BATTLE WARRIORS

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The PVP arena has arrived and honestly overall it’s not that bad. It’s not terribly good either, but there’s a lot to appreciate about it I think. This post will be entirely dedicated to most things Battle Arena.

There’s still some information in this post that needs verifying, so bare in mind it may get updated in the future.

Da Rules

It’s a point race, essentially. You gain points by grabbing allied, enemy and rainbow emblems. You’ll also earn points for killing enemies and lose points for getting killed.

The breakdown works something like this:

  • Allied emblems are 1 point each.
  • Enemy emblems are 5 points each
  • Rainbow emblems are 10 points each
  • The team’s score is the total of each of its member’s individual scores.
  • The team with the highest total score is the winner.
  • Killing enemies gives you 10% of their individual points.
  • Dying (including by suicide) causes you to lose 10% of your points.
  • Lava is bad for you. Don’t swim in the lava.
  • You’ll only earn Battle Coins for doing Ranked games
    • You can only solo queue for ranked.

Ranking

Your rank is entirely dependent on what your current “Arena Point” score is (ARP). You will only gain Arena Points when you win matches and beyond a certain rank you’ll lose some when you’re defeated. The lowest rank is D5 while the highest is Legend.

Rank ARP requirements:

  • D5 – 0 ARP
  • D4 – 20 ARP
  • D3 – 40 ARP
  • D2 – 60 ARP
  • D1 – 80 ARP
  • C5  – 100 ARP
  • C4 – 140 ARP
  • C3 – 180 ARP
  • C2 – 220 ARP
  • C1 – 260 ARP
  • B5 – 300 ARP
  • B4 – 380 ARP
  • B3 – 460 ARP
  • B2 – 540 ARP
  • B1 – 620 ARP
  • A5 – 700 ARP
  • A4 – 800 ARP
  • A3 – 900 ARP
  • A2 – 1000 ARP
  • A1 – 1100 ARP
  • S5 – 1200 ARP
  • S4 – 1360 ARP
  • S3 – 1520 ARP
  • S2 – 1680 ARP
  • S1 –  1840 ARP
  • LEGEND – 2000 ARP

Rankpoints lost on defeat:

  • D5-D1 : 0pt
  • C5 – C1 : -5pt
  • B5 – B1 : -6pt
  • A5 – A1: -10pt
  • S5 – S1: -15pt
  • LEGEND: -20pt

So in terms of rank progression, you’ll only progress if you’re exceeding a certain win percentage. For each rank:

  • D5-D1: No loss in progress, so any win-rate.
  • C5-C1: Greater than 20% win-rate
  • B5-B1: Greater than 23% win-rate
  • A5-A1: Greater than 33% win-rate.
  • S5 – S1: Greater than 42% win-rate.

There are titles for hitting certain ranks that reward Stargems.

  • 20 Stargems: Play a ranked match.
  • 30 Stargems: Reach C-rank
  • 50 Stargems: Reach B-rank
  • 100 Stargems: Reach A-rank
  • 300 Stargems: Reach S-rank
  • 500 Stargems: Reach LEGEND rank.

Your rank points are reset every month. At the end of the month your rank is set to:

  • Legend -> S1
  • S1-S4 -> S5
  • S5 -> A1
  • A1 – A4 -> A5
  • A5 -> B1
  • B1-B4 -> B5
  • B5 > C1
  • C1 – C4 -> C5
  • C5 -> D1
  • D1 – D4 -> D5
  • D5 -> D5.
  • So if you’re B1 at the end of the month, your rank is set to B5.

There are apparently monthly prizes for whatever rank you managed to get. As far as I know there’s no details as to what these prizes are.

General Tips

This is just gonna be a few things I feel is generally good advice when playing this mode. While you’ll still get Battle Coins for losing (and not much more for winning), it’s a competitive mode so come on. You wanna win. Bare in mind this is largely gut feeling and personal experience, though.

Because it’s a team score, not an individual score, dying is a pretty big deal. Like it costs your team possibly more points than they’ll be able to make back in a reasonable time, so playing overly aggressively is a bad idea. You want to pick your battles carefully. Look for enemy players that are way out of position/too far from allies that can be picked off while being wary not to wander too far from allies yourself!

In particular on the Volcano stage, do not try a jump you don’t think you can make. Dying costs your team points, so every time you fuck up a jump and end up in the lava you put your team at a real disadvantage.

