Lv80 Cap: Tentative Info

sierrafacepalm

Just a short post speculating on what’s out there for the lv80 cap raise coming up in March. I’ll likely talk about this again as we’ll be getting some new info on the 28th with the 4th PSO2 Station. In this post I’m just going to go over and have a bit of a rant on what’s known with my primary source being this post on GHeaven.

Unlike more recent level cap raises there’s going to be a couple conditions you’ll need to satisfy in order to level past 75.

Skillpoint Orders

The first is arguably reasonable in the current environment most lv75s are in. It may require you to have completed all of your class’s SP orders. Seeing as you’re likely going to want to  have both your main and at least one subclass to lv80 you’re going to want to make sure you have those SP orders done! If you haven’t, start running your daily Featured Quests for shots at Bonus Keys or hit up Advance Quests with some friends.

For new players however this could make the levelling up experience stilted, because once they hit lv75 they effectively now have to level from lv74 to lv75 22 more times in order to then be able to proceed to lv76. Unless they make getting those class cubes easier later on that’s going to create something that could feel like a brick wall to new players, especially when you then add in that they’re going to have to do it for their subclass as well!

However! The alternative significantly less dumb idea is that the SP orders will simply shift to lv80 instead, which means it’ll take longer to clear them as each class cube will take longer to earn. Still dumb but not a massive bump in the road dumb.

Weapon Grind and Affix Requirement

But there’s more! So we know recently they’ve been considering measures to try to combat people entering end-game Emergency Quests with really bad gear by adding a weapon grind requirement to Expert Blocks. I assume that this condition, if it turns out to be true, is yet another attempt to combat it with content beyond Extra Hard on the horizon.

If Gheaven is right, you will need to have +35’d a weapon and have at least 6 affixes on it.

I genuinely hope they don’t go through with this mostly because +35ing a 13* weapon is a tedious affair even if you’re playing relatively hardcore. The affixing requirement on top of that just seems like overkill to me, especially when you can have a more than adequate weapon with 4 affixes!

Consider:

  • +35 Astra weapon with some attack soul , stat IV, Flict/Alter and Noble/Elegant.
  • vs
  • +35 Astra weapon with Spirita 1, Power 1, Arm 1, Mind 1, Body 1, Lucky rise 2

I know which I’d rather people have! It’s not the quantity of affixes, it’s which affixes that are important. Beyond that, actually creating a 6-slot affix can be pretty irritating to pull off.

Typically when affixing, people tend to push from lower slot count to higher slot count because it’s cheaper to do so. However doing so comes with a risk, as up-slotting reduces the success rate of every affix depending on the current total number of slots. It’s harder to up-slot from 3 to 4 than it is from 2 to 3.

With careful planning and using booster items you can keep up-slot success rates at 100%, which is wise as some affixes are very hard to obtain. However, this luxury ends at 4 slots. You can check for yourself at http://pso2affix.seilent.net/ but I’ll go over some numbers here:

  • Pushing from 3 to 4 slots reduces success rate by 40%.
    • The maximum booster happens to be 40%, so this is the last time you can completely cancel out the chance of failure outside of an event boost
  • Pushing from 4 to 5 slots reduces success rate by 50%
    • Event boosts tend to be 10%, so this combined with the strongest boost item you can use will be the last time you can cancel out failure even with an event!
  • Pushing from 5 to 6 slots reduces success rate by 55%
    • Doesn’t take much math to work out you can max out your odds at 95% with an event and 85% without.

The thing to keep in mind is if it’s 100% you’re going to pass. If it’s 95% this success rate is rolled on every single slot you have, which means in this case it’s 95% 6 times. During an event and using a 40% booster your total chance of success is 73% which is pretty good odds. Without it’s 85% 6 times, which leaves you with an uncomfortable 37.7%. This is why people making high slot affixes treasure event boosts so heavily because that 10% makes an enormous impact when spread out over 6 slots! Note that this assumes you manage to get 100% before the up-slot on all affixes, because if you don’t the odds of that 6-slot succeeding go down even further.

Point is, they effectively expect you to do a gamble in order to earn the right to level up to 76. I get the idea, you want people to have better gear in the very top end of the spectrum but this isn’t going to achieve that because this system doesn’t care what affixes you use. It’s also just going to serve as a barrier to those with solid gear just because the affix count isn’t quite high enough, which is ridiculous. If you have something like Astral Soul, Power V, Modulator, Flict/Alter Arma and Elegant Power you are more than decent enough. Adding one affix isn’t going to change your performance much, though arguably in the face of high weapon attack power affixes in general don’t have the impact they used to so putting so much importance on them just seems silly. For example, on a weapon with 1500 attack, adding 30% more element is adding 450 more effective attack to it. That competes with the total attack you could get from weapon and armor affixes, let alone dwarfing the amount of attack you could gain from the most extreme 8-slot weapon affix never-mind 6.

Tidbits

According to G-heaven there will be no new skills added with the lv80 cap raise. It’s just simply going to amount to 5 more Skill Points and some extra stats. That’s it. Pretty disappointing to find this out, especially for classes already struggling to work out where to put all their points as it is.

It does seem like there will be content in the future that will require lv80; content possibly beyond Extra Hard. The cynic in me is convinced that this is going to end up being Emergency Quests only and the rest of the game will remain untouched but hopefully I’m proven wrong on that. Just like I hope my rant on the affixing requirement turns out to be a waste of typing because it’s that stupid.

Closing Thoughts

If this update plays out as current information seems to suggest it will this could possibly be the stupidest update that PSCrew has ever rolled out. The requirements as proposed are likely to have a negative impact on the game going forward as it presents an unreasonable barrier to new players and an unexpected barrier to older ones. It’ll also fail to create an environment where everyone queuing up for end-game content has consistent or at least reasonable gear unless the actual requirements are more intricate than they’ve let on. Guess we’ll see on the 28th but my best hope at this point is that it isn’t as stupid as it sounds. Who knows though, maybe this entire post is wrong. That’d be nice…

Hi, Mom!

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With the latest update we got to face off against Episode 4’s second raidboss; the malevolent shell of Escafalz Mother. I hope you’re somewhat used to the Rideroid by now!

I did want this post out sooner but new information kept kinda trickling in, making me re-write good portions of it. It’s possible some of the information in this will turn out to be wrong later on anyway..

The Fight

Chase

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You’ll chase Mother around the moon base on your Rideroid. The base is more like a racetrack, which you can end up doing multiple laps of before it times out. Each lap the course gains additional obstacles, making keeping up with Mother increasingly difficult.

As well as avoiding obstacles, Mother herself will be throwing a large array of attacks at you all of which do considerable amounts of damage. There’s not much you’re going to be able to shrug off, as the healing circles restore very little of your health.

You’ll need to keep up with her, as if you get too far away you’ll take constant damage and be killed.

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Get close and break her balls! You can also barrel-roll into her wall attack to deflect them into her. Doing so seems to slow her down.

In order to defeat Mother, you’ll need to break her four cores which stuns her. In that time, you’ll need to do as much damage to her as you can! Repeat this a few times (she’s typically down on her third break) and she should be defeated with relative ease. They give you a huge window of time to do this, so after people get used to the Rideroid part you should see very few failures. If you do fail, you’ll get a B rank which has a huge impact on the amount of drops you’ll get. At that point, you may want to consider abandoning unless you’re not sure you’ll get an additional run. It’ll still count just the same for collection file progress even if you do get a B-rank.

You have a few abilities at your disposal:

Autoshoot

Autoshoot will automatically fire at Mother as long as your crosshairs are over an attackable point.

Missiles

Fires a bunch of homing missiles that do decent damage. Again, you need to have your crosshairs over an attackable target for this to work. Take the environment into account, too, because the missiles can crash into them wasting your attack.

Do a Barrel Roll

You’ll spin on the spot, dealing damage within melee range. This is by far your most damaging attack and you should be mercilessly spamming it when the opportunity presents itself. This attack also serves other purposes, such as reflecting Mother’s spinning wall attacks back at her!

Overboost

Puts your Rideroid into overdrive, letting you catch up to Mother more quickly. It should be noted that most of the time you’re moving faster than Mother is but she can move in bursts or you spend too much time dodging and she gets away from you.

Dying

Well it’s sort of an ability! If you run out of HP you’ll be “dead” and have to wait 5 seconds to be respawned. You’ll be respawned right in front of Mother and are allowed up to 12 deaths before it negatively impacts your rank. As a result, if you fall behind far enough it might be better to die and respawn than attempt to catch up.

Phase 1

Phase one is relatively straightforward. She uses a bunch of well telegraphed attacks, based largely on which arms happen to be up. The main body is invulnerable while arms are alive, so the only thing you can do here is DPS those down. Once all arms are dead, Mother will be stunned for a while, exposing her core. Burn the core as hard as you can, as you only have a limited window.

She’ll repeat this cycle a few times, summoning more arms each time you down her. The more arms she had at the time, the longer she’ll be stunned for when you break them all. The number of times you’ll have to do this depends on your MPA’s DPS, as if your MPA fails to meet the DPS check while she’s stunned you’ll have to stun her an additional time meaning you’ll have to kill more arms. Their HP is not shared with Mother, so failing these checks will mean a significantly longer fight, overall.

Each arm has an attack or two borrowed from a Dark Falz. You can tell which arms are generating which attacks by looking at their crowns; Loser has wings, Double has a wall , Apprentice has sort of bug-eyes with mandibles and Elder has the head and fins from its Falz Arms. Due to the way they attack, generally Loser’s arm ends up being the last one to be taken down as it’s the most mobile. The most dangerous one is Double’s, which can put up a circular wall around the party and deal devastating damage to anyone who fails to escape. The rest deal very little damage and isn’t difficult to heal through.

Overall I like this phase but it overstays its welcome if your MPA’s DPS isn’t up to scratch. You can end up going through the cycle of breaking arms and assaulting Mother’s chest up to six times and personally by the fourth I’m bored of it. It feels repetitive, which is a shame because otherwise mechanically I quite like it.

