No Longer the Open Beta!

The official site was updated today with this page, which sheds details on the content that’s coming up upon release.

  • The open beta is scheduled to be over on the 3rd of July, 11:00am JST.
  • The release begins on the 4th of July, 2:00pm JST.

To summarise what’s coming up:

  • New Field: Tundra - The snow-covered areas of Naberius will be added, along with new bosses and monsters, as well as variations of the planet’s natives (reskins).
  • New Bosses: Snow Panther and Snow Banshee (possibly a duo boss), De Malmus and King Yede – King Yede may or may not actually be a boss, while he seems to be big enough to be one, in videos there is no event on screen that suggests he is in fact a boss or mini-boss.
  • 3rd Stage Mag Evolutions. – You can find images of them here. Mags need to be lv100 to evolve to the third stage.
  • Level Cap Raised to 40.
  • Time Attack Quests.
  • 3 New Chapters Of The Story – Venture to the snowy tundras of Naberius, investigate Lilipa’s small furry natives and actually try to talk to the dragon tribe you’ve been slaughtering the members of.
  • Cash Shop Open – Details of how to actually buy Arks Cash should surface when it’s available. The cash shop itself will open for business on July 3rd, 3:00pm JST.

With the cash shop opening, new items will become available to players, including Lisa’s outfit, Xeno’s outfit and Echo’s outfits. As well as the wedding dress and suit displayed below. All costumes are available through Scratch and can’t be bought directly. Sucks, but if you want them you’re either gambling for them or buying them from player shops.

Sega also uploaded a video to YouTube, but most of it is footage you’ve seen before if you’ve watched other videos from them. The Time-Attack Quest footage is however new I believe.

Didn’t think they’d wait too long to roll this out, though I did expect a bit more notice than 2 days!


Towards the Future

Well that’s PSO2′s future set, at least on the Japanese side of things. On the western side of things there is still no word, unfortunately. The @phantasystar Twitter, Sega of America’s official Phantasy Star Twitter account, has gone eerily silent. They only had Phantasy Star Portable 2 left to go through before whatever it was they were gearing up to announce, so seems something might have gone awry there. Of course it feels pretty certain that they were going to be announcing PSO2 in some form, so I am eager to see what they were set to say. Hopefully that silence won’t be permanent.

No Longer Early Days of the Open Beta

It’s now been a week since PSO2′s Open Beta has begun. Today there is a 27 hour long maintenance which should end in roughly 10 hours from making this post. To remind you anyway:

  • 29th: 6:00am UK time (BST)
  • 29th: 0:00am CDT
  • 28th 8:00pm HADT.

If you feel like you’re struggling to work the game out, don’t worry because most people are. Information on certain parts of the game and how things work is still fuzzy. Feels weird playing a game like this when there’s no wiki to refer to as well, but one is on its way…


Level Cap

I’ve been having a great time with the game so far, playing almost non-stop this week. I hit level 30 within 4 days, thanks to my experience from previous tests and thanks to this obscene amount of free time I have at the moment. Many hit 30 before I did and the first wave of level 30s is still growing. Hindsight tells me I did not pick the most EXP efficient route to 30,  but I’ll go into detail about that later.

Related to that, I hear people’s concerns about how it’s too quick to level. Yeah, you remember how long it took to go from 1-30 in PSO? Or how about 1-30 in PSU (about a day)? Ok it’s not the most fair of comparisons, as after all they weren’t the release caps of either game, but I can’t help but find myself wondering why people want this game to be a longer grind. Do you really want to be stuck in lowbie content for too long? Personally I felt it dragged a bit in places, particularly the lv20-25 range, but otherwise given that the final level cap could be as high as 200 I think it’s a reasonable rate so far.

It’s nice at 30 at the moment. There are 3 free-field quests that are available to level 30s on hard-mode that all contain monsters that are higher level. I don’t think this trend will continue, sadly, as I imagine the level range of future free fields will be staggered a bit. However, remember this isn’t like most MMOs where being a handful of levels above or below content means it’s not worth running. It’s going to feel that way now when the level cap is so low but later on the differences should become increasingly marginal if it works like PSO and PSU did. Monsters a fair few levels below you could still drop relevant gear for you. It should be noted however that fighting monsters that are too many levels above you will incur an EXP penalty.

Hard Mode

It’s not really all that hard, is it? Well it depends. First, if your units aren’t up to scratch then you will die very fast in missions where the enemies are above lv27 or so. Even with very good units you will find hard-mode Vol Dragon a tough fight for now if you’re soloing. Overall, it isn’t hard but neither was hard mode in PSO (or B-rank in PSU).

Honestly, given the history of Phantasy Star online games, I think you’re in the wrong place if you want something to be challenging. These games have historically only had 2 difficulty settings: easy and bullshit hard. There’s never really been an in-between. Not outside of an actual challenge-mode anyway, which may or may not be happening to PSO2.