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Tokyo map
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Volcano map
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Forest map

The most valuable spot on the map is the area the Rainbow Emblems spawn. If your team manages to control this spot you’ll be at a major advantage. On the maps pictured nearby it’s on center-left in Tokyo and middle on both Volcano and Forest. As stated though, don’t be reckless and just throw yourself at this area, because you could just end up feeding if you do. If the enemy are guarding this area too well, consider hunting stragglers/respawners but you really want to try to join a group push to re-take the rainbow emblem area because its a very lucrative spot.

The top 3 players on each team are marked on the map and visible by an emblem over their heads. They’re worth more points for your team, so use the fact you can see them at all times to your advantage to set up an ambush. Beware that this cuts both ways, as in when you have an emblem over your head you’ll no longer be able to pull off a sneak attack. Additionally, when you’re in the top 3 your team loses more points when you die.

Spending time farming for weapons is time you’re not spending collecting emblems. However, this mode isn’t terribly well balanced and some attacks are just significantly better than others. It might be worth farming nodes for replacement weapons if the one you have will put you at a significant disadvantage. For example, if the enemy are all camping an area you really want to have some ranged pressure to apply, which a sword won’t allow you to do.

Positioning is relatively important I feel. Like if you have a melee weapon you really don’t want to be out in the open, you want to be around corners and in places where you can get the jump on an unsuspecting enemy. You’ll generally want to try to use cover to your advantage, however you’re less vulnerable if you have a ranged weapon. If you have a teching weapon, charge your tech from behind cover then jump out to fire it, as charging in the open is risky.

If you respawn and the weapon upgrade message happens, you’ll want to get a new weapon quickly unless you have something like Onepoint or Rising Edge.

I feel like prioritizing kills over emblem collection might actually be worth it, because enemy deaths cost their team so heavily. Going for enemy emblems is generally too risky to be worth it, as you’ll be at re-spawn disadvantage and when you die you’ll lose more points than you gained.

Those are my thoughts at least. Hopefully they work for you but I’m promising nothing!

Weapons and Photon Arts

For now there are only three weapon types: Sword (Nova Break, Rising Edge), Assault Rifle (One Point, Piercing Shell) and Rod (Foie, Zonde, Megid). I’ll go over my opinions of each of them.

Nova Break

It’s a kind of short range, slow but fairly hard hitting attack. If you follow up with a step attack fast enough, you’ll kill the enemy player before their ground i-frames kick in. It does have a short wind-up time that leaves you vulnerable, however.

Rising Edge

This unique version of Rising Edge has extended range and deals a huge amount of damage; enough to one-shot most enemy players. Its not a terribly wide attack however, so some accuracy is required. It also locks you in place, so if you miss the enemy do not spam the PA button or else you’ll end up missing again. This attack does leave you sort of vulnerable while using it.

One Point

Deals consistent, easy to apply damage at long range. Its damage is kind of low, however and while using it you’re either staying still or moving slowly which makes you an easy target. One Point also doesn’t flinch, so combined with its low damage it is possible to run up to someone using One Point and melee them to death.

Piercing Shell

Deals low damage and inflicts a heavy injury debuff on enemies it hits. It can pierce enemies, however its a pretty small projectile so it’s not going to happen often. The projectile is slow moving however, so it’s hard to hit moving targets with it unless they’re moving directly at or away from you.

Foie

Foie is as solid as ever. Fairly quick charge time and hits hard. You can also graze enemies with it, allowing you to hit multiple enemies at once. Beware that you’ll need to lead shots with it if the enemy is far enough away.

Zonde

Deals moderate damage to an enemy at kinda medium range. Takes a long while to charge but is actually pretty difficult to miss with if the enemy is in range. Charging it up from behind barriers can be an effective way to snipe unsuspecting players. You won’t kill them in one hit, but you’ll weaken them significantly.

Megid

Deals good damage in a large explosive area. The projectile travels very slowly however, giving enemies plenty of time to avoid it unless they’re lagging. Works well on enemies in areas where movement is restricted like corridors.

Overall, I feel One Point and Rising Edge are the most effective attacks in the arena however if used right all of the attacks can be pretty effective. It’s just personally I feel like Megid and Zonde are a little too niche and Piercing Shell a bit unreliable. Zonde might see more use if its charge time and range wasn’t so restrictive. Megid just needs a faster projectile.

Battle Coins – Prizes

So after every game you earn a varying amount of battle coins, with bonuses for winning, getting MVP in various stats and for being the underdog in an uneven match. For your trouble, you can get a selection of cosmetic and functional items.

Unlimited Shop

There is no limitation on the items you can buy in this shop. Buy as many as you like!