There’s other minor annoyances in this part too, such as Mother’s hitbox taking priority if an arm wanders near her. If this happens, the Arm won’t take any damage! This is because the arms are not considered separate targets like Falz Arms are, which means you can only hit one at time even if they’re clumped together.

Phase 2

mom_fight

Mother plants herself in the arena and starts using a number of new attacks. She is incredibly aggressive in this state and can dish out surprisingly high amounts of damage out of the blue. Techers will want to try to keep pumping Resta out or putting down Megiverse fields just so your DPS can keep it up.

So much happens here that it’s kind of a cluster-fuck and as a result I can’t say I’m much of a fan of it. At least a lot is happening and she does have a wide variety of attacks it’s just the speed and number of them might be a little much for me. Mother herself also moves a lot, so if there are any mechanics attached to breaking parts I’m not going to find out any time soon as a sword Hunter! Otherwise the only thing I could really pick out so far is she summons bombs which I think you can break to neutralize.

That said, this phase is a welcome sight in certain groups after the first phase has long out-stayed its welcome.

Death Cubes

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This is Mother’s raid-wipe move. She’ll use it at 50% and at around 25% HP. She creates a ring of cubes that slowly make their way to the center of the arena, while also gently pushing players out toward the edge of the ring. You’ll need to break as many cubes as you can before they reach the center of the arena, as the damage she deals after scales with the number of cubes left alive. I’m not sure what the lethal cutoff point is, but the attack pulses and hits around 4 times (possibly more at higher numbers of cubes left). With 4-5 cubes left, she was dealing 350 damage to me, for a total of 1400 damage which is only just under my maximum HP. So I’d say you wanna shoot for 1-5 cubes left, as any more and unless you have a tank or Deband Toughness up you’re going to lose people. The damage is Tech based, so the higher your T-def the less damage you’ll take from the attack.

cubesplosion

You can’t guard the damage but you can dodge it if your timing with evasion skills is spot on.

Note that the cubes are not considered separate targets, so area-of-effect attacks will still only hit one cube.

Your typical MMO raidboss DPS check. I was never a fan of this kind of thing and it’s sad to see it come up more in PSO2. It’s not the most strict check, but again it’s the classic problem with raiding in a game like this; its intended for random groups to run it so you have little control over everyone’s builds and such. You don’t know if they’re going to be running ideal builds or having ideal weapons for dealing with the raid-wipe mechanic, which favors classes that can do sustained damage in an area without the worry of the push-back effect moving them out of effective range. Worse is when you have a bunch of people giving up before the DPS check begins; holding the Photon Blast button while those without end up doomed to the attack!

That said, the raid doesn’t end when everyone’s dead so there’s no punishment for being caught in the attack. So it’s not really a big deal.

Loot

Mother can drop the game’s very first 14*s but you’re basically never seeing them. She can also drop 12* units, but their rate is similarly dire. Not comparable to 14*s but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were comparable to Invade Units.

The 14*s

Just gonna go over what is currently known about the weapons. The information out there is still shakey and at times outright self-contradictory. Expect this bit to change as things become more well known.

Kazaminodachi – Increase effect of Katana Gear (12% at lv3) as well as Gear fills up when weapon is unsheathed.

If it’s as it sounds this is potentially fun at least. It means that you’ll be under the effects of Katana gear for longer so you’ll want to be triggering it to get the most out of the weapon. I mean you kind of have to do that anyway, so the only real difference is in theory it’ll be easier to keep the effect up with this weapon.

The below twitter video demonstrates the gear aquisition effect while the weapon is unsheathed during Katana Gear. That’s a sentence that’s gonna make no sense to anyone not familiar with this game… Anyway so yeah as you can the regeneration rate isn’t enough to neutralise the decay, but it does greatly slow it down. The clip shows the regular decay later on in the vid for comparison.

Spread Needle – Increased damage and chance to stun enemies. Also damage increases when you get closer to enemies.

This one’s hard to call because there’s so many unknowns around it. Does the effect apply to Photon Arts? How strongly does the close range damage effect scale? Unfortunately this doesn’t align with the rumoured potential which is unfortunate all things considered. I’ll have to update my opinion on this when we actually know more about it.

It does fire multiple projectiles like the classic Spread Needle, but it’s believed this is just a visual effect and only the regular center bullet is the valid one. Scratch that, it’s not just a visual effect! This makes its basic attacks significantly stronger than any other rifle in the game, potentially.

I still don’t have any numbers to hand, but apparently the “close range” effect kicks in on the same range that Sharpshooter counts from. This means there’s a narrow range in which you can have both bonuses up, which makes it an overall impractical weapon for traditional RaHus. GuRa is probably gonna be the one to get the most out of this weapon, as they can abuse it’s multi-projectile effect on Parralel Slider and One Point the most. This information is still tentative.

Eternal Psychodrive – Confirmed as Boosts Element Conversion’s power, reduces PP consumption
Its Special Ability Factor is “Ability IV”

As far as far as I’m aware the only one confirmed is Eternal Psychodrive with one known drop. Its potential apparently boosts the power of Element Conversion by 50%, which means you get 45% additional damage with matching element instead of 30%. If the element doesn’t match, it’s boosted by 200% so instead of 15% you do 45% damage. So if the stars align and you do get one, you only ever need that one! Now of couse forces can get 30% from element convert with any 13* rod, so really the effective potential is a 15% boost in damage. Boring, but it does mean getting one will free up a few slots in your inventory!

Max potential Gix is allegedly slightly stronger than this, but realistically you’re not going to have that up at all times.

Falz Drops

During the Christmas broadcast it was revealed that the 14*s can actually drop from all old Falz raids and Profound Darkness. However the drop rates in those quests are even lower than they are in Mother’s raid if you can believe that. Still, good to know that they didn’t forget about the old content.

Astra Weapons

The replacement for Austere is here! They’re not really much of a replacement…

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Alright I’m being a little unfair. They’re solid weapons, it’s just for something that was heralded as something to topple Austere I was just expecting something a bit more than a tiny bit of extra attack and PP regen. For those who’ve had Austere for months it’s an upgrade you’re barely going to even notice for most weapon classes. For those who haven’t and instead are wielding previous collection file gear such as Gix you might also feel a little underwhelmed. However, their potential is active at all times without stringent conditions that Gix weapons have.

Suppose I should actually say what the potential is:

  • 12% additional damage and 40% additional PP recovery on attack.

Their special ability factor is “Phase Recovery” which boosts PP recovered on attack by 5%, so you can put this on your Astra weapon to boost it up to 45%.

The files themselves are pretty generous enough, with a 250% booster meaning you’ll need  to attend something like 18 runs to get a 60% (assuming no cooldown time on the files). The rest of the file can be done in Riding Quests, which are fairly active again because of this. With a 250% booster on you’re looking at 4-5 kills for each boss. The alternative is to see if your target weapon drops from an enemy elsewhere, because it’ll also count towards your file progress is so. As far as I know, for Summoners the only option is the bosses specified. If you’re need Train Ghidorans I’d suggest going to Train Ghidoran’s Arks Quest.

Astra Units

They exist, I assure you. You just might not ever see one if the rates are anything like Invade Units.

Stats:

  • S-DEF – 233
  • R-Def – 230
  • T-Def – 236
  • S/R/T-Atk+20
  • All def attribute +2%(S/R/T and all element)
  • HP+60
  • PP+10

Pretty good, overall. They have a set bonus with the weapon and arm unit which grants 60 Dexterity. I don’t know why they bother with set effects that terrible, honestly. If you’re gonna drop Set Bonuses because you’re put off by the idea just drop them entirely don’t half-ass it.

Like the weapons, these can be recolored which is neat!

Ledran

ledran

The newest addition to Summoner’s ever-expanding selection of pets. This time though it’s a badass little dragon with moves reminiscent of Panzer Dragoon. Or maybe I’m justing seeing Panzer Dragoon in it because I want to, I don’t know. It has homing lasers!

I don’t really play Summoner enough to give an in-depth so I’ll only go over some factual stuff and the rest is kinda third-hand info.

Personalities

It has two personalities like all the other pets (with rare drop variants of course)

The first is a stacking buff where Ledran’s power increases with every kill by 0.8% / 1.0% / 1.2% / 1.4% / 2.0% up to a rather staggering maximum of a 50% boost. Whats more is according to rumours, this carries across to new areas. The effect is reset on swapping pets or getting into a vehicle however.

The second is a scaling buff which depends on the number of enemies near the pet. It’s 1% / 2% / 3% / 4% / 6% for 1-4 enemies, 2% / 4% / 6% / 8% / 12% for 5+. While weaker than the other personality in total, this one doesn’t require you to kill enemies to generate it. “Nearby” in this case means within its auto-attack range, which is fairly big.

Between the two I think I’d prefer the killcount one, but the other would be superior for raid boss quests where you don’t get the chance to kill anything. That’s just my gut feeling though, I’d need to play the class more to really judge because there might be nuances to either personality that I don’t understand.

Attacks

Ledran Laser

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It looks like a homing attack!

It has a homing laser attack which can be charged up. The longer you hold it, the more lasers will lock onto things. I believe it stacks up to 8 lasers, which all deal a moderate amount of damage each. It functions a little bit like Homing Emission in that it can lock on to targets that you can’t. While each individual hit isn’t much, it does charge fast so I feel like it’s an alright mobbing PA so far.

Ledran Slash

A simple melee slash attack which also returns the pet to the user. Helpful for ending its auto-attack but not much else.

Ledran Gravity

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Creates a gravity well wherever the projectile lands. Similar sort of effect as Gravity Bomb but I think it persists for a bit longer.

Ledran Burst

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Like Ledran laser except it locks on to one target and charges up to 8 projectiles to launch at it. Unlike Laser, each hit is pretty strong making its overall damage fairly high. Useful for high HP single targets and bossing.

