Phantasy Star Online 2: MAG Fest

We traverse a future space forest in the closed beta of Sega's long awaited MMO sequel.

by

Despite Phantasy Star Online being ahead of its time as the first MMO to work on a console way back in 2000, the franchise as a whole has seen better days. With a recent string of mediocre games, Sega seems like they're getting their act together in turning things around for Phantasy Star Online 2. We checked out the recent closed beta session for the PC version and found new things to get excited about while traversing space and killing waves of indigenous alien creatures and evil spawns called Darkers.

You have three standard classes to pick from: the close-ranged Hunter; the long-ranged gun-toting Rangers; and the magic-wielding Forces. You also get to pick your races. Humans are adaptable to any class and have balanced stats, while the Newmans are better at spell-casting roles since their physical form is as effective as a wet paper towel. The robotic CASTs race is better-suited for more physical roles, which means they are terrible at handling magic.

A party that slays together, stays together.

It has been ages since we've played a Phantasy Star Online title, so we picked the easiest class to explore with: the Hunter. As for our race, we decided to go with the CASTs because, hey, when you have a chance to pick a cyborg race in a space-based MMO, you just go for it. While we didn't spend much time on the character creator, we did see that the customization options were plentiful, from facial morphing to tweaking eyelashes and body proportions. Fans can lose themselves creating their perfect space opera anime avatar.

The tutorial mission was set in a forest area. We were given the standard guidelines on how the game's controls and classes work. PSO2 feels more action-oriented due to the addition of jumping, guarding and evasions.

Each class has their own special combat maneuvers: Hunters can block, while Forces can cast area-of-effect spells. The Rangers can go nuts with the long-reaching grenade shot skill. All of these abilities require the PP meter which regenerates decently after a second of usage, and we found that mapping the quick swap weapon option to the mouse wheel helped switch up combat faster and more efficiently.

Using our Hunter, we alternated between using a two-handed sword and our fists for variety in combat. The quick switch also allowed us to use our entire combat arsenal to go as far as to juggle foes to the air, which is also new to the series. Blocking was also a good way to deal damage; we had to time it just right before the enemy's strike made contact.

The Emergency CODE system allows players to fight guys like these on a random basis.

We also had a chance to play around with the Forces class, and she came with her own array of spells like Fire Blast and Frost Attack. The former only allowed us to attack a single target but inflicted the enemy with burn status which deals damage over time. Frost Attack dealt less damage, but could be used to hit multiple foes in a straight line, and also has a chance to freeze them. Bum rushing as a magic user is suicide, and we avoided getting close unless we knew we could finish off our target with a few melee strikes.

Randomness plays a significant role in PSO2. While the geographic nature of the map stayed the same, enemy positions, level layouts and item drops were dynamically scattered, altered and distributed during our second and third run in the forest level. Furthermore, PSO2 introduces interrupt events to shake things up when you least expect them. These include crashed space ships or high-level groups of Darkers teleporting within the vicinity. Other times, the game can throw a type of interrupt event where you duel against a boss (usually a few levels higher than you), regardless of whether the current quest you're in contains a boss or not.

These bad boys usually require a four-person group to take down efficiently. Fortunately, gamers can gain access to multi-party areas, where up to twelve players can complete quests in the same zone. The catch is that the difficulty of the interrupt events will scale according to the number of players in the area. Players can expect to stay in their designated questing areas a lot longer than usual thanks to these random occurrences.

We found this concept fun and challenging, and our personal interrupt event experiences weren't too dangerous because we quested in areas with two to three other characters. But, the potential to experience big and memorable events were there. As long as others in the area don't mind being neighborly, solo players may find strangers lending a helping hand when things get hot.

The character creation tool is pretty detailed.

After completing our first quest we assigned ourselves to the Gate, Phantasy Star Online 2's hub. We were shown the Matter Board, a device that shows how much of the narrative a player has completed. You will need to complete a certain number of quests to move the nodes forward. Think of it as a grocery list of quests that need completing before advancing the story, which in turn opens up new quests with bigger enemies to fight and better loot to acquire. However, players are required to complete the same quests multiple times to get better drops from defeated enemies to fulfill the criteria, which we found slightly repetitive.

