E3 2016: Hands-On Time With Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization
I went back to Aincrad, baby.
06.17.16 - 1:05 AM
I should probably preface this article with the fact that I have only a passing familiarity with the Sword Art Online franchise. I've watched the first half or so of the anime series with a college roommate, and we've covered past games based on it here at RPGFan, but that was the extent of my experience. I also haven't played any MMORPGs outside of a brief foray into Lord of the Rings Online that isn't worth going into. So when I had the opportunity to check out the next action-RPG based on the Sword Art Online license, Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization, at this year's E3, and was immediately presented by what I can only assume is an accurate representation of a late-game MMO action bar... well, suffice it to say I was kind of overwhelmed.
Fortunately, the combat in Hollow Realization was actually a lot easier to get into than I assumed. Like previous games in the series and the obvious point of comparison, .hack, it strives to emulate the feeling of playing an MMORPG with online teammates, and it does so rather successfully from the brief demo I was able to play. Your party members will declare when they're activating a Sword Skill and give the player an opportunity to add their own attack to the chain, in a manner similar to Xenoblade. The massive action bar also wasn't nearly as intimidating as it first appeared, and was easy to cycle through while delivering the Kirito smackdown to wild boars and venomous alligators.
It's hard to judge the game as a whole based on an eight-minute demo, but the representative from Bandai Namco reassured me that fans of Sword Art Online will be pleased to see a new story from the series' creator, as well as more development of the various party members, such as Silica and Lisbeth. Hollow Realization will be out later this year for PS4 and Vita.