After a near five year absence, multi-player returns to .hack! In this mode you and up two other players can tackle what I call the Link Towers! Each one spans 10 floors which you ascend five blocks at a time. The downsides are that the mode is local only, no online play. This can be alleviated using the PS3's Ad-hoc Party application however.
The other thing is that you're not battling right alongside your teammates. There are 3 routes per each block of floors and you each must choose one to run through. The only time you'll be together is in the lobby! Inside said lobby you can send/receive and view Link Cards to/from other players, purchase items from the shop, and decide which route you'll take!
- Trap: in these routes you'll be more likely to encounter rooms with traps such as spikes strewn about while fighting monsters
- Normal: this one is pretty balanced in the normal monster, boss monster, and trap rooms
- Boss: and here you're going to be dealing with two boss class monsters along the way
Each of the first four blocks in each floor contains a Random Switch which has many different effects should you choose to press it before heading into the next block. Some effects are as follows:
- restore half the HP and SP for your bridage
- restore all of the HP and SP for your brigade
- change the next Block into a Boss Section
- inflict negative status effects on players or enemies in the next Block
- ...and more!
Should be noted that the fifth Block of each Floor can't be switched, it will always be a Tower Guardian boss fight room. And these Guardians are no pushovers. At Level 30, in the Easy Link Tower Block 5, that trio of bosses came close to netting me a game over several times! And they, along with all of the other monsters, only get tougher the higher you climb! This is certainly not a mode to tackle very early into the main game!
As for the Guardians, they switch out after a certain amount of time has passed, or after you finish using a Unison Attack or XRengeki on them. The idea is that with 3 human player, each party is fighting one Guardian at the same time, but solo you've got to take them all out yourself! Which leads to lengthy fights since the Guardians aren't having their HP wittled away by other players while you're fighting one. So when they switch they'll have the same amount of HP as when you last left off with them.
Even if you are doing these solo, and they are totally doable, they're worthwhile. They make for good Virus Core farming and raising affection with UPCs! You can unlock keywords for your Link Card, Titles, and 3 UPCs to fight alongside (post-game only). The higher floors of the hard difficulty tower are also a good challenge for high level players bored with the Lv.99 areas in story mode (or no longer have access to them since those are all X'over episode areas)! New things include:
- There are Data Bug / AIDA infected versions of monsters not seen in the main game
- A lot of items which can't be found in the main game are obtained here
- Actual obstacles and traps like you'd find in some areas in the G.U. games
- The towers themselves are a new Area type and their bosses and boss arena are also unique
- Much more info to come!