Fans will also be pleased to know that the flying AI companions known as MAGs return. Having these little fellas next to you boosts your stats exponentially; players are able to get them via a quest at the Gate as long as they're at level 10. Feeding them different items will make them evolve into different and powerful forms. Getting them to higher levels can make them shoot out Photon Blasts, and different types of attacks are available depending on how they evolve. So far, we've seen MAGs recover PP meters faster than usual, rush enemies ahead of their masters, and even perform an area-of-effect attack.

PSO2's developer Satoshi Sakai recently mentioned that there will be a desert planet called Liliipa available for exploration in the open beta phase of the game, complete with new story quests and items up for partaking and looting. However, he has yet to announce the actual date of the open beta. In any case, while a few may find PSO2 akin to a cheap throwback of the first game at a glance, a deeper look into the core system may prove otherwise.

In a galaxy far, far away, space monkeys do exist.

The developers are taking a chance with their interrupt events system, multi-party areas, and action-heavy conflict systems to make their core online RPG series relevant again. We're hoping that because of this, Sega plans to expand their user base outside of Japan.

For now, Japanese players can expect Phantasy Star Online 2 to be out for PC this summer for a grand sum of zero dollars. iOS and Android users aren't left out of the loop, as they can check out a version of PSO2 from this winter. The Vita version is slated to be out next year and will feature cross-platform play with the PC version. Stay tuned for more details.

Discussion

82 comments
MrHanky35
MrHanky35

@Master_Vexov

1)your not a customer if you dont pay anything

2) you dont need a second charecter as you can switch classes, but if you still wanted to you could log out and into a second account and then that would be free.

3) 100% of the story and materials to build up one class (to the best it can be): however you want, is FREE. no story, or quest is locked.

4) that being the case the ONLY thing you would need to buy to create 2 other good classes would be 2 other mags (~$4 each, 300AC each)

5) everything that is locked up in micro-transactions are just luxury goods besides the mags, ie: costumes, My Room, ect (all of which can be bought for gil anyway)

6) this game is totally not pay to win, that would be diablo 3, you couldn't buy any item that would effect your stats.

Your rant is 10% opinion, 90% false statements and could be shortened to this: "i h8 f2p games" and for this that is just dumb, spend $8 and you get a great game and can reach any classes potential. why would you want to pay $60 for something you can get for $8

 

my only complaint on this game is they make you jump through hoops just to buy AC (setting up a fake JP address, buy web money, transfer that to AC)

