Sony Hosting an Official ‘Sword Art Online’ Exhibition in VR Through March 10th

Just don't get stuck inside


Sony is hosting an official Sword Art Online fan exhibition in VR from today through March 10th. The event drops players into 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 anime ever to be based on virtual reality. 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 log and if they die in the game then they will also die in real life.

First aired in 2012, the fictional events of the show were set in the year 2022. Here we are now, finally in 2022 for real; and while we still don’t have full-dive headsets, Sony felt the year warranted a proper VR celebration of the anime which has become one of the most iconic pieces of virtual reality media in the last decade.

Starting today and running through March 10th, Sword Art Online: EX-CHRONICLE – Online Edition is a virtual fan event hosted by Sony with cooperation from the official SAO-P Project.

The event is free-to-play, but about two-thirds of the content can only be accessed by ticket holders. Tickets to the event are priced at about $33 (¥3,800). Though it can be attended through mobile devices and non-VR too, the creators say the event is designed primarily with VR in mind.

Sony & Sony Music Group collaborated through an internal VR development group called Project Lindbergh on a custom-built app for Sword Art Online: Ex-Chronicle which works with SteamVR headsets (sorry PSVR players). The company is pitching the event as the ultimate Sword Art Online fan experience.

Image courtesy Sony

Inside the app, players will find themselves in instances of up to 20 participants exploring the exhibition which is set in venues inspired by familiar Sword Art Online scenes, like the ‘Town of Beginnings’, ‘Aincrad’, ‘Ocean Turtle’, a Rath research lab, and an interactive ‘boss battle’. You can see a breakdown of each exhibit here.

Image courtesy Sony

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 performance will be held for ticket holders on March 5th at 9PM PT (your timezone here). Sony says it’s using motion capture to bring ReoNa virtually into the venue for the performance.

Image courtesy Sony

Sony will also be selling 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 featured in the exhibition, giving users the ability to use them outside of the event.

3D models of the avatars used in Sword Art Online: Ex-Chronicle are being sold for use elsewhere

If you’re interested in checking out the event in VR or non-VR, see the ‘How to Play’ page for detailsSword Art Online: EX-Chronicle – Online Edition is officially available in Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, and the United States.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Anonymous

    Having found a way to attend this in the Japanese version several months ago, I think it is highly unlikely they changed anything. Let me tell you…

    It was completely NOT worth the time or extra money spent (to access some areas) unless you are a HUGE die-hard fan of SAO that thinks BS can be turned gold by slapping SAO on it. The experience was completely unforgivable by 2021/22 VR standards.

    What they did here was more of a VR art gallery of SAO, introducing the franchise, world setting… and that was pretty much it.
    There was a poorly conceived boss battle, that puts you against the 74th floor boss (bone centipede). Without a SUPER large group the boss was basically impossible to win as your damage was very minuscule. The player’s hit box was also super vague that makes melee a dumb choice, and the boss only needed 2-3 hits to kill you. I spent two hours on it alone with pistols only to whittle down like 1/8th of an HP bar, out of 5 total bars!

    As enthusiasts are the main audiences of RtoVR, I am 100% certain no one here would find this VR experience satisfying. The person who planned this obviously had little clue about VR technology and just want to use SAO’s name to milk cash.