Ledran Mine

Not gotten to use this yet, but it places a mine on a target which when detonated by most other Photon Art creates a damaging area (it can’t be detonated by Ledran Slash). This mine works much the same as the Vol Graptor projectile, as in if Ledran is too close to the enemy (launching the projectile inside an enemy hitbox I believe) the mine will disappear even though it displays the hit effect.

This includes Ledran Gravity, so placing a mine then firing the gravity well results in enemies trapped inside the AoE. It’s also apparently fast enough that you can sneak one in before the homing lasers reach their target, allowing you to deal additional damage.

Consensus

Again, this is really third hand stuff but the general consensus I’m getting for Ledran is it’s an overall solid pet. It’s good at both bossing and mobbing (it’s likely inferior to Aero and Maron for bossing power, however), so for Summoner mains or alts this might be a good one to get. Though for a while it’ll be expensive to get one with a different personality than the Collection File offers.

PSO2 Station #3 Writeup

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Saturday saw the broadcast of the third PSO2 Station at an ungodly hour for UK folk. This time they went over some of the content coming up in January/February as well as unveiling the new long-term schedule which covers things up to early Summer.

For such a short broadcast compared to the old format there ended up being a lot of things to go over this time, including a large selection of quality-of-life changes, PVP stuff and some interesting new things on the horizon.. Brace yourselves, this one’s a big ‘un.

Arks New Year Carnival 2017 Part 1

Starting us off is a web-event in January. This comes complete with a Limited Quest set in Las Vegas that pits players against a wide selection of enemies, so your usual all-star quest. This time they’re throwing ESCA Darkers into the mix and Anga Fundarge can show up in it which is neat. I’m kind of curious if ESCA Darkers and Darkers would fight each other… The quest ends with a special titled Falz Dourumble.

2017 Weapon Badges

Right out of the gate we’re getting 2017 Badges. These can be exchanged for various items in Xie’s brand new shop (yep she’s back), which includes a weapon series named “Shin-Wafuu”. At first I thought they were yet another reskin of the old Sun God weapons but they are actually something new.

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In terms of stats, historically Xie’s weapons have always been a bit underwhelming. The sword this time has 1192 S-Atk at +0 and comes with Freeze V, Ability III, Power III and Vinculum. So that’s 55 in affixes, bringing its actual S-Atk to 1137. This puts it at the same level as Invade Calibur… So yeah I suspect these weapons won’t be worth bothering with unless they have some decent Special Ability Factor. I can’t even suggest it for covering any gear gaps  because Astra weapon files will be out by then and the weapons don’t seem usable by multiple classes either.

I note she still offers Photon Boosters, Caligulas and Toranas at least. Caligula and Torana are also still 20 gold badges each, though Photon Booster seems to have come down to 30 gold. Not sure what the point is really as I doubt anyone will be after Austere weapons or units anymore.

Turret Buff

Seems Turrets are gonna get buffed as they teased about in the last stream. This seems to only affect the gatling-gun variant of turret and as far as i can tell the only real change is they increased the amount of damage it does. I can’t remember the current damage numbers right now, but it looks like they doubled it? I mean that’s nice for those classes that find dealing damage to Magatsu before the first knee break difficult to impossible, but I can’t really see the use for it anywhere else in the game.

Mag Stealth

You’ll be able to stealth your Mag by feeding it a stealth device. This will make your Mag invisible, as you might expect, but it will otherwise still function as normal. This is one of those things that I’m surprised took them this long to add, given how much of the game focuses on cosmetics.

Though I don’t know why it couldn’t be a UI fix instead of a Mag Device that will set you back 10 AC scratch items each time. This makes switching back and forth awkward or not even a choice at all for those who have an uncommon or unobtainable Mag skin…

Hide Sticker

Now you can choose to not have a sticker on your costume. This one surprises me even more than the Mag device!  Unlike that though, it seems this one will be added for free and you can just select it in the Este counter.

Is This Eaaasy Mode?

Story Quests will now have an Easy Mode added to them. I have no idea why because surely the Story Quests are easy enough as they are? Well, if you’re one of those people struggling to clear Story Quests I guess this is a good thing for you at least.

Critical Indicators

Just a simple change to make critical hits stand out more. Beyond the more striking color, they seem to take display priority over normal hits. This will be sorta handy for those doing damage tests I guess, otherwise the clearer feedback for landing crits might be welcome.

Boost Item Toggle

You will be able to set whether or not your boost items will be consumed during the current quest. This choice takes place at the drink counter and will be in effect the moment you choose a drink.

This is needed really, because I know there’s been times where I’ve chosen not to run content because I have boosters active. So it’ll be nice to have the additional flexibility in when and where I want my boosters to count down.

Cuisine in the Player Shops

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You’ll be able to list completed cuisines on your shop, which is great and all but unless the food involves rare ingredients it’s really just removing one step from what you can do already by just buying ingredients. As it costs Meseta to make them however, I wonder what degree of profit the market will settle on. Will there be a good reason to sell the cuisines rather than the individual ingredients?

Skill Rings

With gathering set to arrive in Skyscape and Seabed comes a new set of skill rings. So far 5 have been announced;

R/Panic Guard

Grants immunity to Panic at lv20.

R/Quick Mate

Grants access to Braver’s “Quick Mate” skill. Presumably stacks with Mate Lovers.

I feel like Mate Lovers is fast enough if your build needs fast-use healing items. Doubt this ring will see much uptake.

R/Another Rod Shoot Mode

Changes Rod Shoot to multiple slow moving projectiles that explode on contact

Guess the usefulness of this one depends on the function of the new projectiles. The main point of Rod Shoot is for PP recovery (though it can do some pretty alright damage) at a distance on command. The projectiles this ring replaces them with move very slowly in comparison, though if the PP recovery is counted for each one I imagine this will be a pretty nice way to recover PP quickly for point blank casting (such as spamming Ragrants into bosses).

L/Step JA Combo

Adds a Just-Attack circle to Step.

This seems like one that might go down well in the community and for decent reason; being able to just-attack out of a step is kind of a big boon. Just-Attacks make up for a lot of the damage you deal, afterall (even more if you’re a Hunter main or sub).

L/Just Reversal B

Adds a shockwave on successful Just Reversal that damages and potentially stuns enemies.

This is a really cool ring. I imagine the damage won’t be that great, but the chance to stun enemies could be that extra bit of crowd control you need to top your health up once you’re back on your feet.

Arks New Year Carnival Part 2

Mostly story stuff in this one with a look at Where’s the Chocolate 2016 for Valentines season. Not nearly as much to go over in this trailer in general.

Where’s the Chocolate 2017

You know the deal with this kinda quest by now. Seems this time we’ll be seeing Ultimate Amduscia enemies as well as the usual mix of dragons and Darkers. Interestingly unlike previous seasonal emergency quests this one seems to lack a point counter and instead has a boss E-Trial as the quest target. The target seems to be a special titled Drago Deadlion.

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Of course the new tradition is the seasonal Collection File! This Valentines you’ll be able to obtain a new 13* Wired Lance, Twin Dagger and Twin Machinegun. Also included are sheets for the 13* eggs of Viola and Synchro in case you missed out on those.

Roadmap Overview

Something new for PSO2 broadcasts is this general teaser for future content down the line. We get a bit of sneak peak at Solo Emergency Quests, 4-man “Multi Quests”, the Battle Arena and what I assume is the CG intro to Episode 4’s second and final raidboss.

Along with that, they posted the usual text form up:

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It reads:

Winter to Spring:

  • 4-Man Multi Quests (limited time)
  • Solo Emergency Quest (limited time)
  • PSO2 Anime Characters are back (yay…)
  • Union Weapon series in an Exchange Shop

Spring to early Summer 1:

  • Battle Lobby and Battle Arena
  • Gathering update
  • Franka’s Cafe seasonal change
  • PA and Tech customization update
  • New Bonus Quest
  • Nier Automate Collab
  • Class Level raised to 80

Spring to early Summer 2

  • Episode 4 chapter 8 (part 2)
  • New 12man Raidboss
  • Design Contest Scratch
  • PSU 10th Anniversary Part 3
  • New fashion feature?

So yeah I’m gonna comment on the major things I can here.

Union Weapon Series

They’re Ray weapons with a little bit stuck to them I guess.

unionseries.jpg

What is kind of curious though is they’re listed as an exchange item and not a Collection File one. Does this mean we’re not quite out of the stone age in PSO2 or is there going to be some entirely new exchange mechanic introduced with these?

To go along with those, it seems like there’ll be a matching upgrade to the Ray Unit set as well. Will these also be exchange items I wonder?

Solo Emergency Quests and 4-man Multi Quests

Well this is a surprise! Seems during January we’ll get to challenge Double and Profound Darkness 1v1 as well as take on various Ultimate enemies in a single party. I’d say that we’re finally seeing some content that isn’t intended for 12 players but unfortunately it seems like these quests will be temporary. I kind of hope we’ll be seeing more quests like this in the future though, because really I’ve despised for some time how it feels like every new thing that comes along requires 11 other people or you may as well not bother.

double_dragon
Somewhat interestingly the quest expects you to take on multiple bosses at once, which is often more than they expect for 12-man Ultimate Quests. Presumably they have less HP than their full MPA counterparts, though.

I should say I don’t hate 12-player content nor do I think its a bad idea for the devs to keep making it.

Speaking of which…

New Raidboss

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Due some time in Summer, Earth will be getting its third and presumably final raid. As Mother has perished (or has been absorbed, you can never fully tell with PSO2’s story) this would be Ardem’s doing. The trailer shows a continent materializing out of nowhere.

Given Episode 4’s mythology undertones I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to be something like Atlantis (even though it’s clearly rising in the Pacific!) or The Garden of Eden or something. Whatever it is, it seems set to be the stage for Ardem’s forced evolution of humanity or whatever it is he wants to do.

Maybe there’s some story details I’m missing out on but er … why do the ARKS care about this situation? Mother was the one who wanted to go after the ARKS and she’s gone now so are we just being heroes for the sake of it? Maybe there’ll be an explanation between now and then I don’t know. For now we have a continent with no context and giant ether Cthulu tentacles sprouting out of the ground.

