Oculus VR Showing Sword Art Online Demo for the Oculus Rift at Anime Expo—Breaking

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. Pontianak says

    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.

    • Ben Lang says

      Congradulations : ).

      Like any serious gamer, I too have made my fair share of real friendships within multiplayer gaming worlds. Stories like yours are only going to become more prevalent as virtual reality grows.

      • Kemic says

        I want to +1 this but… Spoilers

        She’s his cousin, not sister. They were just raised together, so they’re like brother and sister and treat each other that way.

  2. sponge101 says

    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.

    • deadering says

      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. Brad Hawthorne says

    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.

    • Kemic says

      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. Druss says

    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. Leo821 says

    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. Thedarknight says

    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.

    • Leo821 says

      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.

      • Inervo says

        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

        • Thatoneguy says

          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

  7. TokyoDrifter14 says

    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. charizardfuego52 says

    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.

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