Master_Vexov
Master_Vexov

I guess i missed this, I been playing the Jap version thanks to some hardwork of others with walkthroughs for downloading and the needed navigation for non-Jap readers, also the real hardwork would be that of the translation patch you can quickly and very easily (a winrar with files you just dump into 1 folder). Its translated well enough now that you can enjoy and check the game out. Oh ya, I FKING HATE Free-To-Play(or better known as Pay-2-win).. right from the get go they limit you to "ONE" character limit within all servers(DICKS!) which also can't transfer to another server(atleast likely for free: DICKS!). They plaster them "BUY MY MICROTRANSACTIONS... and arigato!!!, Morons", these will just wreak the game, giving likely powerful leads in competitive play as 1 of the attraction seem to be Time-Events which players race for best times to finish things and likely other events and of course PvP(if they have pvp). PSO was great, a 4 player console game back on the xbox and gamecube, PSU came out for PS2 and Xbox360(sadly sega fked everyone for the PC and Ps2 version by dropping the online), anyways great fun times on PSO... if only Sega wasn't a fking idiot and reliazed the potential but like most foreign Dev's they're blind to what players really love... they just focus on wackier characters and some tech in society that is likely never to happen; Well it would be great if they wouldn't shaft their customers(just showing more of a reason why they took the F2P route... they don't care, atleast not outside of Asian civ), with improved gameplay they could have made great with returning to the multiplayer on a single console... with allowing single player online. This is getting long now *sad face* , anyways the goods of the game is its a pretty casual mini-mmo having 4man partys with multi-party being 12 players(team limit only being limited to a total members of 12) the character customization is AWSOME, but of course leaving out on lots so they hit up your wallet as many times as they can later on, its reduced in every direction of gameplay so its played on people's silly handhelds giving them now many ways for ppl to get into the game so they can milk tons of cash from them all.. which will likely cost then far more then a subscription and leaving fairplay out of the game with the likely Win-Button-Remotes ppl can buy. I FKING hate it so much, I can afford all that pay-2-win shit.. but once you allow yourself a taste you're likely not to stop using it (like getting in debt with a credit card or ruining gaming cause you pay rediculus prices for the content held in DLC's). Conclusion is tha the game is likely, althoe fun and relaxing to get into, to be a big bust being a game MADE for primarily milking money.. and not focused on being great. Sorry for possible head-ache, but micotransaction pay-2-win is the bread made with the yeast of DLC's (Even EA is going this direction now, when will ppl take a fking stand aginst all this). Peace xoxoxoxoxo :D

vaejas
vaejas

Y U NO DISCUSS MAGS IN ARTICLE?

StingerMK2
StingerMK2

i cant wait for this to see a US/EU release, i would probably throw some money its way to support it too, i'd happily pay £40 for it up front anyway, so why not?

GioPunk
GioPunk

I remember this game on X-Box was pretty cool for Vita at this time i think is going to be super!!!

Coolyfett
Coolyfett

This is a cool franchise..so it is coming to the ViTa?? cooler

SDSkarface
SDSkarface

MMO's now are all about PVP and large numbers of players raiding.. this small 5 man party stuff and only fighting mobs and not other players is lame.. japan just cant do MMO's look at what square did with FF online.. no pvp to be found anywhere and menus and more menus as if its a single player game..

Uchiha_Sasuke1
Uchiha_Sasuke1

I like the in game screenshots, its very colorful but I'm scared that the battle system might work like monster hunter where your character falls plat on the floor every hit. That would turn off rpg fans like me.

azurewiler
azurewiler

I want this soo much... I still have my dreamcast PSO disk, they still smell like new

Kingofbluelions
Kingofbluelions

Uh oh, it looks too cool. Yup we're definitely not gonna see this game in the US anytime soon.

MegamanX2011
MegamanX2011

Please SEGA release Phantasy Star 5 on the Playstation 3 or XBOX360 or both!!!!!

 

Imagine a PS5 with 2d engine but actual graphics and sound power.... Jesus it would be orgasmic good.

blackman232
blackman232

As me and my young sister say this has been the only game worth BUYING since PSO2, YEA YEAH YEAH YEAH, as when we were young we had to fight each other just to play PSO ver.2, we had to PLAY THE GAME in 6 our SHIFTS, man the MEMORIES insane!

MAS_LUDICREN
MAS_LUDICREN

I remember beating the first Phantasy Star.. Good game even on the Master System.

botterster
botterster

Never hearded about it...so just waiting to see what happens :D

ggmboyz
ggmboyz

english  version????

 

Master_Vexov
Master_Vexov

So the game SEEMS interesting, but i heard nothing mentioned of the whole: F2P item system... which is how they will make money. I believe your gear will suck so bad it will make u HAVE to buy/rent items so you can progress smoothly instead of hacking things with a dull-blade.

 

Im interested in the game, but i have full fears of it since its F2P and like all F2P games they reward ppl who spend more money on items a month then what paying a subscription would cost.There wouldn't be much fairness or balance in this sense.

 

What do i expect for a F2P game to make money from?, how about just a $10 month subscription.Im hearing words of F2P games being the future, but really I havn't seen it.

WoW isn't F2P and it has reached (once) 12million players.. Of course Panda-land expansion has feared 2million and still counting.

