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It's a crossover that we didn't see coming: Tales of Arise recently got a premium DLC pack that lets you fight against Kirito and Asuna from Sword Art Online. The unimaginatively titled 'Sword Art Online Collaboration Pack' is currently available to buy from the PlayStation Store — but is it actually worth the rather steep price tag? We went ahead and bought it to find out.

But before we get into the details, let's go over what's included in this DLC pack.

Here's a handy list:

  • Two arena fights (one low level, one high level) against Kirito and Asuna
  • Three outfits (one each for Alphen, Shionne, and Law)
  • Two weapons for Alphen (rewards for beating the high level fight)
  • One Artifact that lets Alphen use a new Mystic Arte (a reward for beating the low level fight)

And all of this is priced at £12.99 / $15.99.

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Having completed the two arena fights ourselves, we can safely say that it is indeed an expensive DLC pack. Considering some games have released entire expansions for less, this is a DLC that's difficult to recommend unless you really love Tales of Arise and / or Sword Art Online.

To be clear, there's no real story to the fights. Once you have the DLC, you simply find Kirito and Asuna standing around in the arena lobby. After a brief chat, Alphen challenges the duo to a sparring match, which can be accessed, as per usual, through the arena receptionist. No in-universe reason or explanation is given for Kirito and Asuna being there to begin with, so this is very much a carefree crossover.

The first fight recommends an average party level of 25. In other words, it's there for players who may have only just reached the arena. A thoughtful inclusion, and completing the battle nets you an Artifact that, when enabled, lets Alphen unleash a new Mystic Arte in combat. Said Mystic Arte looks pretty darn cool, and has Alphen assault the enemy alongside Kirito and Asuna. Not exactly lore friendly, but the animation is lovely.

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Once you're done with the first fight, you unlock a much harder challenge. The second and final duel recommends an average party level of 99, so you're going to need to be in the Tales of Arise endgame, or in New Game+ to stand a chance. Beat it, and you're awarded with two new weapons for Alphen, based on the two swords that Kirito wields during the fight. As it turns out, these blades are two of the strongest in the entire game. One boasts a better attack stat than Alphen's best weapon, while the other boasts a better elemental attack stat. They look nice, too.

But what about the battle itself? Well, it's a tough one. As you might already know, arena battles are always set to the normal combat difficulty; you can't just knock the difficulty down and expect an easier time. This also applies to the Kirito and Asuna fight, so you're going to need to be at your absolute best to claim victory.

All told, this is one of the hardest encounters in the entire game. Those who adore Tales of Arise's combat system will find a great deal to like about this chaotic brawl, as you'll be forced to utilise different boost attacks in order to put a stop to both Kirito and Asuna's most powerful abilities. Attack windows are very limited until you're able to break the enemy, but the battle doesn't feel unfair — it just demands a lot of patience and skill.

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It's a fun scrap, but if you're an experienced player, it's only going to last about ten minutes. And when it's over, that's pretty much it for the Sword Art Online DLC. Obviously you can make use of Alphen's new swords and the included outfits in New Game+, but outside of another quick conversation with Kirito and Asuna, that's the main thrust of the DLC done and dusted.

Again, depending on how much you like Tales of Arise, this pack can be difficult to recommend. It's undeniably expensive for what's included, and although the fights are well made and fun, they're over quite quickly. It's a quality DLC pack, but it does struggle to justify the price tag.

Have you tried the SAO Collaboration Pack for Tales of Arise? What do you make of it? Are you still playing Bandai Namco's latest RPG? Dodge those attacks in the comments section below.