Interview: Preparing for Sword Art Online: Last Recollection
Image via Bandai Namco

Interview: Preparing for Sword Art Online: Last Recollection

We’re about to set off on another Sword Art Onlinejourney into the Underworld alongside familiar characters. Sword Art Online: Last Recollection is on the way in October 2023. To help prepare for this latest adventure alongside Kirito, Siliconera spoke to Lead Producer Eisuke Ueno about what went into its development and design.

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Jenni Lada: When did development on Sword Art Online: Last Recollection begin?

Eisuke Ueno: Development began in 2019, where the project was developed to give closure to the story of “Final Stress Test” which had been hinted at in Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris.

How influential were the Sword Art Online anime, manga, light novels, and past games on this latest installment and its characters?

Ueno: Although many adjustments have been made to the game, such as improving the overall gameplay speed and replacing the game engine, the core of the “MMO-like” gameplay has been carried over from the previous titles.

The game’s storyline differs from the original and the anime from the early stages of the game. There were some discussions between our development team, the Sword Art Online original story writing team, and the scenario writer for this title, about the “what ifs.” What if Kirito had been there from the beginning of the Underworld War? What if Eugeo had been there as well? There were many discussions like these that fans would dream of!

As a result, the main storyline text became massive, and it was amazing to see the number of comments and feedback on it from everyone involved in the project.

Sword Art Online Last Recollection Preview PS5 characters

Image via Bandai Namco

How easy will it be for newcomers who didn’t play Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris to get into Last Recollection? Will there be any in-game catch-up elements?

Ueno: Although it is a direct sequel to Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris in terms of story, both the scenario and gameplay for this title are designed to be enjoyable for those who have not played the previous games, along with those who have.

There is also a movie that gives a synopsis of what happened in the previous game, so there is no problem with starting your SAO adventure from this piece.

However, there are also many moments that will make you smile if you have played the previous Sword Art Online titles!

Will there be any rewards for people who come to Sword Art Online: Last Recollection from Alicization Lycoris?

Ueno: If you have the save data for Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris, you will receive a special bonus. It is something that we believe that players of the previous game will be pleased with!

Sword Art Online Last Recollection Preview PS5 characters

Image via Bandai Namco

Dorothy is the new original character for Sword Art Online: Last Recollection. What were your goals when creating her and what kind of position did you hope she’d fill in the cast?

Ueno: Dorothy was imagined early as “someone akin to Alice who has fallen into darkness…” but after much discussion we arrived at the current concept: ”a dark knight who you want to protect.”

Dorothy appears before Kirito and his friends early in the story to “mediate between the ‘Human Realm’ and the ‘Dark Territory,’” which was something that was not accomplishable in the original story and animation.

At first, players might view Dorothy as “a girl earnestly trying to fulfill a great mission”, but as the story progresses and when the fate surrounding her is revealed, how they look at her might change.
In some trailers we released, she is also called a “child of sin” and she confronts Kirito as if they are enemies… but is she?

There are still many mysteries about Dorothy, but one thing I can say is that when you get to the end of the story I am sure that you will come to like Dorothy!

Sword Art Online: Last Recollection

Image via Bandai Namco

How do you feel characters like Kirito, Asuna, Alice, and Eugeo evolved between Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris and Last Recollection?

Ueno: In the original story and animation, Kirito, Asuna, and Eugeo are characters who entered the Underworld War story in the later part or did not take part in it at all.

However, in Sword Art Online: Last Recollection, their fates and their roles in the “Underworld War” have significantly changed.

Kirito, who was unable to move until the end of the Underworld War, stands and fights from the beginning.

Asuna, who rushed to the Underworld after the war started, is already logged in and ready.

Eugeo, who lost his life in the battle with the Administrator and was unable to participate in the subsequent battles, is standing next to Kirito.

Their stories are unique to the game, so please look forward to experiencing it!

As for Alice, in this game, who evolves into a higher AI, A.L.I.C.E., becomes targeted by the worst and most evil enemy in the series.

Even though she does not wish it, she is targeted by people in the real world who are equal to the creators of the world… Even amid such a harsh fate, she continues to fight alongside Kirito, Eugeo and others.
Alice’s forward-thinking personality and dialogue might reverb with the player’s emotions, so don’t miss them!

Lisbeth

Image via Bandai Namco

We’ve seen multiple Sword Art Online characters, like Philia, Silica, and Strea, will get new looks in Last Recollection?

Ueno: Kirito, Alice, and Eugeo will appear in new costumes original to this work!

For Silica and Lisbeth, they will appear wearing an all-new “Super Account” costume drawn by abec, the illustrator of the original work!

In the original work and the anime, there were only four gods of the Underworld: “Stacia, Goddess of Creation,” “Solus, Goddess of the Sun,” “Terraria, Goddess of the Earth,” and “Vecta, God of Darkness.”

In this work, however, new goddesses appear, and they are Ignia, the Goddess of Fire, and Aelia, the Goddess of Wind, [who] descend as Lisbeth and Silica. This setting has also been written by Reki Kawahara, the author of the original work!

We hope that you will find out how they came to take on their new forms in the story.

For other characters, there might be additional costumes that can be acquired by playing throughout the game, so if you are confident in your skills, try to acquire those as well!

ReoNa will once again return to perform the Sword Art Online: Last Recollection theme song. How much insight does she get during development when creating these sorts of themes?

Ueno: ReoNa’s team gave us the name of the song “VITA” (which means “life” in Latin and “war” in Swahili) and the message “Life will not forget you.”

They were really deeply and profoundly close to this work and gave us a lot of ideas for aspects other than the music itself.

In fact, after “VITA” was completed, we asked ReoNa if we could adjust the melody and singing, and she sang the song again.

The evolved version of “VITA” that I received has enough power to blow away my idea that the song is wonderful enough as it is… I can’t go into details, but I have received suggestions for new tricks related to the theme song that have not yet been made public.

I hope you will immerse yourself in the world of “VITA” along with the game!

How does the reception to Sword Art Online games vary by regions? Do you notice players from one area of the world take to it more than others?

Ueno: Even though the closest one to me is Japan, which makes it the most noticeable, I always try to summarize the worldwide response!
The enthusiasm of those who are shouting their love in all regions is the same, and just by looking at it, my own “love for Sword Art Online” grows stronger!

We’ve seen Sword Art Online games and characters appear multiple genres, like RPGs, MMORPGs, and even a third-person shooter. What would you like to do with the series next?

Ueno: The story of the current Sword Art Online game series will come to an end with Sword Art Online: Last Recollection, but of course this is not the end of the story, and the Sword Art Online game team is continuing to consider what we can do next.

If there is a genre other than RPG and TPS that has a strong affinity with Sword Art Online and that the fans would like to see, there is a possibility that we will adapt to that genre in the future.

Sword Art Online Last Recollection will launch on October 6, 2023 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC via Steam.


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Author
Jenni Lada
Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.