PSO2: The South-East Asian Hype Train

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Recently it seems the region lock preventing people outside of the South-East Asia territories from connecting without a VPN has been lifted. This means at least for now, anyone can play a fully English version of the game.

This should be good, right? I should be happy about this and hyping it up to people who were holding back from starting the game due to the fact parts of the Japanese version will always be in Japanese despite the awesome efforts of the patch team. Well I’m not, and I’m even somewhat concerned about the hype train going on about it. Don’t get me wrong, as a fan I’m happy to see that people are still excited about this game but I worry people are getting ahead of themselves and don’t know what they’re in for. Particularly as the news seems to be spreading fast.

Now I’ve read plenty of rumours about the SEA version of the game and to look into them I’ve made an account over there to see if there’s any truth to them. I’ve only reached about lv14, mind, so there’s some things I have yet to confirm. I may detail more stuff in a future post, we’ll see. At most I just want to make sure that people know what they’re getting into and to confirm/dispel any of the rumours about the game. Overall I want people to be making more informed decisions and to not be swept up by the hype train and shocked by what they find.

Update: As of the 22nd of July it seems the IP block has been re-instated. This means you’ll need a VPN if you want to keep playing on the SEA servers.

The IP Block (or lack thereof) 

The first thing is the lock itself. There hasn’t been any official acknowledgement of it yet by Playpark, meaning there’s a fair chance that it was removed by accident. This means that at any time the lock could be re-established, barring you from playing without a VPN. Now, it’s true that to an extent, the non-native Japanese playerbase faces a similar issue however the reason players were blocked from the Japanese servers were not as deliberate as with the SEA servers.

This naturally should be a significant concern for anyone thinking of investing real money into this game, but shouldn’t bar anyone from just checking the game out if they want to.

Content Lag

Currently the final area of PSO2 SEA is Lilipa’s Quarry area, which was added to the Japanese servers on September 4th 2013. This roughly puts the servers around 2 years behind the Japanese version. You’re getting considerably less content, however frankly this is likely to be a danger with the official western servers as well should they ever come to be. The SEA version also has yet to have its first Tower Defense quest, which is something we got on the Japanese servers back in 2013. This should not be taken as a direct indicator as to when to expect content however, as updates aren’t arriving entirely in order on SEA.

For players who never encountered any of the content this really doesn’t make much of a difference anyway, however it’s something to be aware of.

Photon Art Balance

The only word that need be said in this section is “Nazonde”. For some reason, this tech has been absurdly overpowered for a while. This speaks somewhat negatively about how much the company cares about player feedback on the issue. How strong is it you might ask? Well.. video speaks more than words here.

Incidentally, that’s a Force/Hunter. Yes, a Force/Hunter. Using a junk rod and no affixes. That should say it all, really. To compare, as a lv75/75 FoTe (non-lightning specced) with +70 T-atk on all gear I do a whopping 2000 damage a pulse with Nazonde on the Japanese version. That’s how broken this Technique is right now!

I can’t really form an opinion on how quick Playpark are to address balance issues as I haven’t interacted with them long enough. The Japanese servers have had their fair share of balancing issues as well (and arguably still do) however I’m not sure they’ve had anything as severe as Nazonde on SEA.

Localisation

The localisation on SEA is extremely spotty in places. I made a post comparing names across the patch team’s efforts and SEA in the past. Essentially series specific names were dropped in favor of things that people could more easily relate to, such as renaming “Force” to “Wizard” and “Braver” to “Samurai” and “Monomate” to “Health Drink” among a long list of other changes.

Does this matter much? I can’t argue for you. This bothers some people hugely and others frankly couldn’t give a shit. You can call whatever as dumb a name as you like as far as I’m concerned, but when you’re naming it different things in different places such as Oceanids in e-trial names and quest objectives, Neptunians in some quest text, Sea Kings in other random places, all referring to the same enemy type. There’s also Vaadersoma (tips call it Vardha Soma), rare counterpart Embryo Vardha and Big Varder, soul is “Vardha Soul”… You can find some more examples here. Note that some of it has actually changed, so work is being done by them to make things more consistent, but still something to be aware of.

It’s a mess, basically. If this kind of thing will bother you, beware.

Pay To Win

Now I know what some of you are thinking, “PSO2JP is P2W as well!”, but hear me out because it’s more exaggerated on PSO2SEA.

According to some posts I’ve seen, it largely revolves around outfits. Outfits are exclusively cash content, much like with the Japanese version, but unlike there they can come with affixes.