 

Im not aginst F2P, i know some ppl prefer playing for free and getting ... moderate gameplay. But I would vote for monthly subscription for any game if it always helped greatly with cheaters, quicker bug/exploit fixes, added content, and clearly fairness in that everyone is in the same boat instead of some players buying their way to victory.

Unholy123
Unholy123

Heh MAG's imma shove items in you till you evolve oh god no I evolved the wrong stat too much your ruined *crumples mag* now I need a new one :P Lol now this is a game that was always meant to be a MMO but never got there still good times basically it was an MMO without the giant useless no players filled areas and just 4 man instances. I could see myself once again clearling the forests looting boxes ect ect.Need a NA release date.

ColdScorpion
ColdScorpion

We need a North America release date. This game is #1 on my list of Vita games I have to have.

TwighlightBlade
TwighlightBlade

Just  realized... all the japanese players are gonna be leveled up realll high before we get the game.

Arsyad00
Arsyad00

hey i played the CBT too 8)

MindwalkerX
MindwalkerX

Can't take it anymore, give me the western release date!

Aaryk
Aaryk

For what it's worth, I sold ALL of my old Gamecube games except for one...PSO...and that is my lone reason for even keeping my Gamecube.  It's been a long time since I've played it (since I played it to death back in the day), but I had to keep it, so many great memories...okay now I need to go play it...NOSTALGIA HERE I COME!

nayce54
nayce54

I loved PSO 1, I remember when I reached level 125 (took about a year to do) and then my stupid brother erased my file. I was so furious and I vowed to never play that game again.  Anyway, I would love to play this new game.  This is one game that has the highest replayablility ever.  I remember when I was level 125 as a hunter, I could slay the dragon boss with one lash.  I'd like to create a dark skin character in this new game.

m4a5
m4a5

YESSS! I have been  waiting for another great PS title and this looks like it could deliver that!

TwighlightBlade
TwighlightBlade

Hope this makes it to the U.S. and I hope they don't kill us with paid features.

sircyrus
sircyrus

This preview filled my PP meter!

 

More action-based MMO's are always welcome in a genre that is all to frequently carbon copies of whatever game is currently on top.

Bartrentenaar
Bartrentenaar

Looks rly good, finally a fun game to play on the vita. Someone please tell me it is confirmed for release in Europe..? :)

megakick
megakick

 In the meantime Sega should Release PSO HD for XBOX 360 and PSN.

Pazy160
Pazy160

I cant wait, PSO was great!

Kraedi
Kraedi

 @SDSkarface The game will likely have PvP as its predecessors did on the PsP, though I never played the PvP because I don't care about it, it looked decent, and will probably be better when released for PSO2 as the combat overall is more active and not just dodge and slash.Additionaly, while parties were limited to four players, many maps have multi-party function. I had a random enemy encounter with a continuous swarm of enemies appearing, we probably killed around 30 enemies total and there were at least 10 people fighting in that area with me. I am not sure what the cap is per map but it seems there are large amounts of people running around these maps, and the monsters continuously respawn and the events continue to occur

bakagami
bakagami

 @SDSkarface yep and 10 years later Final Fantasy XI is still up & running, without PVP. Not everyone likes the same things that you do, I have no interest in PVP and I know lots of other players who feel the same way.

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

 @SDSkarface Ignorance is bliss. I suppose PSO was a huge failure.I mean all those years of of people playing it. Private servers for it are still up and running, there is a great deal of people still playing it.

 

It is a cult hit .And will remain so.

 

I take it your new to gaming. After all you have no clue what a MMO is.

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

 @Master_Vexov Your predictions really suck.They already mentioned it will be cosmetic only and xp boosts.Nothing will effect your real play.

JmanSeo
JmanSeo

 @Master_Vexov From what I've been reading on PSO-World, the free to play aspect is not going to be pay for power in the sense you can't buy the most powerful weapons with real money, but it is pay for power in the sense that you will possibly have more in game money (aka meseta I'm assuming).

