Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet (PS4) REVIEW – Single-Player MMO Time
The newest game in the Sword Art Online franchise, Fatal Bullet, places you in the world of Gun Gale Online. What's surprising is that they didn't think of this earlier.
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Review copy provided
Before we get started with this review of Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet, I should admit that I still haven’t watched the second season of Sword Art Online. I did know about some of the new additions to the cast, such as Sinon and Death Gun, but I didn’t know any of their backstory nor what happens in season two. Thankfully, Fatal Bullet doesn’t require any prior knowledge of the anime to enjoy, as all the important plot points are explained in-game.
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is the first Sword Art Online game where they finally realized that making games where you play as the protagonist of the anime are cool, but making the game that the anime is based on is an even better idea. While Kirito and his merry band of mischief are present in the game, they’re side characters in your story. You start Gun Gale Online, one of the hottest current VRMMOs in 2025, by making your own character, and meet Kureha, your best friend who brought you to the game. You were never such a fan of MMOs, but you decided to try it anyway.
Obviously, the first thing you’re going to do when you start is jump right into a PvP event. Although you run into two players straight away, one of them, Itsuki, a top player, is either cocky or merciful enough to let you free. It all depends on your perspective. Carrying on, you find a room with a pod in the back. Just like the beginning of possibly every sci-fi horror movie ever, you walk up to the pod and touch it. Thankfully, there’s no horror antics involved, but instead, you meet your very own ArfaSys Type-X. Those are fancy sci-fi words for “human-level AI with an in-game body”.
However, now you’ve got Kirito and Asuna on your tail. You didn’t honestly think they’d be small side-characters?
After a bit of slow-motion action, super-speed movements and what is basically a sci-fi Mexican standoff, Kirito decides to spare you after you jump in front of the ArfaSys before it gets shot. This and the events that transpire shortly afterwards make you one of the most famous GGO players, which is awkward for most, because you literally started the game less than an hour before that.
This quick summary of the beginning of the plot may make it sound like your character is a Mary Sue/Gary Stu. To be honest, that’s not very far off. Everyone either loves or hates you and depending on how you play, of course, you make it to the top of the leaderboard in no time. However, there isn’t that much they could have done to put the player-created character and the existing characters in the same game, meaning it was most likely either this or another game of just playing as Kirito.
The gameplay is quite simple. Shoot stuff until it’s dead, make sure no one on your team is dead, move along to the next batch of enemies. However, for the most part, it doesn’t get boring or tedious. It’s actually quite fun. The dungeons are long enough to be challenging from time to time and short enough to have some semblance of variation. On top of this, every area introduces at least some new enemy which poses a new challenge. However, there are generally two types of enemies split into two parts. You have the natural enemies and you have the robot enemies, and in both of those categories, you have flying and non-flying enemies.
You have different types of weapons with different categories and different types of ammo. Everything from handguns to Gatling guns, sniper rifles, and anything in-between. There are also swords, but those are harder to handle if you don’t have the right stat values. You can find new weapons and new accessories via item drops either in the form of the weapons normally dropping or “unappraised” versions, which require you to let them be appraised by Agil before you know what they are, how strong they are etc. You
can also upgrade weapons or move certain bonuses from one weapon to another by talking to Liz and giving her the right materials.
While depending on your playstyle, you could try to go into battle alone. As it calls itself an MMO, the game lets you choose up to three other characters to fight by your side in dungeons. You can even tell them if they should follow a certain one of a number of strategies, or just do what they want to. Depending on how often you fight alongside someone and how often you revive them, your affinity with them goes up, which is both better and worse than the typical “talk to them until they like you” approach. On one hand, it can take a while if you’re often over-levelled and don’t really need to revive, but on the other hand, it makes more sense to build trust by battling next to someone than by badgering them until they like you.
Instead of having a traditional level up system where all of your stats get stronger, Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet gives you a certain amount of CP every time you level up or reach a certain amount of credits. Different weapons need different stat distributions, as do different skills. Using certain skills a lot will also let you unlock better versions of those skills, which are all bought with SP. Skills don’t require any “mana” or anything of that kind while in battle, instead only having a cooldown timer between each usage.
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is a rare example of a game that isn’t afraid to show that it’s a game. In fact, it’s proud of being one for the most part. There are small moments where the game façade breaks, with very short clips of happenings in the outside world, but there only very few of them, thankfully.
Sadly, what is otherwise a very fun game does have its fair share of bugs. Thankfully, most of them are small graphical glitches, but some things can break the game and are quite annoying if they happen in the middle of a long stretch without the possibility to save, such as your avatar glitching through the floor, or your teammates not reviving you because you’re at an angle where they can’t properly get next to you.
Despite its flaws, Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet is still a really fun game with a fairly well-balanced gameplay, quirky selection of characters, as it cheats its way to immersion by making you play a video game. It’s that simple. Fans of the anime will surely have a blast with this one, while those who haven’t seen it yet could use this to segue into the franchise.
If you’re a fan of over the top action, you’ll love Soulcalibur VI just like Ashley did. If you’re more of a fast-paced game fan, you’ll probably be absolutely horrified about the Sonic the Hedgehog movie coming out next year.
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet does many things right, from gameplay to overall design, but the experience is marred somewhat by the bugs you’ll inevitably stumble across.