The latest in a series of tie-in games based on Sword Art Online (a popular novel/anime series about a brooding teen's adventures in a VR MMO), Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet has rolled out onto PC today, worldwide and alongside the console version.
Based on the second season of the anime, which traded up its sword & sorcery MMO setting for an action-oriented sci-fi game, Fatal Bullet promises light party-based JRPG adventuring paired with a shooter-style combat engine not entirely unlike Mass Effect.
Released in parallel with its console version, and developed by Dimps (the team behind Dragonball Xenoverse and a thousand other decent licensed titles) Fatal Bullet puts you in the shoes of a hand-made protagonist, playing out a story that runs roughly parallel to the events of the anime series. Despite the MMO theming, the game is primarily a solo RPG, but offers the option to go online to play 4v4 team deathmatch against real human players, or co-op boss fights in parties of four.
In addition to tussling with alien monsters and robots of assorted shapes and sizes, Fatal Bullet leans into the idea of playing a virtual MMO by having your party cross paths with rival groups of (simulated) PVP'ers that will use cover, revive each other if knocked down and so on. It's a nice concept and an interesting way to round out enemy variety and behavior, although for those wanting a pure sci-fi shooter experience without being reminded of the game-in-a-game conceit, it may be a bit disappointing.
Reviews of the PS4 version are rolling out elsewhere, and the game seems to be relatively well received, although by no means a classic. Perhaps one to look out for in the sales if you're a fan of the series? Still, it's nice to see major publishers bringing out titles like this simultaneously worldwide and across multiple platforms. It finally feels like we're getting away from the dark ages of gaming, divided by oceans.
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is out now on Steam & Humble for £40/$50, and there's a £20/$25 season pass covering DLC for the rest of the year, although I shouldn't have to remind anyone that it would be very silly to buy that until we know exactly what the contents include.