PSO2 on the Internet

There’s been a link to this site on my blog for ages, but it’s only actually recently opened up to the public. PSO2 Project is an image uploader site which you can, funnily enough, upload your screenshots to. You do not need to register to do this. The site also supports tagging and can even generate images from character creator files sent to it. The website author, “kp”, is currently looking for feedback about the site.

Giant Bomb has also recorded an hour-long playthrough of PSO2 with commentary here.

Meanwhile @phantasystar, Sega of America’s official Phantasy Star twitter account, has continued to post images of games with the latest being of the Nintendo DS game Phantasy Star Zero. As they’ve posted a game a day and only PSP2 is left of the Phantasy Stars that got released stateside, there’s speculation that an announcement concerning PSO2 may happen this Friday. Which is er, tomorrow. Coincidentally the same day that the extended maintenance ends, but that really is just that: a coincidence.


See? I have the knack.

I hit 30 by grinding in the 3rd Desert mission, the one which ends in a Code: Collect where you have to activate drills. It’s great EXP due to the enemy levels and how tightly packed they are in their spawns. While it was great for levelling, there is a better mission for it. The first Desert mission is currently considered the best. Like the previously mentioned mission, it has good spawn density but it also has 3 guaranteed Code:Attack events as part of the mission itself that reward a sizey chunk of EXP each. It’s also a short and very easily repeatable mission. It’s also good for any machine enemy or Darker related dailies you may have.


Towards The Future

So looks like the preview text for the next issue of Famitsu states that PSO2′s official service start will be some time in July. I imagine it will be early July, as I can’t imagine them not being eager to open up the cash shop somehow.

Apparently, the issue itself also reveals that the Subterranean Tunnel, the 2nd area of the planet Lilipa, will also be released some time in July. I don’t know if that’s release content or not, however. The Subterranean Tunnel will include new robot enemies, a new miniboss named Tranmizer and a new boss named “Big Barda” (there is pretty much no information about this boss at the moment).

As far as areas are concerned that leaves us with:

  • Naberius – Forest, Tundra
  • Amduscia – Caves
  • Lilipa – Desert, Subterranean Tunnels.
  • Arks Ship – Urban

The next area that’s likely to be released would be set on the floating islands of Amduscia (internally known as DRAGONLAND), which would bring the planets to 2 areas each. There is no information yet on any future planets.

It also seems that Sakai will be appearing on TV for an interview about PSO2, on what I think is a Japanese TV show by the name of “Game Maniacs”. The interview will be broadcast on July 7th, 23:00 to 23:30 JST.

[Sources: Shougai]

Early Days of the Open Beta III: Lagless Edition?

Sadly, since the start of the test almost every day has seen a maintenance period as Sega continued to wrestle with the lag issue. However, for the last two days the servers seem to have been coping an awful lot better, with me personally not experiencing any lag (and I gather it’s not just me). Amusingly, Ship 2 Block 20 (the main importer location) crashed last night, but there were otherwise no major problems that I heard of. There wasn’t even a maintenance last night but this doesn’t mean the problem is fixed, as Sakai explains in his post here. The problem appears to be being caused by the sheer number of requests being sent to the database server. As such, an extended maintenance period has been scheduled to take place on the 28th of June that will last 27 hours in order to make some adjustments to it.

Scheduled Maintenance:

  • JST: 28th June 11:00am  – 29th June 2:00pm
  • BST (UK): 28th June 3:00am  – 29th June 6:00am
  • CDT 27th June 9:00pm – 29th June 0:00am

You’ll live.

Other information in that official blog post seems to include that the number of simultaneous connections is almost double the size of the pre-OBT. The pre-OBT had a peak of just over 41,000, just for perspective.

Meanwhile over at 4gamer are a selection of 3 videos, each essentially a demonstration of the classes.


Story Time

PSO2 has a story, at least I think it does. I guess it must do because a PSOW member named Kion has taken on the task of translating it here. Check it out if you want an idea of what’s going on in your character’s world at this point in time. Naturally, spoilers.


Adam Jensen’s Weapon Training

Credit goes to Mewn for this one. Adam Jensen, er sorry, Joseph gives you Client Orders that involve you carrying out a task with a specific weapon. So for example you will have

  • Partisan Training I
  • Partisan Training II
  • Partisan Training III
  • Etc, for each weapon type your current class can use.

You unlock further Client Orders in the chain by completing the previous ones.

I wont be telling you how to do them in detail in this post, but I will say to be aware of the 4th Client Order he gives for each weapon category. He wants you to use the basic weapon for the entirety of the hard-mode Nab-Rappy arrest mission (4th Forest quest). It states so in the yellow text which explains the mission’s conditions. It won’t count if you use any other weapon. Also be aware that switching a weapon during the run may cause it to fail.


