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 Phantasy Star Online 2

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PostSubject: Phantasy Star Online 2   Sun Sep 08, 2013 11:50 am

Ahoy ye anime lovin basterds, I gots somthin fer ya
Dunno if you heard, but lately I've been playing a lot of Phantasy Star Online 2. In case you are not aware of what this is, it's a japanese free to play MMO game. Thing is, when I say japanese, I completely mean it, while it carries all of those anime culture characteristics, whole game is actually in japanese (there is a US release planned for 2014, but I fear it will be dubbed and stuff, so you know what, I say this is better). Now you may ask, how the hell does one play such a game Al. The answer is illegal patches! It is a very loved game and therefore a very patched game. Of course registering for a japanese game is a hurdle in itself, so let me give you some directions for the installation/registration/patching process before we move on here
All the stuff you do before actually playing the game:
 

Now let's get some stuff out of the way. The game is not for everyone. First of all it's an MMO, not everyone likes those, right? Secondly, it's more of an action rpg mmo, so that means you need a more stable internet connection, a decent pc etc. otherwise it's hard to play. Thirdly, it's over 15 gigabyte. That's a lot to dl if you don't have a good connection, but hey, if you don't have a good connection you come across the second issue anyways. Lastly, it's an annoying process to set up because japanese and patches and stuff. You kinda need to be either used to that whole thing with PCs and/or really want to play the game.

To describe the experience in a few words, it's kinda like a jrpg that you get to play with other people rather than a standard mmo experience.

The game is story heavy (from a certain perspective) and I haven't seen much deviation or brancing yet to say it's a personal story within the mmo world. It's more of a personal story within the single player experience that you go through, if you consider it like that. You could say that's a minus, but I haven't really seen personal stories done right to say it lacks in comparison to other mmos on that field. GW2 for example was trying to market the story part like that, but as soon as the "personal" part crumbled apart it completely broke any form of immersion. At least in PSO2, due to anime culture parts, it's a story I am more willing to get behind.

The main reason it is closer to a single player with optional multiplayer parts experience is the way gameplay is structured. If you are familiar with action rpg mmos, and in particular f2p ones instead of huge productions like TERA (or GW2 I guess, but it's combat isn't that open, so they can make do), they are not build in the same way standard open world MMOs are built. In regular MMOs the world is separated into zones all of which are unique in any server (meaning there can't be 2 copies of the same zone with different players occupying it, if 2 people are in the same server and in the same zone, they are in the same place and can meet). What you have probably noticed in MMOs is that the large amount of people as well as the large areas themselves may cause some lag when there are a lot of things going on or if the PC running it (or its connection) is not that good. By the WoW model, a little lag is ok since combat is taken care of by targetting instead of the attack hitting a collider, but in action rpgs where the attack has to make actual contact, any amount of lag can ruin the experience. What f2p action rpg games do to fix that is make instances of areas instead of zones. That means that 2 people may be on the same map in the same server, but not in the same place. So the way this works is like this: You start of on the spaceship, this is the main hub or city or capital or whatever you want to call it. This is the place where you will be with the other players on the server freely. In here, apart from everything else, you can also take quests. After that you may go and land on the planet to begin the quest. That is you entering the instance of the map. It is a linear path (well, branching, but you mostly just go everywhere on it and there is a minimap showing it at any time, so you get from point A to point B, linear), which may consist of several maps itself. Do stuff depending on your quest and advance. You may form a party before entering (with people or even friendly NPCs) and you still may meet enough other parties on the map, but the map as well as the number of parties has a limit (well, if there were 12 parties in 1 map, that would be enough for a crowd I guess, so I get where they are coming from).

Now let's get into some awesome parts of the game. Character customization. Here are the basic archetypes for looks
Archetypes:
 
Those are the showcase looks for the 4 different starter classes (you unlock advanced classes later in the game), however that does not mean they are exclusive to their class. For example, a human Force (mage) can look exactly like the human swords person in there. The character customization for everything that is not clothes is huge here. For example, these are again the archetypes for the best friggin race in the entire universe:
Spoiler:
 
And this is the character I made from the character customization
Al-Bhed:
 
Because clothes aren't really a big thing for male casts, they get the better end of the deal in initial customizations. When I was making a newman though I came across the issue of clothes. There were only 6 basic costumes I think and you could just change colours for them. I guess that's because costumes are a monetization focus in this game since it's f2p and needs ways to make microtransactions. Since armor in this game is actually just the accessories stat wise, the costume is something you stick with for a long time and since it covers most of you it may be an issue. Still though, 6 costumes are decent enough and there is still a great amount of customization for everything else.

