Link
Overall, Extella Link is a general right direction for the Extella subseries of Fate. I sincerely hope for another installment in this series. While yes it is much better than the first Extella and a good game, it isn’t a fantastic game, but I feel if a third installment continued on these improvements they could create one of the best musou games around
Thank you for reading my article, if you would like to read about another game with musou elements please check out my review of the new Sakura Wars game https://story-arc-blog.com/2020/02/05/a-new-legend-blooms-sakura-wars-2019-review/
If you would like to read about something else anime related, please check out Sailor’s journey through watching Sailor Moon https://story-arc-blog.com/2020/03/11/sailor-watches-sailor-moon-ep-1-3/