See? I have the knack.

Seeing as the game is (pretty much) out now I think some useful tidbits regarding playing the game itself wouldn’t go amiss here. Towards the future then, I’ll be sharing whatever good advice I come across.

You can actually raise other classes without ever entering a mission as one. Simply complete Client Orders as your main class and then switch to a different class when you go to hand it in. The EXP reward will go to the currently active class. I probably wouldn’t go using up any one-time Client Orders for this trick, but you may as well with repeatable dailies, particularly if you’re capped.

Beware, however, that a Client Order’s reward is scaled to your current level. So that Client Order that gives 10,000 exp will only give 700 if you switch to lv1 Force.

Early Days of the Open Beta II: Lag Edition

Yesterday’s maintenance was only to remove the cap on character creation, however today’s maintenance is intent on fixing the lag as well as fixing some bugs. Well, good luck to them. Said maintenance could well be over by the time you read this post, as it’s due to end about 5 minutes after this post was published. So, the future, I have a question for you. Did they fix the lag?

Also, is it me or does the lag actually seem to get worse when Japan goes to sleep? It certainly seemed to be when the worst lag spikes hit for me, at least.


Hard Mode: Observations

Well now I’ve gotten to play around in hard mode a bit there’s a few observations about it and other general bits of the game that playing on a higher difficulty allows us to see.

You only need to unlock quests once.

Seems a given, but saying it just to remove any doubts you may have. When you unlock quests on normal, you’ve unlocked them on hard.

However, missions are not uniformly distributed by level requirement. Being lv20 doesn’t grant you access to all the quests. lv20 will grant you access to all the Forest quests and the first Caves quest. lv25 will grant you access to the rest, or up to the 3rd Desert quest anyway. To access the hard mode versions of the Free-Field quests you’ll need to be lv30, annoyingly.

Essentially it’s a blend of PSO and PSU difficulty. The PSO part is due to it being called “hard mode” and requiring you to do things to unlock it. The PSU part is the level requirements on a per-mission basis, making it functionally similar to “B-rank” versions of missions in PSU.

Items are tiered.

You may have noticed that the weapon with 4* rarity is actually weaker than the weapon with 2* rarity. In fact that awesome looking 7* weapon is statistically similar to a 2*. It appears that rarity is not directly related to item power this time and that the items themselves are arranged into tiers. It works something like:

  • Tier 1
    • 3 1* weapons, with clear stat progression. We’ll call them 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3.
    • 1 4* weapon.
    • 1 7* weapon – Statistically as powerful as 2.1 weapons, but has a much lower requirement to equip it
  • Tier 2
    • 3 2* weapons, with clear stat progression. We’ll call them 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3.
    • 1 5* weapon
    • 1 8* weapon – Statistically as powerful as 3.1 weapons, but has a much lower requirement to equip it?

This is the theory for each weapon type.

It’s possible it goes on like this, but this is only an early theory based on observation. The 7* and 8* weapons may not actually be included in this tiering system and behave by their own rules, at this point it’s not really certain as we’ve not seen enough examples yet. I can say though that you may want to re-consider splashing out on 7* weapons, as you’ll likely replace them quickly.

Update: Well after playing a bit more I see that there are in fact multiple 4* weapons for each type. See how quickly these early theories can unravel? There still appears to be some tiering involved, however.


Possible localised PSO2 announcement incoming?

Sega of America’s official Phantasy Star twitter feed, @phantasystar, seems to have moved on from PSO and is now posting PSU screenshots. This only leaves the portable Phantasy Stars before PSO2 (Phantasy Star: Portable and its sequel), which could indicate that an announcement concerning a localised version may be imminent. This is of course, just speculation.

Open Beta – Early Days

It’s gone better for Sega with PSO2 tests in the past, with the exception of the early closed beta. Like the early closed beta, players are experiencing huge lag spikes during JP peak time (and curiously the odd spike during non-peak time). Despite them fixing the closed beta issue, which held firm even during the 45,000 strong simultaneous user peak during the pre-OBT.

It appears that the player-base of the OBT may be far larger than Sega had anticipated. Not entirely unusual for an MMO launch, really. This is evidenced by the fact that, sadly for the importer community, Sega locked down character creation on Ship 02, only an hour or so after the test began. In fact, Ships 01-06 were also locked down, as were 08 and 10. Yes, that leaves only 2 ships out of 10 that were not in a state of lock down before the maintenance. This certainly does appear paint the picture that the servers were just simply overwhelmed by the influx of players. You only really needed to look at the block list while online to get an impression of how many people were on. Ship 02: Blocks 20, 21 and 22 were consistently full and I don’t think I saw a single block below 75% full. I don’t know how many players a block can host so I can’t really estimate any raw numbers from it.

