Black Rock Shooter Fragment has been confirmed for a global release sometime Spring 2023, but the Japanese version launched 24 November 2022 in the mean time. Surely capitalizing on some huke nostalgia bait, how does the mobile game expand the universe of some banger designs?
After struggling with some error barring me from proceeding past the title screen – some solutions apparently requiring change of system language for some reason – I had a bumpy entry of a freezing game and stalled loading before I finally could give the game a shot.
The opening from TeddyLoid ft. Tallis is absolutely rocking, with some stylish visuals, and should no doubt drag some people screaming back into the Voca / KagePro void. Like:
As for the game itself, it’s got the suitably sci-fi trappings, with mostly static 2D art for characters and the weapons. In combat, the characters become chibis, fighting against cyberized monsters. There’s certainly nothing wrong with this, but I will also realize that some people would expect more production value – OST aside – with Good Smile Company backing it.
The main story is not voiced.
As snazzy as the visuals are, the core gameplay loop doesn’t interest me much. It’s a real-time strategy game, seeing you move units around a given map to defeat enemies as they spawn. Each unit has their respective range, with sniper-types hanging back while the melee ones form a wall and / or charge forward. On completing a mission, two characters in your team might banter for some characterization.
As you progress through the stages, there’s no doubt of increasingly beefy enemies and more spawn points and enemies pouring out to eat at your group of five, with a sixth from support. At 1x speed, it’s glacial, and 3x doesn’t feel that much better. There is auto-mode so I pretty much let my units run over to spawn camp until I presumably hit a brick wall. I know there are classes and probably a weakness chart, but I’m not too clear on where that info is. After enough abilities, there’s one team-wide Kill Ability, which I believe uses the team leader’s.
Each character can equip up to 3 equipment pieces, each with their respective effects. They, and their gear, can be limit broken, though I can’t quite tell how many duplicates are required to fully uncap either. Character skill levels can also be levelled up individually. One thing I found interesting was the ability to ‘fuse’ an ability from another weapon to slot into another, not something I’m able to do in the early level due to lack of resources. There is an expedition system for more resources, where units will return after several hours bearing rewards.
The VIP system seems to be increasingly more ‘popular’ in these games, and I’m not sure if I really like that trend. For BRS FRAGMENT, things such as an auto-repeat (“loop mode”) are locked behind the VIP Pass. Besides additional goodies for log in bonuses, I’m not particularly enthused to stick around longer.
Last but not least, we have the gacha. It takes 1500 currency to do a 10 pull, with a 5% rate for 5-star items. There is a catch, in that getting a 5-star character is at a 1% rate. A spark is offered at 200 pulls, with a separate pool for weapons. Pulling in the character pool will still get you weapons, as there doesn’t seem to be gacha characters not 5-star. Then again, I don’t know Japanese.
There’s no in-built reroll system, with the tutorial 10-roll not having rigged results. You can get up to 5 5-star characters from it, from what I’ve seen.
Black Rock Shooter FRAGMENT is a pretty middling game to me. There might be more gripping modes to play in later in the game, but if the initial presentation doesn’t quite hook, I’m not sure how many would be willing to stay. The technical issues I face didn’t help matters.
With the game planned for a global release, I could check it out again at that point with more literacy. Until then, I’ll just loop Reactivation while I wait.