Level Cap Raise

Rasing level caps isn’t anything new for an MMO, but PSO2 I felt had designed itself into a corner with all the level-cap related stuff it’s added over time. Things like Excubes, Class Excubes and Skill Point orders beyond cap… these are things that become a bit more awkward with a higher level cap.

There’s also the problem of whether or not there’s any new content to warrant levelling up, but the same thing can be said for adding new tiers of gear and they’ve been adding new gear long after we got the lv75 cap. It could be they reached a point where it felt wrong to continue giving us new levels of content without also letting us level up. In the end it’s just a number.

In any case, new levels means more skill-points, which may also mean new skills to put those points in. They haven’t confirmed this (there’s nothing on the schedule for it at least) and there’s a few classes that probably could use the extra SP somewhere but there’s also a few that players may struggle to work out where to put them. I’m sure additional details will be revealed closer to release.

But yeah, this has been a long time coming hasn’t it! We got the lv75 cap sometime in November 2014 just to give a bit of perspective. So it’s only been two years…

Phantasy Star Universe Anniversary Part 3

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It’s on there! Looks like we’re getting the third and final part of the anniversary some time in the Summer.

This crossover event has gone on for some time now, considering it started in August this year. With the last part some time in the Summer this could bring the entire event to a span of about 8 months or so.

As for what they might do we can only speculate. There’s not even anything in the data to help with it as far as I know, so it really is anyone’s guess. It could be just costumes, weapons and partner cards (with some additional cutscenes like we had for Emilia) or it could be a Limited Quest like they did for PSO complete with a remade boss from PSU. I mean I know I’d kind of like to see one of the PSU bosses ported over, but that’s really just my love for PSU talking.

Episode 5

No mention of Episode 5! I think anyone following along with Episode 4 can tell that things are starting to wrap up, so it wouldn’t have been too surprising to see something regarding the next episode turning up. As it hasn’t, this indicates that we may he with Episode 4 longer than we were with previous episodes and it may not turn up until late Summer or later still.

For perspective, Episode 4 started on January 27th. If we assume “Early Summer” covers up til the end of June then the expansion seems like it’ll end up with a lifespan of at least 18 months (because I assume it wouldn’t hit in July unless there were some announcements between here and then).

So for the heck of it let’s compare:

  • Episode 1 released with the game of course: 4th July 2012
  • Episode 2 released 12th July 2013
  • Episode 3 released 27th August 2014
  • Episode 4 released 27th January 2016

So from that we can say:

  • Episode 1 lasted 12 months
  • Episode 2 lasted 13 months
  • Episode 3 lasted 17 months
  • Episode 4 lasts for at least 18 months going by the roadmap

So at the very least we can say that Episode 4 is looking to end up the longest lasting episode in the game so far. We can also say that they’re slowing down but there’s more going on here. I mean this doesn’t take into account the volume of content added with each episode or the amount of story there was (Episode 1 had more chapters than Episode 2 for example).

I guess for fun we could also project and guess how many episodes PSO2 will have in the end. Sakai once said that he intended the game to last for 10 years and it’s gonna be its 5th year once we get to the end of the current roadmap. That may be no coincidence; it could well be that Episode 5 will end up releasing on the 4th of July 2017 to mark PSO2’s 5th anniversary. It certainly would be thematically appropriate! But yeah how many episodes might we end up with by the time it’s time to take PSO2 out back and put a bullet in its head? Well seeing as they’re slowing down each episode and they have a total of 120 months to get through (60 by the 5th anniversary of course), let’s say 22 months of Episode 5 and  23 months of Episode 6 just to sorta resemble the pattern. By the time this theoretical Episode 6 is out, there’ll only be 15 months of  PSO2’s planned life left and by then we’ll have probably had PSO3 announced or something. So I reckon that’ll be it, I suspect Episode 6 is going to be their final one.

Now to be clear that’s just a bit of fun, I’m not making any serious predictions here. If you’re reading this from the future, let me know if I was right though.

In terms of potential plot points, well we still have the Profound Darkness to deal with which I don’t know if they could stretch that out over two years but you never know. Maybe we’ll end up spending another episode on Earth… :(

PEE VEE FUCKIN PEE

So yeah, chalk this up as another feature I never thought they’d actually add! To be fair, I had plenty of decent reasons as to why something like this wouldn’t work such as latency issues, the game’s wonky class balance, the fact players have 1000hp and are tuned to fight things with 100,000s of HP…

Anyway, I wanted to withhold comment about this since they announced it in the 2nd PSO2 Station because I knew they were going to talk a bit more about it. Irritatingly this is where my lack of Japanese really does hinder me as someone’s clearly explaining mechanics in the background. For now I’m going to have to put together something from my own observations and things I’ve seen mentioned in the community at large.

Class

In order to solve the issue of class imbalance every player is set to the same class in the Battle Arena. It functions much like Challenge Mode in that respect and much like the Challenger class you can use any weapon you find in the field.

In terms of passive abilities, it seems the PVP class has Summoner’s HP Restorate as you slowly recover HP over time.

It seems you recover PP very slowly in this mode too, but I do see it also recovers in bursts without the player seemingly doing anything. It looks like it might be tied to picking up Emblems.

Emblems

The main mechanic of a match seems to be emblem collection. While you can kill enemy players, obviously, it’s not actually the main objective of the match. There are friendly, enemy and neutral (rainbow) emblems, though their individual worth in a match is unknown. It’s assumed that enemy emblems are worth the most to your team. There’s also some kind of effect that can make a lot of emblems appear near your spawn point.

Emblem collection also seems to occasionally have some kind of detrimental effect on the enemy team. The effect shown was a massive stacking Injury debuff which lowered the players HP to something like Fighter’s Limit Break levels.

Weapons

Weapons can be “mined” from various locations, with a bunch of nodes at the spawn point and various nodes placed on the actual field. You can re-roll your weapon by mining a field node, but there’s some kind of cost for doing so. Observed weapons are Sword, Rod and Rifle. There seem to be different tiers, as there’s a regular Sword and a 4* Calibur.

How you actually get the higher tiers of weapons I’m not certain, as during the video the players seem to get them from field nodes and spawn nodes on occasion, but then get the lower tier weapons afterwards. Maybe it’s random?

All weapons have in-built photon arts. Observed are:

  • Sword: Nova Break and a variant of Rising Edge with a greatly extended blade
  • Rifle: Piercing Shell, One Point
  • Rod: Megid, Foie, Zonde
  • You can also run in unarmed if you like but you probably shouldn’t!

Each weapon only has one photon art.

Additionally it seems the weapons do boost your other stats, as Sword users appeared to gain 100 HP or so.

Thoughts

So yeah, making everyone the same class and giving them equal access to all the same gear was one of the only ways they could really make things fair in a game like this. Letting people bring their own class and gear introduces so many variables that I’m not sure you could ever get anything resembling balance with PSO2 having been engineered the way it has been.

I’m also on board with their decision to make it objective based rather than about player duels. Player dueling is at least a small part of the mode however and in that respect I actually think that damage is a little too high still. It’s not really a fight if it’s over in one attack which it seemed to be most of the time in the demo video.

I can’t say I’m a fan of the randomness from a competitive point of view but from a “mode to fuck around in when bored” sense it’s perfect. Like to me, this whole thing comes across as a mode intentionally designed to be not taken seriously, which is for the best as I doubt PSCrew are capable of making something competitive with all the tweaking and balancing that requires.  But really if PSO2 has to have a PVP mode something that’s there just for shits and giggles is pretty acceptable to me.

They haven’t said if there are any items you can earn by playing this mode yet. I kinda hope there aren’t, mostly because I want this to remain a completely optional mini-game rather than something you’re expected to do. I mean, if the mode turns out to be fun then I guess it doesn’t really matter either way but otherwise if there was to be some progression tied to PVP I’d want it to actually be competitive. Competitive PVP is something I just don’t think is ever going to be viable in a game like PSO2 right now, because if nothing else it’s going to have netcode and latency issues that I don’t think PSCrew would ever be able to come up with good solutions for.  Even if they could for Japanese natives, anyone playing from outside would be at a major disadvantage.

December Catchup Post

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So yeah, I’ve been away for a while. The main reason is I wanted to focus all of my attention on creating a game for a month-long Game-Jam. I won’t detail as this blog isn’t for promoting myself, but suffice to say it’s my primary hobby and it’s something I wanted to put some serious energy into getting better at. It was a good month, honestly, so fair warning I may do stuff like that in the future. Hopefully I’ll get better at managing my time as I improve but we’ll see.

But yeah, a fair amount happened since my last post. For one thing, pretty much everything from the first PSO2 Station is now live and the Famitsu Cup came and ended. I’m not going to cover everything that happened, but I will go over the things I had thoughts on and any recently useful information I’m aware of.


December So Far

Christmas is here, which for the Arks means killing things but with Christmas-y music in the background. Hey at least it actually is Christmas music this time around and not the Nights credits theme (thank goodness).

xmasquest.jpg

Merry Christmas on Ice 2016

The quest itself is the standard fare of run around and kill things to make your points go up. The spawns are slightly mixed up by throwing in special bosses from various seasonal events during this year.

You have the standard PSE Burst from wearing the right costumes, but as usual you really just want to clear the quest as quickly as possible. Bursts slow you down, so you’re better off not wearing your Christmas garb for this quest.

What’s potentially interesting is that it seems the callback bosses drop their unique items from their respective events, such as Rainy Day’s Fang Banther dropping Hyper Sunlight. Other drops include:

  • Garel Stones and possibly Nemesis weapons from Diabo
  • Asta Unicorn from White Day Quartz Dragon
  • Eggscarpe from Easter’s Falz Hunar
  • Aura weapons from summer’s Chrome Dragon
  • General Mutation II items from the titled Gal Gryphon
  • Bloodspear Vlam Bram and Raygun Barrel from Halloween’s Zeta Guranz
  • Apparently Dio Hunar can drop items from the current collection file

It’s not terribly great EXP but the quest provides shots at a large variety of rare drops, which may be helpful for those who have unfinished weapons from previous seasons. It also seems to have a pretty decent rate of 2016 Weapon Badges, which well this is basically your last chance to do anything with those before presumably 2017 badges are introduced.

