Broadcast 37 Writeup

romance

Well, that certainly was a show. Let’s preface this article by saying no one gives a shit about the cosplay contest, Arks GP, collaborations or any of that stuff. We’re just going to be looking at the actual expansion content and what’s there has both impressed and left parts of the community speechless. That’s not the good kind of speechless.

Final Episode 3 Content

Border Breaking Chaos returns as a level up quest. This ought to take a chunk out of Persona Soul’s price, though I still argue Astral Soul is more trouble than its worth.

We also get a look at the solo extreme quest in action, showing additional battles with Gal Gryphon, Dragon Ex and Knight Gear among the floors we already knew about. The video also confirms that the quest does not come with its own unique rewards, however it does seem to drop the 2nd tier stones from all three Extreme Quests as well as the recently added Torana stones. Like the current Extreme Quests, you can pick up to 5 items. Other rewards include Photon Boosters, Lambda Grinders and you can get Nero stones from title rewards. The quantities seem low for a weekly limited quest, but it’s at least nice to see that the quest gives more than a sticker! That it won’t eat up an extra inventory slot is also a plus.

New Summoner Trailer

Unlike other classes added so far, Summoner is considerably more complicated an affair.  It includes its own user interfaces, both for levelling the class and its mechanics as well as in battle (if datamining turns out to be accurate).

Finding eggs lets you name and raise your pet, combining eggs lets you level them up. This makes it almost a 2nd mag, though given how dependent Summoner is going to be on the pet I’m not sure how this is going to work out in practise. If the pet lags behind the player’s level or the player lags behind the pet will things get awkward?

You can also use candy items in what looks like an inventory management system from a classic PC RPG in order to customise your pet’s abilities. It’s also reminiscent of the chip system from Megaman Battle Network.

There really isn’t a lot to say that hasn’t been said already about the class; it doesn’t look like something that belongs in Phantasy Star Online, but in retrospect it does somewhat stylistically remind me of things that might have shown in up classic Phantasy Star.. I mean Phantasy Star did have Nyau.. I can say the class seems to be needlessly complicated but the pet raising side of the class might appeal to some people. It isn’t clear if there are more than the three pets shown, either.

Much like with the addition of Braver and Dewman, you will be given an additional character slot. The maximum number of characters any one account can have has also been increased from 12 to 20.

Episode 4 Trailer

The main course is coming. The expansion content itself! The first thing on the menu is additional character customization options.

This is an extended version of a trailer we’ve seen before. I’m still impressed with the additional morphers they added, as it should help address some glaring shortcomings with character creation as it is. The additional accessory and weapon positioning options as well as layered body paint are also nice additions.

A brand new feature is layered clothing. The three layers are “Inner”, “Base” and “Outer”. Inner seems to be types of underwear, base some clothing and outer things like jackets and coats. Casts will also gain this system. This layered system means that you’ll be able to mix and match individual layers, granting a new dimension to your clothing not seen since Phantasy Star Universe. The “inner” layer goes underneath body paint, so you won’t have your underwear on top of your tights (maybe I want to be Superman though!).

This is a nice new addition, though I’m assuming this will only apply to outfits added from here on out. I won’t rule out the possibility of them going back to outfits they’ve added before and seeing if they can reasonably split them into these layers, but I imagine many outfits would be incompatible with this system for various reasons.

Story Expansion

Introducing: The Story Board! It’s different to the Matter Board because I don’t know it’s different OK? Look! The interface design is different and everything! In all seriousness it is supposed to be different to the Matter Board system but there are no details at this time. All I can say is, it just looks like a rose by another name.

Some things to note at least are that Episode 4 can be skipped to by all players, even new characters. So it’s getting the same treatment Episode 3 got. It also seems that Episode 4 may include areas only accessible if you choose “Episode 4” when selecting a character upon log in. Given the story seems to show your character waking up from cryogenic sleep or something like it, it’d seem that Episode 4 won’t be taking place on the Arks Ship at all. Could this mean an entirely separate lobby?

