Phantasy Star Online 2: Genesis New Global Beta – The Good and the Bad
When it was first announced, Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis sounded somewhat confusing. NGS planned to have updated graphics, a whole new playstyle, new story, new enemies, but you could have your character back and forth between PSO2 versions, and many classes and abilities were the same. Despite so many similarities between the almost 10-year-old PSO2 and updating New Genesis versions, the game plays out and looks much more like a sequel than a continuation or expansion.
PSO2: NGS completed its first global closed beta test on May 16e 2021, ahead of its launch in June. Luckily for me, it wasn’t my first time testing the game, but the English translations of all the menus and quests helped me figure out what I easily missed in the previous test while going through the user interface. If you haven’t played any Phantasy Star Online front version, New Genesis would certainly be the starting point. If you are a veteran of PSO2, there are a lot of features that will distinctly Phantasy Star feel, and some departures in the design that you might like or hate.
Good: the fight is advanced but has not changed
Phantasy Star Online has always been more action-oriented, and NGS is no different. You can choose to lock onto enemies to trigger abilities, or try out the action camera, which offers a third-person shooter perspective. Many abilities have been updated with visuals and advanced effects, like charging your auto rifle with Razing Shot as a Ranger to pierce multiple enemies with one powerful blast. Many enemies offer difficult challenges, similar to Inheritance Phantasy Star Online 2, where attacking weak points is the preferred method of fighting effectively.
The biggest change that players new and old can find exciting during combat has less to do with combat and more to do with crossing. Running, using fast dodge, gliding, and wall jumping, amplifies your skirmishes, delivering a faster overall combat pace. You’ll find yourself quickly reducing distances between enemies, while dodging and dodging many different attacks both by dodging or via strategic air positioning. In PSO2, players would typically find a “travel skill” to navigate their way between fights. “Travel skills” are essentially combat abilities that cost energy to perform, but their high mobility makes it much easier to travel around the world. These skills are not meant to be used for travel and are really meant to work as gap reduction items, but their use in the regular course has been widely accepted.
Now, crossing both in combat and out is inherent in the movement skills of New Genesis. Of course, you can always fill in a few gaps with more transit-oriented abilities, but the waste of photon points is not necessary. Besides some nice new perks for ability and movement, fans of the series won’t find anything really groundbreaking, but there is enough new stuff here to keep the series fresh. That way, he’s still very accessible to veterans who’ve been playing the series for a long time, while also doing a few new things to make the fight a lot more fun.
Bad: targeting and UI could still use work
As great as the target lock option is, it seems like targeting properly is still somewhat difficult in some situations. I have always played PSO2 with a controller, and NGS is no different. The problem with target lock is that, once locked, you can flip the right stick to target another enemy or a different part of a creature’s body. This is integral if you’re trying to get a clear lock on a weak spot, but several times you may find your character locked on a target you didn’t intend, or the lock won’t even save the game. of the enemy. you want to target at all. Then you have a whole other problem, if you try to rotate the camera with the right joystick while being locked you also change your target! You can turn this option off in settings, but it doesn’t always seem to work.
Which brings us to the user interface. Phantasy Star Online 2 has a pretty rough user interface, and NGS Simplified it a bit, but it’s still appalling. There is too much to go through, and it gets complicated when trying to use a controller. Equipping weapons and developing your skill deck for veterans will always be the same thing, but the menus have always felt overwhelming, and in some ways they sort of need to be. Objectively, there really isn’t a fantastic way to get so much information out in a compact space, but PSO2 never made it particularly easy to understand all the menus you flip organically. As a veteran, throwing emotes and artistic symbols while sorting through active quests is second nature, but it’s still far from “new player friendly.”
Good: what a wonderful world
When I played Japanese Closed Beta I couldn’t understand much while reading, but there was one thing that really took me on while playing: the world! If you’ve never played a Phantasy Star Online game before, then going through this new open world in NGS may not mean much to you, but it’s a drastic change from all the previous games. Not only New Genesis looks amazing, with very unique landscapes and immersive weather effects, but functionally the world has far surpassed all the old ones PSO securities.
One of the main events of PSO2 and their compartmentalized worlds, is the “Emergency” system where players will have to respond to world events. It is reminiscent of how games like Guild Wars 2 create open events that anyone can attend to complete a specified task. In New Genesis they also go further than the old one PSO2, as now the whole world is open, so there are areas where specific trials and quests occur, and ARKS agents will have to respond. In addition to regular trials and cocoon quests, which are new types of trials built around platform and movement, urgent quests have also been relegated to some parts of the world. Players will need to make their way to the affected region to participate in these instantiated events, which should be fairly straightforward to achieve (once you’ve hit minimum combat power) but can be difficult to complete.
In PSO2 players could also travel the world, smash open boxes, and get a series of healing consumables. New Genesis changes this dynamic a bit, allowing players to obtain the Restasigne and Reversasigne consumables which are distributed throughout the open world. This definitely simplifies the way players collect important and savable consumables live without cluttering up your inventory. Players will always find themselves in boxes full of important items and money during their journey, and will even encounter special armored boxes, much like some of the puzzle boxes that PSO2 has had in the past.
The bad: how much more? Because we need more
The Closed Beta was short and pretty tight, and probably because of those two major factors, there just wasn’t much variety in what we ended up playing. During the Japanese Closed Beta, it was difficult for me to really move around and test whatever I wanted, mainly because I had to translate everything as I went, which was inconvenient at the best of times and downright confusing at worst. In the global beta, I was able to get at least half of the classes to 8 or higher thanks to leveling and positioning of subclasses. I upgraded my weapons and gear and traveled as far as I could before hitting a holographic red wall.
I went through the trials one after the other, suppressing the enemies and protecting the ships. During the short time in the game, I did quite a bit, and the only problem I had was that after understanding the gist of the new design and the new world, I started to running out of things to do. After browsing the map, it was clear that there were areas I hadn’t explored yet, but what is still left? PSO2 had an interesting, but largely repetitive, leveling structure.
Now, New Genesis is moving into a whole new phase of Phantasy Star Online series, in new and exciting ways, but they’ll need to deliver well over a dozen new enemy types and the small area surrounding Central City to keep players engaged. SEGA isn’t new to this, and the Global Closed Beta is definitely not the place to introduce the endgame loop, I just hope they’ve taken it. Phantasy Star Online 2 1000 years into the future with them and have a solid plan to keep us invested. Especially after creating such an amazing and exciting world.