Izane Units

xmasizane

Additionally, it has a small chance of spawning Emperappy or Izanekazuchi. The former is useful as ever for its Emperembrace grind fodder but the latter can drop a solid set of units.

Izane’s unit stats at +10 are:

  • 361 S-Def
  • 340 R-Def
  • 340 T-Def
  • 150 HP
  • 4% Strike, Shoot and Tech resist
  • +20 all attack
  • +20 Dex
  • 6% Lightning Resist
  • 4% Light Resist

These are the same for all three units. They provide no set bonus either, so you can freely mix and match them with other units as required which is nice. Otherwise this set is clearly defense oriented, providing a large amount of HP and general damage resistance as well as higher defensive stats than any unit in the game so far. The major downside to these units is they provide no passive PP bonuses at all, which may put a lot of people off wanting to use them.

With units of this caliber coming out, it could well be the death of Unit crafting. Arguably that’s been dead for a while but chalk up yet another craft skill that’s becoming useless I guess.

Collection Files

This season offers a small but interesting selection of items.

Astral Blaze

astralblaze

My favorite Twin Sabers from Phantasy Star Universe are back. What’s interesting about these weapons is they’re equippable by Fighters, which sorta revives the classic Fighter Bouncer from the Gran Fol days. It’s also usable by Forces and comes with a modest amount of T-Atk (1012 at +10). Has Heavenly Kite as an innate Photon Art.

The potential does the normal thing of boosting damage (11% at level 3) but it also has a curious way of doing PP regeneration. It has two separate rates; one for automatic recovery while in the air (100% at lv3) and another for attack recovery while on the ground (40% at lv3). Given normal attacks don’t stop automatic PP regen, it kinda effectively boosts it in both states. In any case, its high base attack and decent unconditional modifier alone makes roughly on par on Austere (it might be slightly stronger), which makes it a pretty nice weapon for Dual Blade mains.

Its Special Ability Factor is Modulator.

Fornis Ogend

talisidk

The Talis has a curious Potential wherein it boosts damage against enemies weak to Lightning or Light attacks, or the attack’s own element by 14% if the enemy is weak to it. The weapon gives 1% of the damage dealt in healing (up to 50HP) to indicate the potential was active for that attack , much like how the Gryphon NT weapons do.

The power boost on it is slightly conditional, but it’s a significant portion stronger than Austere when active. This is a very strong Talis.

It comes with a Special Ability Factor (need a shorter name for this, maybe just “factor”?) which boosts damage dealt for hitting an enemy with an element they’re weak against by a whopping 2%. While a small number on its own, it does make this weapon a pretty good target for those wanting to min-max elemental damage (though I still think you’re crazy to do this if you’re not a Force!).

Rose Skewer

rosetact

This tact allows people sub-classing Summoner to summon pets. It also has a whopping 40 more attack than your regular Talis, making it the best Talis in the game so far! This is arguably the most interesting item in this Collection File as it allows you to try other combinations of Summoner with pets out. Ever wondered how TeSu with a Shifta Strike Marron would perform? Now you can find out! It also makes raising your subclass easier seeing as you don’t need to go grab extra gear for it.

Related to this. Summoner’s Skill Tree has gone through some changes that open up some interesting options in general. I may go over this in its own post.

13* Maron Egg

Useful for those of you who missed out on the Ultimate Lilipa train and still don’t have a 13* Maron. It’s a useful spike damage pet, though it takes some getting used to. I’m a terrible Summoner so I’m bad at using it.

Necky Collection Files

Seeing as we’re talking about collection files I just wanna share a couple quick thoughts on this set too.

Necky’s Challenge is gone, possibly for good. Despite this, his collection files are gonna persist for another week or two, which seems a little odd. You can’t make progress on certain parts of the files without actually running Necky’s Challenge. So the only people who can start or clear Necky files are those with access to the relevant Quest Triggers, but it still feels like a wierd setup.

I also gotta say that I’m not a fan of the temporary nature of Collection Files in general but it feels extra shoddy when it ends up splitting up weapon series. This happened with the Seiga and Quotz series before; where some of the weapons can be obtained via stones but the rest of the series is now confined to drop-only forever. I don’t know why they can’t just leave the files up or at least make the rest of the series available via stone grind.

This is also kind of a shame for Form Weapons, whose files were made unavailable after the last maintenance. Form Weapons have one of the most interesting potentials in the game so it’s a shame to see them relegated to drop-only in a quest that few people run anymore.

At least the recent change to NT weapon drops where weapons can drop with higher element and grind cap does mean you’re not cursed to finding 5 of your desired weapon anymore. That does take a lot of the burden out of completing them, but to me this doesn’t really make up for the temporary nature of Collection Files particularly when they have such potential to give incentive to under-run content.

2nd Broadcast Catchup

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To be honest, there wasn’t really a lot that happened during the second broadcast to talk about. It mostly showcased some Christmas stuff which we already have and a bunch of costumes, including a collaboration with Persona 5. It did at least show us a bunch more about the upcoming raid-boss “Esca Falz Mother” and the trinkets she could reward us with.

In any case, in this section I’m going to go over things that were revealed during the broadcast. Seeing as new information has come out since though it’d be inappropriate to go speculating just on the broadcast content alone, so I’ll be including whatever has been revealed since.

Raid Details

The raid itself is a two-part quest, with the first part seeing us chasing Esca Falz around with our Rideroids. The Rideroid automatically moves forward and shoots bullets, but the player will have access to two active skills so you won’t just be spending your whole time dodging obstacles. You’ll have access to a homing missile attack which shoots at desired targets and a spinning melee attack which you can use to hit parts which she er.. offers up to you I guess. You also have access to an “Overboost” which speeds you up if you end up falling behind for whatever reason.

You can take damage from obstacles and her attacks, which can be recovered by flying through the green rings from Las Vegas. As far as I know it hasn’t been said what happens if you run out of health, but presumably you’re given a respawn timer much like with the AIS portions of Magatsu and Yamato.

Here’s the  most recent trailer from the official Youtube channel (includes the Persona 5 collab):

The developers have since revealed in a tidbit that your performance in the Rideroid section won’t affect your access to the 2nd part. You’re there to either “shave off her HP” or just wait until time runs out. I’m not sure if this means that your performance in part 1 affects how much HP Mother has in part 2 or if it simply speeds up part 1.

For those unaware, you can actually fight Esca Falz Mother right now if you run the most recent Story Quest (Episode 4 Chapter 7). While naturally she has much less HP in this state, it does at least give you some indication of what to expect during the fight.

Mother uses many mechanics that resemble moves from other Dark Falzes. The two I saw in my encounter were Elder’s arms and meteors as well as a ring of walls from Double. The Double-Wall ring has one open gate which you need to find and exit through quickly or else you’ll take a moderate amount of damage. Datamining suggests she has moves from Apprentice (she does seem to have the bomb-bugs from Mining Base: Demise in the trailer) and Loser, both of which seem to be absent in the single-player version.

She summons Falz Arms during the fight, which act roughly independent of her. They act much like Profound Darkness bits in that if you break all of them, Mother will be stunned for a while and expose a weak-point. She increases the number of Arms each time.

The trailer shows what seems to be your regular raid-wipe move which seems to be absent from the solo encounter. While hard to tell from the limited footage, it seems like you can attack the cubes that are slowing moving towards the epicenter of the attack. It’s possible that this is a DPS check of sorts, but the actual mechanics are unknown for now.

So yeah, kinda neat that we got an interactive preview of the raid this time around!

14* Weapons

Mother will be introducing the first 14* weapons, with the Katana “Kasami Notachi” (reminiscent of PSO’s Kasami Bracer ), the Assault Rifle “Spread Needle” and the Rod “Eternal Psychodrive”. These weapons will not have collection files and so will be drop-only. The drop rates are expected to be very low (lower than Austere!), however interestingly they’ve engineered it so you’ll only ever need to get one drop to complete the weapon. They will drop with a +35 grind limit and max element, which means you won’t need to feed it additional copies of itself to finish it. You will need to grind them as you would any other NT weapon otherwise.

Kasami Notachi

14katana

Additionally usable by Hunters.

Spread Needle

14sneedle.jpg

The devs noted that this is also Gunner equip-able, which is kinda a moot point given Gunners can use all Rifles…

There’s an unconfirmed rumour that this weapon may be able to fire multiple bullets per normal shot. If true, I assume it shoots in a spread pattern much like the original Spread Needle.

Eternal Psychodrive

14epd

Usable by Techers.

In essence, these weapons feel like the spiritual successor to the 12* drops from Elder way back in the day; Ultra rare drops that you might only see one of every so often across the entire server! However, they did also say that 12* units would drop less often than Saiki units which much of the player-base came to doubt rather quickly whilst farming Ultimate Amduscia. Of course, we don’t actually know the metric they were using to compare the drop-rate to because if it was comparing it to Giguru Ginnegam’s drop rate…

Assuming the rumour about Spread Needle turns out to be true, I can’t help but ponder if the other two weapons will have unique abilties as well. I couldn’t hazard a guess as to what they’d be, but I’m all for more interesting abilities on weapons that aren’t just power boosts. We need more weapons like the Form series, because it offers up shifts in game-play and increases the functional diversity of weapons in general. If this means fewer weapons that’s fine because PSO2 has too many weapons as it is…

Astra Weapons

Mother’s collection file introduces an entirely new weapon series to the game; the Astra series. Presumably these can also drop. According to recent information from the developers this series is intended to be a replacement for Austere. I know I’ve defended Austere in the past mostly due to the sheer number of steps you had to go through to get one, but the weapons are now a year old so it really is time to move on. Whether or not they will be a true Austere killer all comes down to their stats and potential of course, which regarding that…

It seems its potential may be as follows:

  • Lv1. Boosts damage by 6% and increases PP recovered by when attacking by 20%
  • Lv2. Boosts damage by 9% and increases PP recovered by when attacking by 30%
  • Lv3. Boosts damage by 12% and increases PP recovered by when attacking by 40%

This data was mined from PSO2es by someone from the Arks Visiphone site. If correct, that does make these weapons particularly useful for the PP-heavy but slow-recovery weapon types such as Sword, Partizan and Knuckles. It’s less useful for those who have no issues recovering PP, although these are still solid weapons in terms of overall damage.

