GDC 2018: SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor Hands-On Demo Impression

Friday, March 30th, 2018

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SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor | Logo

Platform(s): App Store; Google Play

Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.

Release Date: Out Now

Website / Twitter

My personal favorite game from the BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Mobile Showcase at GDC 2018 was SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor. In the interest of full disclosure, this was my first entry into the SWORD ART ONLINE game franchise.

Sword art online: Integral Factor | Koharu

Your partner in SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor, Koharu. (Image courtesy of BANDAI NAMCO).

SWORD ART ONLINE: INTEGRAL FACTOR‘s premise is an intriguing one: You play as a former beta-testing character in the Death Game of SWORD ART ONLINE with your ‘irl’ (‘in real life’) companion and fellow beta-tester Koharu as you participate in the original ‘Death Game’ storyline in Aincrad. As you proceed through the storyline, you are presented with various scenarios where you can influence the events of that storyline to become different than what is storyline-canon. In other words, SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor is very much a game that is akin to the philosophy of Marvel Comics’ What If…? storyline series.

SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor | Story SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor | Story SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor | Story

SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor | Story

This game reaches back into the storyline of SWORD ART ONLINE, and presents it from the perspective of a new character that can influence the outcome of the original story arc. (Images courtesy of BANDAI NAMCO).

Despite the non-permanent nature of SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor‘s storyline, I still had a blast playing it. The biggest concern of any mobile tablet game, movement, was fluid and utilized a digital joystick. I found that it was very easy for me to move around the overworld map to complete quests, explore the city to talk to NPCs, maneuver around a dungeon, and (most importantly) fight monsters and win. I was only able to play the game in an offline mode, unfortunately, so I was not able to play with anyone other than my NPC companion. However, the final game at launch is supposed to allow players to team up with others from around the world to battle against enemies in Aincrad.

SWORD ART ONLINE: INTEGRAL FACTOR | Location SWORD ART ONLINE: INTEGRAL FACTOR | Location SWORD ART ONLINE: INTEGRAL FACTOR | Location

SWORD ART ONLINE: INTEGRAL FACTOR | Location

Many new and returning locations from the series are in SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor. (Images courtesy of NAMCO BANDAI).

In my demo, I started in a field, and I was guided (by a BANDAI NAMCO representative) through a mini story-quest and through a dungeon to a boss fight. And as someone with avid MMO experience (I am a Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy XIV, and Ragnarok Online veteran), I was quite pleased with how well SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor replicated the ‘feel’ of a persistent MMO world in an offline experience. There were NPCs to talk to, fetch quests to complete, and well-timed enemy respawns in the field, though the kill quests did become quickly tedious and boring.

SWORD ART ONLINE: INTEGRAL FACTOR | NPCs

There are many different NPCs in Aincrad to interact with. (Image courtesy of NAMCO BANDAI).

Combat was, however, a lot of fun and presented a surprising amount of depth. You equip a weapon through a menu and you simply tap to use your most basic attack. Where the game starts to get complex, however is through using a variety of attacks, assists, and other skill effects that you can set up for your individual weapon in the menu. I used two different weapons in my demo play-through: a pole arm and a sword. Each of these weapons attacked differently and had different special move sets available to them for me to set. Furthermore, these different weapons had different damage effects on various monsters that I encountered, including the end-boss in the dungeon. Koharu’s AI wasn’t bad either, and I was pleased to see that she was able to actually contribute to taking down enemies and not just constitute a waste of space in SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor‘s world.

SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor | Skills SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor | Skills

SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor | Skills

There are a large variety of skills that can be utilized with just a single tap of the appropriate icon in the game after they are equipped. (Images courtesy of BANDAI NAMCO).

As of this article’s posting, SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor has been released worldwide for iOS on the App Store and for Android via Google Play. If you download the game by May 9, 2018, you will receive 2,500 Arcana Gems, two types of in-game stamps, avatars, and a 4-star Asuna Skill Record. SWORD ART ONLINE: INTEGRAL FACTOR is a free-to-play game with in-app purchases, and I think is honestly worth (from my limited playtime with it) checking out, especially if you’re a fan of the original source material.



If you could change any one event in the world of SWORD ART ONLINE, what would it be and why? Have you picked up SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor yet?

Let us know in the comments below!

About Quentin H.

Likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. And video games. Cannot forget those video games. Anime too. Should not forget that either.