    • Andrey

      Thank you for your review, really! As a “huge die-hard fan of SAO”, I was really thinking about spending 30$, but I had a very big doubts about if it really worth the money. I mean from what I’ve seen about this “event” it’s like totally the same as it was in a VRChat a year or so ago, even the boss battle – and all of it was completely free! If by purchasing 30$ pass you could get a physical thing like t-shirt and get a pass to this exhibition as a bonus – then why not? But buying a pass for 30$ to see and “play” what you have aready seen and then purchse something additionaly for another 30$ – japanese are greedy as always, especially regarding SAO franchise (anyone who played “flat” SAO games will probably understand what I mean).
      About boss battle (just a little reminder – it’s The Skull Reaper and it’s from 75th floor, not 74th (74th floor boss was The Gleam Eyes, an egyptian-themed minothaur/goat-like boss) – as a die-hard fan I just couldn’t stop myself from saying it, sorry!) – it was totally the same in VRChat version, but there were only melee weapons and tons of school boys screaming and running around with silly avatars that were wiped out pretty fast. We were actually able to beat this thing once and the result – typical SAO’s “Congratulations!!” inscription in the sky and… that’s all. What was the point of it? The gameplay itself was totally awful (especially fighting – actually you could just pierce the boss when it stopped and wiggle your sword a lot – and it dealt like a ton of damage: also movement was VERY slow + there wasn’t any dodge movements, so it was very tricky to dodge the boss at the very beggining), there wasn’t a reward so after like three attempts to beat it and waiting for like an hour or so for a pretty big party to assemble I personally was very frustrated after getting nothing in the end, like some kind of little event with characters (appearing of Heathcliff, yeah…) or at least a bonus video or something.
      So thank you very much from stopping me and loosing my money on something like that! I will check the free version to confirm if the base is the same as VRChat’s event or not.

      • benz145

        Worth checking out the free part of the app perhaps to see if it is enhanced over the prior VRChat version.

        • Andrey

          Okay, so I checked it…
          About the app in general and it’s similarity to the VRChat’s version – yep, it’s the same. Main models are totally the same, though they’ve added some EX Chronicles staff here and there of course. You still can seat, take fruits and lightsticks and there is this weird white ladder right in the middle of the square.
          For f2p users like me who will want to check it – you will be able to visit only two parts of the whole thing: main square and Boss Battle. All other parts are closed and require you to purchase a ticket.
          Just a little thing I want to talk about – it’s very funny that they (if I understand things correctly) added this typical thing for f2p games: “if you pay – you get the best”. I mean around me were A LOT of people with Hecate 2 instead of standard M24, Excaliburs, Osmanthus/Blue Rose swords, etc. I suppose you can find and equip it only if you bought a ticket, eh? Very “nice” thing to do. I bought all SAO games, spent thousands of hours and got all the achievments, play(ed) all mobile SAO games, bought original ranobe/anime and a lot of stuff like figures/t-shirts, etc., but I need to pay 30$ to be able to take at least one iconic sword from SAO… It become especially awkward, when you realise that this app will disappear in a month or so. Okay, whatever…
          Boss battle (it’s pretty ironic that this is the only thing you can get access for free – to the part where you will suffer). Yep, again – it has 100% the same base (model of the room, The Skull Reaper’s model and animations, two soldiers in the room that die right at the beginning of the battle – everything is the same). Just as Anonymous said now it has a ton of HP and even with pretty big team (like 8 people) we were able to take down two HP bars out of five… and then all of us died instantly.
          Now about biggest flaws (in my opinion of course) of this boss “battle”. The first one – and I am not sure about it – is possible pay-2-win mechanics. I mean outside of the boss room in the corridor there is a shooring range and I was able to adapt and shoot the target with a golden effect (I think it means you hit the target in the right way and in terms of the boss – deal more-or-less big amount of damage). And when I tried to do the same thing in the actual combat – I wasn’t able to do it. I tried literally everything (pistols, sniper rifle, even swords; was playing alone to confirm everything too, etc.) but effects when I hit it is always blue, no matter what part I hit on what exact time/position of this GGO’s crosshair.
          …on the other hand, when I played with other people, guy with two Hecates was able to hit it with the gold effect on every shot or almost on every shot. And yeah, if you don’t get the gold effect your damage is low as hell too. Or maybe I imaged it and golden effect means nothing and everyone have the same low damage.
          Secondly – one of the boss’s attacks (when it release a shock wave or something)… It just instantly kills everyone and YOU CAN”T JUMP to evade it or block it somehow. There is a shield in the “game” (only on the main square though) and it’s 100% useless both against regular attacks and this attack too of course. Maybe you need to get farther from it (though it’s pretty hard to do, because teleportation is slow and the arena is also not that big and the boss do this pre-movement very often without this attack and when it finally uses it – it’s too fast to react if you are too close).
          Generally, it’s a tiring abd boring thing to do, probably without any sense (=some kind of reward in the end) too. Someone please refund me 2 wasted hours of my life!…
          Also it’s hilarious (and kinda sad) that there is Aincrad floating in the sky… though WE are on the main square of the Town of the Beginnings, which takes place on the first floor of the Aincrad… and also there is no visible lower part of next floor above and columns that hold it – I think it says enough about what kind of people were planning/developing it (definetely not an actual SAO fans or at least people who care about their audience).
          Oh, and also another irritating thing (for me at least) – another attempt of ReoNa’s promotion. Yeah, LiSA was with the series from the very beggining, but they added ReoNa in the Alicization Lycoris and now shoved her literally everywhere. Ugh…
          Really, don’t waste your time and money on it. And please tell me what will happen if someone will finally be able to kill the boss.

