PSO2 Station #3 Writeup

fartdemon.jpg

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.

xieweapons.jpg

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

hi_im_gilliam.jpg

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.

valentines_collection.jpg

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

earthraid3.jpg

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

psustuff.jpg

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.

Class Rebalance coming 14th October

rappytundra

As the title says, a class re-balance is on its way and it will be arriving on the 14th. We’ve known for a while that Gunner and Braver were getting tweaked but the finer details weren’t revealed until today. It seems that they’re not the only classes to be getting some adjustments, as others will be too. Let’s go over them, shall we?

Gunner

Normally I’d do Hunter first but I feel Gunner’s been in the most need of attention since the start of Episode 3. So cutting to the chase:

  • High Time will gain its attack boost more quickly than it does now.
  • Normal attacks will make you start to fall later than it does now.
  • Stylish roll will have the first two parts sped up, there will be no loss in invincibility frames
  • You will be able to change your facing during Sattelite Aim.
  • Shift Period will be sped up and deal more damage. The time when you start to fall will be pushed back.
  • Aerial Shooting, Dead Approach, Messiah Time, Elder Rebellion, Reverse Tap and Heel Stab will be adjusted at a later date.

Being able to change direction during Satellite Aim is more a convenience change than a buff, but a pretty welcome one. It’s also nice to know that invincibility frames won’t be lost in light of the sped up Stylish Roll, making this change an overall buff in my opinion.

Shift Period could arguably have crafted Bullet Squall as its main competition, currently. The area of effect of Shift Period is much higher though, so with its increased speed and damage it may have a use if it doesn’t currently. If it isn’t the case already, I feel like the wider reach of Shift Period would help a lot with Gunner’s mobbing capabilities.

I am surprised to see that Infinite Fire won’t be seeing any adjustment, given how under-used a Photon Art it seems to be currently. It’s a fair shot more obscure than it was back in Stylish Roll Just-Attack Up’s meta days at least!

Hunter

  • Sonic Arrow will have faster Just-Attack timing and grant more points towards the Gear Gauge. The time when you start to fall from mid-air will be adjusted too.
  • Sacrifice Bite: Parts of the attack will be faster and it will also contribute more points towards the Gear-Gauge.

Something to help sword-users stay mid-air I guess. The boosts to Gear-Gauge acquisition rate are always welcome for Sword seeing as its arguably the most dependent weapon in the game on it. This is likely to be more helpful to Fi/Hu or other x/Hu combinations using swords, as they don’t have access to Fury Gear boost.

Ranger

  • Weak Bullet something about making it easier to land it?
  • One Point: Damage will be increased and PP consumption reduced.
  • Sneak Shooter: Just-Attack timing will be adjusted and the bullet sped up.
  • Diffuse Shell and Parallel Slider will be adjusted at a later date.

Sneak Shooter was always kind of rough to hit anything with it due to the slow bullet, so that;s a welcome change at least. The weak bullet changes are harder to pin down, it may be a faster bullet or there may be other changes that make it easier to land it, not sure.

Fighter

  • Double Saber shift action will have its Just-Attack timing adjusted and its cancel timing sped up.
  • Quick March will have its damage increased and its cancel timing sped up. It will also stun enemies instead of launching them.
  • Surprise Dunk will have its damage increased and its hit-stop reduced. The enemy will also be launched slightly by the hit instead of stunned.
  • Deadly Archer will have the timing between each hit adjusted?
  • Orchestra, Illusion Rave and Acro Effect will be adjusted at a later date.

Braver

  • Katana damage will be higher based on current gear-gauge level
  • Reducing SP required to max out Katana Combat, Rapid Shoot and Rapid Shoot Mastery
  • Rapid Shoot will no longer have a “wind-up” time.
  • Rapid Shoot Advance requires less points to unlock
  • Bullet Bow Step-Attack will be sped up and have its Just-Attack timing adjusted
  • Stance Critical and Stance Charge have had their places on the skill tree adjusted. You no longer need to put points in Critical to take on Charge.
  • Tsukimi Sazanka will have its PP cost reduced and its ground animation sped up
  • Gekka Zakuro will have its PP cost reduced
  • Sakura Endo will be faster, have its JA timing reduced and have its non-charged damage boosted.
  • Torrential Arrow will have a larger area of effect
  • Million Storm will have its damage increased and its PP cost reduced.

