E3 2018: Hands on at XSEED Games

XSEED had a plethora of games to show at E3 this year. With four PS4 titles, and a few more for other platforms, they had a little for everyone. One of the games, Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin, was a title I played last year. This year, I went hands-on with two titles: Fate/Extella Link and Gungrave VR.

Fate/Extella Link is a sequel to Fate/Extella, the Dynasty Warriors-like game set in the Fate/Stay Night franchise. This means that, like all Fate games and shows, the characters are loosely based on people from history, legend, or myth. Key word there being loosely, as many characters have a different temperament, ability-set, or even gender than their basis.

Fate/Extella Link makes numerous changes to the original Extella. Most noticeable is that there are some new characters. In the demo I played, Charlemagne was a new playable character alongside a few returning characters, while Drake (a female version of Francis Drake) was the foe of the encounter.

The gameplay has also seen some enhancements that make the gameplay more varied and interesting. For one, each character now has access to four skills that add a layer of flair to combat. Characters can also enter a ‘moon drive’ state that makes them more powerful for a limited period of time.

Overall, I like how Link played. While I didn’t play the original Fate/Extella except at preview events, comments online and our review seemed to indicate that the game was a bit repetitive. The new gameplay mechanics and characters in Link seem like they could help alleviate that. It will be hard to tell without the full game but I enjoyed the demo enough to jump back in and try another character after beating it the first time.

Gungrave VR was the other game I tried at XSEED. Based on old PS2 game that had a spinoff anime, Gungrave follows Brandon Heat, aka Beyond the Grave, who is on a quest for revenge against a crime syndicate that killed him. The anime and game have a dirty, western vibe to them which carries over well into the new VR game.

Gungrave VR‘s demo featured two different levels that highlighted the two different gameplay modes. One of them was a pretty typical VR-based shooter where you are rooted in place, shooting enemies as they approach. The other was a third-person action game.

The shooter mode was probably the weaker of the two, in my opinion. It’s a gameplay style that’s so common in VR, there wasn’t a ton to make it stand out. A boss fight near the end of the level was probably the most interesting part but a mechanic where your gun could overheat made the whole level a bit of a chore.

On the other hand, the third person action level was more interesting. While you still were shooting enemies by looking at them, you could move around in the level to help avoid enemy attacks. This level started with a short corridor section but eventually ended up in an arena where enemies were coming from several locations. Being able to turn around or dodge attacks were paramount to finishing the level.

In this mode, Brandon had a few special attacks too including a closer range attack to help with foes who were able to close in. Again, these helped set the game apart from the other VR shooters I’ve played. A boss battle that ended the level was again a standout moment, as it required some dodging and moving to defeat rather than just looking/aiming at weakpoints.

I’m not sure how Gungrave VR stands up to its PS2 counterpart but what I played was decent enough. The one level was more interesting to me as someone who is mostly unfamiliar with the property, but perhaps fans might enjoy both types of gameplay more. At the very least, the game looked pretty good and handled well and I didn’t get any VR nausea for the short time I played it.

Written by Andy Richardson

Andy Richardson

A longtime PlayStation fan who enjoys JRPGs and rhythm games when he’s not tweeting about his parrot.

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