Closed Beta Features

Sakai just keeps on posting! Today’s update is some details about the upcoming closed beta tests. It’s also just part 1 of said details so assuredly there’s more to come.

First off a high-quality video of the beta features:


There is some stuff to talk about in the video that doesn’t get mentioned in the blog, but more on that in another post.


SPECIAL WEAPONs Are Back
So yes, Tekkers are also back. Their purpose this time would appear to be a little different, however. For one thing SPECIAL WEAPONs are the exception this time, not the rule. This means that rare items will still drop with no need for the item to be identified by a Tekker. Not only that, but non-rare weapons also have a chance of dropping as a SPECIAL WEAPON.

Notice how they changed the rarity stars from a gradient to block colours that change every 3 stars. This is much easier to read.

Tekking an unidentified weapon will allow you to pick an element and one special effect for it. The weapon will also be granted an additional random effect. This is unlike before in PSO, where all a tekker could do is randomly influence the strengths of a weapon’s attributes and pre-set special abilities.

What’s pleasing about this to me is it would seem that finding a special weapon is now an opportunity the player has a degree of control over, rather than something you have to do for every rare item you find like in PSO.


Makeover Shop

As you might imagine, you’re able to change your face, hair, accessories as well as other aspects of your character. However, some features will be using Arks Cash.

I imagine it’ll be the more extreme makeover options, such as body proportions that will fall under Arks Cash if it’s anything like PSU.


The Costume Shop

Rather self-explanatory, here is where you can buy clothes and parts for meseta. You won’t find the cash-shop outfits here. You can preview the outfits from the shop, much like you could in PSU.

On the subject of outfits, unlike PSU you can actually change your clothes on the fly. There is no longer any need to go to a changing room of any kind.


Partner Cards are now Arks Cards

Shocking. Same as previous incarnations of partner cards, you can write some blurb text on it. What is new is you can also put a Symbol-Art on your card. It’s like a little forum signature.


Partner Friend

If you have friends and they grant you permission, you can invite their characters as NPCs in your parties. This is a feature which was implemented in Phantasy Star Portable 2: Infinity and was a feature I immensely enjoyed. Of course, it was cool on a portable platform as you couldn’t be online all the time with it, but it will still be useful to fill out parties with if your friends aren’t online at the time.

These NPC’d versions of your friends will also spout any auto-words which were set to them.

In Phantasy Star Portable 2: Infinity, you could also invite your own characters as NPCs, so you could plow through missions with a team of your alts. There has been no mention of whether or not we can do this in PSO2 so far.


Symbol Art

Your symbols can have up to 200 different objects in one picture, from a selection of over 300 different shapes. You can also assign a sound effect to them, as you could in PSO. Symbol art can also be used on your personal Arks Card and to create your team flag. I imagine the mouse integration into the UI will make the creation of Symbol Art much less fiddly than before as well.

I wasn’t around to play with symbol-chat in PSO so I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty with this, especially if I can create cartoony versions of my characters in it.


Teams

Teams are officially back! Confirming what was discovered before in datamining efforts (although back then it was simply labelled “guilds”). Teams are a concept from PSOBB and are for all intents and purposes, guilds.

Your character will need to be at least level 10 to create a team. You do so through the Team Counter, where you can also do other things such as specify a web site for your team. Joining a team will display the team flag above you character’s head. You can also see the team name and member rank. There will be team chat.

There are two team ranks visible in this picture. Namely, "Team Master" and "Visitor".

Team functionality will be included in the upcoming test.


Title Counter

If you’ve played PSP2 or PSU after the supplemental content update, then this is pretty much the same thing. Titles are just achievements, so they’re unlocked by performing a various range of tasks from the banal to the grindy. Like before, unlocking titles will reward you with various items. Unlike PSU, however, you can also display titles above your head, which is something you’ll be familiar with if you’ve played other MMOs.


The Medical Counter

I hope you know what's in that cup you're gulping down...

So remember when I said before you’d need to use the medical counter to heal up in lobbies? Yeah I was wrong. The medical counter will instead sell you various substances to grant your character temporary effects during a mission. Things like, decreased Power-Point usage (PSO2’s mana), increased attack power, increased drop rates (luck virus?) and others.

Mind, there’s something rather sinister if the effect is completely random like it was in PSP2. Pay some money and the nurse will give you a random drug to ingest? What could possibly go wrong?

Items in the medical counter will only cost you meseta, not Arks Cash.


Rooms

The number of decorations as well as the types has been increased. This includes things like shelves and putting objects onto other objects.

Regarding Arks Cash and rooms: You will have to pay Arks Cash to access your own room, but you can freely go to other people’s rooms.


Towards The Future

Well this was just part 1 of details, according to Sakai, so there is more information to come.