The changes to the skill tree are mostly good, freeing up SP to support more hybridized builds than is currently possible, I’m not sure you’ll be able to max out both Katana and Bulletbow trees while also having a stance still, but having access to more than half the class at a given time will be nice.

The buffs to Torrential Arrow and Million Storm could be an attempt to improve the mobbing capabilities of Bullet Bows, which is something they do need assistance with definitely. They’re already great bossing weapons.

Bouncer

  • Jet Boots Escape will now apply to the shift-action of regular attacks. providing invulnerability during it.
  • Justice Crow will deal more damage and cost less PP
  • Kestrel Rampage will deal more damage
  • Strike Gust will deal more damage
  • Gran Wave will have its hit-stop reduced

Gunslash

  • Weapon shift action will be sped up and the time when you will start falling will be pushed back
  • Regular attacks will have quicker Just-Attack and cancel timing
  • Step attacks will have reduced hit-stop
  • Serpent Air will be sped up, have its Just-Attack timing adjusted and be cancel-able
  • Regenschlag will be sped up and have its Just-Attack timing adjusted

Another attempt to make Gunslashes viable weapons. Good luck, developers and bless you for trying I guess.

Of course, this change will come with free Skill-Tree Reset Passes for all.

Please let me know if there are any inaccuracies in this post.

Class Cap Bonuses and Mission: Decision

redbotbanner

The official page for the next series of updates is up here. This post is just gonna share information on the class cap bonuses and anything else I deem interesting.

For the unaware, getting a class to lv75 will make all characters on your account eligable for these bonuses. You won’t have to cap every class on all of your characters.

The bonuses are as follows:

  • Hunter – +50 HP, +15 R-atk, +40 S-def
  • Ranger – +20 R-atk, +15 T-atk, +40 R-def
  • Force –  +15 R-atk, +20 T-atk, +40 T-def
  • Fighter – +2 PP, +50 S-atk, +15 T-atk, +10 T-def
  • Gunner – +2 PP, +15 S-atk, +50 R-atk, +10 S-def
  • Techer –  +2 PP, +15 S-atk, +50 T-atk, +10 R-def
  • Braver – +2 PP, +20 S-atk, +20 R-atk, +30 Dex
  • Bouncer –  +2 PP, +20 S-atk, +20 T-atk, +30 Dex

Totals for all classes capped on at least one character:

+50 HP, +10PP, +120 S-atk, +120 R-atk, +120 T-atk, +60 Dex, +50 S-def, +50 R-def, +50 T-def

Roughly the stats you might get from a selection of good all-round affixes on units. It’s not a bad boost overall. In order to claim your stat boost, you will need to collect it from the title counter upon reaching level 75. This rules out the danger of these bonuses stacking (as in getting multiple characters to say, lv75 Braver to stack the bonuses).

Challenge Quest: Mission: DECISION 

The next challenge quest is set to arrive on the 26th of August and will feature Tundra, Tunnels and Skyscape areas, this was already known so there’s no need to go into detail here. What’s more interesting to me is how they’ve decided to handle a poential flaw in having multiple Challenge Quests.

Challenge Quests are best run by organised groups, but most people don’t have this option. Most of us are gonna have to run with randoms, and randoms will typically refuse to even attempt the quest if there are less than 12 people there. So having multiple Challenge Quests would be an issue, as it’d split the player-base and in theory make it more difficult to start the run you’d like to do. This is just my theory-crafting of course, there are other reasons this could be problematic; such as one quest being easier than the other causing the more difficult one to become a ghost town as everyone takes the path of least resistance.

Anyway their solution is to seemingly alternate a boost between the two quests on a weekly basis. The boosted quest will pay out more Miles, giving incentive to people to run it. Is this a good solution? It’ll probably prevent the player-base being split up at least.

Mission: Decision will be boosted between 26th Aug to 1st Sep.

Mission: Start will be boosted between 2nd Sep to 8th Sep.

