Sword Art Online: Integral Factor Beginner's Guide - Getting Started and Grinding With Purpose

Get the best loot you can right from the beginning! Here's what you need to know to get started in SAOIF!

When your source material is a hit anime and novel series about being trapped inside a video game, it stands to reason that there's bound to be a video game (or two, or six) to follow. It also stands to reason that the latest Sword Art Online game is an MMORPG -- and in this particular iteration, Bandai Namco Entertainment has brought the experience to the small screen on both Android and iOS

While familiar faces from the anime like Kirito and Asuna will appear from time to time, the main star of Sword Art Online: Integral Factor is you -- with an alternate storyline that tasks you to discover the secrets of the online death game. Team up with new characters and other players as you navigate a virtual reality you can't escape, where dying means real death, and where your actions can affect the rest of Aincrad.

With so many monsters, quests, and shiny attack powers ahead of you, here's a few things you're going to want to know when you're first starting out in Integral Factor. 

Getting Ready for Combat in SAOIF

combat screen in Sword Art Online Integral Factor

You'll hop into a tutorial right from the get-go, but this time around, you're the one teaching newbie Koharu the ropes (in beta, of course). Take this as an opportunity to learn your controls, which have been designed particularly for mobile use (e.g., pinch the screen to zoom). 

It also means a lot of buttons populating your HUD -- it's in your best interest to find out what they all mean. Direction controls are on the left and are fairly straightforward; it's the combat buttons on the right that might trip you up: attack, dodge, and your different attack skills, including Switch for an extra combo attack. To save space, the game will intuitively swap your attack button for an interaction prompt when you are close to another character you can speak to.

Of course, while basic combat in tutorials is a breeze, many of your real monsters won't be ... so that's why it's extra important to know all the menu options in the game as well. 

(Note: Most monsters are easy to read, with very noticeable cues as to when and how they're going to attack. Watch them so that you can anticipate and dodge, and use your combos when they'll do the most damage. You can also time the monster's attack animation with when you use a buff or a potion.)

menu screen from SAOIF

On Weapons and Equipment

Status is the most important tab on this menu because it is what controls your weapons and attack skills, ultimately controlling how powerful you are as a character and how powerful your companion is at your side.

Keep in mind when you are playing around in the menu that everything has a cost and that you won't be able to change your upgrades and changes if it exceeds the total cost (bottom right). Attack skills correspond with only one type of weapon. The same goes for your armor and accessories. 

Remember to choose the weapon that corresponds to your play style:

  • Axes: high damage and large area of effect, but slower
  • Rapiers: high attack speed and increased dodge, but deal less damage than other weapon types
  • Swords: the most balanced weapon in terms of power and mobilty
  • Spears: large damage at long range and can hit multiple enemies at once in a straight line, but slower attack and harder to dodge with

Whenever you use a one-handed weapon, equip a Shield as well to increase your defense.

(Note: If you're eyeing your partner's weapon as something you'd like to use more than yours, e.g., you picked up a new attack skill for it in a loot box, you can't equip it while the blue hand symbol is still on it.) 

As for the equipment/item screen, this is where you can set your hotkeys on the main screen. When you access the items in your inventory, you have the option of using them right away or simply assigning them so that they're accessible during a fight -- you're going to want to equip health potions to your hotkeys. You're going to want them, especially during boss fights. 

Note: Always remember to equip Koharu properly in the best gear that you can -- she really is going to be an important companion for you. Don't worry if she wanders away when you're partied up with someone else -- she will always come back, and you will want to keep her in fighting form. 

The SAOIF Loot System

While combat and quests are going to be what gets you your rewards (new attack skills, new weapons, etc.), the reality of the MMO genre has always been that it's a grind -- and Integral Factor is no exception to the rule. 

New skills aren't simply unlocked when you hit a certain level; you will need to purchase them, and they're going to cost you. You are also not necessarily going to be able to unlock whatever skill you like, willy-nilly. 

To get the skills, you need to purchase Orders using Arcana Gems, which are then used to acquire Skill Records ... and these, finally, are what teach you the skills you need. Unfortunately, what you get is randomized. You already know skills are specific to the weapons they're made for -- now you'll also learn that they have different rarity levels. And with six different weapon classes available and so many upgrade options for each weapon and skill, it'll take some time to get a full set. 

Skill Records are also how you will acquire passive abilities, and you will have four slots for stat boosts and bonuses for extra character customization. 

screen shot of frenetic SAOIF action

Getting Arcana Gems and Skill Records

The easiest way for most players who knew about the game beforehand was to pre-register for the global release in order to get ahead. 

Players who signed up were given a number of rewards once they logged into the game at release: 

  • 2,500 Arcana Gems
  • Two different types of in-game stamps
  • One 4-star Asuna Skill Record
  • Two kinds of original avatars

While the game has already been released, some players have reported still being able to sign up and being able to get the rewards listed above. The page currently says that the "system is under maintenance" when I check it, but you can take a look at it yourself here

Regardless of whether or not you succeed in getting the rewards above, you're going to want more than that -- and the game will give you your first loot box for free after you complete the tutorial run. 

The loot that you get is randomized, but if you do not like what you've received in this first box, you can uninstall the game and then reinstall. Play through the tutorial again, and you will have the opportunity to reroll the contents. Try for at least one 4-star weapon to start with. 

(This is terribly irritating and can be a terribly time-consuming process, but if you're trying to get through this game spending little to no real money on it, you're going to want the best that you can get right off the bat.)

colors abound in this screenshot from SAOIF

After finishing the above, the rest is earning the goods the hard way -- completing quests. Character quests and tower challenge quests will net you gem rewards and other important items. 

You may enjoy the simple, mindless pleasure of running through the fields and murdering things (and this will help you acquire the necessary crafting items you'll need in your journey, so doing so won't be a bad thing at all!) but the real rewards come from heading to your objectives and completing them. These will open up new areas and new quests along the way. 

Some other things to keep in mind:

  • Cosmetic items will not affect your stats.
  • Daily logins will give you gems and other rare items.
  • Always check back to complete at least the daily quest for the best money, experience, and item rewards.
  • Different monsters will have different weaknesses. If you're having trouble, you may need to think about changing your weapon and skill attacks to fight them more effectively. 
  • Grind for crafting items when you can. Certain areas in the fields have mushrooms that heal you -- if you're near these, you can just auto-attack enemies wandering around until they die.
  • Party up! You'll earn experience, crafting materials, and other rewards upon killing a monster regardless of whether you actually did any damage to it or not. 

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That's all for now! If you have any other tips of your own, let us know below, and stick with GameSkinny for more Sword Art Online: Integral Factor tips and guides.

Featured Columnist

Avid PC gamer and long-time console lover. I enjoy sneaking, stealing everything not nailed down, and shooting zombies in the face. I'm also a cat.

Published Apr. 19th 2018

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