For the uninitiated, the Fate franchise may appear to be a confusing cluster bomb of time lines and characters. There are well over a dozen spinoffs and remakes spanning all sorts of media. Video games, cinema, visual novels, anime, manga, even a movie trilogy coming out in 2017 following one (yeah, just one) of the visual novel’s branching paths. With so much content out there, knowing where to start can be half the battle. With the announcement of yet another entry for the franchise in Fate/Extella, The Umbral Star, we may have the answer.

A very brief summarization of the series is that there is an omnipotent wish-granting relic dubbed the Holy Grail. Seven mages are chosen by the Grail, seemingly at random, every several decades. These mages then have to fight to the death in secret, with the winner getting to have their any wish granted by the Grail. The twist is that these mages each get a Servant to fight with them as powerful familiars. These Servants are all (with very few exceptions) historical figures from the past who happen to fit a particular class type. There are seven class types the Servants could be, and one is summoned per ‘Holy Grail War’; Saber, Lancer, Archer, Rider, Berserker, Caster, and Assassin.

There you go. Now you understand what the heck’s going on. Take a breather and watch the E3 trailer. You deserve it.

I’m a big fan of the Fate franchise, but even I didn’t know all of the characters they showed in that trailer. I mean, I know who Elizabeth Bathory IS (the most prolific female serial killer ever), but I’ve never seen her mentioned in Fate before. There are easily ten more characters I would love to see added to the roster, and they may very well be released as DLC characters if they don’t make it in there by launch. Whatever the final roster ends up looking like, I’m sure it’ll be awesome. Pulling from so deep a character list, how could it not be?

The game itself is a sequel to the PSP game, Fate/Extra, which was localized in North America in 2012. Fate/Extra, for those trying to keep everything straight, is set in a parallel universe to the core series, Fate/Stay Night. So, that would make this the sequel to a spinoff game in an alternate universe of an alternate universe where magic is real. Oh, and it takes place on the moon. All that in mind you should understand it’s dangerous to go alone! Take this doctorate in quantum physics. And a Saber. You can have one of those, too.

While the game is the descendant of Fate/Extra, the gameplay couldn’t be any more different. Fate/Extra had a stiff, genuinely boring rock-paper-scissors style of combat. It was a chore to play, despite my fervent wish it was otherwise. Fate/Extella looks dramatically more action oriented, drawing from Dynasty Warrior style hack and slash. While I’m reluctant to drool over hack and slash in general, there’s no way around the fact that the combat in Extella looks leagues more fun than its predecessor. To say nothing of the colors bursting to life with every attack! I’d say the gameplay looks undeniably simple, but also too attractive to resist.

Extella will be released On November 10th, 2016 in Japan, and is currently slated for a winter release in the US by XSEED on PS4 and Vita, though no exact date has been given for that as of yet. Check back for updates on an official release date, which I’ll be sure to add when it becomes available. (UPDATE: Release date is set for November 10th)

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