Bandai Namco Entertainment postponed the release for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to July 9 and for PC via Steam to July 10 in Japan due to safety considerations related to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The game will launch in North America and Europe on July 10. The release date for the game in North America, Europe, and Southeast Asia was originally announced as May 22.
The game follows the same basic storyline as the Sword Art Online novel volumes 9 through 18 and the Sword Art Online: Alicization anime. However, the game does not follow the same route as the Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld anime run that premiered last October. Instead, the game branches off at that point into its own game route. The staff consulted with original creator Reki Kawahara, who wanted a game that depicts the original storyline, at least in the first half.
Bandai Namco Entertainment America describes the game:
Play as series protagonist, Kirito, and become immersed in the “Underworld,” a mysterious virtual world set in the anime series' Alicization arc. Featuring epic battles, stunning JRPG visuals, and an expansive world to explore; Kirito's journey through the latest Sword Art Online game is ready to begin.
Following the events of the Sword Art Online Alicization anime series, Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris finds Kirito in a mysterious but familiar virtual world, “Underworld,” where A.I.s behave like humans. As players take control of Kirito, they will relive heart-pounding scenes from the series through intense combat. Players will also encounter fan favorite characters including Eugeo, Alice, Administrator, and many more. A wide world awaits Kirito and his friends in this exciting adaptation to the Sword Art Online: Alicization series.
The Sword Art Online: Alicization anime premiered in Japan in October 2018 and is streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and FunimationNow. The series is adapting the entire "Alicization Arc" of Reki Kawahara's original novels and will air for four cours, or four quarters of a year. The first two cours aired from October 2018 to March 2019, and the third cours, titled Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld, premiered last October. The fourth cours was originally scheduled to debut on April 25, but has been similarly delayed to July.
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