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  • 2,800 coins: Sword Camo, Rifle Camo and Rod Camo for
  • 2,800 coins: Rappy Make-up
  • 1400 coins: 4-slot Vraolet
  • 2800 coins: 6-slot Vraolet
  • 250 coins: Arena Booster
  • 200 coins: Lambda Grinder
  • 200 coins: Extreme Pass
  • 200 coins: 15000 EXP Ticket.

The Vraolets include Phrase Receptor and Sentence Receptor, allowing you transfer the Special Ability Factors of Gix and other weapon series (such as Astral and Fornis) without having to sacrifice another +35 of those series to do it. I see it as more of a future proofing mechanism so you can still use those affixes long after the Collection Files have disappeared.

Arena boosters are used to unlock Arena potentials on certain weapons. So far the only two series to have Arena Potentials are Revolucio and Aura weapons. As with other Potential unlock items, you’ll need 12 of them to max out your weapon. This means you’ll need 3000 coins for every weapon you wish to unlock the Arena Potential on. Their potentials are as follows:

Aura

  • Power and passive PP recovery increases depending on how many abilities are on the weapon. It also boosts PP recovered on attack by the number of abilities.
  • Numbers are per ability on your item.
  • Lv1:
    • Power : 1.25%
    • PP recovered on attack : 2%
    • Passive recovery : 2%
  • Lv2:
    • Power : 1.5%
    • PP recovered on attack : 2.5%
    • Passive recovery  : 3%
  • Lv3:
    • Power : 2%
    • PP recovered on attack :  3%
    • Passive recovery : 4%

A curious potential indeed. It means to get the most out of it you’re going to need to raise the weapon to 8-slot which is going to be tricky. If you do manage it however, you now have a weapon with a 16% power boost with 24% additional PP recovered on attack and +36% passive PP recovery. That’s pretty solid, overall! I mean heck, that’s 12%/18%/24% if you go for a more modest 6-slot.

That said, you do actually want to put decent affixes on your gear, so it’s not wise to just up-slot the weapon for the sake of having a stronger potential.

The Aura Collection File is set to return in the near future.

Revolucio

  • Increases power every time you deal a certain amount of damage, take a certain amount of damage and use a certain amount of PP
  • Lv1:
    • 1% increase for every 150,000 damage dealt, 750 damage taken and 250PP used
  • Lv2:
    • 1% increase for every 100,000 damage dealt, 550 damage taken and 175PP used
  • Lv3:
    • 1% increase for every 50,000 damage dealt, 300 damage taken and 100 PP used
  • To a maximum power increase of 16%
  • Resets on weapon swap

This potential really only suits builds that only use one weapon and can play very aggressively. However, the damage dealt part of the potential should get you to max power fairly quickly so this at least negates some of the reset issues this weapon could have. Overall not completely sold on this one, but 16% damage boost is pretty nice and if you haven’t gotten a 13* yet this wouldn’t be too bad.

Limited Purchase Shop

Most items in this shop are limited to a certain number of purchases per week. There are also items that are only temporarily available in the shop.

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  • 200 coins: 10 Star Gems (5 per week)
  • 200 coins: 5 Star Gems (10 per week)
  • 11000 coins: Blue Rapid Suit, Blue Rapid dress, Red Rapid Suit, Red Rapid Dress (1 per week)
  • 5500 coins: Winner Dance (1 per week)
  • 3300 coins: Rear / Shine Blue (1 per week)
  • 3300 coins: Rear / Shine Red (1 per week)
  • 2800 coins: +2% Element (1 per week…)
  • 1100 coins: Affix success rate boost +40% (1 per week)
  • 50 coins: +20 Mining Stamina Drink (10 per week)
  • 50 coins: +20 Fishing Stamina Drink (10 per week)
  • 50 coins: Advance Capsule d, e and f (50 per week)

Rapid Suits, the Lobby Action and the Shine units are available until the 20th of September because… I have no idea why honestly.

So yeah, probably the most interesting items there are the units and the Stargems. It doesn’t take that long to earn 1000 Battle Coins so an extra 50 gems per week isn’t too shabby (or 3000 to get the rest for a total of 100 Stargems per week).

The two units have very different stats. The blue unit gives HP and PP while the red unit gives stronger attack and defense stats. Here are the known numbers:

  • Rear / Shine Red –
    • +80 all attack
    • +80 DEX
    • +3% strike/shoot/tech resist
    • +10% fire resist.
    • 337/330/334 S-R-T-def at +10.
  • Rear /Shine Blue –
    • 150 HP
    • 5 PP
    • +3% strike/shoot/tech resist
    • +10% ice resist
    • 323/319/322 S-R-T-def at +10

Not completely sold on either of these units, honestly. The lack of HP and PP on the red unit kinda hurts it and the complete lack of attack on the other makes it fairly lackluster too. However, these are 12* units still and they’re significantly easier to obtain than other 12*s for now. They might be worth getting if you really need the additional Ring slot.