Update: The character creation restriction has been lifted for now.

For those who were a little late to the party and wished to roll on Ship 02, hope is not lost. The lockdown is only temporary. However I understand that many people have decided to roll on other ships and I can’t say I wouldn’t be tempted in this situation. If you don’t intend to stay there,  know that there are no server transfer services announced yet. You can still just delete your character and start it again if you really want to be on Ship 02 later. It sucks that you’d have to lose that time, though. What also sucks about this is I imagine it’s fractured the importer community some what, which is a shame.

Unlocking Hard Mode

Not as horrible as I thought it would be. Given how the quest unlock orders that Kofi hands out tended to involve farming random drops or time attack (in missions which are random..) I fully expected unlocking an extra difficulty would be painful. As it turned out, it was just a straight forward kill quest. The quest is highlighted in the below image.

All you have to do is kill Rockbear, Caterderan and Gwanada 5 times each. The mini-bosses of Forest, Caves and Desert respectively. There is no time attack or ranking requirement and it counts if you encounter them in the wild or in their arenas. The best way to do this is in a full party if you can arrange it, as the minibosses will spawn in 3s (2 initially, 1 after one of them dies). That way you only need to do 2 runs of each mini-boss mission to unlock hard mode. NPCs do not count as a full party.

You’ll unlock this quest at lv17, but of course to complete it you’ll need to unlock Desert Free-Field. If you’re familiar with Kofi’s orders up to Free-Field Caves, you just need to kill Vol Dragon once. If not, I’ll try to have a more comprehensive guide later. This will unlock a Client Order from Kofi, which wants you to S-rank the Free-Field Caves in under 20 minutes. This will unlock the first desert mission.

Complete it and the next missions they unlock. The 2nd one ends with a triangular teleporter, you need to wander the area looking for crystals. Pick them up and deposit them in the teleporter. You should be familiar with the final one if you were in the pre-OBT, but if you weren’t just mash the E key or whichever button you use to interact with objects when the drills are glowing. Upon completing that, Kofi should give you another Client Order. You should know the format, complete the last 2 missions with S-rank within the time-limit and collect 2 things. When you complete that you’re now ready to work on unlocking hard mode.

Lead Up To The Open Beta

The open beta begins tomorrow! Ahh, it’s gonna be a long night tonight…

Surprisingly there still isn’t a new patch out. If there is going to be one, they’re leaving it awful late. Update: There is now a patch, it’s quite a small one at that. Open your launcher and click the 3rd button to perform a file check. This will get the download started.

Skill Tree Simulator

A great new tool has been created by PSO-World member Gardios, also known as RyuHiroshi on his website. It’s a skill tree simulator, which allows you to plan out your builds. If you’ve used talent calculators for other MMOs you’ll know roughly what to expect. You can find it here, although be wary about adverts (closing them will open a popup). Skill descriptions do not work in Firefox.


Reminders

Reposting the schedule from the previous post:

The Open Beta is scheduled to start on the 21st of June, at 16:00 JST.

In other time-zones:

  • 3:00 EST, 21st June
  • 2:00 CST, 21st June
  • 0:00 PST, 21st June
  • 8:00 BST, 21st June (United Kingdom)
  • 21:00 HADT, 20th June

There has been no stated duration of the test just yet.

Importer Ship

Reminder that the main importer ship will be:

  • Ship 02:Ur. Block 20
    (overflow: Block 21)

However it’s more important that you make sure you know where the people who you intend to play with are headed. Remember characters are bound to a ship and you only get to make one character for free. You can change between blocks freely.

Eligability

If you signed up for any previous tests, you automatically qualify for entry into the Open Beta. If you haven’t registered yet, you can do so with this guide here. Despite being labelled for an older test, it will work just fine still.

Character Creation

Remember that characters created with the character creation tool will work with the upcoming test. You’re running out of time to make any free adjustments (well short of re-rolling I suppose). If you’re unaware this tool even existed, you can grab it here, as well as a translation patch for it here.

Some more reminders:

  • The client will update to OBT through to release, so don’t uninstall anything!
  • There is as of yet, no announced date for release.
  • The player cap is 30 during the OBT, but will be raised to 40 on release.
  • As character data won’t be wiped, the OBT is more like a soft release of the game.
  • The cash-shop will NOT be available during the OBT.
  • You will be able to access My Room and My Shop features for free during the open beta.
  • Available areas will be:
    • Naberius – Forest
    • Amduscia – Volcano Cave
    • Lilipa – Desert
      • Possibility of new enemies?
    • Arks Ship – Urban (Emergency Quest)
  • You can access Hard Mode versions of the above after reaching lv20 and completing a certain Client Order. Details when they’re known.
  • The Naberius – Frozen Tundra area won’t be added until release.
  • There is no need to do Matter Board quests to unlock Client Orders!
  • You can acquire a Mag from lv5. You can find a guide here.
  • Mags will reach their 2nd stage of evolution at lv30 instead of lv50.
  • You can now select “Virtual Full-Screen” as a display mode.
  • The planned video capture feature has been dropped.

