©TYPE-MOON / FGO ARCADE PROJECT

Fate/Grand Order, the popular smartphone game, is getting an arcade version. We got to check it out.

Last July, at the Fate/Grand Order Fes. 2017, fans of the game were treated to the surprise announcement of an upcoming arcade version. The initial trailer showed various Servants modeled in 3D CG and running around a field fighting. In preparation for the game’s official release to arcades next year, the developers unveiled the game’s cabinet and are holding a location test in Akihabara as part of the Fate/Grand Order Akihabara Festival where players can actually get some hands-on time with a demo of the game. Anime Now! was at the unveiling event and got a chance to try out the game itself.

[Note: The content and all images of the game is still currently in development and subject to change by the final release.]

To play the game, a player will first want an Aime card. These are cards embedded with IC chips that allow players to register and save their user and game information so that they can use their data at any location. It is possible to play without one, but you won’t be able to save your personal account data. Players start by entering credits (100 yen coins) to purchase GP. GP is essentially the player’s game play time. In the current version of the game, two credits will buy you 600 GP. GP gradually depletes at a rate of 1 GP a second in certain parts of the game, so dawdling around is not advised. A single battle—called a Grand Order—will cost 250 GP.

When starting a new game with a new account, the player is first prompted to summon their first Servant. FGO players will be intimately familiar with this part. My first Servant was the Lancer, Elizabeth Bathory. After your first Servant is summoned, while the Servant card is being printed out, you can then enter your player name and select a gender—much like FGO, the gender you select has no major impact on the game.

After creating an account, you are then taken to the tutorial portion of the game where you learn the basic layout of the controls and get a feel for the combat.

The Fate/Grand Order Arcade game has only four primary control input devices. There is a stick with a thumbstick and two trigger buttons, a central Noble Phantasm button, an attack/block button, and the game’s touch screen. The controls of the game have been simplified for ease of use.

©TYPE-MOON / FGO ARCADE PROJECT

Movement is controlled with the thumb stick. The top trigger allows you to target enemies and cycle through multiple targets in your field of view. The bottom button allows you to dash. Each Servant has a dash gauge that is depleted while dashing. The gauge regenerates gradually by standing still.

Attacking is done simply by pressing the attack button. Each class of Servant has a specific range of attack. Sabers are close range, Lancers are mid range, and Archers are long range. When a target comes into attack range of your Servant, the targeting icon becomes red indicating that you should kick your target’s ass.

Players of the smartphone game may be curious as to the Buster/Arts/Quick attack card options. During combat, five cards are displayed on the bottom right of the screen. The cards are randomly drawn from your Servants’ command card deck. You can select beforehand what kind of attacks you will do for each of the attack cards’ various effects. It is possible to attack wildly without selecting specific attack cards in which case the first three will be used automatically, but selecting the card types gives a significant tactical advantage.

Blocking is also done with the attack button. Blocking within Fate/Grand Order Arcade sets the game apart from its smartphone counterpart and is one of the most vital features of the game. When attacked, by pressing the attack button at the same time as the enemy’s attack, your character will automatically block the enemy’s attack. This requires a sharp eye, a cool head, and some good timing, but it is without question the one thing that can save you from a humiliating defeat.

©TYPE-MOON / FGO ARCADE PROJECT

Each Servant—in their current iteration—has a specific skill that they can use for various effects. These skills are reminiscent of the Servant skills each Servant has in the original game, so most veteran FGO players should find the use of skills rather intuitive.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a Fate game without Noble Phantasms. Each Servant has their own Noble Phantasms—much like skills, reminiscent of their Noble Phantasms from the original game—that can be used to turn the tide of battle. When a Servant’s NP gauge is filled, the game will inform you that you can fire your Servant’s Noble Phantasm at any time. By pressing and holding down the Noble Phantasm button, your Servant will charge and fire their Noble Phantasm complete with a spectacular cut scene. Do note, however, that a Servant is a sitting duck while charging and getting attacked will interrupt the charge. Noble Phantasms are best saved for when you’re sure you won’t be hit for several seconds.

©TYPE-MOON / FGO ARCADE PROJECT

By the time the tutorial is done taking you through the basics, your first Servant card should be done printing out. You can then set up your initial team. First, you insert any Servant or Craft Essence cards you have in the indicated slot of the game cabinet. For the demo, we were given a deck with all the available demo Servants and Craft Essences. You can then set up your team of up to three Servants by dragging and dropping them to each of the slots. Each Servant can also be equipped with a Craft Essence for additional bonus effects. For the actual battle, you will only be one Servant at a time. If that Servant is defeated, the next Servant in the roster appears and you can continue the battle with them.

©TYPE-MOON / FGO ARCADE PROJECT

For the demo, six players get to fight 3 vs 3 in the Orléans stage from the First Singularity of the original game. There is an indicator on the top of the screen with a timer counting down and two gauges. Defeating enemy Servants fills one gauge while defeat of your team’s Servants fills the other. Whichever team fills their gauge first wins.

The actual battle itself is both exciting and chaotic. Six players run about trying to get into range to hit each other while trying to avoid getting hit. I did manage to try some techniques of selecting commands and even managed to fill my NP gauge, but my first Servant was taken down before I could fire it. The various elements of the original game, like class advantages and critical stars are also present within the game, but it’s easy to lose track of them when you’re starting out and trying to figure out what’s going on among the chaos.

In the end, my team managed to win, mainly because we were actually trying to and successfully blocking attacks. It quickly became apparent just how important mastering blocking is to winning a battle.

After the Grand Order, players of the demo are treated to a special summon where they can summon either one or five new cards. Looking at the screen, it appears that a single summon will cost one credit. After summoning, the demo is over.

 

All in all, Fate/Grand Order Arcade makes for an extremely fun time for any fan of FGO. The game feels both simplistic and deep at the same time. The basic interface and commands are fairly intuitive, making the game extremely easy to play for beginners. Long time FGO players will be able to recognize the deeper systems and will no doubt be able to utilize them within battles to their advantage. Personally, when starting out, it’s easier to get a hold of the game if you let go of your FGO gameplay knowledge and focus on the arcade game’s basic system first. If anything, I would compare the arcade to the arcade version of Kan Colle. It maintains the spirit and feel of the original while being an entirely different beast with an separate vector of entertainment.

Currently, there are still a bunch of unselectable options in the game like a shop, a private room, and what appears to be a leveling option. How Servants level up or how what happens when you summon a duplicate have not yet been announced, but will likely be answered with the game’s full release.

The current demo has only six Servants and five Craft Essences available. So far, eleven Servants and nine Craft Essences have been announced with more likely on the way.

Fate/Grand Order Arcade is scheduled for release in Japanese video arcades in 2018. There is currently no word on an international release.

Fate/Grand Order is can be downloaded from the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store.

©TYPE-MOON / FGO ARCADE PROJECT

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