sword art online oculus rift virtual reality
Main characters from the show: Kirito (left) and Asuna (right)

Today marks the start of Anime Expo 2014 in Los Angeles, where Oculus VR is representing with a booth at the show. The company is showing a never-before-seen Sword Art Online demo for the Oculus Rift, a popular action anime show which focuses on virtual reality and MMORPG themes.

There’s not much info yet regarding the demo, though the splash screen indicates cooperation by Bandai Namco Games, who has published one Sword Art Online game for the PSP and is currently working on a title for the PlayStation Vita based on the anime. It isn’t clear at this time if this is a segment of a forthcoming Sword Art Online game for the Oculus Rift, or just a short promotional piece for the show.

In a video taken at Anime Expo today, we can see users with the Oculus Rift DK2 walking through the Sword Art Online VR demo, which seems to be a passive experience as viewers don’t appear to have any form of input other than the headset itself.

From the video we can see scenes similar to those found in the anime: Asuna, a main character from the show, defending the user against a boss-like creature and eventually destroying it and, during another segment, resting in the grass on a sunny day. Later in the video we can see some head-based interface interaction which appears similar to what’s seen in the show.

A Vine from Anime Expo shows an Oculus Rift version of the VR loading sequence that’s seen in the anime itself:

Sword Art Online is a recent action-anime, aired in 2012, which was based on a novel series by the same name. The show show centers around the main character Kirito, a teenage boy who plays a virtual reality MMORPG called—you guessed it—Sword Art Online. Players in the show don the “Nerve Gear” VR headset which directly interfaces with the brain for life-like simulation and input. The virtual world within the show is called the Aincrad. Like any good anime based on VR, players eventually get stuck in the virtual world, with dire consequences if anyone were to remove their VR headset in the real world.

Sword Art Online is available to watch online in full on Hulu.

The show has gained a cult following which has only been bolstered by the recent resurgence of consumer virtual reality. Many fans have been eager to see a Sword Art Online game based on the anime, or perhaps moreso, the fictional MMORPG game that is presented within the show.

Sword Art Online is a but a recent entry into the world of anime with themes of virtual reality, including the acclaimed .hack series and others such as Accel World, Log Horizon, Btooom!, Ixion Saga DT, and plenty more.


  1. This is an anime near and dear to my heart. It goes into what it means to be in relationships and in love in a virtual world. My fiancee and I actually met online in a gaming clan, and we were a full country apart from each other. Myself in the United States, she in Canada. That long distance relationship online turned into real life seeing each other, and we are getting married in real life around the end of july this year.

    If SAO turns into a real VR product, I’d be one of the first people to get it.

  2. I’ll be honest, never saw this one coming from oculus. Sure, you have independent anime demos from independent developers but never imagined oculus showing up at an anime expo. A Ghost in the Shell demo might be better though imo.

    • I’d love to see a ghost in the Shell experience on Rift too, but it’s just not as relevant as this sadly. Sword art online is one of the most popular anime and is literally vr.

      I think technolust will be a cool cyberpunk experience like ghost in the Shell. Darknet shares similarities to the digital portion which is also cool.

  3. Seems like the ideal fit to me. SAO technology is very Rift-like. They’re using the DK2, so they have close ties with Oculus on the event.

    Other insight…SAO season 2 starts July 5th. Watch it simulcast on Crunchyroll. I’m interested to see how they animate the Gun Gale Online story arc.

    • I’d say current tech has more in common with the .hack series than SAO. In the .hack’s, the real world parts they show have people wearing goggles and using controllers, which is currently one of the more common ways that rift experiences are designed for.

  4. Oculus was working on an MMOS(ocial)RPG or something right? SAO would be perfect in concept, but the actual tech to make it immersive like in the anime just isn’t here yet so it will only disappoint.

  5. If we were to get the game witch i really want to! Would we be able to make our own character? because i wouldn’t want to do everything the way kirito did and i wouldn’t really want to i want to make my own decisions and have my own new adventure and be my own character not someone else. thank you so much for your efforts on the game.

  6. I hate to be “that guy”, but Druss is %100 right. Sword Art Online is my favorite anime I’ve watched, to the degree of pursuing game design in order to make it into a real game. When I saw this, I was literally angry: SAO CANNOT be captured with a controller!!! Though they may not want to admit it, the people who’ve watched SAO and would LOVE to play it don’t want this in any way, shape, or form. No one wants to replay the story from the anime: they want to be IN that world as themselves, swinging that sword or stabbing with that spear with their own arms, not some pre-installed motion! SAO, in essence, is the greatest conceptual MMO, a game where skill with a sword can take you anywhere to beat anything or anyone. Forgive me for this, I don’t WANT to disrespect those who are working so hard to bring the game to life, but this game will be a complete flop if it ever releases.

    So, TL:DR, before you can even THINK about making this game, two things have to happen:
    1) Eliminate the storyline from the Anime. Everyone knows what happens, and it wouldn’t even work out since everyone knows who Heathcliff is. Make it a fresh new game, dictated by the players, not a rigid story.
    2) PLAYERS HAVE TO MOVE THEMSELVES!!! You might as well make it for the xbox and sit really close to the TV for all this will do. There’s no actual skill in pre-made movements, all you need is memorization and BOOM you’re an expert. On top of that, it’s not immersive if you don’t move yourself. It just isn’t.

    You obviously won’t think anything of this post even if you end up reading it by some chance, but I needed to get this off my chest, because for my aspiration to be ruined by a group of people who don’t understand the spirit of SAO and the freedom it represents – a live fantasy world where people can play together as themselves, not some cheap knockoff game – makes me absolutely furious.