Are they an upgrade from Austere? Well assuming this turns out to be their potential, I feel like if you already have an affixed Austere weapon I reckon you’re fine to stick with what you got unless you main any of the three weapons mentioned earlier. They’d be an upgrade but it’s such a minor one that I’d question if it was worth putting in the Meseta for a new round of Affixes.

We’ll see. I remember speculating that a completely unrelated potential was going to turn out to be for Gix weapons. That’s just one of the pitfalls of Datamining, sometimes you’re left guessing.

Incidentally, much like with Austere weapons, the Collection files will require you to run content outside of the raid to complete. We can see a blurred out Vegas Illusia in the trailer, but according to the update page it involves various enemies from Earth. At the very least you might have to hit up Riding Quests or Vegas Free Field or something.

Mother also drops a unit set, but there’s currently no information about them at all. Hopefully they’re not as rare as Invade units…

The End – For Now

That’s all for now. I was going to write up some stuff about the PVP mode coming up because boy have I got some opinions on that but I’m holding that back because we’re apparently going to get a live demo of that sometime soon. If so, I may as well wait for that to come out before I really talk about it at any length. I will say, my gut feeling is that it’ll be an unbalanced mess but something completely optional that shouldn’t have any major impact on the game as whole. I’m just hoping nothing too valuable ends up attached to it.

Come the 17th, we’ll have the 3rd PSO2 Station. Assuming I’m in good health then I’ll be doing my usual write-up of it when it hits. This one is a potentially interesting one as they’ll be going over some of the January updates as well as I believe they’ll be revealing the next long-term Schedule. Given Episode 4 may be coming to a close in the coming weeks, we may start to see the first shreds of Episode 5 peeking their way around the corner. There’s been nothing mentioned about Episode 5 yet, nor has there been anything particularly tantalizing from data-mining in that regard. This could mean Episode 5 is further off than Episode 4 was this time last year.

 

Ultimate Amduscia: Thoughts and Tidbits

deaddeadlion.jpg

Today saw the release of Ultimate Amduscia. So was it worth the year long wait? Is the gear any good? This and other important life questions will be considered momentarily, while also throwing in some actually useful information.

Note that the community is still figuring a fair amount of things out. As such, the contents of this post may change in the coming days.

On an unrelated note, WordPress seems to kill the contents of

tags now. That’s why this post lacks the black bar titles that are in most of my posts these days. I can’t figure out a way to prevent WordPress from modifying my tags, so for now I’m having to use the default headers. Custom CSS is a paid feature so..

The Quest Itself


ultquest_maingate

So rather than do the circuit-style of the other two quests, we instead have semi-randomized spawns with a fixed layout. The map is split into sections which you teleport to randomly, which then chooses from a small selection of fixed spawns.

box_deubles

One of these sections is guaranteed to be a Box Duvals and it seems like every run has at least one spawn of Darker Abberations. There’s a chance one of the spawns will be replaced with an additional shot at a  boss.

After going through 4 different sections the big forcefield is dispelled and you’ll face off against either Gruzoras Drago or Drago Deadlion. After defeating them, the new Anga Fundarge spawns and after defeating that the quest is clear. So yes, you will always get an Anga Fundarge and at least one boss here, unlike in previous Ultimate Quests.

An average run should last between 6 to 10 minutes, depending on MPA quality and a bit of luck. Rank is based on time, with an S rank requiring you to clear the quest within 7 minutes. If you manage to do this, you’ll earn a title that rewards you with a Gix unit.

archer_room.jpg
This room full of archers is arguably the biggest obstacle to getting an S-rank. The archers are spread throughout the room, far beyond Zondeel range. The MPA will need to split up ideally one person per archer.

So yeah, I actually like this approach to the quest to be honest. It’s random enough but it gives you fair shots at just about everything the quest has to offer. This makes filling out the collection files much less frustrating than the Vegas files ended up being.

In terms of difficulty, it’s a little lacking for end-game players. Players at the top end are so well geared that very little gets to live long enough to do anything, but an average MPA may find things hectic enough that you at least don’t feel completely safe. I feel like most deaths will come from getting randomly combo’d in all the chaos.

Oh, and you’ll need to be lv75 on both Main and Subclass in order to participate. I’m not really sure why as the quest’s overall difficulty really doesn’t warrant it, but it’s there so you’re gonna have to deal with it.

New Gear 


The arrival of the Gix series, 12* units and a few other bits and bobs. I’ll go over what’s known here, but be aware that this is still being researched.

Collection Files

gix_sheets

Ultimate Amduscia’s collection files all offer similar sort of gear; an 11* Sun God weapon matching the weapon class of the file and various 11*/10* junk. Each part of the file requires kills of a specific boss in the quest to progress. Essentially, only boss kills will progress you towards completing these files.

Summoner gained collection files for eggs, which is interesting in its own right. It’s also fair, all things considered, as pets are essentially their weapons.

Zinga, Aero and Popple require the same things as the Gix weapons do; kills of various Ultimate Amduscia bosses. They give out various candy board items, including a Spirita Cookie + 3, rolls of various types, 2-layer pancakes and candy canes.

Synchro was added to the Trick or Treat files, offering a 2-layer pancake, Technicookie and Stamina Cookie.

As for wether or not the new pets are any good I’m the wrong person to ask. I simply don’t play summoner enough to say.

Gix Weapons

The Gix series boasts he highest base stats of all weapons in the game. On initial thoughts, the potential was unnerving but as it turns out it’s actually a strong set of weapons overall.

  • Gain a damage bonus that increases in power over time, up to a maximum of 20% at lv3.
  • The base power boost is 6%, though it may he higher at higher levels (up to 8% at Lv3)
  • Weapons that belong to a given attack type all have a mechanism that will reset the currently gained bonus to base.
  • Damage bonus resets to base if a mate item is used. This includes through Automate skills. Takes 70 seconds to fully charge.
    • Sword
    • Wired Lance
    • Partizan
    • Twin Daggers
    • Double Saber
    • Knuckles
    • Katana
  • Damage bonus resets to base if you take any damage. Takes 50 seconds to fully charge.
    • Gunslash
    • Dual Blades
    • Assault Rifle
    • Launcher
    • Twin Machinegun
    • Bullet Bow
    • Wand
    • Jetboots
  • Damage bonus resets to base if you use any evade skills. Takes 60 seconds to fully charge.
    • Rod
    • Talis
  • Swapping weapons will reset the bonus.

These are all conditions that are likely to happen very frequently making it overall impractical to stay at maximum power. That said, due to their high stats their base effectiveness is actually pretty close to Austere (within 2%) and you won’t have to wait too long before the weapon actually out-damages them. You may have to change your game-play approach in order to get the most out of them.

Should you upgrade from Austere? That’s up to you, personally I’d say refrain if you’re really comfortable with your playstyle. If you don’t have an Austere yet then I’d recommend getting one of these over it as they’re almost as strong at their worst and they’re much, much easier to get.

Due to the mechanics of the potential, melee users who only use one weapon type now benefit greatly from having a dedicated healer in the party. Keep the Gix using melee train topped up with Resta and they’ll be able to maintain max power for longer. The value of support-oriented Friend Partners may have increased a tad…

Of course the fact you can’t swap weapons is a bit of a liability if you’re aiming to keep max power up.

Less mainstream combinations can make use of these weapons; such as the self-healing HuSu as well as HuTe. Any melee combination that has access to Resta, Megiverse or some auto-heal that doesn’t consume Mate items essentially. I guess it’s nice they got chucked a bone, eh? Even with a weapon as strong as this behind it though, the likes of HuSu and HuTe would not be able to compete with HuFi for damage, so it’s really not recommended.

 

I still personally think they look like poorly made hunks of plastic…

Boss Weapons

Names are my own interpretations. Let’s just say I’m no translater, so awaiting better names for em.

Gruzoshoes

  • Drops from Gruzoras Drago
  • Lv3 Potential boosts damage by 6%, reduces incoming damage by 20% and makes you immune to knockbacks.

Deadliogridda

  • Drops from Drago Deadlion
  • Lv3 Potential boosts damage by 6%, reduces incoming damage by 20% and makes you immune to knockbacks.

Box Duvleos

  • Drops from Box Duvals
  • Lv3 Potential boosts damage by 6%, reduces incoming damage by 20% and makes you immune to knockbacks.

Kind of a nifty potential. In fact, the wand would have been pretty amazing were it not for the addition of Form Wand with Vegas a while back. If you missed that gravy train however, this would be a solid wand to pick up. Knockback immunity would be pretty handy for Knuckles too, with the damage resist making you that bit more durable while using Limit Break. I’m not familiar enough with Jet Boots to say if the protection from knockback would be that helpful.

Units and Set Bonuses 


12* units are here and they’re also remarkably underwhelming in terms of stats. We were told a little bit back by the developers that Austere units would not be becoming irrelevant just yet!

Ray Units

  • Individually, they provide 50HP, 9PP, 25 all attack, 2% all resist.
  • They can be dropped by Profound Darkness Lv76+
  • Ray units have a set bonus with Ray weapons, granting you an additional 60 Dexterity…

Gruzoras Unit

  • Rear only.
  • Can be dropped by Gruzoras Drago.
  • Provides 40 T-atk, 15PP, 1% strike resistance and 2% fire resistance.
  • Gruzoras’ unit pairs up with the Jetboots it can drop, granting a measly 40 T-def…

Deadlion Unit

  • Arm only
  • Can be dropped by Dragon Deadlion
  • Provides 150HP, 40 S-Atk, 3% Strike Resist, 2% Fire Resist, 1% Tech Resist.
  • Set bonus currently unknown.