[Sources: PSBlog and PSO-World]

The Cash Shop: Initial Details

The official PSO2 blog updated just recently with information concerning the cash shop, as well as a number of clarifications regarding the closed beta.

Also included in the post is a high-quality release of a new trailer that was shown during the 2nd Media Briefing.


Player Level Cap

The player level cap in the closed beta tests will not be lv30 after all. It’s now 20 again. This, I have to say, it a little disappointing. I was hoping to see how the classes would grow in those 10 levels instead of having access to the same set of skills as I had before. Am also rather hoping that the city area won’t be too difficult now, assuming it’s balanced for higher level players.

This is incidentally the only change. Everything else is still in-tact, which is good to know.


Arks Cash Details

First of, some of the key intentions regarding ths shop:

  • There will not be direct selling of items in any form
  • You will not be able to buy powerful items through the cash shop
  • There will not be a special level cap for those who pay

This, rather doesn’t rule out the possibility of indirectly selling items of course, but you won’t be able to just buy your way to the top gear either. The types of items that Sakai says that players should expect to see in the player shops are:

  • System things
    • Access to rooms – Update: It would this actually means access to more features in your rooms. You can go to your room without paying, apparently.Update Update: You can go to other people’s rooms without paying, but you need to pay to access your own.
    • Access to trade functions
    • Access to selling items in shops
    • Skill tree expansion (Not buying new skills, you’re buying essentially more builds as far as speculation seems to suggest)

These are more like add-ons for your account, so these are all one-time charges (updated information below). If you’re soured by this, remember that in the PSU free-to-play model you had to pay a subscription fee to do any of these things. Also remember that you’re not having to pay for the client this time (although PSU JP did drop the client fee eventually).
Incidentally, it seems some communication abilities may be locked until you buy some system items, which is apparently aimed at fighting bots, spammers, gold sellers and the other usual annoyances in MMOs. Of course, if subscriptions and client fees don’t keep them out (and they don’t), this certainly isn’t guaranteed to, but I don’t mind making life harder for them.
Update: Seems some of these system items will be timed, others will be permanent. There as no specifics as to what, however. That has the potential to be very bad news and I hope that Sega very carefully considers their options here.
I’m also hoping that they don’t intend on that skill tree extension item to be the only way to try out new builds, either. I want a means to reset my tree if I make a mistake.

  • Consumption Items
    • Scape Dolls
    • More powerful healing items
    • Other certain consumables

Scape dolls as a cash shop item? Oh dear. This will obviously impact soloers more than anything, as Moon Atomizers are purchaseable from NPCs (and will become dirt cheap by endgame) and Forces might get some form of resurrection skill at a later date. Remember however, that partying with randoms isn’t the handicap like it was in PSU. You’re not penalised for not getting the last hit in on enemies. You’re not missing out on drops as everyone only sees their own drops anyway, so by that logic playing with others is actually beneficial as monsters are dying more quickly, which means more rolls at obtaining items in less time.
Scape dolls were an item that I always felt impacted co-operation anyway. What is the point of helping team members back on their feet if they could instantly revive themselves as soon as they were incapacitated?

  • Efficiency, or Short-cut Items
    • Grind-rate Boosters
    • EXP boosters
    • Drop rate boosters

Standard cash-shop fare. I’ve already read reactionary posts getting upset about EXP and Drop-rate boosters. Would like to remind those people that said items were available in PSU even back when it had a subscription fee and client charge. No one gave a shit. Once again I’d also like to ask how exactly does it hinder you as a player? If another player is levelling up more quickly or is weilding better gear, it doesn’t impact your levelling rate. You are not competing with anyone in this game!

  • Character / Avatar stuff
    • Clothes, accessories and some hair styles
    • Some make-over options will be cash-shop

More usual cash shop stuff, really the more benign kind that no one really gets upset about seeing as it’s all vanity anyway.

There will be two lottery-style cash shop features, called “Arks Scratch”. The cheap version contains a larger variety of items including accessories, clothing and consumables. The more expensive one only contains clothing.

As a final note, many of the items acquired through the cash shop can be traded on the player market. Some can’t, but it seems all clothing is up for grabs at least.

So there you go, some actual information about the cash shop. It came in just after I criticised people’s concerns about the free-to-play system and it didn’t contradict anything I said. I see no pay-to-win in any of the items on offer, just the expected “pay to go a bit quicker” and “pay to dress up slightly differently”. Admittedly, some items may well give players who pay an easier time when soloing, but there’s little benefit to soloing in this game anyway.


Towards the Future

The very near future, at that! Sakai will be talking about the upcoming character creation demo due for release on the 5th of April.

The game’s release is still scheduled for some time early in the summer, but no specific date has been given yet. The smartphone version of the game is scheduled for release in the winter.

To finish off, a piece of artwork by Akikazu Mizuno.

[Sources: PSBlog, PSO-World, Bumped]