 

You pay money to rent personal custom rooms that you can decorate.

 

I'm assuming you will probably have to pay for some of the elaborate decorations.

 

I think or assume you will have to pay for the more elaborate or possibly all customizations to your character that are not default in the character creation screen such as new costumes.

 

Also you have to pay real money to open shops to sell your own items and I think to trade.

 

You pay money for extra character slots I think.

 

So far SEGA is trying to steer away from the pay for power method.

 

Though I think paying for extra character slots is kind of dumb since the game is "Free to play" so what stops me from just making another account unless there is some feature such as linked storage bank that I can access for free to trade equipment.

JmanSeo
JmanSeo

 @TwighlightBlade SEGA also likes to separate Japanese servers from US/EU servers.  They did this with the Phantasy Star Blueburst servers, and this is completely my guess from reading the old PSOBB forums, that Japanese players absolutely hate playing with western players because of our attitude and loot stealing.

 

Again this is just what I got from the forums a long time ago so don't take this too seriously, Japanese players have this ethics code with rare items that all players that pick up rare items drop them in the Pioneer and they distribute the loot evenly according to who needs them the most, and of course many western players would just take everything and run for it.

saucex4
saucex4

 @TwighlightBlade the Closed Beta had a level cap of 20, and all characters are gonna be wiped. The game is open unofficially to foreigners as well so, you can probably join the open beta when it goes on.

saucex4
saucex4

 @nayce54 Unfortunately the level cap will be 40 on the official release -_- They will increase the cap I believe to 60 but I'm not sure if we will see the ridiculous PSO caps of old -_-.

saucex4
saucex4

 @TwighlightBlade Paid features are so far at least sticking on the good side. The official prices haven't been released yet so I can't say much on that but, they seem to want to keep the core game available to all. Here are some of the paid stuff.

 

- My Room 30, 60, 90 day passes;- My Shop 30, 60, 90 day passes- Expanded Storage 30, 60, 90 day passes- Inventory expansion +10 items (permanent, up to 100)- Skill tree reset- Mag (pet) skill reset- Extra Mag license- Scape doll (self revive item)- Additional Character- Scratch card (gives you a chance to obtain room items, or other costumes/skins)

saucex4
saucex4

 @Bartrentenaar Vita version is coming 2013 in JP only so far. They may release international at some point, but they have not even any information at all, and it seems like they are focusing on the JP market for now.

ColdScorpion
ColdScorpion

 @megakick Thats a really good idea. Not only would it give us something to do until PSO2 releases, but I would build a larger fanbase from all the new players that don't already know about the game.

SDSkarface
SDSkarface

 @WolfGrey that is my favorite genre i dont play any other games but MMO's.(Warhammer,Age of conan,Aion,Rift,Swtor,Lineage 2 and now Tera) and i started with PSO on the dreamcast. It was innovative for its time until i played real PC MMO's . fact is Japans MMO's suck wheres the pvp? only people still playing PSO at this point in time have crappy PC's and need to buy a graphics card.

TwighlightBlade
TwighlightBlade

 @saucex4 

Ha. Thanks. I've been under the weather over the past few days and keep missing things.

ColdScorpion
ColdScorpion

They should set the level cap atleast at 100. Short lvl caps take the fun out of the game especially on games like this where you can spend all night grinding.

ColdScorpion
ColdScorpion

I did that on PSU, but the lvl cap there was 30 if i remember correctly. Having muliple  characters does add replay value but i'm the type of player thats addicted to becoming stronger. I was a big DCUO player even had the beta before it came out but it's lvl cap is what turned me off and it didnt take long to reach it, then I got bored.

saucex4
saucex4

 @ColdScorpion I agree. I was able to level up my character to level 20 on all 3 classes in about 2 days with EXP boosters. Without probably would have taken double the time but yeah, this game really needs a much higher level cap.The cap is so low right now cause probably they don't have content for higher levels.