My Thoughts on Phantasy Star Online 2
I’ve made you guys wait long enough by this point to talk about our experience in Phantasy Star Online 2.
Regardless of whether or not you feel the same way, both Mrs Stix and I had an absolute blast playing PSO2 over the course of the first month of the PC launch.
During that time I made quite a few videos talking about how the game was going and how it was ultimately being handled, but now I want to talk about the game itself and why both Mrs Stix and I enjoyed it as much as we did, but at the same time, why we’re no longer playing it currently.
Alright, so I’ve always been a fan of PSO2. Seriously, I have videos done on the game dating all the way back to 2017 – yeah, 3 years ago. This was long before the game was ever announced to have an official Western release planned.
Yet even though I was a fan, having played other titles in the franchise, I never stuck with it.
This is partly due to me being busy with the channel, and partly because the game was more difficult than most, and with the fan-translations being all there was to go off of, I found myself confused at times, and with limited time to learn it.. I opted to just pass on the game all together.
Fast Forward to a couple months ago, PSO2 officially launched on PC, having rolled out onto Xbox’s earlier this year, of course, and I found myself being sucked back in. This time things made more sense – albeit not a whole lot more, as PSO2 is a very complex game to learn.
At its core, PSO2 is a hub-based action MMO. You can see tons of players on-screen while in the space-hub, and you can group up with and participate in missions, varying quite substantially in size.
Yes you did hear that correctly, there’s no open world to explore, and I know some people were disappointed to find that out after downloading and logging in for the first time.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to explore. There is a large variety of different, unique environments to play through each with their own aesthetic look and feel.
Thankfully, regardless of whether you’re a fan of hub-based instanced MMOs or not, one thing everyone can appreciate is a good combat system, and PSO2 does not disappoint.
You wouldn’t think this game was almost a decade old when playing it as mechanically, the game feels fantastic. Sure, graphically it definitely shows its age especially in the earlier zones, but as you continue to make progress and unlock additional zones that changes pretty rapidly.
Honestly I look forward to when Episode 5 launches as that’s roughly where I started and was my personal favorite point of the story.
The action combat system interestingly provides players the option to equip 3 different weapon types, and bind several skills to each weapon. This allows you to make use of various different roles that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
As an example, I had a katana and a bow equipped, meaning that while bosses or monsters were engaged in close-quarters combat or placing close-range AoEs on the ground around them, I could keep my distance and make use of my bow.
But otherwise I could be in close-range slashing with my katana. I bet you can understand how important this system is now, right?
Now as of July 2020, we’re currently playing through content in Episode 3. When I started, we were at the end of Episode 4 or the beginning of Episode 5, I can’t recall specifically.
I know that as we’re still quite a ways behind Japan in terms of content, we’re very limited in what we’re currently capable of doing. The PSO2 team are aware of this and actually made a blog post on their website a couple weeks ago addressing content concerns.
Episode 4 is going to be coming next month in August, Episode 5 will be coming the following month in September, and finally fully catching up with Japan with Episode 6 towards an undisclosed point at end of the year.
So you can bet while the content available to consume is definitely limited, we’re going to not only have plenty of new areas to explore, but a steady flow of new content to sift through and complete over the course of the year.
Mrs Stix and I got to play through quite a bit of the game, well, by quite a bit I mean we got to play through the entire thing up to level 50 something with all of you – with our community.
We ran so many different instances, we completed so many missions, we got to not only meet hundreds of you in-game, but we got to invite a ton of you to our uh.. our.. guild? I forget what the feature’s called in PSO2 but it’s essentially a guild.
We even had our own home where we’d group up, chat amongst ourselves, and drink adorable little drinks with those tiny umbrella things.
There were concerts that we went to, we played catch with a giant ball at one point in the shopping district.. honestly, the game was an absolute blast to play through.
But Mrs Stix and I both chose to initially install the game via the Microsoft Store initially, as the Tweaker didn’t offer a functional means to play at the time.
We played for 2 weeks straight until they rolled out their “maintenance fix” that was supposed to fix some of the issues players were having, and there were quite a lot of issues preventing players access, trust me.
And at that moment, Mrs Stix’s game got nuked. She couldn’t play it again. She tried for several days, she uninstalled everything, tried installing via the Tweaker, managed to get in-game for a couple days, and then it broke again.
This left us feeling frustrated, much like a large percentage of players and instead of trying to continue to fix it every time it broke, we decided it was a better choice to go ahead and delay playing.
It was announced after all that the game was coming to “additional platforms” on PC in the near future, so we had hope the game would launch on to Steam and allow us to bypass the terrible Microsoft Store experience, and hopefully the Tweaker as well.
Plus, we’d have access to Episode 4, 5 and perhaps even 6 by then so there’d be even more to do!
At the end of the day, Phantasy Star Online is a great looking game for its time that could have had a fantastic launch if it were handled correctly.
But it wasn’t, and instead, a lot of players ended up passing on it, inhibiting the growth and success that was possible.
Yet even so, there are quite a few players still actively playing, and there will be a large influx of new players once we have additional means with which to access it.