While officially only out in the United States, Fate/Grand Order (FGO for short) is finally available to play in the English language and there are probably some of you out there that want to know if this new version is worth playing, especially after hearing about all the horror stories early on when FGO first launched. So here is a short list of things you should know about Fate/Grand Order’s English release.
First, something good:
Nearly all the quality of life updates that FGO added in post-release updates are available on the English version straight away. That means you have a huge inventory right from the start; every week there are side quests that will let you earn two of the games premium currency, you can choose what characters you send to support your friends and the costs for actually rolling the very unfair gachapon-style lottery that gives you new characters and equipment is now twenty-five percent cheaper than it was at the start of the Japanese release.
Now the bad:
Sadly, while the story and UI have been translated, Fate/Grand Order has perhaps the worst localisation in recent memory. This is not just lines that seem unnatural or too literal, FGO has straight up misspellings and missing letters. This level of translation makes the slightly off dialogue in Persona 5 look like ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ by comparison. Rather a sad turn from a series that began as a famously well-written novel.
But there is still some more good:
As Fate/Grand Order became more popular and it became obvious that it was drawing in enough money to make it worthwhile, characters that were around when the game was first launched where given animation upgrades so that they did not look so dull compared to newer characters that had flashier animations. So in periodic updates FGO upgraded characters like Gilgamesh, King Arthur and Vlad III with new animations. This also acted as a kind of buff, as changing the animations allowed for some of these characters to also score more hits or do more damage. Not every character has their upgraded Japanese animations but given how they have some available right off the bat they will probably be included in future updates soon.
Power creep had become a real problem in FGO and late in the Japanese game’s first story the ability to raise a character’s level cap was revealed. This has also been made available right from the start in the English version. It won’t be relevant for a while as characters hitting their level cap only becomes a problem in the last two chapters, but now you will be able to buff your favourite common or make your favourite SS Rare character even more overpowered as soon as possible.
The really nasty bad part because of capitalism:
The largest amount of premium currency you can buy in one go will set you back £66.59 and with the number of rolls that gets you on the character lottery, it in no way guarantees that you will get what you are looking for. Indeed, those looking to get that special SS Rare character that they really want can end up spending a whole lot of money to just draw them once, and the game incentivises you to get five to upgrade their special attacks.
This is not something that will ever go away. Games like Fate/Grand Order need a scarce, desirable resource in the game that people will spend money to acquire. FGO is quite nice with its premium currency in that you can earn enough from missions and logging in that you can gather together quite a bit of currency by just playing the game.
Where FGO takes it too far is that so many popular characters are only made available at extremely limited times that can arrive with little warning and then disappear for months. With no notice of when the character will be available again. Clearly, the intent is to get you to panic buy when your stash of free currency fails to get you Gilgamesh even though you have saved up enough for three big rolls of the lottery. People will then spend money on more rolls of the lottery because they don’t know when they will have the opportunity to get this character again.
A final bit of good news to end on:
But, despite all, that Fate/Grand Order is unique in that it has easily the best story ever put into a mobile game. By absolutely no means is it perfect though; it runs into as many of the Type-Moon problems as it hits Type-Moon style acts of ridiculous brilliance. There is one story arc nearly everyone agrees is terrible, but almost immediately after that stumble the story picked itself up and just started hitting home runs that easily match the excitement of the original Fate novels, and that is just the main story.
Even better are the special events that really give the writers a chance have some real meta fun with characters like having them fight a whole army of chibi Nobunaga, solve the crime of someone creating forgeries of the Mona Lisa or help the scariest Farther Christmas since Futurama deliver presents to all the cast. So while the actual gameplay never manages to top the likes of say Fire Emblem Heroes there is more story here than anything else you can get on your phone or tablet today.