“New” Planet Trailer

Yup, Earth. More specifically, Japan in the year 2028. Who would have thought that after going to Planet Japan in Episode 3 that we would go to actual Japan afterwards? Well, more to the point, it’s more like planet Anime if the story trailer is anything to go by. I wanted to talk about it in that section but I figured it’d ruin the surprise a bit.. or something I don’t know I haven’t slept well oh god.

So the Phantom type enemies turned out to be ghosts, essentially. It includes mutated humans, Polar Bears and even Tyrannosaurus Rex.

So we’re going to planet Anime and we’re going to beat up T-rexes in Tokyo. I mean the actual content itself is at least surprising. I will throw my hands up and admit I didn’t see this coming. The community reaction to this news has been incredibly negative to the point of entertaining. Some people are very salty about this trailer. In general my overall reaction is one of confusion…

Thoughts

There is so much confusing stuff in this trailer that I don’t think I can coherently summarize all of it. All I’ll say is I can understand people’s concerns from a story/setting point of view. So far, the game has essentially been about chasing and suppressing space-Cthulu in various alien worlds. It was a bit science fictiony, but it was mostly fantasy with smatterings of thematic roots in Star Wars. When thinking about the game from this point of view, having a story trailer which looks like it was taken from a slice-of-life anime set some kid’s bedroom it’s a bit of a unexpected shift. Going from space-Japan to actual Japan also feels incredibly hokey.

That said, I’m actually somewhat impressed by some of the creativity shown in the enemy design. A T-Rex that opens its chest cavity to fire a laserbeam from its skull? An emergency trial where you’re anime running alongside drifting ghost cars? A transforming tank? A hydra made out of TRAINS? I actually kind of like it! The area these enemies are set in isn’t terribly interesting looking, given its an environment that we’re naturally fairly intimate with already. That said, I actually don’t think it’s any less interesting than say, Shironia. I’m slightly sad that it’s another point grind quest like Kuron if nothing else because it means they’ve given up trying to make Free Field quests interesting anymore. There’s also a distinct lack of environmental hazards, which has been another thing missing in areas lately. Finally, there’s the somewhat uncomfortable fact that we already have a city field…

Tokyo is just the first field that Earth will be getting. What the other fields will be is anyone’s guess at this point, though I feel like watching some anime might help narrow it down. Judging from the schedule, we won’t know until next summer… I cant imagine anything terribly earth-shattering (heh heh) but who knows, Earth has a lot of interesting places on it. Not that most of you would know.

Yes, it isn’t a direction I would have liked to see the game go. I’d have preferred it being set on an alien planet whose tech level matches the modern era, given we’ve already been to planets that are in their respective pre-historic and medieval eras.  Or that the phantoms turned out to be a split faction within the Arks, setting the stage for some kind of civil war. It didn’t need to be set on Earth, this is a game where we’re meant to be exploring the unknowns of  a fictional universe!

Unfortunately, it seems it’s going this way as part of the transmedia campaign that PSO2 seems to have become, tying it in with the anime possibly. I mean it already had mini novels, a stage play, a radio play and possibly other things I’m forgetting. PSO2 isn;t just a game anymore, it’s a marketing campaign which includes a lot of different forms of media. That its story is spread among them is what I believe makes it trans-media. Is this a good thing? I don’t know, it frankly depends on what is important to you. What I will say is that the community response while extreme in some places is at least understandable. For the most part, we only care about the game and increasingly it could be seen like the game is being pushed into the background.

It’s wierd, but it isn’t destroying the game for me. Could be worse! The area could’ve been an anime high school (wait we go to an anime high school as part of the story, SHIT!) or we could have sprouted from a PC monitor like out of some basement dweller’s wet dream. I will say that content past Earth had better go back to alien worlds again.

Also still no mention of Ultimate Amduscia! It’s not even on the long term schedule! Truly, Dragonkin Aberrations are the real phantoms…

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