Grand Summoners is a fine game. Good collabs (Kill la Kill and One-Punch Man), interesting gameplay, decent enough rates to get a good team at start, painless reroll... and I still dropped it like a sack of bricks once I played through the story.
Thatsmapizza wrote a danged good article on original characters in licensed Gacha games and it made me think of the month or so that I picked up Grand Summoners and why I ended up dropping it. As I said above, the rates were great, I rerolled until I had the ideal team and often could drop a 10+1 roll every banner, and even then I got some decent folk out of the deal. Even Limit Breaking the characters wasn’t much of an issue thanks to the items allowing you to do so without going into Kompu Gacha territory (Kompu Gacha is a now illegal in Japan method of promising prizes for completing a set of Gacha items that you can pay money for - for more information, here’s this Gamasutra post).
This is the main character of the game, Rayas. He is your typical anime protagonist who wants to become an adventurer because he wants to help people and really do I need to expound more on this silly backstory? Here is the biggest problem, Rayas is a fucking idiot. It turns out that he is capable of summoning the 3 Grand Blade Masters which is apparently a big enough deal that people keep reminding him of it, and thus he ends up being tasked with a mission to investigate Demon Towers that have appeared all over the land, alongside a mysterious girl who he is invariably developing a big crush upon because anime.
None of this is the problem - Replace Adventurer with Knight and I’ve just described Rain from Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. Here’s the thing though - Unlike Rayas, no one ever implies that Rain is incompetent. Everyone recognizes that, although he’s got a fondness for women and he’s a bit short on brains, he’s still a knight worthy of the name. Rayas gets insulted by his party members (other than Iris) all the time, pretty much saying he’s in over his head, that he should quit being an adventurer. Even his best friend, Roy, gets in on the Rayas hate train at the beginning of the game.
You would think that this would eventually subside as you clear challenges, but no. You clear the first continent, and Rayas is still being considered the load. You clear the second? Same deal. If it didn’t take so much time to clear everything, it would be fine - The problem is that you’re stuck with this godawful characterization throughout the entire experience and it really just starts grating on you after a while.
The problem with this is that unlike, say, FE Heroes where the Summoner is an unknown entity that represents the player, Rayas is the player representative. Any time someone insults Rayas, they’re also insulting the player. FFBE handles it the same way, which is likely why they never go out of their way to outright insult their main character (Instead, Gumi does that with mindboggling localization errors and an insulting attempt at communication but I digress).
Interestingly enough, another Gacha game has a similar set up but actually does it right. King’s Raid has the same plot beats at the beginning of the game - Kasel, much like Rayas, is an adventurer. His best friend is in the knightly order of the town you start in. The thing here is that the plotline is constructed in such a way that Kasel isn’t considered a 5th wheel. He is necessary for the plot to advance, and while he has his own problems (quick to anger, which is apparently a problem with the holy sword he’s tasked with repowering), he’s still considered competent by the rest of the team, even if he needs some reminding to not be that angry by, uh, Boob Pope Frey.
Interestinly enough, Grand Summoners has yet to crack the top grossing apps on the North American Google Play store. FFBE and King’s Raid are both there, right now, though they are far behind the juggernaut that is Fate/Grand Order. That game is pretty much untouchable until maybe the Nintendo/Cygames collaboration comes out in NA AND it turns out to be as horny as Granblue Fantasy.
I don’t want to correlate between this scenario and the game’s success - It’s a big leap of faith to say there is one. All I can say is that personally, the game got so grating in its treatment of the main character that I just decided enough was enough and dropped it.
For those of you doubtful that gacha games can be significantly interesting as far as lore is concerned, I’d dare say you should try one out (unless you have gambling issues in which case PLEASE STAY AWAY - Regardless of how cute the things are, it’s still friggin’ gambling!) and see if that opinion still stands up for you. However, typically you’ll see people more interested in the anime ass-ets than anything else.
And y’know what, that’s just fine with me.