This is a new rumour that was sparked off by a post on a JP blog, which was referred to at bumped. Famtisu also seem to suggest this is the case (back to bumped for the translation). This initially caused people to assume that the blogger must have confused it with units, some of which when equipped do affect your appearance, but it was later confirmed that the blogger definitely meant clothes, as well as the torso parts of CASTs.
What We Know
As said, we know that some gear does affect your appearance, such as units! We know that there is a fair deal of customization that you can do with clothes on character creation and that clothes are not limited by class. However, there has been no mention in any official promotional material that your clothes will have stats attached to them. Frankly, given the amount of customization the game seems to have with outfits it seems a bizarre concept to also have stats attached to them. Not really sure how armor would work as tiered drops with that.
I’ve already explained my grievances with the whole concept of stats determining your appearance before, but to summarize the main issues I have with it::
- Stats attached to clothing means players could have to wear outfits they don’t like the look of, just because the stats are better.
- At endgame, each class could end up wearing the same outfit
But hey, we deal with these issues in traditional MMOs anyway, don’t we? So what’s the issue? Well, increasingly MMOs actually are coming with workarounds to the whole issue of everyone looking the same at endgame. LOTRO for example uses costume slots that override the appearance of the gear that affects your stats. AION allows you to change the skin of your armor via an NPC. Even WoW is planning to include NPCs who can change the appearance of your armor. Besides, this ignores the fact that in previous Phantasy Star online games, your clothing was just your appearance and nothing else. Armor in PSO was a frame that was attached to your arm (though higher level ones did have models). In Phantasy Star Universe, your armor was a kind of applied phlebotinum in the form of a photon shield that wrapped around your clothes in varying patterns. So for them to change to a system where your clothes now directly affect your stats to me seems like a pretty sharp paradigm shift. In particular if, say, the RAmar outfit has stats that benefit Rangers only, as well similarly class-specific stats on the other outfits that are tributes to the old PSO classes.
That said, we don’t really know the full details of how it’ll work. I would be greatly surprised if they did opt for the system as people seem to be worried they might (and others would gladly welcome), but even if they do you can still change your colours, so the danger of everyone looking the same is at least slightly offset. Personally, I really enjoyed having full choice of the game’s available outfits without having to worry about how it’d affect my character’s performance.
After thinking some more, there’s another speculation I have, mostly thanks to these two screenshots from the Famitsu article. The first one has “Body”, “Arms” and “Legs” slots, and 3 empty slots under the word “Unit”. The translated article also suggests 3 slots for armor, so I find myself wondering if, like units, armors will appear as extensions to your costume. In other words the same armor on 2 different costumes would look different.
Given how little details there are, however, no solid conclusions should be drawn. If it concerns the alpha testers enough there’ll likely be some official post on the matter.