Friday, April 20, 2018

Fate/Accel Zero Order: A First Look from Someone Who Hasn't Seen Fate/Zero Yet


Fate/Grand Order jumps from event to event with an insane speed. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, as not every event requires your full attention. Some, like the Da Vinci and the 7 Counterfeit Spirits one that just ended, were fun for a bit but only really mattered hugely if you were gunning for specific items. So I played it through, enjoyed the story, somehow managed to roll my girl Saber without spending a penny (which now puts me at four discrete versions of Altria), and moved back to dailies and a tiny bit of the main story.

Personally, I'm big into events with a long storyline and a Servant to earn. Because, well, I play free. Once in a while I'll throw in a few dollars because I appreciate the work that goes into localizing an ever-expanding game, but I don't have the kind of free-time fun money to whale on a gacha game. (As much as I'd love to.) So I appreciate things where I can dig in for the long haul. The Garden of Order event was my kind of jam, and Fate/Accel Zero Order is looking like it might be, too.

Now, bear in mind that I am not (yet) familiar with Fate/Zero. I know it's by Gen Urobochi, that sweet little ray of sunshine that brought us Madoka Magica, and I know that it's a direct prequel to Fate/stay night. And that's enough for me to jam with. I know enough about the workings of the Nasuverse to follow along, and if I trip up, there's Wikis everywhere.

We're only about a day into the event, and I've been spending some of that doing work -- but even just having dipped a toe in and still killing off Assassins to try and move on to the next levels, I'm already noticing some positives that put it above previous events... or even regular Singularities.


No Entrance Exam


As always, anything you know about Fate prior to coming into anything around the game is a plus. Jokes about Craft Essence art, the associations between certain Servants, etc. will always be fodder for in-game jokes or drama. And the localization team doesn't dumb it down -- they follow the original, even if that means you're out of the loop a bit.

Urobochi was generous in this adaptation, though: he gave us Lord El-Melloi II as a guide. His story is a weird one in Fate/Grand Order (he's a Pseudo-Servant, housing the great Three Kingdoms strategist Zhuge Liang), but his relevance to Fate/Zero means he can backfill anything a player may have miss.

And he does. Boy he does.

Normally this would be extremely tiresome. But El-Melloi II's writing is pretty chill, and he comes across as an almost comforting character in the story. The explanations are broken up across several scenes already, and occasionally relayed via the good ol' "show, don't tell" policy.


Fast and Loose


Even with as little as I know concerning the story of Fate/Zero, I can already see just how much thought Urobochi put in to piecing apart and reimagining his own story. El-Melloi is a perfect guide in this instance, with his tactical prowess and memories combined to help him wedge our current story carefully into his own history.

I've come into the event well aware that this is a grind, just like Garden of Order was. There are X number of missions you have to complete to get that beautiful Dress of Heaven, and in between stories you'll be playing the same levels over and over a couple dozen times just to unlock the next bit. But the solidity of the story so far is making up for it.


Time to Prepare


Really, the best thing for me so far is just how long we were given to prepare. I had time to level up (some of) my bonus servants and get my support lined up. And, you know, landing that Altria was a help, too.

I used to think the Western server was trying to slowly creep their way up to the Eastern one, but I'm past that line of thought now. Obviously, because of seasonal content, they might not be able to. Plus, speaking as someone who's localized games and shows on an extremely tight schedule, I know that doing the sheer amount of work they do on their schedule is already taxing them.

That said, I definitely notice proofing errors and things that need a second scan whenever there's a story update, but there's so little time for turnaround and so many opportunities to fix tiny foibles later that I honestly can't and don't hold it against them. It's already impressive that they're hitting their marks when they do.


More will become evident as I play, I'm sure. There may be issues I've yet to encounter. But what I'm seeing so far, on the whole, is that each event is an evolution, both for the game itself and for the localization team. Each one gets a little smoother storytelling-wise, a little more functional in terms of play-style.

Obviously with Urobochi at the wheel, there's going to be a little more intricacy of story here. But it's also kind of great to be able to see the differences in writing style.

I'm looking forward to pushing my way through the rest of the event, both to see where the story goes and (of course) to get Iri on my team. Best of luck to the rest of you, too.


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