This past week at Bandai Namco’s Pre-TGS event in Tokyo, we got some serious hands-on time with upcoming game Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet.

At the event, there were four possible scenarios to try out. Two of these featured original characters but the other two—i.e., the ones I spent my time with—let you take control of Sword Art Online main characters Sinon and Kirito.

Sinon’s Demo takes place in a large area outdoors populated by both robots and the local wildlife—i.e., giant mutated scorpions. Within the futuristic ruins of the area is a powerful boss robot you need to eliminate.

Unlike the past Sword Art Online games, Fatal Bullet is neither an MMO-like RPG nor an action RPG. Instead, it is a third-person shooter RPG.

Thus, as Sinon, you are armed with her trusty sniper rifle and a small SMG. With the rifle, you can look down the scope and enter first-person aiming mode—with the targeting reticle getting more and more precise the longer you go without moving. Aside from the boss, all the robotic enemies on the map can be taken out with a single bullet to the head.

Why [REDACTED] Is Alive in the Sword Art Online Games

With the SMG, the game stays in the usual third person and the gun locks on to the closest target within range. The SMG is generally much better for fighting close up—as you would expect.

What you might not expect is that, when it comes down to it, the most important tool in her arsenal is her grappling hook. Usable on every surface I tried it on, the hook can easily pull Sinon to the tops of buildings or large boulders, giving her an excellent sniper perch from which she can rain down death.

And let me tell you, it’s no less useful for kirito.

In Kirito’s demo, you are tasked with destroying a single powerful robot within some sort of industrial factory. To open the main door where the target awaits, you must first clear two side areas full of numerous other robots.

Unlike Sinon, Kirito’s main weapon is not a gun but a sword. His light saber is powerful, but you must be extremely close to use it—which can be a problem in a game where seemingly everyone and their mom has a ranged weapon. Likewise his small handgun can do little more than make ineffectual pot shots so it’s left to your computer controlled party members—in the demo’s case Leefa, Sinon, and Asuna—to take out any flying enemies.

With Kirito, constantly dogging becomes vital, but again it is the grappling hook that is most important. Using it, you can all but fly from cover point to cover point—or scale a wall—to end up right next to a sniping enemy.

Also important for Kirito are his skills. While with Sinon I found myself rarely using skills (other than her charge shot bullet), with Kirito, I used them constantly. Not only does one boost his melee attack, two of his other ones are straight up sword skills from SAO.

All in all, I enjoyed my time with Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet. The basic gameplay was enjoyable enough and I like the idea of the grappling hook being so vital for combat. I look forward to seeing how the complexities of the game pan out in the full version.

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is scheduled for a Western release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam in early 2018.

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