To help understand various aspects of the game I’ve started putting together a selection of guides in the new manual section of the site. I will be expanding on it after launch and into the future as new things arrive.


Towards The Future

Basically a guessing game as to when PSO2 is going to be out. The test could be a week long, could be two weeks long, the actual release may be a while after the OBT ends, who the heck knows. It might well be announced on the day the test begins or a scrolling message in-game in a few days.

Unreleased Enemies

We know from the 2nd presentation at the 2nd Media Briefing (as well as through datamining) that there are more enemies to come. Shougai points a few out in this blog entry here. One of the unreleased enemies is the Tranmizer (pictured below), which is a miniboss that’s was revealed during the presentation. Also among the images are enemies that resemble Sinow Beats and Canadines (enemies from PSO). There is no information yet on an enemy only known as “Big Barda”.

Of course, they all seem to be in an as-of-yet unannounced area of Lilipa, which means we may not see any of these enemies. It’s not impossible, either, as after all the special desert mission in the pre-OBT may not have had every enemy you can encounter there.

@phantasystar’s Tweets

You may have noticed the @phantasystar twitter getting all cryptic lately, while posting screenshots from classic Phantasy Star, as well as more recently a screenshot of PSO. Some are speculating that they’re hyping up for a western PSO2 announcement but I would advise cautious optimism at best. Now before, I would have said that because they’ve only shown screenshots of the classic series that they might have been gearing up for some classic re-release instead (or re-re-release I suppose?), but this was before they posted the screenshot of PSO. Because of that, I think now there is a chance that maybe they’re going through the history of Phantasy Star to lead up to an eventual PSO2 announcement, maybe. If so, the next game they could post screenshots of could be PSO Episode 3, or they may count that as part of PSO and skip to PSU. That’s if the “going through the history” idea is accurate, if it isn’t then who knows. I will say that if there is going to be a localised version of the game, I think the best case scenario from a personal standpoint would be for it to share the same servers as the Japanese ( but obviously using a translated client).

Skill Trees

On a final ponder, the Force talent tree seems to be missing some talents. There are attunement-type talents for 3 elements; fire, ice and lightning, but there are no such talents for the remaining three. I would say it’s because Techs for these elements aren’t out yet, but we do have light-element techs. Perhaps they’re being saved for the first talent-tree expansion, which should coincide with new weapon types being released for Hunters (and their respective gear talents). Not sure what Ranger would be getting in said expansion however. In some ways I’m more surprised that the Force skill tree doesn’t have any support talents, yet both Hunter and Ranger do. This is strange given that Force is also the only class with any heals and dispels.Those are light-techs I guess, so I wonder if that will change if/when Forces get new elemental attunements. I also rather hope that if there are such Skill Tree changes on the way that free skill reset tickets are involved somewhere…

Also,Concept Art

OBT Date Announced

And so another test has come to an end. With this ending however, there is a new beginning. A genuine new one. Don’t worry I’m not about to post some classic Phantasy Star screenshots while going all cryptic on you. I’m not that cruel.

During the 2nd pre-OBT session a GM message scrolled across the top of the screen, announcing the date and time that the Open Beta would begin.

The Open Beta is scheduled to start on the 21st of June, at 16:00 JST.

In other time-zones:

  • 3:00 EST, 21st June
  • 2:00 CST, 21st June
  • 0:00 PST, 21st June
  • 8:00 BST, 21st June (United Kingdom)
  • 21:00 HADT, 20th June

There has been no stated duration of the test just yet.

It was also confirmed that although the data from the pre-OBT will be wiped, the data from the OBT itself will carry through to release.

This time, the importer community decided to end the test with an impromptu jumping party.

So turned out that leaked date was accurate after all. It was still likely a date they scheduled under the assumption that things would go smoothly, which then accidentally got posted. As it happened, things did indeed go smoothly according to Sega. The maximum number of simultaneous connections peaked at 41,500, which is by far the highest number yet. I personally experienced no connection issues whatsoever (not even a random lag spike), so it really does seem like the servers are now officially ready to host for the player base, come release.

Do not uninstall your clients! The pre-OBT client will patch through to OBT. I’m pretty certain that it is in fact the release client, as well.


Closing Thoughts

It was nice to see that there were some minor improvements made since the closed beta. For one thing, you no longer need to do Matter Board quests to start doing Client Orders, removing what was an arbitrary barrier to progression. Obtaining your first Mag is now a lot less painful than it used to be, requiring items from a monster that seems pretty eager to drop them.