Overall Thoughts

It’s surprisingly fun. I thought it would honestly be a lot more frustrating than it is but the mode works well enough that it feels good to strike enemies down through careful positioning and mind games. Of course you can also get killed because someone ran up to you with Rising Edge.

My main beef with it is how it handles latency, as my connection is bad enough that some attacks are outright impossible for me to use. For example, me using Megid is almost pointless as the enemy can easily dodge it, while I can’t dodge enemy megid because even if I jump behind cover the server will still register the hit. I’m often getting killed without any damage numbers at that, which feels so bizarre. However, this is the kind of thing I did expect going into an action-based PVP game hosted in Japan. For those having a similarly lag filled experience, I advise sticking to Assault Rifles, Foie and Zonde if you can as these seem to be the most lag-friendly weapons.

Will this mode last? I think it might, though I suspect it’ll be a lot less active once people have gotten the cosmetics and units they wanted to get. Beyond the weekly Stargems and possibly Receptor gear though I don’t think there’s enough reward for it to be really active longterm.

That said, the game uses a cross-block matchmaking server to create games and it seems like they might be hosted on a different server. This will help its longevity somewhat. My only beef with this system is why isn’t something like this present for the entire game at large? Removing dependency on parking in blocks for content would alleviate so many issues the game has it’s kinda unreal. Aside technical issues, I suspect the main thing holding them back is the existence of Premium block space, as losing that incentive might not be worth it to them…

Anyway that’ll do for one post. There’s a few more non Battle-Arena things I want to go over but I think I’ll do those in separate posts.

Lv80 Cap: Tentative Info

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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…

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:

roadmap.jpg

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.

Gotta Go Fast – Tokyo TA and Tidbits

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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.

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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

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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.

Client Orders That Are Bullshit

Every game has flaws and here I’m going to talk about one that PSO2 has. A pretty big one in my opinion. Now most Client Orders are fine, a lot can just be completed as you’re doing other things and you don’t really need to do most of them anyway. Many of them are also dailies, so it’s a helping hand when you’re levelling up. As the title of this post suggests though they’re not all peachy.

Depending on how far into the game you are you may be familiar with Kofi’s orders. They’re kind of important. They unlock further content for you in the form of new areas, free field unlocks, even level cap raising. The general pattern is in order to unlock Free Fields and new areas you need to complete previous areas with an S-rank and within a time limit. It clashes with the game, but it’s not bullshit.

Before I tell you what is, I think you need to know why I think those particular types of Client Orders clash with the game. PSO2 is a game with two main ways to play it. This is embodied almost perfectly in Free Field areas, which you can complete at your leisure. You can run around the map for as long as you please (monsters will respawn), or you can just ignore everything and find the boss warp as quick as you can. The randomness is obviously biased a little against those who wish to rush, but it’s not so random that you won’t get a feel for where boss teleporters will appear. Both of these approaches are perfectly fine on their own, but they’re directly opposed to each other. So when Client Orders expect you to S-rank and complete a mission within a time limit it clashes and quite badly depending on the mission. Getting an S-rank requires you to kill a certain number of enemies, which is taking away from the time goal. Going for the time goal is taking away from the number of enemies you kill. Either goal is detrimental to the other.

While it does clash and is annoying, you can get a feel for it after a while. The general approach that’s worked for me is to ignore all monsters that take a while to kill and only go for small fry (it only cares about killcount, not what was killed).

Now, what’s bullshit are the Client Orders that expect you to do two particular Desert missions. They both end on Code:Collect events, they both require you to S-rank and complete within a time limit. The problem is the Code:Collect events seem to decide to spawn whenever the hell they feel like it. You can end up doing multiple laps of the final block, desperately trying to get them to spawn before the time runs out. It doesn’t help that after they spawn, the actual things you need to collect are themselves randomly spawned around the map. It’s so random-number dependant it’s complete bullshit how they then expect you to complete it within a set time, as well as having killed enough enemies to get S-rank in the process which are two goals that already clash with each other.

Now they’re not hard, that’s not what I’m complaining about here. What I’m complaining about is how little control a player actually has about the completion of these missions.

When you’re depending on pure luck for something that is essential for unlocking new content, that’s bullshit.