ESGS 2017: Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet Preview Hands-On

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Bandai Namco was present at ESGS 2017 and while most everyone had their attention on Dragon Ball FighterZ, the publisher also had Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet available to play.

Based on the hugely popular anime, Fatal Bullet focuses on the sci-fi MMO world of “Gun Gale Online” from the second season, rather than the more well recognized high fantasy setting of the first. The station at ESGS 2017 gave four different demo choices spotlighting different characters (including series protagonist Kirito, sniper Sinon and the knight Asuna).

I picked Kirito, who functionally serves as a lightsaber wielding jedi, but with a pistol as a ranged backup weapon. Fatal Bullet plays kind of like a more chaotic version of Mass Effect, with squad tactics playing an important role in the smashing of robots. It’s a lot crunchier though, with more sub-menus, a wider set of squad commands and deeper stats.

 Photo courtesy of Geekend Gladiators.

Photo courtesy of Geekend Gladiators.

Controls felt a little wobbly for me, as I found trouble moving, aiming, shooting and grappling with a satisfying level of accuracy. Keep in mind though, that I don’t play many Japanese action games, which tend to reward more precise fingers than mine.

A little unfortunate though, is the occasional stuttering in the demo: some frenetic action was interrupted by half-second freezes. Another oddity is the presence of unclimbable ladder models in the scenery. I'm inclined to think these are more oversights than actual mistakes. Hopefully these get ironed out in the final release build.

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is set for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam on February 23, 2018.