In PSO2 there are 3 classes. Hunter, Ranger and Force. Your main three RPG archetypes basically (melee, archer and wizard) and the same classes that were present in PSO. However, unlike PSO there are no race/gender limitations on any class, nor is your appearance bound by your class either. Class is picked during character creation, after you have picked race and gender.
So, if you played PSO you may wonder if, aside limitations, the classes work the same way as they used to? Not quite! If you played PSU you may be dreading having to do the Mission Point grind all over again (you may also be wondering where the rest of the classes went!) well it doesn’t work that way here either. In fact, now your character level and type/class level are one and the same. In PSO2 your class level IS your level (think FFXIV, FFXI). You also get to choose one of the other 2 classes as a “Sub class”, although there’s actually no information out there that I know of that really explains what sub classes are about for now.
If you played PSU towards its later days then you will remember Guardians Advanced Style (or Guardians Advanced Content if you’re unfortunate enough to be on the 360 servers), well it looks like the class system on PSO2 has expanded on this a bit. There are now Skill Trees, similar in appearance to talent trees in World of Warcraft and soul trees in RIFT. Every time you level up, you’ll earn “Skill Points” which you can then spend in the various abilities on your tree. You will not earn enough points to max out every single ability, which is a good thing as you’re keeping anyone from being exactly the same (unless of course someone finds an optimum build that everyone copies..). Once again, I have no idea how sub-class contributes to your talents.
The skill point system sounds fine, the only real worrying thing is that the developers have said that they’re thinking about letting people re-do skill trees. I seriously hope they aren’t considering making skill point investments permanent, because otherwise the first wave of capped characters will all be broken in some way. The game will be new, there’ll be no information about how good/bad certain stat weights are or which talents in the skill tree will be useless (there’s almost guaranteed to be at least a couple of useless talents in there) so there are going to be mistakes made. Players should not be permanently punished for making a bad decision for something like this, particularly when there is no foresight (and even if there were guides, people can make wrong assumptions) and particularly in a genre typically known for taking a long time to raise characters in.
I rather hope that the races won’t be so poorly balanced again that players will be effectively pigeon-holed into particular classes like they were in PSU. Of course, this time CASTS don’t get an “I WIN” button every so often (and if mags function like they did in PSO it’s possible that everyone will actually get “I WIN” buttons this time around). Can only wait an see how race balance plays out in relation to classes.
Another thing is I hope that they’ve dropped this apparent mentality of Hunter is for beginners, Ranger is for intermediate and Forces are for advanced players. I’m not even going to explain why this idea is ridiculous.