The game progresses VERY quickly at first, such that in 5 days of light playing I’m Level 50, geared up nicely, about ready to do the 5F labyrinth and boss, and then I expect 50-60 grind to be harder, since 6F is I think the top currently. The game devs have a lot to work on, since there’s 100 floors in Aincrad.
I spent quite a few hours this morning grinding very difficult 5th floor mobs from 40-50 to get the mats for my level 50 armor and level 45 weapons, which didn’t help me at all until I hit those points; it would’ve taken another day to get everything at 50.
Where the gear says “Lv1” or “Lv20”, that’s the experience level, which is unrelated to the gear level. While that’s obscure, it’s kind of interesting, lowbie gear with high experience can be nearly as good as high-level gear with no experience, but won’t have as nice a set of “random bonuses”.
Why does my heavy chestplate look like it has boobs? The other armors are more angular. I’m using costume pants to cover up the ugly jodhpur lower armor, but I don’t have a costume shirt yet.
There’s a lot more gear and skill depth than you’d ever expect in a mobile game, it’s more like a desktop MMORPG. The fighting game is somewhat simpler, since the tiny UI and a few touch buttons limit it, but positioning and teamwork (even with your invulnerable NPC partner) matters, there are boss mechanics, and even normal mobs can be complicated. Poison and paralysis are incredibly dangerous, as seen in the books and anime; I just swapped out a skill with a good defense bonus for a poison reduction because I want to survive.
The only thing that I’m much disappointed in is, they didn’t do permadeath even tho that’s the premise of Sword Art Online. When you die, you can use up a (somewhat rare; I have 5 left) recovery crystal and instantly revive, or just return to 1F city. You should be deleted and have to make your character from scratch. If they wanted to be nice, they could let you keep your gear, but lose all experience. As it is, it’s like any MMO where you can die a few times.
Only 1F is even slightly detailed, with a city of 3 areas, a town of 2 areas, and 3 fields of easy monsters; floors 2-6 are 2 areas each, but I expect 10F will have another city and multiple fields, since that’s how the books and anime are structured. But it is very lovely:
Because I’ve forgotten a lot of side characters who are showing up in the game, I started reading all the light novels from the fan translations. I’d previously just seen the anime and read the first few manga adapted from the novels, but now I am a bona-fide teenager reading trashy pulp novels, oh, wait, that’s exactly what I’ve always been.