Sony welcomes an official Sword Art Online fan show in VR from today until March 10. The event immerses players in a familiar setting to celebrate the iconic anime with interactive exhibits, immersive clips from the show, and even a live performance.
Sword Art Online is easily one of the most popular VR-based anime ever. In the show, characters don so-called “full-dive” VR headsets to join a VR MMORPG. But what they thought was just a fun game turns out to be a life or death struggle when they learn they have no way to connect and if they die in the game they will also die in real life.
First airing in 2012, the show’s fictional events take place in 2022. Here we are now, finally in 2022 for real; and while we still don’t have full headsets, Sony felt the year warranted a true VR celebration of the anime that has become one of the most iconic VR mediums of the past decade. .
From today until March 10, Sword Art Online: EX-CHRONICLE – Online Edition is a virtual fan event organized by Sony with the cooperation of the official SAO-P project.
The event is free, but about two-thirds of the content is only available to ticket holders. Tickets for the event cost around $33 (¥3,800). Although it can be attended via mobile and non-VR devices too, the creators say the event is designed primarily with VR in mind.
Sony and Sony Music Group collaborated through an internal VR development group called Project Lindbergh on a custom app for Sword Art Online: Ex-Chronicle which works with SteamVR headsets (sorry PSVR gamers). The company presents the event as the ultimate Sword Art Online fan experience.
Inside the app, players will find themselves in instances of up to 20 participants exploring the exhibit that takes place in locations inspired by Sword Art Online scenes, like the “Beginning City,” “Aincrad,” “Ocean Turtle,” a Rath Research Lab, and an interactive “Boss Battle.” You can see a breakdown of each exhibition here.
There will also be a “unique live performance” by artist ReoNa, the voice of several theme songs from Sword Art Online: Alicization, the third season of the show. The show will take place for ticket holders on March 5 at 9 p.m. PT (your time zone here). Sony says it uses motion capture to bring ReoNa virtually into the performance venue.
Sony will also sell unique Sword Art Online merchandise which appears to be limited to sale during the event. In addition to physical goods like posters and shirts, the event is also selling the digital avatars presented in the exhibitionallowing users to use them outside of the event.
If you want to discover the event in VR or not, see the “How to play” page for more details. Sword Art Online: EX-Chronicle – Online Edition is officially available in Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, UK and USA.