Gix Unit

  • Arm only
  • Title reward for clearing Ultimate Amduscia with an S-rank
  • Can apparently drop, but source is unknown.
  • Provides 50HP, 10PP, +30 all attack.
  • The Gix unit can pair up with any Gix weapon to give you 20 Dex and 2% Light and Dark resistance…

What’s with these limp set bonuses? I know they don’t want to make Austere irrelevant yet but jeez this is treading just a tad too carefully! The bonuses are so bad they may as well not exist. The base stat bonuses they provide are actually pretty alright, with the Ray set being particularly decent.

The main draw to 12* units is of course the ability to socket L / Skill Rings into them, allowing you to effectively equip 5 rings at once (including your R/Ring). While an alluring prospect, it does mean actually obtaining a full set of 12* units, which means you’ll need to re-affix the lot of them. Add in that you’re also losing a potentially decent set bonus and the whole thing is a lot less attractive. It may be better to hold out for a bigger upgrade if you’re already sporting a good set of units (Saiki, Orbit, Austere and a select few others). Again, like with Gix weapons, if you lack such gear then go for it.

So yeah generally an underwhelming update for those ready for the next tier of gear.I mean we don’t really have a new tier of content to use this gear on anyway, but that hasn’t stopped them before!

Thoughts 


So yeah, overall it’s a fun enough quest. I like the approach they took with this one it’s just a shame the gear in it is considered underwhelming for those at the upper end of the gear spectrum. The enemies are fun enough, the bosses are particularly decent.Hopefully the quest doesn’t suffer the same fate as Riding Quests and end up near impossible to get runs going in the near future. However, the quest isn’t so difficult that you couldn’t just get a group of 3 or more people together to get a good clear. That’s at least one positive note with regard to the quest’s overall lack of difficulty.

Let me know if any information is wrong in this post. There was still some unknown stuff as of writing this, so as said at the start the post’s content may change.

Gotta Go Fast – Tokyo TA and Tidbits

skullhead.jpg

The September 21st update added a new time-attack quest set in Tokyo. Just gonna do a brief write-up of it as well as go over some additional tidbits concerning the content update this October.

Tokyo Time Attack


This one is a bit more of a parkour-ish obstacle course than the other time attacks. While there’s no real puzzle to solve, you’re still going to need to learn where enemies spawn particularly for the boost-ring sections. You’ll also need decent platforming and timing skills as well as very high damage output for the final block. This quest is not particularly friendly to certain class combos, particularly anything dependent on striking weak-points.

Enemies will grant EXP but they will not drop anything. As such, they will not count towards collection files. There is also no new Client Order for this quest.

dynamic_entry

Enemies are a bit of a mix in terms of stat mods. All enemies placed around boost rings have reduced HP, though for some you’ll still need to have passed between 2 rings in order to one-shot them with the kick. The rest of the enemies have their regular free-field HP (not the slightly reduced Arks Quest variety), which is particularly important for the final block.

Platforming

platforming

There are two sections in the quest which will require you to do some platforming (not counting the first one which is just to introduce you to the concept). The first is easy enough, though the final jump will require you to hit jump at pretty much the last second to make it.

The second is a bit rougher, as you’ll need to avoid being bombarded or you’ll lose your runspeed as well as having to land on much more narrow platforms. Your controller best be in good shape if you’re not using Mouse and Keyboard!

The final block is a fight against Train Ghidoran. As said, this is using Free-Field levels of HP so it is very durable. What’s more is as time goes on more and more enemies will spawn; starting with 2 tanks, then adding in helicopters and roadrollers. The longer the fight is, the harder it’ll be!

Thoughts

It’s a fun enough quest, though it will be particularly rough on some class combos due to the nature of Train Ghidoran and lack of weak-points on many enemies. The quest essentially favours high-burst short attack time classes or any that can crowd-control Ghidoran effectively. As such, the likes of Banish-Graptor combos won’t be of much use here as Train Ghidoran doesn’t really expose itself for long enough for them to even hit.

Is it worth running over others for your weekly TACOs? Honestly no, but it’s short enough that you could run it for something different to do so it’s a bit like Traces of Darkness in that respect. Naberius 2 and Harukotan remain the most efficient ways to do your weeklies for now.

New Skill Rings


 

So turns out there were a bunch of other skill rings announced during TGS that sorta escaped the main show I guess, which Gheaven covered here. Most of them seem to be support oriented, I’ll go over them quickly;

L / Just Reversal JA Combo

  • Just Reversals will gain a Just-Attack window

R / Just Reversal PP Gain

  • Recovers PP on successful Just Reversals.

A lot of Just Reversal oriented rings coming up it seems, two  of which are L / Rings. I doubt that JA Combo will be interesting enough for people to want to socket into 12* units, mind.

R /  Healing Guard

  • Heals you and others close to you when you successfully activate a Just-Guard effect.

Not really sure who this ring is for, as melee-weapon types generally have access to Healing Guard anyway. This ring just enables those who don’t run a Hunter sub to use it I guess.

R / Wide Support

  • Like Techer’s Wide Area Support; greatly increases the area of Resta, Shifta, Deband and Anti.

Again, I’m not sure who this is for. Force typically won’t be able to use it because they run Techer sub and you probably don’t want to get buffed by a Bouncer/Hunter… though I guess any Shifta is better than no Shifta! Pretty sure there are better rings that a Bouncer is much more likely to be wearing, mind.

The most interesting of this bunch is “L/Non Weak Bonus“, which will allow Launcher attacks to count for Weak-Hit Advance bonuses even if they’re not hitting weak spots. This is a significant buff for Launchers as you might expect, though I do wonder what limitations may be put on it. Weak-Hit Advance specifically boosts damage from shooting attacks, but not all Launcher Photon Arts are. Crazy Smash for example is R-Atk scaling striking damage, which may mean it won’t benefit from this ring. In any case, Launcher users rejoice because your weapon is going to be a lot more effective once this ring arrives.

These rings will be added with the rest some time in October.

Custom PA/Tech Details


With the release of the official update page came a few details about the upcoming custom PA/Techs. Lets go over them

Sacrifice Bite: Type Zero

  • Speeds up the photon absorption
  • Boosts the power and range of normal and step-attacks

So that blade-extension effect was not just for show! As a Hunter main I’m obviously fairly eager to see how much of an effect this has on my play-style. The additional range and power should mitigate the PP issues that Sword can suffer from.

Straight Charge: Type Zero

  • Hold the button to continue sailing through enemies while dealing constant damage
  • Constantly drains PP while in use

Nothing really new about this.

Parallel Slider: Type Zero

  • Allows you to shoot while moving around in a hovering motion.
  • If used mid-air, will allow you to gently fall during the attack.
  • IT’S JUST LIKE ONE OF MY ANIMES

The mid-air detail is new, though I don’t think Ranger really has that much trouble dealing with airborn enemies. Might make the pre-broken knee portion of Magastu more fun if you’re incline to use anything other than End Attract I guess?

Sharp Bomber: Type Zero

  • Allows you to shoot while jumping forward as well as backward.
  • Charging the attack greatly increases its power

Nothing really new about this.

Strike Gust: Type Zero

  • Holding the button extends the rising portion of the attack.
  • Removes the charge portion, so you’ll be able to spam this attack more often

I don’t know enough about Jet-boot usage to really comment on this, though removing the charge portion of the attack does at least give them a directed quick-fire attack which I believe they sorta lacked? Correct me if I’m wrong on this.

Safoie: Type Zero

  • Before casting it closes distance with the target
  • Makes it easier to land the attack
  • More powerful when charged

Ramegid: Type Zero

  • Causes orbs to orbit you
  • Enemies will take damage at set intervals on contact with orbs
  • The charged version will have shorter intervals.

No new details for the techs. Much the same thoughts as before; these are both seemingly engineered to make melee Techer’s life easier.

Class Rebalance


 

So turns out those two new skills heading Summoner’s way in October were indeed not the “Class Rebalance” listed on the long-term schedule. Sega made a post here on their update page for October laying out all of the changes. With thanks to translations provided by this PSOWorld post.

General

  • All stances will have their time limits removed and become infinite.

The main thing I have to say is why the fuck did this change take 4 and a half years to implement? Even more bafflingly so after they introduced this very feature for Wand Lovers all that time ago! Stance skills should have been this way from the start, so this is a welcome quality-of-life adjustment it’s just it kind of makes me despair that it took them this long to realise timers on stances were not a good idea…

Hunter

  • Improved guard-cancel timing on Rising Edge

Should help with preventing incoming damage when using this; as being locked into the animation and having an attack go from tell to finish before you can guard did kind of suck.

  • Larger AoE and slower fall on Nova Strike

Nova Strike already has decent AoE I think, so I’m curious to see how much larger they intend to make it. Not sure what function the slower fall would serve…

  • Improved Just-Attack timing, reduced PP cost and increased speed of Stun Concide

Why?

  • Improved guard-cancel timing on Guilty Break

I guess this adjustment is to make it a better travelling PA as right now it’s a little awkward for this (you can only cancel just after the first strike has started, giving it a kind of stop-start effect.)

  • Improved JA timing on Ignite Parrying

Not entirely sure of the purpose of this change, unless it’s to make it easier to chain Ignite Parrying together.

  • Improved JA and guard-cancel timing on Kaiser Rise. Adjusted timing of attack damage.

Again, I assume this is to make it easier to spam the attack.

Hunter got the most changes of all the classes. All fairly minor changes, eh? This is going to be the trend for the rest of this balance update as you’ll see.

Fighter

  • Improved speed of Surprise Dunk

So double-saber users can throw themselves into the action more quickly I guess.

  • L/Knuckle Chase now affects Quake Howling when used midair

Odd change, not sure why they did this. Perhaps knuckle users would be more informed.

