Sword Art Online series doesn’t need an introduction. It started off as an extremely popular anime that attempted to focus on a virtual reality gaming world where humans were able to take control of a persona in a massively multiplayer online game. The series has since seen numerous spin-offs and mainline games but the formula for an action RPG featuring sword fighting and magic was starting to grow stale after these games, which brings us to the release of Fatal Bullet. This takes away the sword-based combat and replaces it with firearms including shotgun, handgun and a rocket launcher. This might be a good idea to attempt in order keep the series fresh but does it work as well in execution?
This new game is set in the world of Gun Gale Online. We learn that after the success of Sword Art Online, the developers released tools that were used to create many spin-offs featuring the same premise as Sword Art Online and Gun Gale Online is one of the many spin-offs that is another virtual-reality massively multiplayer online game, or VRMMO as they call it. The main character this time is not Kirito but an avatar which is created by the player but the story does feature Kirito and his crew who are also competing in this world of Gun Gale Online.
The addition of a player tailored character is a welcome one, but despite this, the story fails to impress with its illusion of multiple scenarios. Kirito plays more of a secondary role here helping your character who is a newcomer to this world. The story follows your quest to become the best player in the world of Gun Gale Online and luck will prove to be on your side right from the get go. Your character stumbles on an extremely rare AI partner in the start of the game and manages to get a rare gun from her. She will not only help maintain the stats and customization of your character but also offer other services including acting as a partner in battle, or helping with some of the quests.
The main combat in Fatal Bullet plays out mostly as a third person shooter with the typical over-the-should camera perspective. You aren’t required to lock-on to a target since the game offers an assist mode that lets you easily take down enemies without having to worry about targeting them. If you are up for the challenge, you can attempt to switch to a more zoomed in view that lets you take critical shots by targeting certain parts of the enemy. It is a mechanic that works well for boss battles letting you kill them easily by doing critical damage. Some enemies are able to snipe you from far away so unless you move fast, it is possible to get killed in one shot, however with the zoomed in view, you can target them from a distance before they make the shot.
There are some decent variety of weapons in Fatal Bullet, most of which can be upgraded as well to unlock additional skills for them. You can equip two weapons at a time and they can be easily switched with the press of a button. The ammo for your weapon is limited in combat but it is possible to reload them by opening the ammo chests that you will usually come across in a dungeon. If you die during a battle, there is no game over screen if any of your party member is still alive. They will be able to revive you while you can do the same to them if they are killed in battle. Each character can also learn and equip skills that focus on offensive or defensive moves. You can use them to dodge attacks, gain power ups or heal your team members.
The downside of a new world is that the futuristic look and tone is completely bland. The game’s environment are large but devoid of life and there isn’t really anything interesting to do aside from just repeating missions. These missions don’t have much to offer in term of variety so most of the tasks are repeated. The dungeon design itself is linear so outside from the combat and loot, you won’t get much out of them. The boss battles are interesting for the most part, and challenging if you try to tackle them at a low level, but if you are not fond of the combat system, they can appear dull as well.
There is plenty of repetition in the way the quests are presented here. The gameplay loop revolves around taking quests, going to the desired objective and killing everything along the way to get loot, and returning back to the main hub. At certain point, it starts to lose its charm however it is still possible to enjoy it if you focus on the online aspect of Fatal Bullet. You can take missions in two different modes: PvP and PvE. In the first mode, you will have to form a team of 4 players who will be paired against another group of 4 players in a match where both teams will try to deal damage to an enemy. The team that does the most damage will win the round. In the PvE mode, you simply team up in a party of 8 with other online players and do a set of missions or hunts.
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Become the hero of Gun Gale Online in the latest game of the SAO franchise in Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet, for PS4, Steam and XBOX One. Step into the versatile landscapes and environments of Gun Gale Online.
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is more of a curious experiment for the series that attempts to take it into a new direction with some major glaring flaws.