Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is a Third Person Shooter Role-Playing Game (TPSRPG) developed by Bandai Namco Entertainment, Dimps and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment, based on the popular anime franchise Sword Art Online (SAO). The game was released in the EU on 23rd February 2018 for Steam, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
My first impressions of this game were very mixed. As a big fan of anime and Japanese games, but not so much a fan of SAO, I didn’t really know what to expect. The game however has stunning visuals.
The first thing I was greeted with was the character creation screen, which I shall dive into further down the page. Once my character was created however, I was swamped with tons of information and dialogue, not being left with a whole lot of actual gameplay. Even for an RPG there was a lot of conversing, so this of course didn’t give off a good impression for my expectations on the gameplay.
Another feature that left a bad taste in my mouth was the loading screens. Whilst they are needed in games, there seemed to be an excessive amount of them, and each lasted far too long. Luckily the loading screens have tips and information to pass the time while you wait.
Gameplay and Graphics
The character creation in Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is easy to understand and has a large range of options, such as: neck thickness, chest size, leg length. Other features that you probably wouldn’t see much of in other Japanese games.
Anime fans of all types will have a great time designing their ideal Sword Art Online characters of all shapes and genders. You can also change the height, body type, head/hair style, eyes, pupils and mouth. As you play through the game you’ll be able to purchase new clothing and accessories, allowing you to dress in which ever style you’d like to. You can completely design your character at any time throughout the game too, which is a nice aspect.
The main focus of this game certainly isn’t story. With a ton of semi open world environments and a vast amount of quests to do, an overall story direction doesn’t seem to exist. The bottom line of this game is that you’re playing in the world of Gun Gale Online with your childhood friend. Your purpose is basically to level up and have fun.
You of course run into some of the famous characters from the Sword Art Online universe too, who help you throughout your journey and give you quests.
Skills and Levelling Up
When it comes to skills and levelling up, there really is an endless amount of things to do. Not only do most of these different levelling systems link up, but some of them even rely on each other for you to progress through the game. The Status area for example is linked directly to what weapons you can use. If your Strength or Dexterity isn’t high enough, you might not be able to equip some of the better weapons. You use CP to upgrade multiple things in this game so make sure you manage them carefully. Weapons can be upgraded too, which is another different upgrading and levelling system.
Levelling up your character and weapons is great for when you want to progress, but sometimes it’s nice to take things a little less serious. You can also unlock different clothing and accessories for your character, each with their own rarity, level and perks. These are worth saving your credits for as some of the clothing sold in the store is amazing. You can also create clothing by finding the right items on the battlefield.
Environment and Side Quests
There are multiple environments you can explore while playing Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet, most of which are semi open world. The game will have you visiting the same locations multiple times to complete various quests and story related activities.
The main hub is an area that you’ll have to get used to though, as it’s where you’ll likely spend most of your time. This includes the painfully long story introduction at the beginning of the game that takes about an hour or more to get through. Aside from that, the hub as a whole is somewhat overly complicated to navigate and isn’t really needed in the game. The pause menu contains a map of which you can use to fast travel, so walking around the hub world takes up wasted time. The hub does include multiple places that you can attain side quests though, which are vital for levelling up.
For a Japanese game based off a popular anime series, it was expected that the graphics were going to be amazing. Whilst the graphics took some getting used to, as they have a 3D yet animated kind of feel, they look amazing. The character models, environments and assets all look brilliant and give off a futuristic appeal whilst still keeping the mechanical human style we’ve come to associate with humans. The game is also flawless when it comes to switching between gameplay and story related character interactions.
Soundtrack and Audio
If you’ve read any of my reviews in the past, you’ll know that soundtracks and audio is one of my favourite parts of a game. If you didn’t know that well, you do now.
This game has a large range of different types and styles of music, depending on the situation, which is very important. Even from the loading screen, the music is intense and creates the feeling of the need to fight. Following this is the music of the hub world, which contrasts with the music previously heard. The hub world music is calm and relaxing and adds a sense of security. The music while fighting enemies or in different environments tended to fit the surroundings, which helped me feel more engaged in the game.
The audio for me is always as important as the graphics. From the sound of an enemy running, to a gun being shot, all need to fit into the game and seem appropriate. The voice acting is all in Japanese, which for an anime fan like me is refreshing.
Often when Japanese games release in the west they either are completely dubbed or fail to include the option of Japanese audio with subtitles, so it was refreshing to have somewhat of a choice. As for sounds they all fit every good, enemy and environment as they should and bring the immersion to the max.
This game had a lot of things that I enjoyed and some things I did not. The brilliant graphics and great audio make the game fun to see and hear. The gameplay is also fun and I could certainly battle enemies for a long time.
There were some features such as the hub world that seem unneeded and having on side quests to level up can somewhat be tedious at times. In conclusion I think this game is enjoyable whether you’re a Sword Art Online fan or not. However if you’re not an anime fan this game may get boring from the get go.
You can watch the launch trailer below:
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(Images were taken by myself.)
- Amazing Graphics
- Great Soundtrack
- Tons of Gameplay
- Casual and Competitive
- Too Much Text
- Complicated Tutorials
- Confusing Button Layout
- Online is Unplayable