GamingPreview: Sword Art Online Hollow Realization

Preview: Sword Art Online Hollow Realization

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Those familiar with the Sword Art Online anime will no doubt already know all about the concept behind it. A group of players get stuck in the server of the very online game that they enjoyed playing on a regular basis. Whereas dying in-game initially meant instant death in the real world, the rules have been somewhat changed to make the penalty not as… grave.

The latest game entry in the series sees the setting change to the Amusphere which is build on an old SAO server from the Nerve Gear. This will surely mean something to fans who have played the previous games and have been watching the anime.

Sword Art Online Hollow Realization

Now what is fascinating about this new development is that it marks the first time a game has deviated from the main anime story line. Instead, the development team says that this story is exclusive to Sword Art Online Hollow Realization. A bold move given that fans will no doubt want to find out about the story. It also means that new players are potentially able to get stuck in without having to worry about watching the anime to understand what is going on.

This new story sees main character, Kirito, trying to find a mysterious girl called Premiere. Premiere is one of the in-game NPC characters and there is something unusual about her that draws the attention of Kirito. Besides this quest, familiar characters from previous games also make appearances with new costumes.

Character customisation offers the same kind of options seen in most RPGs. Although the game itself plays more like a MMO. There are lots of attacks to choose from and it can be kinda disorientating to activate them. All the abilities appear on the lower section of the screen and it’s necessary to use the d-pad to highlight one and press a button, in order to activate it, whilst fighting. It will hopefully get easier to activate abilities once memorising what each does. Up to 3 other players can join a game session and play with four AI controlled characters.

The area included in the preview session consisted of a huge forest. It was not only enjoyable to explore this area, but it was also populated with all kinds of monsters to defeat. The monster design is varied and each of the fights feels unique and like it requires a different strategy to defeat each monster.

Starting any quests is as simple as finding green areas marked on the map. Some of the quests played involved defeating a certain number of enemies. The fighting itself feels very similar to most PC MMOs, which is quite the feat considering the rarity of this genre on home consoles. In fact, it did feel more like a basic MMO which is useful to ensure that it appeals to a wider audience.

Sword Art Online Hollow Realization

Whilst Sword Art Online Hollow Realization felt fun to play with the AI companions, there is no doubt that it will probably get even better if playing it with friends. This also felt like the most accessible game entry in the series so far.

Sword Art Online Hollow Realization is scheduled to be released on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita this Fall 2016.

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