Tons of new details on the development of Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris, most notably how it could be the final game with Kirito as its protagonist.
Dengeki Online published an interview focusing on the upcoming PS4, Xbox One, and PC JRPG Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris. The interview is with SAO author Reki Kawahara, SAO Editor Kazuma Miki, and SAO console games Producer Yousuke Futami. In particular, multiple parts through the interview and comments from Producer Futami hint that future SAO games might not necessarily feature Kirito as the protagonist: Instead of being able to make your own avatar but still follow a story specifically written with Kirito in mind, it seems future games could be closer to what SAO Fatal Bullet did (outside of Kirito Mode).
Here’s a translated summary of the interview with the main subjects brought up. Note that this contains spoilers of the Alicization arc.
The story behind the development of Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris
The development of Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris started around 4 years ago in 2016. The initial development phase was quite hard, as adapting Alicization into a game was quite difficult. Reki Kawahara said he initially thought Gun Gale Online could never get adapted into an actual game, with its systems like Bullet Lines and Bullet Circles. But then it happened with Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet. Likewise, Reki Kawahara thought it’d be definitely impossible to make a game adaptation of the Alicization arc. Because the worlds of SAO, ALO and GGO are all games in the novel, but the world where Alicization takes place, Underworld, isn’t. It’s more like a “Civilization Simulation”, and the Alicization arc is heavily story-driven.
As you already know, SAO Alicization arc is currently getting an anime adaptation. The final part of the anime, Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld Part 2 will start airing in Japan July 11.
In Japan, this part of the anime is named Sword Art Online: Alicization War of Underworld -The Last Season-. Similarly to this title, Yousuke Futami believes that Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris might be the end of Kirito’s original game story. Producer Futami further explained in the interview what he means by that. In 2013, the very first SAO game adaptation, Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment on PSP (and its enhanced version Hollow Fragment on PS Vita), had an original story where instead of following the events of the very first SAO light novel volume, Aincrad would continue from floor 75 to floor 100. All the games since then similarly have original stories rewriting events from the novel.
— 二見鷹介＠SAOゲームの人。ただ世界の人と1日ずれてる。魔法使いになりたい。 (@yousuke_futami) May 19, 2020
— 二見鷹介＠SAOゲームの人。ただ世界の人と1日ずれてる。魔法使いになりたい。 (@yousuke_futami) May 19, 2020
Back in May and multiple times since then, Producer Futami also mentioned how he “plans to end Kirito’s game story with Alicization Lycoris“. He’s been hinting that future SAO games from now on could feature an original protagonist similarly to Fatal Bullet. He also said it’ll be “up to the future generation to think about it”, hinting this might be his last game as Producer on SAO games, and he’s switching positions after that. Producer Futami also said something very similar on a live stream we covered a few weeks ago, on how he’d rather let a new Producer try to tackle a possible game adaptation for Unital Ring, the latest and current arc of SAO in the light novel.
Next up in the interview, Producer Yousuke Futami revealed Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Kirito’s seiyuu, has around “15,000 words” voiced in Alicization Lycoris. This is nearly the double of voiced lines in the previous console game, Hollow Realization, which had around “8000 words” from Kirito voiced.
Producer Futami also mentioned how Ai Kayano, who voices Alice, mentioned during the recordings it was a bit hard to get back to voicing Alice during the timeframe when she acts coldly toward Kirito and Eugeo. Seeing it’s been a long time since she voiced those parts in the anime, and is now used to voicing the current Alice.
Yousuke Futami also wished to include the Zakkaria Swordsman Tournament in Alicization Lycoris, as it wasn’t shown in the anime. However, the development team couldn’t manage to finish that part of the game in time without ending up affecting all development, so they abandoned the idea and cut that part. The game will have a summary of the event instead. However, you’ll end up seeing a new side of Zakkaria as there’s a point in the game’s story you go back to the Norlangarth North Empire.
Past SAO games all pretty much had one hub city. Meanwhile, Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris has at least 5 big cities you can explore. There’s one in each of the four empires of the Human World: the Norlangarth North Empire, the Eastabarieth Empire, the Wesdarath Empire, and the Southacroith Empire. The fifth city is Central Cathedral. You also have multiple smaller inhabited areas such as Rulid Village.
Next up, SAO Editor Kazuma Miki explained his role on Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris:
Together with Reki Kawahara, Kazuma Miki helped the Alicization Lycoris development team decide what kind of game to make in early plan phase of development. The development team had around 10 different proposals on how to adapt the Alicization arc into a game, before settling on what became the basis for Alicization Lycoris. They also helped decide which story elements to include in the game, and when to start the game’s story in Alicization arc. And ultimately settled to start at the very beginning.
As a reminder, the game basically covers from the beginning of Alicization up to the Administrator fight, and then goes with an original story instead of doing War of Underworld. An original story centered on new original character Medina Orthinanos, which we detailed in another article. The devs decided on that as all other SAO games so far also had original story elements.
Lastly, together with Reki Kawahara, Kazuma Miki would regularly check the game’s elements to make sure there’s no discrepancies with what is written in the novels. And in turn, decided to change a few things to make the story work better as an RPG, all why properly explaining these changes in the game’s story and exposition. For example, the fact that there are monsters in the Human Empire even though there shouldn’t be any. This is properly explained in Alicization Lycoris. Kazuma Miki stressed that the original story in SAOAL is in line with the novels, and is full of scenes and developments fans always wanted to see.
Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC, on July 9 in Japan and July 10, 2020, worldwide. In Japan, players who preordered the game’s digital version are able to play part of the game (until Kirito and Eugeo arrive at Central Cathedral) since July 6 as Beaters, hence why you can already see screenshots of the beginning of the game on social media.
Meanwhile, as you wait for the game, you can read much more via our previous coverage: Our summary of the latest stream and gameplay, gameplay trailers for Lisbeth, Silica, Leafa, Sinon. More on the game’s original story and characters. The battle system along with character creation and online multiplayer. Planned DLCs, the return of bed scenes. The game’s opening sequence was also revealed.
To support DualShockers, you can preorder Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris on Amazon.
This post contains affiliate links where DualShockers gets a small commission on sales. Any and all support helps keep DualShockers as a standalone, independent platform for less-mainstream opinions and news coverage.