Great game for single player. I play this game too late but I like SAO. This game should add more maps and more places like SBC Glocken. More skills and the most important is more interesting DLC.
If you struggle to get into this game, here are some tidbits that I keep in mind to make the game enjoyable, from both a narrative and a gameplay perspective.
I love video games. I’ve been playing them for as long as I can remember, and a lot of my peers would say the same. If I were to ask what your favorite game was, how would you answer? And, more importantly, why is that your favorite game?
The common ground all favorite games have with one another is personal connection. Some say they love Dark Souls because of how immersive it is, or how its bleak setting made them think about life. Some say it would be Tetris because one time they got a full clear. Some would even say Clash of Clans, because they can invest time money into the little empire in their pocket.
The point I’m trying to make is that there’s a moment in or aspect of any favorite game that resonates in the player’s mind. For a brief moment, the barrier between the real world and whatever game they are playing blurs a little, to them at least. The game sucks them in, causing them to forget that they are playing a game on the bus, or on the couch, or at an office desk. It’s a personal connection that I have a hard time finding anywhere else.
And I think it’s beautiful.
Fatal Bullet is a game that I would love to hate. I wrote a scathing review to mostly positive reception, and my friends have told me that it’s some of my best analytical work. Objectively, this game is rough around the edges. Matter of fact, all the SAO games are. They are buggy, unpolished, lazily designed borderline-scams at worst. But, at best, they are some of the most fun I’ve ever had with a video game.
Why? This question has bothered me ever since I started playing Hollow Realization back in 2017. Why do I enjoy these games so much, despite the lukewarm reception? Why can’t I put this game down, well after I’ve finished the main content?
After playing this game, I’ve learned that a game doesn’t have to be objectively good to be subjectively satisfying. For those of us who are struggling to get into/finish this game, I’d like to provide some bits of information that go through my head that allow me to greatly enjoy this game.
The story of Fatal Bullet is good. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not remarkable, it’s not groundbreaking, and it’s definitely not the next NieR:Automata. And that’s okay. That took me a while to understand, but after watching so many critics slam the game, I realized that it doesn’t have to be super amazing for me to genuinely enjoy it. Fatal Bullet is a game that’s unremarkable, but that doesn’t mean that it is bad. It has a goal it sets out to achieve, and I’d say it reaches that goal, to a degree.
In order to further enjoy Fatal Bullet’s unremarkable narrative, I have provided some tidbits of information that are useful for finding this game more palatable. Please consider these general rules for enjoying all SAO games, since they all have these aspects in common.
Video Games are Like Magic.
Sword Art Online, for the most part, treats the worlds of video games similarly to how other authors would treat actual worlds of fantasy or sci-fi. As an example, in any real video game, when you die in a game, it is instantaneous. Similarly, when an admin bans you or you disconnect from a lobby, it is instantaneous and anticlimactic.
In the world of SAO, however, things are a bit more lax. Suspend your disbelief to the roof, because things like prolonged death sequences, admin interactions, and even basic gameplay mechanics are treated differently. The best way to put it is that SAO treats it’s in-universe game mechanics like something at least similar to magic.
For example, everyone knows characters like Yui would never be able to get into a real game, she’d be banned instantly. She uses admin powers, but is also registered as a player. Broken plot armor characters aside, it wouldn’t make sense to have something so broken in a real video game. But with the notion that games work a bit more like an actual magical world of their own, it makes sense that they can bend the rules at least a little bit.
The Cardinal System is Perfect Code.
This may seem like it’s coming out of left field, but just hear me out on this. The Cardinal System has been around throughout the entire series, lurking in the shadows like a background character. It makes appearances, but a lot of the time it wouldn’t make sense in a real video game for it to even be there.
Assuming the Cardinal System is perfect code somewhat resolves this, however. If you play this game with the notion that the Cardinal System is perfectly intelligent, capable, and is actively watching over the characters in the story, it makes the story come together much better. This is especially true for the DLC of Fatal Bullet. In the virtual world, consider The Cardinal System to be almost God. It watches over the events that unfold, and has a keen eye on Kirito and the cast, since they were its downfall back in Sword Art Online.
AI are Real People, Just in A Virtual Space.
There really isn’t much else to add here. Sword Art Online has always explored AI in a way that poses them as real people, rather than lines of code. This allows things like an AI “dying” to look a lot more bombastic. If you apply the first principle to this, it also makes these narrative moments hit harder, since the virtual world works in mysterious, magical ways to begin with. It allows Fatal Bullet’s over-the-top moments to come together, and it allows the AI characters of Fatal Bullet (particularly the main ArFa-Sys companion) to have a worthy spot in the overall narrative.
Revel in the Fan Service.
Fatal Bullet, like most anime games, has a lot of fan service. There are lots of risque camera angles, romantic implications, and questionable clothing options in this game. While I find that to be a bit sexist, I also can see the good in other forms of fan service. The character quests can be a bit dicey sometimes, but there is a good amount of slice-of-life style content in them, without a doubt.
A lot of my favorite moments in Fatal Bullet weren’t when I killed a big boss, or when my companion AI clutched and revived me just in time. The best moments I had were when I got to spend time with characters, and see a side of them I didn’t know existed. For instance, I had no clue that Yuuki liked motorcycles, or that Silica had mature tastes in clothing. These things are inconsequential to the overall plot, but they provide at least one dimension to some token characters. These quests allow me to see the characters of Fatal Bullet more like people, rather than members of a harem.
Roleplay (but not the nasty kind please thank you).
Better yet, you get to make your own character. Even better yet, you get to make your own AI companion. These options are there so that you can make Fatal Bullet your own experience, which I think is a wonderful thing. The character customization combined with the in-universe gameplay means that this is the closest thing we have to actually playing GGO.
For your own enjoyment, capitalize on that. Meet the characters, do the quests, and kill some bosses together. It’s amazing how Fatal Bullet is like a one-way ticket to some interesting meta roleplay. This also allows things like grinding to make sense in roleplay. It’s like a massive bandaid for the minor issues RPG’s can have with immersion, and I think that’s wonderful.
Also, don’t use fast travel. That’s a good rule of thumb for most games, since it sucks you out of the world, and trivializes the entire experience after a while. Hell, even go for walks. I don’t even know what I’m writing about anymore.