For better or worse, they altered a rather infamous cut scene in the first story mission. Your avatar no longer gives Alfin that look. It’s just not the same…

There are other small things as well, such as NPCs contacting you or you being informed some other way that they have Client Orders for you to do, if you want. Matter board quest completion no longer requires you to enter the lobby for them to be completed, it’ll happen as soon as you board the camp ship.

This is Theodore. You may have met him during the pre-OBT. You may have met him many, many times in fact. He would appear a lot if you hadn’t met the requirements to encounter other NPCs. Sega are aware of this issue.

There are a few things they need to fix still, for example some odd infinite spawn bugs as well as a problem where the Gilnas cores wouldn’t spawn in their interrupt events. Certain flaws with the new Desert map seem to indicate that it isn’t quite finished yet, which is a little concerning given that they’re planning on effectively releasing it in a week.

In any case, personally speaking,  I’m ready for it. From a purely selfish point of view, I just want to play this thing now, even though in the back of my mind I do worry about this sneaking feeling of incompleteness the game has about it…

Pre-Open Beta Test Report

Overall the test went fine. There was almost no lag at all (aside from 1 random lagspike) and not once did I get disconnected. A big improvement over the start of the CBT in this respect, mind the end of the CBT was just as stable. It did feel like the login servers were struggling somewhat, I’ve seen people reporting error 60X variants and I’ve seen error 242 a few times. This was only at the very beginning, however.

Sega even tweeted to report on the test itself. There were roughly 30,000 simultaneous connections, which is a fair amount higher than the max number of players during the CBT. There were no major connection issues detected, so all seems to have gone well. Perhaps the OBT will start at the leaked date of the 21st after all! But of course that was never actually confirmed.

Planet Lilipa

As part of this test, a special mission, set in the Lilipa Desert, was available from lv1. You needed to complete it in order to get the Bouquet Rifle.

As a desert area it’s got various things that you’d expect to see. Cactuses and sand, largely. The cactuses can’t actually hurt you, but there are pointy things in the desert that can! Straight out of a Sonic game, there are spikes that will periodically burst up through the ground. There are no other environmental hazards that I encountered.

Spikes, conveniantly in both states!

A new interactive mechanic was introduced in the form of what I can only describe as hacker terminals. You will need to hold down whichever button you use to interact with objects (the b button on my joypad in my case) to hack away to unlock gates. The hacking time is sped up considerably if other players also use the terminal. This same mechanic is used on the quest’s objective, a new variant of the Code: Collect event where you will need to sync your hacking time with a drill. If the drill bit is spinning, hack away. If it isn’t, back away.

HAX

Monsters will try to interrupt you while you’re doing so, speaking of which..

The planet is largely infested with Darkers, but we’ve encountered most of them before. The one new Darker was the Gwanada.. It spends a lot of time buried in the sand, trying to bite people with its large pincers. It’ll occasionally try to draw players towards it, grabbing any players that it successfully pulls far enough.There may be a way for other players to cancel the grab before it does damage.

It spawns a number of tentacles near itself and destroying them seems to cause the Gwanada.to keel over, exposing its squishy belly. It’s safe to just attack in this phase, so hit it as hard as you can!

The robots of Lilipa are a new batch of enemies. Most of their attacks are ranged and can be surprisingly dangerous, especially if you are undergeared. That’s not even mentioning the Gilnas, an enemy that is largely like a Dubchic from PSO. It has a number of attacks, many of them dealing a considerable amount of damage, especially its laser beam which can be lethal. Downing it is not the end of the fight, as it will split into 3 pieces upon death: torso, legs and core. As you can guess, the core is what you want to destroy to properly kill the Gilnas, but this is easier said than done as it will be zipping about at times. Meanwhile the torso will attempt to hug you while the legs kick away.

Overall, not a bad zone. Certainly not a pretty one, that’s for sure.

It’s a hole! No, you can’t jump into it.

Finishing off this post with things I noticed in my playtime.

Bugs

  • Noticed that there were a number of broken Gilnas core Code:Attack events, where no Gilnas would actually spawn
  • Related to the above, a broken Gilnas spawn could cause enemies to infinitely spawn
  • Parts of the Lilipa Desert map appeared to be broken

Changes

  • The Urban emergency quest area has been changed
    • The monsters in Area 1 are now lv11
    • The monsters in Area 2 are now lv15
    • Dark Ragne is now lv15
    • The timer has been lowered to 20min
  • NPCs appear to have icons above their heads now. Perhaps to prevent confusion as to whether it’s the actual player or not with Friend-Partners.
  • Visiting mission areas for the first time will play a short cutscene.

Leadup to Pre-Open Beta

With four days left before the pre-OBT kicks off, things are starting to happen! Lots of minor, not particularly interesting things but a couple of major things as well. This post will try to address the things you need to do to participate in the pre-OBT.


