Compilation of methods found to help improve loading times and overall performance in the game. Results may vary depending on your particular hardware.
- Open Nvidia Control Panel
- Go to Manage 3D Settings in the left side bar
- Open the Program Settings tab
- Find SWORD ART ONLINE Alicization Lycoris in the list
- Scroll down to Power Management Mode and change it to Prefer Maximum Performance
- Click Apply at the bottom
Obviously this means your PC will be able to use up more power for the sake of performance, so only use this if that isn't a problem for you.
Edit: Some people are also finding that enabling Vsync and/or Antialiasing in the Nvidia settings with Vsync off in the in-game settings may help performance as well. (counterintuitive as hell, but apparently it's a thing)
Easy Anti Cheat (EAC)
This is one of the biggest performance boosters!
Disabling EAC has been found to boost FPS, reduce or eliminate stuttering, and generally make the gameplay experience smoother. Follow that guide to disable EAC for a huge performance boost, but keep in mind that this will disable all multiplayer functionality, so you will have to revert it if you ever want to use multiplayer co-op modes.
To sum up that guide, you're basically uninstalling EAC through the file in the game's directory, then making it think that the game itself is the EAC launcher, rather than the file that would actually tell EAC to launch before the game, bypassing it entirely.
Steam In-game Overlay
It turns out disabling the Steam overlay for SAOAL helps with stuttering/FPS in some cases, so try doing that as well.
- Right click SAOAL in your Steam library
- Go to Properties
- Find the option on the main tab for the in-game overlay and disable it
These help a fair amount with loading times, and depending on your hardware, you may get decent jumps in FPS as well.
- Disable v-sync. It currently seems to use a large amount of CPU resources, and loading times are strangely related to framerate, so a lock at say 60 FPS ends up increasing load times by a large amount.
- You could consider using 30 FPS mode. This is also known to help loading times by a large margin (1min+ down to 20-30 seconds). Understandably, some people may not want to sacrifice frames for loading times, especially when many people playing this game have very high end hardware, but this is always an option if you are.
- Turn shadows down from high to medium. This was the first thing I did, and it made a significant difference in loading times all on its own.
- Experiment with turning off quality mode, as it has seemed to help some people get a smoother experience.
- Switch from Fullscreen to Borderless Window. Just like Hollow Realization, SAOAL seems to have a bug where tabbing out of the game in fullscreen mode sometimes causes the game to freeze, requiring a forced close to fix. This is more of a bug fix, not a performance fix.
Keep in mind that different people have had varying levels of success from these methods depending on their specific hardware. Ideally, using all of these methods in combination with each other seems to fix the most problems, but you can always experiment to see which ones help you the most, as well as change things depending on what you're willing to sacrifice.