Sakai updated the official blog today with further details on the closed beta.
This time he’s focusing largely on the story elements of the game, which were entirely absent in the alpha tests. Although I seem to recall Sakai saying before that in the alpha we would see a prologue movie before getting to create our characters. This of course never materialised during the actual tests, but it will apparently be present in this test however.
So where does adventure begin for the young Arkstards? Well the first planet you will visit will unsurprisingly be Naberius, in particular in the forest area.
The first person your newbie Arks will meet will be Alfin, who is clearly a female newman with a flat chest.
After meeting your training buddy you’ll be sent of to Naberius where you’ll start your adventures. You will be having to get rid of the Darkers, while also killing everything else that breathes.
You and Alfin are mere noobs in the ranks of the Arks. More senior members are introduced as well, namely Echo and Zeno. Voiced by Yōko Hikasa and Ryōhei Kimura, respectively.
Assuming you meet the requirements, you will also be able to aquire a story NPC’s Arks Card and invite them to your party any time you wish. This is of course, precisely the same as in PSU. I would advise for the sake of your reputation that you don’t attempt to strike up conversations with your NPCs..
And then there’s the mysterious Zion. She’s mysterious, you know. She mysteriously hands you the matter board which itself is mysterious. She also mysteriously sounds like a man.
So What is the Matter Board?
The matter board seems to be the mechanism to progress the story with. Each “node” on the matter board has a set of requirements that the player must satisfy in order to unlock. These conditions can vary from aquiring certain items to interacting with specific NPCs.
You can enjoy the entire story free of charge, however it won’t be all be out on release. The story will be released in parts, much like it was for PSU. Hopefully not too drip-fed, but not unexpected.
A tutorial mode will be included to help explain to new players what’s what. An NPC by the name of Hilde will walk your sorry newbie ass through the basics of the game. There’s really not a lot else to say about this, if you’ve played video games in the last 10 years you’ll know what a tutorial is.
Yes this is a thing that was introduced in Phantasy Star Portable 2. Essentially NPCs would give you a task of some kind, that largely resembles a generic quest in other MMOs. So NPCs might ask you to go kill 10 of a specific monster, or collect certain items for them. Something a bit extra to do while exterminating all life on each world.
Seems they’re going full steam ahead with the intent to drip feed content over time. I hope they’re careful about it, because it was something that definitely soured people’s opinions on Phantasy Star Universe. I’d say they should be fine as long as we have a decent amount of content to start off with on launch, however given the time frame before release (early summer) and how much of it seems complete at the moment I don’t there is going to be a whole lot. I rather hope I’m wrong, because it was a part of the reason the launch of PSU was such a disaster.
Seems there might not be any future posts about the closed beta features now. The rest we’re gonna have to wait til we get our own hands on them. If you haven’t registered for the Closed Beta Tests then you still have 12 days to do so.
Speaking of which, the character creation demo is scheduled for release tonight, somewhere in the region of 5 to 11 hours from me publishing this post. Or so they say.. Scratch that, Bonkohara tweeted to say that the creator will not be released tonight afterall. Tonight of course being Japan’s tonight, so for others in the world there is a chance that it will end up releasing some time during the night still. Later than expected!