Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet – Great Shooter RPG, or Waifu Simulator?

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Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet.  This is an action RPG shooter centered around the Sword Art Online, Phantom Bullet Arc.  You don’t play as any of the main characters, so if you were hoping to play Kirito, too bad.  Instead, you create your own personalized avatar, which in my opinion is much better! This is our Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet review.

Make no mistake, this is a traditional grind fest Asian RPG.  It may be dressed up as Sword Art Online, but at it’s core it is nothing but Grind Grind Grind.  The basic concepts are there; Levels, Experience, Stat points, Skills, everything that makes an RPG and RPG is present.  Whats more, it doubles as a pseudo Visual Novel at times.

But enough of all that, what makes the game fun?

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Shooter, or Waifu Simulator?

Okay, so it’s both.  This is a great shooter RPG game, but at the same time, you get your pick of any of the Waifu you want from the Sword Art Online (SAO henceforth) universe!  If that wasn’t enough waifu for you, you get to create your own via your AI partner.  Yes, not only do you get Asuna, but you also can make your own tailored to your whims, it’s Amazing!

Jokes aside, the character cast is large.  All of the fan favorites from SAO are here.  Each and every one of them can be placed into your party as well, meaning you can go to town blowing up the zone with your favorite characters in tow.  But there is a catch, the AI is somewhat dumb.  We’ll get to that next.

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AIs are Dumb

Yeah, about that, they’re pretty dumb.  The AI is supposed to be there to help you play the game, as some of the content is rather difficult.  The main story is single-player, so your only option is the AI.  Which sucks sometimes.  I’ve went into some pretty difficult boss fights only to have my AI just run around behind me doing nothing the entire time.  Having 3 HP bars to blast through by yourself, when each shot is only doing 90~200 damage, takes a pretty long time.  When a fight should last maybe 5 minutes max, it lasts 15 minutes.  Sometimes while I’m out roaming around, one of my AI will just be playing off in la la land somewhere by themselves.  Literally half a map away, it makes no sense.  Sure, if I order them to regroup, they typically teleport to me, but it’s just stupid.  This mechanic really needs some work if they aren’t going to allow co-op campaign!

Gun Choices are Great!

There are 8 types of weapons to choose from.  Handguns, Shotguns, Submachine Guns, Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles, Gatling Guns, Launchers (Grenade and Rocket), and Swords.  This allows you to customize your gameplay according to your needs.  What’s cool is it seems each weapon has a specific use, though can be used for any application.  For example I have a rocket launcher that does massive damage to Mechs, but only okay damage to humanoids.  I thought that was pretty neat.  Being able to say “okay, I’m going after a huge Mech, let me bring something that will take it down quicker!”, and actually having that option.  You don’t “need” to, but the option is there to do extra damage if you choose to.

Swords are OP.  Let it be known. If SAO hasn’t taught you anything from the Anime, Swords are just OP.  There is a learning curve, and you cannot use Sword + Handgun right off the jump either.  But once you unlock the combo, things get really interesting.  Unlike your guns, you can’t “block” a bullet, only dodge.  Wielding a Photon Sword allows you to literally block shots fired at you Star Wars style!  Granted it’s not a simple process, but still.  Not to mention swords have a very high damage per second over most guns.  Whereas a Handgun would let’s say do 60 damage a hit, a sword would do say 200~300 per hit.  OP!

Story

The story is okay.  It’s nothing special, and definitely not to par with the anime by a long shot.  My opinion is that the story is only there to distract you from the grinding you do, and that’s basically it. As I said, it’s an okay story, it’s not complete crap, but it’s not engrossing either.  I didn’t feel like it was pulling me in, and I felt like some of it was just a complete waste of time and skipped it.  There’s a large portion that is Visual Novel-esque and I just didn’t enjoy it.  That being said, the story does the very important job of introducing you to the characters, and mechanics.

Gameplay

If you’ve ever played a grindy Asian RPG before, you know what to expect.  Its not an open world game, instead there are “areas”,each with one large map with several off-shoot dungeons attached.  All of it is instanced.  Dungeons all look the same, just different layouts and bosses.  Most of the enemies are all the same, and most are extremely easy to take down.  The bosses are where you have a hard time.  Some of them are just brutal.  Each boss has a weak spot, and sometimes getting to that weak spot is just impossible, especially when your AI isn’t helping.

The game revolves around quests.  You get some quests, go into the field and complete them.  Rinse and Repeat.  You grind enemies to get rare items to enhance and level up your character.  When I say grind, if you want your character to be a beast, you’re really going to have to invest many hours into grinding for a single weapon, all of it completely random chance to drop.  Leveling up hasn’t been a big issue, I’ve found it rather easy.  It’s just the equipment grind that is a real pain.

 

Multiplayer

Multiplayer is near non-existent.  Unless you have a friend that plays, don’t expect many, if any, rooms available to do co-op missions.  I was lucky enough to have a friend playing at chance and saw me online.  We got in discord together and setup a room to try the co-op missions out.  At first we were pretty disappointed.  If one of us hosted, the other couldn’t load in.  Took some trial and error and we finally were able to get into the mission.  Once we were inside, the bosses weren’t very hard, and the rewards were pretty lackluster.  It seems like you get nothing but crafting materials from co-op, you get no experience at all.  So getting those rare items to upgrade your equipment, it seems like a good mechanic, IF it worked properly and more people utilized it.  If you have no friends playing, you’re basically not going to get it done.  The only other let-down is the amount of missions available.  We completed all of the quests available within 30 minutes.

PVP has been an issue as well. With PVP you have 2 options, Hero or Avatar battles.  Hero battles use pre-made characters, all the same level and stats.  You play as Kirito for example.  Avatar battles use your character, with your stats and equipment.  I’ve only seen 1 PVP room available, and the guy in it was a level 50 something and had 255 of all stats.  Needless to say, I didn’t chance it.

It seems like the multiplayer functionality on the game was an afterthought.  It works, but isn’t great.  I think this is why there are never any rooms for people to join, which is sad because the game could be so fun with friends.  I truly wish they put in co-op for the campaign.  Allowing you to play with a friend instead of AI would be such an improvement!

Conclusion

All things considered, the game is really fun.  It’s a bit grindy, and has some issues that need to be fixed, but all in all, it’s a pretty decent game to kill an hour at a time.  I wish they would have done more for multiplayer, but hopefully, they can make up for it in single player content down the road with a really good DLC.  If you like the Sword Art Online universe, and like these types of games, SAO: Fatal Bullet is going to be a great, fun game for you to enjoy!

Still want more?  Check out our latest reviews for Metal Gear Survive, and Kingdom Come: Deliverance!

Note: Our copy was provided by PR for review purposes.

Final Score for Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet:   7/10

Pros:

Great gameplay

Solid story

Nice ties to the SAO universe

Cons:

Grindy as heck

Lacking MP options

Written by
Just a Nerd doing Nerd things. Living day by day in search of the next big game!

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