Though we're seemingly still a way off a properly online game that would live up to the anime, the Sword Art Online games have always offered at least a handful of co-op and competitive online multiplayer modes - and Fatal Bullet is no different. Set in the world of the Sword Art Online 2 series, Fatal Bullet takes place in the Virtual Reality MMO known as Gun Gale Online - and while there's (frustratingly) still no option to play through the whole game in co-op with a friend, there are a variety of smaller modes you can play through with a party of buddies.
How to unlock online multiplayer
So, let's start at the beginning. If you want to play online, you'll need to unlock it first - but luckily, it's much less of a trudge to get to Fatal Bullet's online features than it was in Sword Art Oniline: Hollow Realization.
Really early on in the game - almost immediately after the first tutorial - you'll get a massive quest called "Kureha's Lectures", where the pink haired maiden takes you around the Gun Gale Online hub, showing you the sights. Follow her to all the destinations, and you'll be invited back to the room of Sword Art's emo swordsman protagonist, Kirito, who'll take you back into town to show you the various quest desk and shops for the game, in turn unlocking both online competitive, and co-op play.
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet Co-operative Multiplayer
Max Players: 4
Private Games: Yes
While it may not be the online co-op mode we were hoping for, Fatal Bullet's co-op mode at least offers a reasonable amount of customisation. Rather than letting you play through the whole story with a friend, you instead get to take on a handful of co-op only quests - and to say they're challenging would be an understatement.
To get started, you'll need to head to the online co-op desk in the "Governor's Office" (or "lobby") - that's the large round room at the one end of town, where you usually get your side quests from. When you first enter, on the right hand side of the room you'll find the online co-op desk - head over there, and have a chat with the lady behind the counter, and she'll get you set up.
While you can choose "Search Room" if you fancy jumping into a game with some randomers, the "Create Room" option instead lets you create your very own match, whether for strangers to join, or as a private lobby for you and your friends.
Along with an option to set the number of "players needed" (or the minimum number of players you want before you can start a game), you'll also have the option here of making your room an invite only private room, so only you and your friends can join it, by setting the somewhat awkwardly named "Private Room Settings" to "ON".
Once you've created your room, you'll have to head back to the same desk again to select a quest -you'll likely only have access to a single solitary quest when you first start out - a co-op take down of an "Angry Beserker", with a recommended level of 25 - a fair way off our pitiful 2...
Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet Competitive Multiplayer
Max Players: 8
Private Games: Yes
However, it's not just co-op that Fatal Bullet offers. There's also a "PvP" mode here - only in this context, it's not player vs player as you might imagine. Instead, this mode pits two teams of players against each other in a battle to dish out the most damage to a boss, with the first to hit a certain damage limit - say, 3,000,000 HP - winning.
To get started, you'll need to head to the PvP lobby desk, which is on the left hand side of the room, and looks identical to the co-op one. There are actually two, slightly different types of battle on offer here - "Hero Battle" and "Avatar Battle". With the same base objective, the only real difference here is that Avatar Battle sees you playing as your created character, while Hero Battle lets you play as a character from the anime.
How to invite friends into an online game on Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet
No matter which mode you're playing, though, there's something that's a little bit hidden away, and that's inviting a friend - something made even more confusing by the fact the game's main "friends list" only shows you in game non-player characters, due the game's faux-MMO stylings.
Instead, to invite a buddy into your lobby, you'll need to press R2 (or RT if you're playing on Xbox One), and then scroll down to Invite, which will open the console's friends list and let you send the invite there.
So, while we're still more than a little bit disappointed that Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet still hasn't given us an SAO game we can play through with a friend, and least now you'll know how to make the most out of the game's handful of multiplayer modes. Take note for next time though, Bandai Namco - a proper online co-op mode is literally screaming to be done here. Make it happen!