If you've ever seen the anime Sword Art Online, then you've probably wondered when we will get a game like the one in the show. Personally, the show made me pretty sad, because that's the exact sort of game that I'd like to play, but there is nothing even close to it that currently exists, even if you take away all of the cool VR parts.
If you haven't seen the show, the premise surrounds a virtual reality game, where players are completely immersed within it. They put on a special headset, and control everything using brainwaves and such. There's a rich in-game economy, deep specialization and talent system, and there's no way to leave, except by beating the game or dying. That last feature is one that really shouldn't make it into a real game, but the rest are just fantastic. And a company is now working on creating it.
IBM Japan revealed today that they have teamed up with Bandai Namco and Aniplex to work on a VRMMO (yes, that's VR with MMO attached to it. I'm guessing we'll start seeing that initialization more in the coming years) based on the popular anime mentioned above. The project is titled Sword Art Online: The Beginning. Check out the video they released below.
While very little is currently known about the ambitious project, IBM is said to be exploring the use of cognitive computing for the project, which could lead to more realistic AI for enemies and other NPCs. You won't be using simple thought processes to control your character, however. They are said to be using motion controls for the game.
The game will open up to alpha testing next month, with 208 testers. Don't get too excited about potentially making it into the test though. They're picking the testers from the Tokyo Metropolitan area, so unless you happen to be in the area, you won't be one of the lucky few.
While the video above does show an Oculus Rift, they are planning to support the HTC Vive as well. So when you're debating on your VR hardware purchase, you can be happy knowing that Sword Art Online will be available on either one.
If you've never checked out Sword Art Online, I highly recommend it. It's a relatively short show, and is currently on Netflix and Hulu. Just be warned, every other MMO you might play will seem dull by comparison.