    • I 100% agree to every thong you just said and it true to make it better we need to speak up and tell the company the problems to not only make the game better but so the company can make a better profit to help payoff the money for the creation of the game all that hard work and payment for nothing! If I were a creator of this I would work harder and thank you for the help of the improvements to the game. Thank you for backing me up with this problem.

      • thats all right you can´t make a game like SAO with oculus rift. We need a real Nerve Gear for it and not a pc or anything other gaming thing to make SAO possible in such a way that all the Anime fans will want to play it cause it is as perfect for us to play SAO with our own psyche (like it is in the anime) and not a controler and a vision gaming thing like OR to see as if we would be in the game

        • Actually with body tracking suits and the tech people are coming up with we really aren’t that far away from a SAO quality game. Now as far going full dive with something like the nerve gear this would transmit your actual electrical signals from the brain to your character,no we are nowhere near that level of advanced tech,we barley even understand the human brain as it is. I am a huge Sao fan and just recently found the series but the idea of huge VR sandbox style RPG is going to be hard to live up too,but with enough time invested and lots and lots of money it could be possible. Can you imagine how many servers you need just to house all the players interested in this,that would probably be the hard part keeping everything running once idk lets say 10,000 people (just to keep with the story here) logged on? Alot of mmos today have a hard time with lagging and servers crashing. Anyway i agree with the fact they if they do produce this game they need to drop the story line and maybe even all the main characters,nobody wants to play a story they have already seen the ending to. I keep watching the first 14 or so episodes because its Aincrad and the game Sao that I fell in love with. Also a little off subject but I’m a little disappointed with the series,having never read the books the faries threw me for a loop but it was still good,the new season on the other hand not so much,I quit watching after they basically made kirito a girl

      • Not trying to hate on SAO or ant VRMMORPG for the matter, the chances of SAO becoming what is shown in the series, is damn near impossible. I do believe and know for a fact its possible, because I myself, have made something in VR similar to SAO, but I broke it so nobody could use it, people got into fights over who did what with something apt hat was MINE! Yeah, so, I can’t do anything. Also! More info about this:
        -Its being done in Japan.
        -Release dates being
        –July 2016 (Japan)
        –June 2017 (America)
        -They’re making something similar to the AmuShpere
        -Multiple servers, each server has unique player data
        -Some collectors pack
        (Not all of this is true, I got this info from a friend, but he can’t remember where he gt it from. Just bare with me)

  7. I agree for the most part with wut most of u posted. If they were going to make a Vr Sao they would have to take it ALL the way, and make it as the game from the anime not a game about the anime. Seeing as we don’t hav full dive tech, I wouldn’t mind seeing the game from the anime on our current systems with our current ways of play (ie ps4 xbone, etc)

  8. i really prefer that you can create your own avatar and make your own history, not taking place with kirito and talking with his friends, so, you only have 1 thing with that… being another character with another type of interaction.

  9. Not trying to hate on SAO or ant VRMMORPG for the matter, the chances of SAO becoming what is shown in the series, is damn near impossible. I do believe and know for a fact its possible, because I myself, have made something in VR similar to SAO, but I broke it so nobody could use it, people got into fights over who did what with something apt hat was MINE! Yeah, so, I can’t do anything. Also! More info about this:
    -Its being done in Japan.
    -Release dates being
    –July 2016 (Japan)
    –June 2017 (America)
    -They’re making something similar to the AmuShpere
    -Multiple servers, each server has unique player data
    -Some collectors pack
    (Not all of this is true, I got this info from a friend, but he can’t remember where he gt it from. Just bare with me)

  10. Ok. So here is my question:Why don’t you just do the nerve gear hemlet with the data load up in the main frame and a face scan then make it so you can enter the game by putting a simualtion device with the right currencey of waves for humans to paralse but not kill,but at the same time only activates when a command in the brain tells it , And for the brain command part you should vist a brain doctor and learn the parts of the brain then program the device to pick of signals from the needed part of the brain?

      • To:Inervo
        Is it that you don’t know enough about the brain or human kind doesn’t know enough about the brain?please Explain to me where the problem of developing that product comes up. And why don’t you find the correct waves to send through the brain by testing on mammals close to humans ,like monkeys.My freind said some thing about mash waves in the brain and being able to read through wave pick up and process. My anut is in college to be a nurse and i saw the part of the book where it shows the parts of the brain and what it controls , well maybe that infomation could come of use to you because if you send the waves to the right part of the brain to do the simualtion .

  11. I do agree SAO is my favorite anime and the first 14 episodes is my favorite and I think that we should create our on character and make our own story line but I do like the Aincrad (sorry if I spelled it wrong) map how you have to go up 100 floors and when you beat the final boss on the last floor you can still play the game like just have fun battles other players cook and stuff like that and if you need any beta testers me and my brother would love to be one just contact us, and try to make it the best as possible because think of how much money you will get you will be richer than Bill Gates and if it works perfect then you can create DBZ, Pokemon, Naruto,Bleach and other anime

  12. Oh and you should make it where your mind sort of goes in the game because on the video where ever he turn his head the screen changes then if he tried to walk the person on the game walked you should make it where your mind transfers into the game and not having to move your real life body

  13. If it’s really like SAO then it will be worth some time in there for a while until the people fix the glitch. SAO is like a second life. And it will also be kinda useful if we had to fall asleep to go in because then we can still have a great adventure while getting the rest our body needs and there is a clock inside the game so you know when to log off.

  14. okay, so let me get this right, you have created a VR headset as shown in the Anime otherwise known as the nervgear? if you have, does it work like shown in the anime? and will it work like shown in the Anime?

  15. Ok, as much as I want to see asuna by my side. Please let us make our own characters with our own story. I don’t care if I have to wait 7 years of development, just plz! And let everyone be on the same server to make it more realistic, even though it would be taxing, It would make people want to beat the game before everyone else!