Sword Art Online Episode 16: ALfheim Online
I’d seen these before. These were the skills that I had spent two years developing in SAO. The skills of the Black Swordsman Kirito that caused the destruction of the floating city Aincrad had appeared before my eyes again.
Receiving a copy of the VRMMO ALfheim Online from Egil, Kirito decides to investigate the picture of Asuna that apparently came from a photo taken within the game. Jumping in and deciding to go with the Spriggan race, Kirito is glitched away from his default starting point and ends up in neutral territory, where he realizes that the avatar he has is identical to the one he had in SAO. After unpacking Yui, she transforms into the in-game Navigation Pixie and explains to him that ALO was built on an identical server to SAO. She teaches him how to operate the secondary flight controller, and during one of his crash landings, Kirito comes across a girl, Lyfa being attacked by three enemy Salamanders.
“A game where you can die is too easy.”
I find that I get really high from SAO every week, and really, tonight is no exception, with the second VRMMO of the series introduced – the world of the fairies, ALfheim Online. Played on an AmuSphere, a Nerve Gear with extra security, it is loaded with as much scenery porn as SAO was, and is actually rather different to how I imagined it. I thought the World Tree would just be…a giant tree, but it’s mainly gnarled trunks rather than leaves at the top, which now makes sense given that Egil described players trying to reach its branches. Everything was very scenic, with lush waterfalls and lots of forest beauty, which I guess differs from SAO in the sense that SAO leans more towards a sci-fi adventure epic, while ALO is a battle epic where various elf species race to get to the top of the World Tree. Notice that both have a very distinct goal in mind, and if it’s achieved then the game is pretty much cleared. Putting that aside, let’s take some time to appreciate the pretty night skies ALO has to offer us.
Moving on – Kirito sure didn’t hesitate at all in jumping straight back into a virtual reality, despite all he’s been through with SAO. His choice to not buy an AmuSphere and use the Nerve Gear was symbolic to his own values as well – it’s a piece of equipment that has kept him captive for so long, but is now ironically the passage he’ll use to save Asuna and rescue her from the clutches of the evil Sugou. I’ll have to thank Egil for informing Kirito about ALO and giving him the vital clues he needs to save Asuna, including the location she’s most likely to be – the top of the World Tree, which is also the goal of the entire game. That puts Kirito and the rest of the players into direct conflict if there are other people focusing on reaching the top. I found the antics of that group of players who attempted it a very MMO-like thing to do – lining up and propelling each other is very clever, but is probably something a GM would have intervened in even if they managed to reach a branch, because there’s a limit on flight for a reason. Asuna being kept inside a birdcage makes me rage inside, and I can’t help but wonder if Sugou did this on purpose out of arrogance or cockiness. Something like: “he has a week to get through the game, how can he possibly get that far?” Amidst all the run-up to Kirito’s entrance into ALO, we had a totally unnecessary Sugu fanservice section, which I’ll just leave here.
I know Kirito has lots of plot armour and all, but even without hindsight I think I’d realize that the set-up is a touch too convenient for someone like him. ALO offers no levels, and everything is reliant on player skills and their athletic ability, i.e. the signals sent to them via the brain and their own reaction time to it. That means that a newbie who has hax reflexes can immediately become a powerful force in the game, because there are no levels. Let’s now remember Kirito’s skills from SAO. He’s mastered the one-handed straight sword, and has the fastest reaction time in the game, resulting in him acquiring <Dual Blades>. And it just so happens that all of his SAO stats were transferred over to ALO. *evil grin* And that’s because ALO is a copy of the SAO server – when RECTO took it over, they never bothered making another full game, and just copied the SAO mainframe. That’s why it was so easy to trap Asuna between games, as well as explains why Kirito started at a random location – it was probably the place he last was at on the SAO map. Normally, this’d all be cheating, and it would take the fun out of a game. But…it’s kinda romantic, isn’t it? The <Black Swordsman> appearing once more, cutting down anyone in his path foolish enough to stop him from saving his true love. As if this was what this particular avatar was destined to achieve. It’s like something out of a fairytale, which is actually quite fitting for the sort of game ALO is.
Anyway, remember Yui, guys? Yes, that Yui. I’d like to present everyone’s favourite AI, now brought back to life (complete with magical girl transformation) as a Navigation Pixie, kawaii to the max. Yui equals instant feels, and instant feels equals Yui. Seriously, Kirito’s family is now 2/3 complete, and all they need is for Mama to come back, and they can live happily ever after~ But yeah, aside from being a massive morale boost, Yui is actually very important as she’s got privileges players don’t have – though they aren’t admin ones like they were last time, Yui has a database of info she can call from, as well as being an invaluable source of NPC help from which to guide Kirito from. Navigation Pixies aren’t actually intelligent in ALO, and are only supposed to be able to answer a few set questions – but obviously, this is Yui we’re talking about! I wish I had the privilege of poking her like that too~
Enter Lyfa and Recon, the former of which has appeared in the OP, and is obviously set to be a main character alongside Kirito – the female protagonist replacing Asuna for now. The two are Sylphs (hence the green clothing) and are being chased in Kirito’s neutral territory by a group of Salamanders, who hilariously all have the same faces and armour like the Army guys from the last arc. I loved the aerial battle, and really hope we’re going to get more of those – it must feel really amazing to be able to fly in that kind of night sky. I think we’re getting new soundtracks for this arc as well, and that gets my hopes up for another god-tier suspense-building OST. You probably know which one I mean. We also got to see a bit of Kirito’s overwhelming power, so fast to the point he disappeared aided by the reflexes he has despite being a newbie to the game. There’s magic instead of Sword Skills in ALO, but clearly it’s not going to stop him one bit.