Clients

The pre-OBT patch is up!

If you still have the client installed from the CBT, you can now patch it up. Start your client and it’ll begin patching the launcher. Once it’s done, click on the window and it should restart.

On the launcher, click the third one of the buttons in the top-right corner. This is the file check button, it’ll start the patch on its way. The patch may take a long time to complete, regardless of your connection speed, so be aware of that.

Client Downloader

If you weren’t in the CBT, or you were and you were a numpty who went and uninstalled it, you can grab the downloader here. Click the big blue button, pictured below, to grab the downloader.

Not Signed Up Yet?

There is a guide to do so here, by yours truly. You have until the 20th to sign up if you wish to qualify for the Rappy mini-doll room decoration, but the actual pre-OBT test will begin on the 15th.


New Player Site

The player site is up. Unlike previous tests, the URL isn’t named after the test, which indicates that this is the one that will be carrying through into release. It ‘s a gateway to all sorts of places but I imagine the only place most players will concern themselves with is the news feed.


Ship Names

In all previous tests, ships were simply labelled with numbers. As the title of this subjection may have hinted, this is no longer the case. The ship names are as follows:

  • Ship 1: Feo
  • Ship 2: Ur
  • Ship 3: Thohn
  • Ship 4: Ansul
  • Ship 5: Lags (An unfortunate choice..)
  • Ship 6: Ken
  • Ship 7: Gyof
  • Ship 8: Wyn
  • Ship 9: Hagal
  • Ship 10: Nausis

Note that ships 6-10 will not be available during the pre-OBT. The official ship of the general importer community is still Ship 2, with the official blocks still Block 20 and Block 21.

Some english speaking communities have chosen different ships. To each their own, but make your choice carefully, because your characters are bound to a ship. You won’t be able to play with anyone on other ships unless you pay to create a new character on a different one, or create a new account. Your characters are not bound to a block, you can freely change between them as you please.


Other Information

There’s really not a lot of interesting information outside of that. You can do such exciting things as check out some twitter icons, look at some blog images (wherein Sega makes their target audience pretty blatant), or check out the rules (don’t hack, don’t RMT, be excellent to each other, usual MMO rules).

Changes From Closed Beta

This final bit is really only relevant if you took part in the closed beta test, of course.This is not all the changes, the rest include some adjustments to various features of the game but none I consider particularly major.

  • You no longer need to do Matter Board quests to do Client Orders.
  • You can now acquire a Mag from lv5, instead of lv10
  • Mags will reach their 2nd stage of evolution at lv30 instead of lv50.
  • Hard mode will be available for characters over lv20, upon the completion of an unspecified Client Order.
  • Player level cap is now 30, for both pre-OBT and OBT. The cap on release will be raised to 40.
  • Enemies will now display EXP FULL on death, if your character is capped.
  • There is no free Arks Cash, nor can you buy any in the pre-OBT. As a result, during the test you will be able to access My Room and My Shop for free.
  • Client optimizations may happen after release if necessary - What.
  • You can now select “Virtual Full-Screen” as a display mode.
  • The planned video capture feature has been dropped.

Copyright Stuff

Going beyond taking the piss, Sega still wants you to attach copyright notices to your screenshots and videos. Even for an Open Beta.

For images, put a (c) Sega somewhere on the picture itself, as well as the following notice:

『PHANTASY STAR ONLINE 2』公式サイト

http://pso2.jp/

You will need to do this even if you are posting images onto things like Twitter, although you can just edit the full notice into the image if you can’t fit it into a tweet. You may crop and re-size images, but you are forbidden from editing the picture significantly.

For videos, you’ll need to edit a (c) Sega at the start, as well as including the following text somewhere on the page..

『PHANTASY STAR ONLINE 2』公式サイト

http://pso2.jp/

Yeah it’s the same notice as it is for images. As before, you may not edit your footage in any way beyond adding the (c) Sega notice to it, it must be otherwise unedited continuous footage (of whatever it is you’re demonstrating).

For live streaming of the game, you will need to put the following notice into your feed’s description:

(C)SEGA
『PHANTASY STAR ONLINE 2』公式サイト

http://pso2.jp/

This is stupid and un-necessary, but Sega may take action against you if you fail to comply to these rules. While it’s not the more stringent copyright notice we had before, it still feels like Sega just wants its users to do their advertising for them.

[Sources: Official site, Bumped, PSO-World]

Pre-OBT Information released.

Sakai updated the official PSO2 blog today with information about the pre-OBT. Without dithering too much let’s to the important details.


Pre OBT Dates and Times

  • 15/6/2012: 19:00 – 24:00 JST
  • 16/6/2012: 19:00 – 24:00 JST

In other timezones:

  • EST: 5:00 – 10:00
  • CST: 4:00 – 9:00
  • PST: 3:00 – 8:00
  • BST: 11:00 – 16:00
  • CEST: 12:00 – 17:00
  • HADT: 1:00 – 6:00

Next Friday for everybody. If the tests go well the OBT will be starting a week after.