      • Anonymous

        Interesting. I had no idea the boss fight was once done on VRChat, but it does explain a lot of things. Since I didn’t play the VRChat I couldn’t comment on how easy or hard it was, but from what I experienced here, it certainly was ridiculously (maybe because of me using pistols since getting close was a bad idea) difficult.
        As for dodging, if I recall correctly this “game” had no smooth locomotion option and forces you to teleport. This could work in your advantage tho as you can teleport far away before the Skull Reaper could even initiate its attack motion.

        Also good for pointing out the correct boss name and floor lol. It’s been 8 years since I watched the anime.

  • Nothing to see here

    No PSVR option? Wow. Quest it is then.

  • ApocalypseShadow

    I’d beta an SAO game is announced for PSVR 2 to coincide with the anniversary and year of the Anime.

    • Andrey

      I dream about it for the last ten years. And now the stars finally aligned:
      1. PSVR2 will probably release in the fall/early winter.
      2. Sony is supporting this exhibition as well as some other SAO-related things previously + originally Sony is a japanese company, so it will be much easier for them to collaborate with Kadokawa or Bamco (unlike the Ocul.., oh, I mean Meta!) and create something like this.
      3. It’s 2022, the year of the original Sword Art Online release. It’s now or never!
      4. Any sane person who is responsible for marketing/sales strategy will understand that announcment/release of SAO for any VR platform will be one of the best system-sellers at least in Japan/generally in Asia/America and the “real” Europe like Germany, where they even air SAO movies. It will be like Half Life Alyx, but for anime fans.
      I even tried to contact different insiders from the gaming industry about development of something SAO-related in VR, but noone actually answered me. If they will skip such an opportunity – it will be the loss of the centry for me, really.
      And if the announcment will happen during one of the State of Play or E3 (if it won’t be cancelled for good) – I probably will cry from hapinnes and buy PS5/pre-order the PSVR2 (if I will be able to find it in stock, yeah…) right away, though I already have both gaming PC and VR headset and don’t really need/want a console.

  • Kiomy

    there is multiple issues i cant seem to log in in the website or sign up because i tried both ways didn’t work and it gave me an error.

    i have the tickets and the app downloaded but its only working on my desktop even though i brought the vr app ticket and its not working at all for vr it just shows me the game in big picture mode but not allowing me to play at all. its not even in vr and its not even linking with controllers.

    i tried to put the game app on steam didn’t work i tried it of steam didn’t work and i even plug it in didn’t work while running game.

    which is stupid because reading this it means that its not on vr yet. but yet they are charging people to buy tickets for it.

  • DeFKnoL

    I found it pretty cool to get in there, but there was no option in the setting for smooth locomotion that I could find. So it was pretty disappointing to just hop everywhere.

  • A_User

    t pose

  • Jerry Fleetwood

    my only questions are how do i findvthis app get news about the release buy tickets and rig a small explosive to my oculus?also why havent i heard about tis until today !!
    add sad face here