While there’s a lot for SAO fans to enjoy about how they can make their Sword Art Online: Lost Song their own, the battle system can unfortunately, get repetitive pretty quickly. It’s simple to play, so if the MMORPG battle system of Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment put you off, Lost Song will likely feel like more familiar territory since it plays like an action RPG. If anything, it’s a more faithful adaption since you don’t see the player’s waiting to take their turns in the anime series. The square and triangle buttons are your weak and strong attacks respectively and circle is used to dodge or guard. Holding R1 lets you perform your skills and which type of skill you use is dependant on whether you have your weapon out in battle or not.
If you have your weapon out, then you’re limited to that weapon’s set of skills. To use magic and buff skills, you have to put your weapon away. It’s pretty annoying having to put my weapon away every time I want to quickly heal or cast a quick spell. It doesn’t help that since nearly all the buttons have a shared use, you can end up accidently setting off spells or attacks. The R1 button has been the worst culprit for me for this. Since you use it for dashing, getting out/putting away your weapon and accessing your skills. This isn’t a major issue but if you’re in a situation where you’re trying to conserve your MP it can be frustrating.
Where the disappointment really sets in however, is that after clearing your first island, you’ve pretty much seen all the variety you’re going to come across. While there’s still plenty of enemies you’ve yet to see, the strategies you use against them won’t. Most of the dungeon bosses are just bigger or reskinned enemies that you’ve already seen and can be taken out the same way, just with a bit more dodging involved to escape their now larger reach. Some of the bosses do have weak specific weak points, like their heads or tails but it doesn’t really affect the overall difficulty. The only times I found battles challenging is when you’re facing multiple enemies at once. The character you’re controlling seems to be targeted more often than your party members are and it can be tricky dodging multiple attacks at once, especially when you’re dealing with aerial combat since you can get knocked out of the sky fairly easily.
The area that Sword Art Online: Lost Song is surprisingly strong in, is with it’s online multiplayer. The main online options are grouping up for multiplayer quests or PVP matches. It’s really easy to find a group suitable for your needs as when you’re creating/searching for a room you can specify from a pre-determined selection of options detailing what you want your room to do. There’s options for levelling focused or cash hunting parties. Players who want to offer help to newcomers have a option to do to so as well as players you want to hunt bosses down or do a certain quest type.
Even if you just want to just mess around online, there’s an option for that too! As well as selecting your room’s purpose, you can also select the difficulty of the quests you want to take on as well as limit the room to players of the same language. Of course, you have the option to create a private party between friends as well. The most impressive part of all this is just as how seamless it all happens. After selecting and connecting to a room, nothing changes on your screen other than you’ll notice other human players have suddenly appeared in it. There’s no complicated menus, no long waiting times, just an instant connection to other players. If you opt for a PVP match, you’ll get the same experience, a very quick connection and you jump straight into battle.
Playing online made me reconsider what I thought of the battle system since playing it with others along with the PVP battles is really rather fun and this is coming from someone who usually avoids any multiplayer options. Playing PVP battles were a particular highlight for me since going against human players is completely different to the AI enemies. Just hacking and slashing away isn’t enough and you’ve got to make good use of your available skills in addition to well timed guards and dodges. Watching other players also gives you an insight into ways to play you might not have thought of. If you get tired of the single player repetitiveness, then jump into some online multiplayer sessions, whether it’s just additional quests or some PVP, it’ll really liven up your Sword Art Online: Lost Song experience.