Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris has several mechanics that you won’t fully appreciate until you’re well past the game’s sluggish first chapter. Past that point, the game opens up by giving you more party members, providing multiplayer features, and opportunities to truly master combat. This is done by way of chain bursts and skill connects, ultimately putting your opponent in a hazard state and annihilating them with high-damage combos. Here’s our guide to help you out.
Note: For more information, check out our Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris guides and features hub.
Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris – The basics of combat
Ideally, you should already be familiar with the acquisition of sword skills in Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris. That’s because your sword skills are the abilities that’ll trigger skill connects and chain bursts during fights. Don’t worry because we’ve got a mini-guide for sword skill basics to help you out.
Additionally, you can check out the tutorial tooltips from a savepoint or via Kirito’s Tent (on his desk). These should help you remember some of the related in-game concepts despite the questionable presentation.
To equip any sword skills you’ve unlocked via your skill tree, you’ll need to go to your skills menu and select them. These commands will correspond to the four face buttons (ie. X, Y, A, B if you’re using an Xbox gamepad).
Note 1: For the rest of this guide, I’ll simply refer to the gamepad controls when using an Xbox controller.
Note 2: You can see an image below of the skills menu/skill palette along with the different types we’ll discuss further in this guide.
Sword skills use a resource called SP. To make it simpler, it’s just the three purple bars at the bottom of a character’s panel when you’re in combat.
Most sword skills have a requirement of 100 SP or one purple bar. If you’ve generated that much by way of normal attacks, then you can use a sword skill by holding the right shoulder button (RB) and pressing on the corresponding face button (X, Y, A, or B).
Note: You can also assign a sword skill as a “combo finish.” The ability will trigger at the end of a sequence of normal attacks. Plus, it won’t cost any SP at all.
Sword skills help break the enemy’s guard and put them in a “hazard” state. This will allow you to punish them when they’re in a “break” state, followed by “fatal,” and “downed.”
Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris has tons of “bullet sponge” (or is it “slash sponge”) mobs and bosses that have extremely high health. The idea is to continue unleashing combos that do thousands of damage, making most fights a breeze.
Let’s say you’ve got a couple of sword skills already as Kirito (likely Sonic Leap and Vertical), you’ll learn a bit more from the game’s training dummy and sparring matches in the first chapter.
Skill connects tend to be the most basic combo you’ll slowly perfect. The idea is fairly simple: Use one of your sword skills (ie. Sonic Leap) and, once you see a “flashing star,” quickly use your other sword skill (ie. Vertical) — ie. hold RB then X (for Sonic Leap), followed by holding RB then Y (for Vertical) when the skill connect window is flashing.
You can also increase the skill connect’s window of opportunity (giving you an extra second to follow-up with another attack) if you use the “Essence of the Blade” passive. It’s found in the upper right section of the main skill tree leading to the Berserker class.
Equip that passive via your skills menu/skill palette:
Skill connects are very useful especially if you’re fighting duels (1v1 battles) since you only have one character to rely on.
The deadliest combos you’ll need to master in Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris, however, are chain bursts. These have a ridiculously high chance of putting the enemy in a hazard state, allowing you to unleash countless hits until you’re removing entire chunks of their HP bar.
Chain bursts, however, are more complicated because they rely on (1) locking on a single target, and (2) timing your sword skill in conjunction with another character’s. For instance, if Kirito does the Sonic Leap, then you should quickly follow-up with another sword skill from, say, Eugeo or Asuna, once the ability connects.
The timing has to be precise at certain times because certain skills have longer animations before they actually hit a target. Still, there are a few methods to help you out:
1. Character swap
This is the most basic method, but it’s also bound to give you a few headaches due to the way Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris‘ camera moves around. Anyway, you’ll first need to use a sword skill with, say Kirito. Then, hit the left trigger (LT) to swap to another character (ie. Eugeo). Quickly use one of Eugeo’s sword skills and pray that you got the timing right.
Note: Try not to use skills with unbelievably long cast times (like Vorpal Strike) to connect your bursts, as these will just ruin your timing.
2. Soul Linkage
This one is more complicated once you have multiple characters in your party, but it’s a fairly effective method to boot. The idea is to open up with Kirito’s sword skill, then, immediately hold the left shoulder button (LB) to open the Soul Linkage panel. This will show you the sword skills equipped by one of your characters. Hit the button for that sword skill so they can cast it.
Why stop there? If you have LB held down, you could press left or right in the D-pad to swap to other characters, hitting the corresponding buttons for their skills. This will allow you to combo with multiple companions in quick succession.
Here’s an example (just assume that I’m using some basic sword skills for these):
- Kirito: Hold RB + X = Sonic Leap
- Hold LB to open the Soul Linkage panel to access Eugeo’s skills. Keep LB held down.
- Eugeo: Hold LB + X = another Sonic Leap = chain burst.
- With LB held down, press right to access Alice’s skills.
- Alice: Hold LB + X = yet another Sonic Leap = chain burst.
- With LB held down, press right again to access Asuna’s skills.
- Asuna: Hold LB + X = Linear = chain burst.
3. Ex Skill AI tactics or Arts Codes
The third method somewhat automatic and should save you a few headaches. If you hold LB and open the Soul Linkage panel, you’ll notice a number of tactics that are available for certain characters.
One of these is tactics is “Never miss a chain opportunity.” Select that and hit the left trigger button (LS) to assign that tactic. This will allow a character to use a sword skill and open up a chain burst opportunity when possible.
Additionally, manually assigning the EX Skill tactic would have it reset to default each time you enter a new area or grab a new party member. To prevent this, simply go to your Records menu and pick a character. You’ll notice the order of priority in which these AI tactics would fire.
You should then pick “Never miss a chain opportunity” or “Work toward chain burst attacks” and swap it with something that’s higher in the priority list. This will help AI companions commit to these types of moves more frequently during battles.
Note 1: Some Ex Skill/tactics — aka. classes like Berserker, Scout, Healer, and the like — are unlocked by completing tallies and accessing specific statues.
Note 2: One of those Ex Skill/class options — Scout — has a combat skill called Firespark that allows you to initiate a chain burst solo.
Note 3: Most importantly, creating or customizing Arts Code/Records currently does not work for the PC version of Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris. You’ll need to manually download some templates to make the most out of this system.
4. Mind Break
“Mind Break” is a combat skill found in the upper left section of the main skill tree heading to the Scout class. This combat skill uses up 300 SP/three bars, but it instantly puts your target in a “hazard” state. Make sure you equip that in your skills menu as well.
Since you’re picking up “Mind Break,” don’t forget to grab the “Clear Mind” passive which is right next to it. It’ll increase the window of opportunity for your chain bursts.
Give Kirito and your other characters access to both the “Clear Mind” and the aforementioned “Essence of the Blade” passives. These are to ensure that everyone has more time to do skill connects or chain bursts when you’re just starting out.
5. Party Order mode
Party Order mode is another nifty feature in Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris. If you’re in combat (or if you have your weapon unsheathed), you could press the “select/back” button on your controller to open Party Order mode. This will slow down the passage of time, allowing you to highlight your characters, give them movement commands, and tell them to use certain skills.
You can press up or down on the D-pad to speed up or slow down the passage of time. At 0%, Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris even turns into something akin to a turn-based strategy game. Since you have more control over your characters, you might be able to set up the perfect combos and bursts.
Sadly, this is also a mechanic I’ve barely used because it feels a little too cumbersome (especially when using a gamepad).