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.
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.
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.