Fans of the previous Sword Art Online
games will find it very easy to transition into Sword Art Online: -Hollow Realization-
. The (Square) button allows you to attack and pressing it repeatedly will unleash a combo that leads into a sword skill which does much more damage. You can also press the (Triangle) button to instantly activate a sword skill, which will increase the attackís power, but also consumes quite a bit of your SP. The (X) button allows you to jump and the (Circle) button allows you to perform a parry. You can also dodge using the (R1) button combined with the Left Stick. The commands while youíre inside a city are similar, except youíll only be using the Left Stick to move and the (X) button to jump. There isnít anything to attack, but you can interact using the (Circle) button. Youíll get used to the controls in no time, so donít fret over them.
No adventure would be complete without a main hub linking everything together, right? SAO: -Hollow Realization- has such a hub known as the Teleport Gate Plaza. Thereís four areas that are linked together that players can explore and interact with the different townspeople roaming around. Thereís plenty of shops where players can purchase gear or items and you can also accept quests from the different quest boards posted around town. When youíre ready to go out and explore, you can return to the main plaza and use the teleport gate. This will allow you access to the map and you can select a destination. Locations open up as you progress through the game, so donít get sad seeing just a few on your map.
The most fun to be had lies in the great outdoors. Once youíre out the gate and at your destination, youíll be able to explore the location to your heartís content. One thing to keep note of in the field is your HUD. Youíll see your characterís HP, SP, and Experience bar at the bottom. Your partnerís bars will be displayed to the left. The mini-map in the top right corner will help you from getting too lost in the field and itíll even light up treasure and enemies for you. On that note, you should keep in mind that there are several types of treasure chests that youíll come across. Brown chests can only be opened once. Blue chests require you to kill a strong enemy nearby, but their contents respawn periodically, allowing you to come back and plunder them later. You may even get different types of items, like a super rare item!
Everyone knows itís dangerous to go alone, and thatís why you take a reliable party with you. You probably guessed, but youíre able to take along party members whenever you go to explore an area. Theyíll follow behind you and help you defeat enemies, which makes taking down stronger enemies significantly easier than if you tried to do it by yourself. You can recruit people from the town to tag along in your party, but you have to build affinity with them by talking to them before they'll join you. Once youíre out in the field, you can issue commands to your party by pressing the (L1) button. From here, you can assist your allies, order them to heal, target an enemy, or even just encourage them.
Field exploration is generally the same no matter where you go, but Sword Art Online: -Hollow Realization- features Event Fragments. While exploring, you may come across an area marked with a colored circle. If you enter it, youíll trigger an Event Fragment which comes with its own set of objectives and these will change depending on the type of Event Fragment you come across. The best thing about Event Fragments is their episodic nature. Completing an Event Fragment will trigger the next part of that quest, Youíll be rewarded for each Event Fragment you complete and finishing a series may have you walking away with some pretty rare loot. The quests do get progressively harder as you advance through a chain, so you may want get stronger before attempting to complete certain chains.