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These affixes are absurdly strong compared to anything you could create on regular gear and what’s more the game’s content appears to be balanced around them. The gear can confer some serious defensive stats, so in an attempt to likely make the gear seem more attractive all monsters in the game apparently deal significantly more damage than in the Japanese version. Unless you go Guard-stance or are able to never ever get hit you’re going to find life much harder unless you pony up. What’s worse is apparently these abilities are time-limited and they expire just about when it’s time for the next round of cash-shop items to turn up.

Sadly I’m too low level to confirm the enemy damage rumour, so if I get the chance I’ll do a comparison in another post.

While on the subject of cash…

ECONOMY

Players familiar with the Japanese version are going to likely say that the economy is an issue on PSO2JP as well, seeing as dance lobby actions and some hairstyles usually go for 20M+ on JP. However, searching a few items on the SEA server does seem to suggest that things are at least a little more expensive over there. Whether this is due more to inflation or it’s simply down to content differences is a little more tricky to say.

Here are a few item price comparisons (noting that I’m comparing SEA Ship 1 to JP Ship 2):

  • Item – SEA price(JP price)
  • Photon Sphere – 156,000 – (20,000)
  • Grinder – 6,000 – (1050)
  • Grind Risk +1 – 156,000 – (6,300)
  • Affix Success +10% – 250,000 – (7,000)
  • Grind Success +10% – 1,000,000 – (105,000)
  • Mizer Soul Units (1-3slot) – 315,000 – (1050-26,000, 1-3slot)
  • Vol Soul Units (1-2slot) – 130,000 – (19,000)
  • Modulator Unit (3slot) – 315,000 – (871,000)
  • Male Cashshop Outfit – ~735,000 (starting) – (315,000)
  • Female Cashshop Outfit – ~1,500,000 (starting) – (315,000)

Now some of the price differences could be explained with content difference. Excubes are much more difficult to obtain on SEA compared to JP, which has a couple of Emergency Quests that shit them out in large quantities. I remember a time when the 6 Excube price of a 250% rare drop booster ticket was a considerable price to think about, so being able to convert cubes into Fun and subsequently into grind boosting items is rather out of the question for SEA players right now.

Grinders were also rarer once upon a time, which may explain why they’re more expensive.

Boss souls are likely skewed in price due to the fact that Japan has had better alternatives for some time now. Mizer Soul has been replaced by Siorg Soul and Vol Soul by Leopard Soul (Quartz by Bayari at that).

While it would appear that costume prices would be solid evidence of an inflation issue, it has to be pointed out that costumes on the SEA version are bind on equip. This will constantly remove items from the supply chain, as you can’t resell old unwanted clothing. As such, the price is going to naturally be higher. Edit: It’s been pointed out that this seems to only apply to scratch-complete items. So scratch that off as a potential explanation for the state of the economy.

Modulator is the clear anomaly of this data sample, being more expensive on PSO2JP by a considerable margin. I’m going to guess that this is because it’s only lately on the Japanese servers that it’s been practical to include Modulator in affixing setups. A big thing to remember is that SEA doesn’t have Soul Receptor, making some affix setups significantly more impractical than they are on the Japanese servers.

Another factor that may be pushing the economy out of balance is that SEA currently still has the daily TACO system. With enough alts, this used to be an absurdly good way (if incredibly mind-numbing) of generating Meseta. While PSO2JP does have the additional daily system and weekly Extreme Quest orders that allow you to make a similar amount of money, it’s a fair sight more spread out.

I don’t know, maybe I need to search more items or maybe I’m making some gross mis-interpretations here, but I’m not convinced that SEA’s inflation issues are significantly worse than JP’s.

Conclusion

Alright, I can’t tell you not join the SEA servers. I can’t make you come to a decision, that’s not what I’m here for, so I’m not going to say to join the Japanese servers if you’re considering playing like so many other people may. The purpose of this post isn’t to tell you what to do but to make sure you’re better informed before you make a decision to go join these servers.

The main concerns I argue are how bothered you are by localisation issues and pay to win issues and most importantly whether or not the IP block will return. If you just want to try PSO2 out, go right ahead.

That said if you’ve been waiting for an English version I can fully understand your excitement, as an official western version of the game seems exceedingly unlikely at this point. This is a shame as evidently there is still an eager fanbase awaiting its release. If nothing else, the reaction from the fans should encourage any efforts to localise the game for the west that may currently exist. Despite the odds and all the time that has passed, it seems they still have an audience.

Also sorry for the long post, turned out there was a lot more to cover than I anticipated! But of course, let me know if I’m particularly wrong about any aspect of this post.