Along with the character looks, this is generally a beautiful game on the ship, again though only if you are into the whole anime culture stuff. I have to say I love the ship setting as well, as you are in a travelling spaceship and the quests are you visiting worlds along the way. It's one of the settings I am very fond of. On missions it has the issues of reused assets while taking quests on the same planet, both in terrain and in enemies. Additionally, at the start of the game I see the generic reuse of the nature settings (forest, then volcano etc.) which disappoints me a bit as I would have wanted some more imaginative settings, but it's standard for mmos I guess.

Let's talk a bit about the quest structure in the game. You are an Arks member, which I guess is short for "forcefully conscripted underaged soldier" and you have one job, unleashing your combat skills to slay the innocent fauna of the pure planets you invade, because animal rights are too mainstream. Ok, you also have another mission of exploration and killing stuff called "darkers", and it's around stuff like that your main quests are structured. You get 5 types of missions:
1) Exploration stuff, you do your Arks the Explorer job and finish a map which usually unlocks the next after some talking. You explore stuff for the greater good and stuff.
2) Client missions. You'll do those a lot, those are basically acquired by talking to NPCs on the ship, which will want you to do a certain thing while on a quest, usually, like kill things, fetch things, trigger an event, take then with you on the mission (remember, you can party up with friendly NPCs) etc.
3) Matter Board stuff, which could be talking to a person on ship, finding an event in an area, fetching something, etc. They are chain quests in a way.
4) Story quests, not as frequent, stuff to do with advancing your story directly.
5) Emergency quests, basically server-wide events which happen at specific times.

Additionally, while in a map, you may be given an emergency mission depending on the circumstances, for example you may be required to capture (by killing) a specific creature that appeared, you may need to protect a friendly thing from stuff, you may need to duel a dark version of a custom created character (no idea how you are supposed to beat those stuff normally... I was attacked by a giant robot which was like the gun type male cast in the images and I could only beat it by exploiting its AI. I guess it's for parties.) and other random stuff.

What makes me wanting to play this game is basically 3 things: My awesome robot, kawaii characters/story stuff and combat. So let's talk about another lovely part of this game, combat, at least from my ranger (basic gun person) perspective.
Again, this is action rpg, the attack needs to make contact, both parties can dodge, etc. You can have 3 weapon/skill settups with you at all time and can switch between them with the mouse wheel. For example, as a gun person, I have 1 for the gunblade (everybody gets one), 1 for the assault rifle and 1 for the awesome rocket launcher. You can equip 3 skills at once for each loadout, so in battle you are basically getting your standard costless attack with your left mouse, and then right mouse, shift+left mouse and shift+right mouse for the 3 equipped abilities/skills/whatever. You can jump, with varying heights depending on how you press the jump button, and you can dodge (doesn't cost stamina or anything, but after the dodge animation stops, you can't move immidiatelly. It's not that long but it's an important window and can get punished if you misuse the dodge). Normally there's your normal third person action camera, with which you melee and stuff, you know how action games work so obviously handy for moving around. You can also use that as a ranged person, as there is a lock on system. The problem with that is, it will obviously shoot where the opponent is when you shoot and always aim at the same place, that both means you may be losing critical hits and you may actually end up missing the opponent if he moves or is already moving. However, the awesome part for the ranger me is that there is also a Third Person Shooter camera mode. With that you properly take aim and are constantly able to strafe without having to lock on to one target, which is extremely useful for gun users (and even more useful for rocket launcher users who may want to hit multiple stuff often, so they wouldn't be using the lock-on much and would normally end up in awkward shooty situations). That way not only can you pick your targets efficiently, you can also aim for their weak points manually. Weak points are areas on enemies where if you hit you give double the damage, so being able to aim for them on your own is not only a big boost to the gun person's fighting style, but it also adds another layer of skill (or rather player controlled aspect of the combat) to it.
In conclusion, aiming down and shooting mah rockets with my awesome looking robot is a pretty damn fun experience, therefore combat is awesome, therefore I love this.

Unfortunatelly, I haven't played other classes, but from what I hear for stuff like Bravers (bow and sword class) there is some other skill factors elsewere.

Anyways, to close this up, I really love this game for the general anime feel (japanesu words actually help in that), story theme right up my otaku alley, great character looks (my character is simply awesome) and good combat mechanics, I much prefer those kinds of mechanics to the numbar spam loop of the standard mmo. If your connection/pc can take it, I recommend it to all the like minded creeps who enjoy those settings, it's worth the settup. For the rest, you won't like it, don't bother.


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PostSubject: Re: Phantasy Star Online 2   Sun Sep 08, 2013 2:24 pm

I really want to try this, but there's no way in hell my PC can handle that thing...........

D:



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PostSubject: Re: Phantasy Star Online 2   Sun Sep 08, 2013 2:37 pm

not enough GB on my bootcamp to handle this thing.....



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