Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization brings players to Sword Art: Origins, a new VRMMORPG that is set in an alternate version of Aincrad (the world of the first game and beginning of the anime/manga). This time players are in Ainground, a sprawling location that crams in the monstrosities and challenges of the original 100-floor tower that fans have come to know and fear.
The developers have streamlined a lot of the systems, improving on the previous games in the series (Hollow Fragment and Lost Song). However, there are still a few challenges for new players to face, and at times the world of Hollow realization can be merciless to those who don’t know their way around the world or battle. So, to help you out, we’ve put together a few tips to get you situated.
Your Starting Weapon Is Important
When you first start the game, you’ll be able to customize your Avatar (which is Kirito for story purposes, but you can name and change the gender if you like). The last option when doing so is choosing your starting weapon. There are several different types to choose from — One-handed sword, Rapier, Dagger, Scimitar, One-handed Club, Katana, Two-handed Sword, Two-handed Axe, and Spear — and they each offer different perks and skills to your character.
While you can change your weapon whenever you want, once you create your character, you’re pretty much locked in for the tutorial where you can earn a decent amount of experience to start your journey in earnest. Weapons only level up as you use them, so the first weapon you choose will have more skills able to be unlocked once you’re able to really dive in. So don’t be rash, figure out if you want speed, defense, power, or whatever else fits your style, then choose accordingly.
Do Not Button Mash
Just like in previous Sword Art Online games, Hollow Realization rewards precision and reflexes. That means button mashing will only prove to be a detriment, especially during tougher enemies and bosses. Instead, you’ll want to go for combos, Skill Chains, Sword Arts, Stuns, and dodges.
Those are pulled off by being patient and reading the battle. You see one of your allies use a Skill? Then immediately follow up with your own (hit Triangle) to get a Skill Chain which increases damage and can even stun an enemy. Facing someone tough who’s about to do a big move? Either dodge or use Switch (L1 + X) to stun them and call in one of your teammates for a powerful attack. As long as you take your time, every fight is winnable, even against enemies at much higher levels than you.
Pay Attention to an Enemy’s Level
This may seem like common sense, but with how Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization is designed, you can grow comfortable fighting weak enemies only to be surprised by something twice your level. The mobs in the game tend to be mixes of weak and strong enemies to keep you on your toes. You can see the enemy’s level right above their head before you even approach them. Or, if you happen to be in combat already, it will be on the top of your screen with their health bar.
While it is possible to beat an enemy that is way above your own level (if you’re skilled enough), you may not want to waste your time taking on too many early in the game. You will be revived back in town if you do happen to bite off more than you can chew, but having to slog back to where you were can be a chore sometimes.
Take on All the Board Quests You Can
Right near the Teleportation Gate (which you use to go out into Ainground) you’ll find a Request Board. This is often filled with different types of quests usually revolving around killing certain types of enemies and collecting specific materials. Take them all.
You can complete these naturally through main quests or by seeking out the enemies in question during your free time. None are actually very difficult and you’ll get rewards that are well worth your efforts including items, equipment, and XP.
Complete Event Fragments When You Can
As you move around the world outside of the hub area, you’ll notice large green circles on your map with swords in the middle. These are used to denote areas where Event Fragments take place. Walking into that circle will trigger the event, assigning you an objective to complete withing a set amount of time. Usually these are pretty easy, requiring nothing more than killing a handful of monsters that are close in level to you and your team.
For completing the event, you’ll get XP, resources, Col (money), rare items, and a follow-up event that you can access if you want to. Do keep in mind, however, that follow-up events tend to grow in difficulty. So while the first step may be easy, the next may leave you defeated.
Make Sure to Balance Out Your Team
Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization puts you in control of a customizable Kirito. Although he is a great swordsman in his own right, he can’t do everything by himself, so you’re allowed to bring along three friends to battle the monsters of Ainground. When selecting party members, you can see their weapon type and primary focus (Tank, Healer, Attacker, etc.).
Make sure to choose the ones that complement your playstyle. You like to aggro? Bring along a healer and a buffer to fortify your own character. Want to flank? Bring a tank along to hold attention. It’s much better to choose those who benefit you rather than just characters you like (although that’s still an option if you really want to).
Start Grinding Early to Save Yourself a Headache Later On
The final tip is to get into the grind mindset early on. This is an RPG that is very focused on stats and abilities. Even the most skilled players will want to have certain actions leveled up to make the later segments of Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization a bit more manageable.
As soon as you’re let loose, start gunning for every enemy in your sight. Don’t be afraid to take on those a couple of levels above you, either, as they’ll reward you with more XP and even level up your weapons quicker. Just stay focused and clear out everything in your path and you’ll find yourself able to stand toe-to-toe with bosses the moment you encounter them. It will grow a bit repetitive, but it’s better to get it out of the way early so you can really enjoy the endgame.