When you are asked the question “What is the most fun you had with Fate/Grand Order?” You may have to sit and think for a while. The current state of Type Moon and Lasengle’s game is one where nearly every servant is capable of looping through stages in three rounds. Which has made the gameplay extremely basic to the point of monotony and servants who have a single target Noble Phantasm are rarely used anymore. Because of this, the most fun parts of current FGO for most people are story bosses or challenge quests that actually require a minimum amount of strategy to succeed. I dare say that FGO JP hasn’t had a fun event in over a year and a half, with the only real saving grace for me right now being how JP’s current Illya-castle event has plenty of Miyu screen time.
However, right as the game’s events were about to take a downward turn, I believe the game released what I consider to be the best event the game has ever done. I am of course referring to the game’s 5th anniversary summer event: Servant Summer Camp. I know that I just made a few of your groan, or you’re already typing up comments about how mission based events are inferior to point based events and the very concept of events with timelocks that require you to wait are hated in the FGO community (though that one is kind of a moot point as all events have timelocks now), but I encourage you to just continue reading as I do have some arguments that I hope will convince you.
First off we have the biggest complaint for some people, Missions. FGO fans typically hate mission based events because they do not want to switch up their team to play through multiple nodes, preferring to use a singular team and grind one node for an event’s entire multi-week period. There is also the complaint that mission based events require a guide to play through them optimally. Putting aside personal preference for mission based events, I think the way Servant Summer Camp is set up completely fixes that second complaint that people have!
Missions in Servant Summer Camp were set up very simply, presumably because this was a casual event made to be played even by new players. To complete every mission in the event the player must simply play each node a total of six times. The game pads out its 100 mission list with stuff like “Defeat [x] amount of enemies” that only appear in a single node, but at the end of the day the only missions you will actually be grinding are ones that require you to beat the ‘danger’ type monster in each node six times.
Even the typical ‘collect this many materials’ missions aren’t a pain this time around! Because there are only three material types (like most FGO events) in this event while it has significantly more nodes than most, you are bound to have completed all of these material gathering quests just by playing through the event casually.
Then there’s the matter of time locked missions. Every player is annoyed when they’re enjoying the early phases of an event but suddenly they’re brick walled by a story chapter saying they need to wait until tomorrow to continue the event. Worst yet this often leads to the first two days of an event forcing players to grind only one or two nodes as the others unlock with story progression.
To Servant Summer Camp’s credit, I believe this event handled time locks much better than any other event that used them. Because the event centered around a day-night system, story chapters would unlock at a rate of every 12 hours instead of every 24 hours. This was a genius decision in my opinion. Not only did this create a way to keep players engaged with the game multiple times a day, but it also corresponded with the game’s AP Stamina system perfectly.
An average player’s stamina will refill to full once a day, however it’s not a guarantee that they will actually use that extra AP or if they will simply wait for their log in the next day. By creating an event that encourages players to login twice a day the FGO dev team ensured that players were much more likely to actually use their extra AP and play the game for a longer period of time. It’s honestly shocking to me that they never tried this again after Servant Summer Camp.
Most of these nodes you would use said AP on were also very good for testing out one of the new servants introduced mere days before the event: Caster Artoria. I complained about the current state of FGO looping at the beginning of this piece, but I feel like context matters here. When the Servant Summer Event first ran we had just gotten Caster Artoria. Before her debut only a select few servants were capable of looping via the Double Skadi system for quick-type servants. Now nearly any arts-type servant was able to loop and we wanted to test that out!
The nodes in this event included Casters, Berserkers, Sabers, and so on. Nearly every enemy type was represented in one node or another to allow players to test who could and couldn’t loop with the double Caster Artoria system. It was a really fun time of experimentation in the community when the idea of a changing FGO meta was still possible!
Speaking of possibly changing the meta, never before or after this event have we seen such a varied gacha banner of servants. Of the six summer servants introduced in this event, every one of them either filled a specific niche or introduced something new to the game.
- The 5☆ Summer Kiara was practically built to take advantage of the Caster Artoria system, being one of the best Arts loopers in the freshly started era of Arts looping
- The 4☆ Summer Illya worked perfectly with the old Double Skadi system, being more than capable of looping through Saber nodes.
- The 4☆ Summer Brynhild was an AoE Buster servant. While Buster-type servants were considered much less useful at this time they were still great for players who had neither Skadi nor Caster Artoria
- The 5☆ Summer Abigail Williams introduced a completely new status effect to the game: Sleep! FGO rarely adds new mechanics so this had a potential to be a game changer at the time
- The 4☆ Summer Tomoe was an AoE Arts Saber who was capable of looping (albeit with more work required than others). To this day there still aren’t many looping Sabers so she was a welcome treat
- The 4☆ Summer Murasaki isn’t nearly as notable as the other servants in the event but having a single target Arts Rider is always welcome in a game loaded with enemy Casters every event.
This was genuinely the greatest lineup of Summer Servants the game has ever had both in terms of gameplay variety and character variety. We had servants of both the young and old variety, FGO originals and collab servants, and those FGO originals were pulled from both The story chapters and events. I don’t know how they could have made a better lineup and I doubt we’ll ever see one as great as this again.
The male servants picked to get simple summer costumes for the event were also very good. Most of the time the male summer servants have next to nothing to do with the women who were picked, but this time around all three men actually had some relation to the women and we got some excellent character interactions from them all! Plus, the Prince of Lang Ling’s summer outfit is the cutest he has ever been.
Of course we can’t talk about those servants without speaking about the event story they were all involved in! Most FGO events focus on a small group of servants while every other character is somewhere offscreen. However, because Servant Summer Camp was the game’s big 5th anniversary event we got the once in a lifetime experience of seeing nearly every single FGO servant in a single event.
This event was filled with great moments like a Shining parody starring Christoper Columbus, Mochizuki Chiyome trying VR, and of course the great scene where Nero gets eaten by the shark from Jaws. If you are a fan of any Fate servant then it is more likely than not for at least one scene in this event to satisfy you. Even servants who had a single banner ever and had yet to play a role in any event like Fujino Asagami and Miyu Edelfelt were given plenty of screentime to shine in this event. It felt like a true celebration of Fate’s pantheon of characters.
The plot involving said characters was also one of the most intriguing experiments FGO has ever done. From the moment players started this event there were things that felt off. The most notable of which was how your chosen protagonist gender would seemingly switch at random during plot nodes and grinding. Players assumed this was a glitch and mass reported it to the point where the official FGO Twitter had to tweet that the random gender swapping was a feature, not a bug. The nodes in the event also confused people for a while. It seemed like day by day the nodes would change slightly, not in a super noticeable way, just enemy color palettes changing. Enough of a change for eagle eyed players to notice but not big enough to give away the twist.
Being in the Fate/Grand Order community when this event was first coming out in Japanese was an unforgettable experience. Seeing players freak out about what was presumed to be a gender swap glitch and others complaining that nodes were suddenly dropping different materials was an interesting look into how players of a gacha game react to the most minute of changes. The event twist itself of there actually being two summer camps with their own near identical nodes and protagonists was also done in an extremely clever way. Sadly the magic of this twist doesn’t hold up three years later as part of the magic was seeing online communities try to solve it, but the experience at the time is what is most important to me personally.
I hope I’ve made my point clear by now. I absolutely love this event and don’t think FGO has done anything close to its quality in the past few years as the game has slowly declined. I haven’t given up hope though, it would take a lot of work on Lasengle’s part but I do believe current FGO could both be turned into a more interesting game and have events this varied and interesting again. Until they do though, I’ll always have my memories of this and many other great events from this era of FGO to hold me over.