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Sword Art Online: The Beginning Coming to VR

A few years before the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD) was first revealed to the public, Japanese author Reki Kawahara and artist abec launched Sword Art Online, a light novel series that depicted a world in which a VR massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPGs) of the same name traps users inside. The series has grown into a huge multi-media franchise over time, and is often mentioned when talking about experiences ideally suited for today’s VR HMDs. Now it’s been confirming that Sword Art Online is indeed coming to VR.

This week has seen IBM Japan announced Sword Art Online: The Beginning, a trailer for which can be seen below. Little is known about the project right now, though Gematsu reports that the experience will be controlled by moving the player’s body, likely referring to gaze-based interactions instead of relying on a controller. An official website has also been set up where fans can apply to take part in an alpha testing phase beginning 18th March 2016 and running through to 20th March. Applications are being accepted until 4th March and a total of 208 will be selected to take part.

Judging by the name, it could be that Sword Art Online: The Beginning will tell an origin story of sorts. The title apparently utilises ‘Cognitive System’, a new concept that allows players to make choices. IBM’s own cloud system, ‘SoftLayer’, will also be used. It’s not clear exactly which HMDs the project will be supporting, as the device featured in the video isn’t an exactly match of any device seen right now, though does closely resemble the Oculus Rift’s second development kit (DK2).

For the latest on Sword Art Online: The Beginning, keep reading VRFocus.