.hack//Infection
Released n/a
Details
The games themselves feature a linear storyline that concludes in each installment with the player receiving a Data Flag. Once the Data Flag has been received, the file may be converted to the next game, allowing a player to start each additional chapter with any items and level ups they may have had on their original file. However, players may still start the game without having played any of the previous installments in the series.

At startup, players find themselves facing a mock desktop, complete with icons reading "The World", "Mailer", "News", "Accessory", "Audio", and "Data" arranged vertically on the lefthand side. The last menu item, "Data" allows the player to save their game data, while "Accessory" and "Audio" allow players to customize their desktop – changing the wallpaper, what background music is playing, or watch cinematics from the game. While these choices are all limited early on in the game, performing various tasks will allow players to unlock more of these special features. "News" opens up a browser, displaying various news information going on in the outside world that the game is set in. "Mailer" takes players to their e-mail inbox, where various characters they encounter through the course of the game will write to them – sometimes with simply humorous greetings and other times with tips and hints that steer the story towards its next plot point. It is the first icon, located at the top of the desktop, that sends the player off and running into the game.
The game within the game awaits...

From there, players may choose to Login to the world, check the Message Board for more hints and clues on where to go next, or Quit and return to their desktop. Log In sends the player directly into The World – placing them at the Chaos Gate in the server they last used. From this town, players may shop for items, store unneeded items, save their game data, raise grunties (only on certain servers), talk and trade with other NPCs (non-player characters) or simply use the Chaos Gate to generate an almost infinite number of fields.

Fields have varying difficulties and are of some elemental type (Fire, Water, Earth, Wood, Thunder, and Darkness) that all skills players can employ stem from. While each character has their own normal means of attacking, they can also use a wide variety of skills. However, the only skills a character knows are those possessed by their equipment. Weapons, hats, armor, gloves and boots not only provide bonuses to an assortment of attribute scores (such as attack, accuracy, or evasion) but also bestow the players with skills that consume a set amount of the characters' SP. SP, unlike HP, slowly recovers over time – the speed of which varies from class to class.

The outlaw player Kite has an additional set of abilities under the heading "Data Drain". Some monsters may have an infinite number of hit points, or may simply get back up after being felled. To overcome these beasts, Kite may have to employ the strange power of the Twilight Bracelet to Data Drain the monsters into significantly weaker versions of their data-corrupted selves. This ability can be used on any normal monster as well, turning them into a ridiculously weakened version for an easy victory. Doing so causes Kite and his party to earn considerably less XP (experience points) and doing so frequently causes a much worse effect... the more Kite uses Data Drain, the more his body becomes infected. As the Infection spreads, Kite suffers from negative status conditions, stat penalties, XP loss, or even an automatic game over. On the flip side, the less Kite uses this ability, the more the Infection recedes – forcing players to use a measure of restraint when it comes to the powers of the Twilight Bracelet.

The combat system has been criticised for having awkward camera controls. Views do not shift automatically during battle so in order to find a comfortable view the player will have to manually move the camera angle themselves. It's also been criticised for requiring the player to open up a menu to cast a spell, which breaks the real-time action of the battle. Also, Experience Points are not divided equally among party members, which can lead to 'grinding' issues.