Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment is a fantastic action-RPG. Weighing in at over 100 hours of content, this is not a game to be taken lightly. Add in a ton of character-driven events and storylines, and you’ve got a pretty intimidating beast of a JRPG to handle.
Thankfully, Twinfinite is here to ease that entry into the wonderfully addicting world of Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment. While this isn’t a comprehensive guide to everything this beast of a title has to offer, this should get beginning players off the ground and hopefully arm them with a few tips to make the experience a little more enjoyable.
Read, read, read the tutorials
It’s somewhat painful to say this, but you can do yourself a huge favor by carefully reading what the tutorials have to say. Crucial bits of information are seemingly glossed over without so much as an emboldening or underlining, and having that information can spell the difference between sweet victory and having to redo hours of work. There’s a ton of information so it might be tempting to speed-read it. Don’t give in! Practically every sentence is crucial to victory.
X-Dash is your friend
This isn’t even mentioned in any of the tutorials, but the X button which is by default used to dodge in combat (in tandem with the L-stick) can also be used to zip about while exploring. This action costs 25SP and doesn’t do much to evade monsters’ detection, so it might not seem that great.
However, it can be used repeatedly if Kirito has enough SP. It can also be used in mid-air. Conclusion: this is a necessary gameplay feature to move from platform to platform in certain areas without falling to certain death. This is essential to getting to many hard-to reach treasure chests.
Did you know SAO: Hollow Fragment has a first-person camera option?
Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment does a pretty good job of dressing itself up as a single-player MMORPG. The immersion effect is pretty impressive, even more so when you consider this is a game based on a full-immersion virtual reality game.
So it obviously makes perfect sense to include a first-person camera option and then never talk about it. Indeed, navigating through the Sub Menu (by pressing ‘Select’) yields a ‘Change Camera’ option that renders the HD world in a stunning first-person view. Combat won’t be on the same level as, say, Skyrim in terms of visuals and Sword Skills still execute in third-person but it’s a neat option to try out and maybe even keep.
The Event List is mostly useless
Special character events make up a lot of Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment’s character-driven story, and are hinted to the player via the Event List. Unfortunately, said list is almost worthless in its descriptions of what the player has to do at times to get the party started.
Long story short: explore alone. If you have an event pending, usually something like, “There’s a gardern near the Serpentis Sea of Trees”: explore alone. If Kirito isn’t alone when he finds that garden (tip: try going to the Forest of the Elves) nothing will happen. Progress too far into the game, and you might miss certain events and special moments. Once that first event is cleared it’ll become more obvious what to do; until then, Kirito’s goin’ solo.
Don’t forget to praise your partners!
It seems silly to mention ’cause even the tutorial hammers this point, but beat that good button in the lower-left corner of your screen like it owes you money. Whenever your partner uses a skill or kills something, flashing them a “Nice!” gets you both 50 SP. Free. It’s easy to forget when you’re immersed in combat – until you use the last of your SP and wonder where it all went.
Ignore what the game says about doing the Hollow Area first
Well, not entirely. It’s true that the Hollow Area is a fantastic place to fight and gain levels and some phat lewt. No problems there. Actually, it’s probably best to advance both areas somewhat simultaneously with the Hollow Area getting the edge. But the enemies there are really close to Kirito’s starting level; most of them are over it. And exploring all willy nilly is almost definitely going to get the player killed when they stumble into a next of baddies 20 levels higher.
So play around in Aincrad for a bit. Get used to the controls and the combat system and how Sword Skills work. Learn how to maximize your partner’s effectiveness and also experiment with the different characters. The starting floor 76 isn’t intimidating at all in comparison and you can also complete a few side quests to boot.
Prepare your safety nets!
Any RPG gamer knows it. Always grab your pots before heading out into the field. But Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment happens to be a game that heavily encourages exploration in its extensive HD world. That includes possibly ending up on an island in the middle of nowhere with no path home and where falling means instant death with all progress lost.
Have. A. Teleport. Crystal. They are the single most wonderful item to buy in Arc Sophia (the name of the starting town) and the money (Col) literally rains from the bodies of your fallen enemies. You can spare a few thousand for a teleport crystal; think of it as an investment that will be worth hours of gameplay time. You’ll be grateful you have them.
Passive skills are awesome, but they’re another part of the kind of gets shafted. Each weapon skill has a few passive skills that Kirito can unlock and activate. You can only have one on at a time, but they are incredibly useful for adding a little boost to your play style. My personal favorite is Prominent Observance from the Sword Skill. +10% EXP!
These tips should be sufficient to keep new players from suffering from some possibly unfair deaths as they start out in Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, but there’s obviously a legion of tricks and strategies out there. If you have any to share, add ’em in the comments! Happy gaming!