Ranger

  • Improved cancel timing and added i-frames to Impact Slider

Gunner

  • Improved JA timing and Stlyish Roll cancel timing of Dive Roll shoot when using TMGs

Braver

  • Reduced hit-stop of Katana Gear counter

Was this even that big of an issue? I admittedly am only a casual Katana user at best, but compared to the hit-stop I experience on other weapon types I can’t say I ever really noticed this.

Summoner

  • Sped-up attack timing of Cery Chaser
  • Sped up attack timing of Cery Fall and increased period of time enemies are stopped

A bit of help for Cery, which is a pet I just don’t see used that often anymore. Not helped that I believe Maron Chaser is considered superior to Cery Chaser, but I’m not experienced enough to say if that’s true or not.

  • 12* pets can now be raised to Lv110

I take it this means that you’ll be able to visit Pietro for Pet Limit Breaking with 12* pets now. The current cap for 12* pets is lv95 and there’s a fairly significant stat gain between that and 110. Essentially, this is a big buff to 12* pets, though honestly I could swear that 13* pets are more common.

Sakai’s Favorite: Gunslash

Yet more changes for a weapon class that no one uses now and no one will use after.

  • Improved JA timing of Step Attack
  • Improved JA timing and cancel timing of Tri Impact Type Zero
  • Added I-frames to Thrillerplode
  • Improved speed and reduced hit-stop of Slash Rave
  • Improved cancel timing of Kreuzanschlag

All improvements, all things people likely won’t notice because no one uses Gunslashes seriously.

So yeah, overall these are a bunch of minor tweaks and quality of life changes. Slightly disappointing as there’s a bunch of Hunter and general issues I’m aware of that I’m sad they didn’t address and I’m sure those more specifically experienced with other classes feel similarly. I guess I expect a class balance to shake up the meta slightly, which in this case the only two classes this may have a chance of happening for are Hunter and Summoner I feel. Wether the changes for either class will turn out to be all that significant or not we won’t know until they’re out I guess.

Of course, while the class balance changes are mostly minor the addition of L/Non Weak Bonus and some of the Photon Art crafts may shake things up significantly enough on their own! That’s all for this post; it ended up a bit longer than I intended but there were a fair number of little tidbits this time. As always, let me know if there’s anything I got particularly wrong.

 

Towards the Future: Elite Blocks

gettin_upstaged

Sega is considering adding special blocks which will require players to have cleared specific content before they’re allowed to enter. The aim of this is to filter out unskilled players so that they can design more difficult content down the line without the issues that this presents right now. Currently, their idea is to have the requirement be to have cleared Heaven and Hell floors 1-5, but this may change in the future as its still under discussion. This lock is allegedly going to be treated as a kind of “entrance exam” for the harder content they want to do.

The Scrub Problem


It’s something that seems to have been on some players’ minds for some time, but now even Sega is considering a solution to this problem. So you want to run endgame content, to team up with your peers and take down tough enemies that would either be too difficult or take too long to do by yourself? So you hop on down from your campship and lo and behold, your peers are carrying un-grinded blue weapons or whatever 10-11* junk they happened to find and are proudly adourning their ungrinded unaffixed Gal Griffon units. Then you check out their classes and find that if they even have a subclass at all it’s a completely bizarre one like HuFo or SuRa and it’s only lv10 or so… shit.

Yeah running things like Mining Base or any lv80 raid boss that isn’t Yamato with people who freshly reached lv75 but haven’t addressed their gear yet can be a wholesomely frustrating experience. There’s not much you can do about it personally, as you’re at the mercy of real RNG essentially as to who you end up with when you join a group. Thankfully, the problem is largely mitigated by the fact that most runs can be carried by a handful of well geared players but this does present somewhat of a design problem for Sega.

Now I’m gonna go on record by saying that I don’t hate people who are under-geared by default and most shouldn’t either. Generally speaking, they’re not joining runs to ruin your day and the vast majority are not joining your run to be a “leech” either. They may be genuinely unaware that their gear matters all that much (thanks to how PSO2 is designed, this is fairly common) or that their performance is sub-par or it could just be that the very quest they joined is their only choice to get the gear they need for varying reasons. I may go into detail discussing this in another post..

For Difficulty’s Sake


Sega’s stance with PSO2 has been one where veterans and scrubs alike can play together. There’s nothing wrong with this goal on the face of it, it’s just that it does limit their design somewhat. They can’t make harder content because of it, I mean in the grand scheme of things the recently buffed Profound Darkness is incredibly easy and that’s already annoying enough with a party with enough fresh 75s in it. Imagine if there was a run which required everyone to be well built, well geared and deeply familiar with their class as a baseline? It’d be an utter nightmare to queue for.

The addition of some kind of filter should in theory help alleviate this problem, though difficulty in its own right is a complex issue. Designing hard content for a multiplayer game goes beyond just challenging people’s gear and knowledge; it involves teamwork too.

As a good example, look at Challenge Mode: Mission Start. Clearing this quest requires predetermined roles to be filled, which are often negotiated at the start of the quest. You need someone to tag unkillable bosses, someone to pick up VR capsules, someone to be taken by the Fanji who can burn down Dark Ragne quickly among other things I’ve likely forgotten. PSO2 in general doesn’t really have many teamwork mechanics, there’s only really a few I can think of that actually work:

  • Techer Shifta and Deband
  • Zondeel
  • Zanverse
  • Weakbullet

That’s it. Those are really all the viable team-work mechanics (that arent “do damage”) and they can all be done by 2 different classes. If you combined those two together you’d get the fabled “ultimate support” but you should probably never run that build…

Now, before you start, yes I know there are other skills that are “teamwork” oriented but I said “viable”. Unfortunately, most of the skills in the game outside of these just aren’t effective enough in the current state of things to really be useful. Chain is a bit of an outlier, as you minorly benefit from others using normal attacks in order for your Chain Finish to be all the more powerful.

Essentially, PSO2 has three roles a player can fill:

  • DPS
  • Techer
  • Weakbullet – the giver of which is also a DPS

That’s it! This isn’t actually a criticism in case it sounds like one, I don’t necessarily mind things being like this as I have my issues with games employing the old “holy trinity” system among other things. It just means that they’re much more limited in terms of what they can design, because there aren’t really many roles for them to exploit from just the classes alone.

Again, this isn’t necessarily a problem. Like imagine if there were 12 different defined roles that players needed to fill. Can you imagine how much of a nightmare it would be to cobble such a group together from randoms?

Anyway I think I’ve ranted enough about this aspect. The thing to take away from this I feel is the players want harder content, the devs want to give us harder content, but due to how PSO2 is designed this won’t make things easy to pull off.

The Entrance Exam


So ignoring the difficulties of making difficult content, is the entrance exam they propose appropriate? Would it work? Are other tests more appropriate or is the whole idea potentially bad for the game as a whole?

The proposal is for the “Solo Extreme Quest” Heaven and Hell floors 1-5. Anyone who has run the quest should know that 6-10 is considerably harder than 1-5 which is a fair enough point. It’s not a terribly high bar to pass but it is a bar; there are plenty of players who, with the gear they turn up to endgame raid quests with, couldn’t even do that! So in theory it could act as a filter against fresh or lazy lv75s.

Of course the community has proposed their own ideas, including having floors 6-10 be the requirement, clearing XH Traces of Darkness in less than 8 minutes (solo), doing a direct build/gear/affix check before you’re allowed to enter among other things.

A potential problem with having an entrance exam be too strict is it may filter out otherwise decent players that aren’t specifically built for the entrance exam. Glass-cannon DPS will find Heaven and Hell 6-10 extremely difficult compared to a tankier build. You wouldn’t want an MPA filled with tanks though would you? Similarly, XH Traces of Darkness is awful for builds that would otherwise be a god-send to your MPA.

So what about gear? It shouldn’t be difficult to check for +10/+40 on weapons, or +10 on armor. It gets trickier when you then add in crafting, weapon rarity, weapon potentials, element choice and build synergy. Then there’s affixes! There’s all sorts of issues with affixes as there’s not really a “one size fits all” build for them. There’s also the issue that under the current gearing meta, affixes add a barely significant amount to your DPS anyway (most of it is coming from your weapon and build). Even if you could add such rigorous checks, you still run the risk of pigeonholing people too narrowly, again filtering out players that may be beneficial to your raid group.

Then there’s builds. As you can imagine, creating checks for builds could be a very complicated problem; especially again as you might want someone to be in what would otherwise be an inefficient build (say, TeSu) but is otherwise a very powerful support character (TeSu has the strongest Zanverse in the game as far as I know). Even the simpler check of class/subclass is prone to letting bad players through; FiHu sounds like a safe bet but they could be a wierd Guard-Stance build oriented around Chase Advance. Or a FoTe who still thinks it’s 2012 and is running a Lightning focused tree using Photon Flare.The specific builds are unimportant, the big thing is testing based on a build is prone to ignoring useful edge-cases and may make dangerous assumptions on “accepted” builds.

Essentially, pigeonholing by having too strict a set of entry requirements would limit their ability to design challenging content in much the same way as letting everyone play together regardless of build or gearing would. It’d be a self-defeating system.

Finally there’s the question of is this healthy for the game in the long term? Consider the case where we have a good, reliable entrance exam that filters out the scrubs. Great, the veterans can all band together and play hard content in harmony. But what’s preventing them from playing the easy content this way too? Consider an easy-ish raid Emergency Quest comes along. The veterans all pile into their elite blocks to avoid the filthy noobs, you now have nothing but noobs piled together. This could make runs much more frustrating for them than they need to be and it may even trap them in progression hell if they actually need to complete those quests to graduate into the elite blocks.

If handled right, having a pile of noobs together could work out, because as they can’t be carried by a veteran it could force them to learn how to play the game better. This may also highlight their gear/DPS shortcomings and force them to gear up so they themselves can get better runs. So it’s not all potential doom and gloom, I’m just not 100% convinced it’d actually work out this way.

Anyway, this was a long-ass rant. I felt I had a lot to say on this subject but ultimately it’s just my opinion. I’m likely wrong on some things. If you made it this far, thank you for reading and I hope what i wrote was enjoyable or thought provoking in some way.