So yes, it will only be for 2 days as I was hoping. It’s also very time limited, which is perfectly reasonable for a stress test.

Reminder that character data will be wiped, but I doubt you’re gonna achieve anything in that time limit anyway.

Another reminder that you do you do not need to uninstall the closed beta client if you still have it.

DO I WIN A PRIZE!?

Yes, you do! If you complete a desert mission with any character, specifically “【プレOBT限定】砂漠任務”, you will unlock the Bouquet Rifle. You won’t need to do anything special to access the quest, as it’s a special quest just for the pre-OBT that will be available from lv1. No need to level up this time, which is a relief given the brevity of the tests.

It sort of sucks that the prize is class specific, especially if you don’t want to play a Ranger. You can however change your class for free, much like you could in PSU, so every character can potentially use the weapon. Update: Turns out all classes may equip the rifle, but only Rangers will be able to use photon arts with it.  Much more agreeable!.


Arks Cash Details

As well as unveiling a schedule for the pre-OBT the first details of the pricing for the Cash Shop have been released.

To summarise it, it’s the exact same as Guardians Cash. 1 AC = 1 Yen. That particular rumour turned out to be true.

Prices:

  • 200 AC will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch
  • 500 AC will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch GOLD
  • 1300 AC will buy you a month’s worth of Premium
  • 500 AC will buy you an additional character, or a go at remodelling them
  • 300 AC is the rough price for system type items
  • 150 AC is the rough price for consumption items

How much is this in other currencies? I’ll list a few of them below. These conversions are accurate on 8th June 2012 and do not take into account any bank charges for foreign transactions.

In GBP

  • £1.63 will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch
  • £4.10 will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch GOLD
  • £10.65 will buy you a month’s worth of Premium
  • £4.10 will buy you an additional character, or a go at remodelling them
  • £2.46 is the rough price for system type items
  • £1.23 is the rough price for consumption items

In Euros

  • €2.02 will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch
  • €5.06 will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch GOLD
  • €13.17 will buy you a month’s worth of Premium
  • €5.06 will buy you an additional character, or a go at remodelling them
  • €3.04 is the rough price for system type items
  • €1.51 is the rough price for consumption items

In USD

  • $2.52 will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch
  • $6.31 will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch GOLD
  • $16.41 will buy you a month’s worth of Premium
  • $6.31 will buy you an additional character, or a go at remodelling them
  • $3.78 is the rough price for system type items
  • $1.89 is the rough price for consumption items

This isn’t necessarily all the prices, but it should give you an idea of how expensive things are. They are quite expensive, indeed.

Reminder that the regular Arks Scratch has a number of items including clothing, whereas Arks Scratch Gold only has clothing in it.

These payments are of course completely optional. You can download and play the game without ever having to spend a penny.


Premium Set

So what does the premium set include? Going by Bumped:

  • My Room
  • My Shop
  • Exclusive Features Listed Below
  • Premium Storage Box
  • Item Trader
  • Premium Block
  • FUN Points Boost
  • 30 Days = 1300 AC
  • 60 Days = 2500AC
  • 90 Days = 3600AC

You can buy premium time in bulk to save a little money. A 60-day ticket will cost 2500AC, saving you a whopping 100AC. A 90-day ticket will cost 3600AC, which saves you 300 AC. This puts the cheapest subscription rate at £9.78GBP, €12.07 and $15.10USD, at current exchange rates. This is still more expensive than a World of Warcraft subscription, even without taking into account bank charges…

Access to My Room and My Shop can also be obtained through the FUN Gacha. Extended storage is not the same as the premium storage and are themselves a separate fee of 700AC per month. Storage is hideously expensive in this game, really, however should you be desperate enough for item space to shell out for it you will be able to retrieve items from your extra storage even after the ticket expires. You can also buy access to My Room and My Shop separately, again for 700 AC per month each (so if you want both you may as well go for the premium set).

There’s a bit of a lack of information about the permanent upgrades to your account, if there even are any. Things like communication and access to trading, hopefully more information will come out as time goes on.

Personally speaking, access to being able to sell things on shops is probably the most vital thing in the premium set. Remember that you don’t need AC to buy things from player shops. As such, that’s really the only item on that list I’d consider getting and even that costs nearly £6 a month. Of all the things here, I think the thing that pisses me off the most is that item trading is a premium exclusive.


Concept Art

Sakai also posted some concept art of the uniform worn by Alfin.
That is being modelled by a male newman, believe it or not. Not sure what’s up with the ear covers.

[Sources: PSBlog, PSO-World, Bumped, Google calc]