Phantasy Star Online 2 Beta Impressions

Phantasy Star Online 2 Beta Impressions

This past week or so I’ve been playing the open Japanese beta for Phantasy Star Online 2.  Now I’ve never played a Phantasy Star game before and I don’t speak or read Japanese, so I’m hardly the most qualified person to discuss this game on a deep level.  That being said I really enjoyed my time with it and I wanted to write up some of my impressions.  Now the beta is over, but the full game, which is free-to-play, will be launching on July 4th in Japanese, so I will have more to talk about soon.

I’d like to thank bumped.org/psublog for making a fantastic guide for non-Japanese speakers that will take you through everything from the registration process to feeding your mag.  Getting the game working was a challenge in itself and took me quite a while.  One of the unfortunate side effects of not speaking Japanese is not knowing that the prompt I’m clicking on is asking me if I want to uninstall the game.  Still it was well worth the wait and I was almost instantly rewarded for my perseverance.  The first thing that impressed me was the menu design and the music.  They establish a sort of space phantasy vibe that is quite esthetically pleasing.  After zoning out for a little while to listen to the music, I eventually created my character, a Newman Hunter.  I didn’t know it at the time but I had just picked a melee DPS class and race.  There are three races and three classes to play as.  You can switch classes at any time during the game, though they don’t share levels.

The game puts you into the action, which can be played with a gamepad or keyboard, pretty quickly from there and the combat is perhaps the best I have ever seen in a game of this type.  It is actual action gameplay with combos and timed button presses.  The ability to quickly switch weapons on the fly, and the variety of moves you can pull off by alternating light and special attacks, make for an enjoyable combat experience even while grinding enemies for loot.

That is maybe the best thing I can say about this game.  I normally abhor grinding in all games, especially MMO’s, but I enjoyed the combat so much that it didn’t bother me that I was playing the same mission over and over again and fighting the same enemies.  This is good because you will be playing the same mission zones over and over again.  The game is structured with a hub world where you can buy items and gain class skills.  From there you accept contracts form other characters and load up mission zones.  You can play missions with either AI companions or other players.  There are story missions as well, but without an understanding of Japanese there is little difference between them and regular missions.  There is plenty of equipment to get as you might expect.  You can carry three active weapons at a time and switch between them.  Each weapon can have three photon arts equipped.  These are special abilities that can be activated at certain points during a combo depending on which slot they are in.  You can also equip three pieces of armor to yourself, though you main armor set is purely cosmetic.

There is still plenty for me to explore in the game, I just got access to my first mag and I’m about to go and begin unlocking some new zones to play in.  The release of the full game will introduce more zones, character levels, and more.  I hope the gameplay can continue to be as engaging as it has been, but I’m certainly excited to play more of this game.