As a big fan of the Sword Art Online series (SAO for short) as well as its past games, I’m super excited to announce that Bandai Namco Entertainment has dropped a release date for its most recent instalment – Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization. From November 8, players will be able to get their hands on a copy of the game for the PlayStation 4, or a digital copy for the PlayStation Vita. In this game, players will be assuming the role of Kirito, and exploring the world of Ainground; all the while meeting up with familiar faces from the series, in what will be one of the most immersive single player MMO-like games to be created.
For those who are new to the SAO series (game, anime or both) a quick overview is in order. Set in the year 2022, SAO is the world’s first Virtual Reality MMORPG to take it’s players, literally, into the game world of Aincrad. However, once logged on, players find that they are no longer able to log out and return to the real world, and to make matters worse, should your avatar die in the game you die in real life. The series takes a look at what it means for people to be forced into a “game” where the stakes are real, and death can’t be cheated simply by starting at the last Checkpoint or respawning.
Hollow Realizations’ game follows the journey of an AI creation (you, the player) and the main protagonists of the overall series, Kirito. It’s your job to return to the world of Aincrad, under the guise of a new world title ‘Sword Art Origin’, for research and development purposes. Along the way you’ll be joined by new crew members, some who’ll you’ll recognise from the series and some who were created specifically for the game. Boasting a roster of some 300 possible players, designing the perfect 4-Man team and taking on Aincrad’s slew of monsters will certainly take some fine tuning.
Gameplay will consist of both role playing and real-time battle elements. Your 4-man team will battle targeted monsters collaboratively and at the same time offer advice as to how to take on certain kinds of enemies. Players will also be able to utilise teamwork among the party to deal greater damage against their foes. Building relationships between your team roster will also be essential in strengthening your party members; as will equipping certain kinds of battle armaments that accentuate a team’s comradery.