These could of course be one offs or just done every so often.

Mission: Decision is incidentally not necessarily the name the patch team will go with. If they choose a different name I’ll edit this post to reflect it.

Datamined Skill Tree Info

THEEYES

Looks like the first real juicy bit of data is on our hands, posted up on psumods here. The raw data of every single skill from every skill tree in the game! While some of it just confirms the numbers we had before, a good amount of this is actually new.

However, as it is data-mined information it should not be taken as confirmation of anything. Parts of this could well change before release.

This post will simply talk about the data and share my thoughts on it where I can. This information is in addition to details about classes revealed by Sega before, which you can read about on Bumped here or on PSO-World here.

General

All stat-up skills are now tiered, meaning the higher versions of them give more stats than before. For example, S-Atk Up 1 gives 50, S-Atk Up 2 gives 75 and S-Atk up 3 gives 100 at lv10. If your build fills out all three in any given stat, you will now have gained 75 of it, so not bad.

Stance skills are now infinite duration with a 5 second cooldown. Well most are, as for some reason Bouncer’s Break Stance and Elemental stance currently have a duration of 30 minutes. Oddly inconsistent.

Hunter

Fury Stance as we know caps at 120% now, with Fury Combo reduced to 10% and Fury S Up both capped at 5% each. This, along with Just Attack Bonus 1 and 2, brings Hunter’s total damage bonus to 176%, down from 219%. For ranged types, it’s now 161%.

Now this is where it may get a bit more interesting. Hunter has an exclusive offensive option in the form of War Brave. This boosts damage by 3% per monster taunted and regains PP at 7 per monster, to a cap of 15% and 35 PP. This means that a Hunter’s damage potential against a crowd of enemies is higher than it is against a single target, working out to a total of 202% against 5+ enemies, or 181% if War Cry is used on one target. War Cry itself has also had its threat doubled across the board, starting at 200% and ending at 400% instead of 100% and 200%. I suspect this still may not be enough for tanky Hunters to maintain hatred from the DPS players around them, but we’ll see.

Defensive Skills

The Flash Guards are now 100% activation, instead scaling on amount of damage reduced per level. Flash Guard still maxes at 20%, while Tech Guard still caps at 30%. Guard Stance will no longer penalize your attack at all at lv10, but is otherwise the same.

Massive Hunter has changed a bit, now boasting an uptime of 45 seconds over its previous of 25, with its cooldown reduced from 100 seconds to 90. This of course means that it’s uptime is now 50%, which for what the skill does isn’t bad really.

Iron Will and Never Give Up have had their abilities changed a tad. Instead of requiring Never Give Up to gain invincibility upon triggering Iron Will it’s now an innate part of Iron Will. The invincibiility caps at 5 seconds at lv10. Never Give Up meanwhile has had its duration extended to 15 seconds at lv10, up from 5. I’m not sure if this is just referring to its attack or if its referring to invincibility as well, it’s a little confusing.

Fighter

All Slayer skills now add T-Atk as well as the other stats. This means they’re now useable options for teching types. Deadline Slayer has been boosted to 150 attack from 100.

Chase Advance has been reduced from 140% to 125%. Despite my previous assumption, this won’t apply to all damage types. “AtpRate” (in game this just displays as “power”) sounds like it would apply to all damage. The confusion here is that other skills that use AtpRate like Elemental Weak Hit use the same stat to mean “all damage types”, plus there are stat names for each attack type (AtpStrikeRate, AtpFirearmRate and AtpTechniqueRate). This is the source of my confusion and I’m sorry for that. 

Adrenaline now only requires 1 Skill Point, but still caps at 30s.

Brave Stance was boosted from 120% to 125%, making the bonus total (with maxed Brave Stance Up) now 150%, up from 144%. Wise Stance was boosted from 130% to 135%, making its total 175.5%, up from 169%. Both stances have had their positional penalties essentially removed as well.

Limit Break reduces HP to 25% of your character’s maximum HP, while boosting striking damage by 120%. Its duration is 60 seconds with a 90 second cool-down, giving it a 66% uptime. These numbers are all at lv10. Note that Limit Break is a skill unique to Fighters, so this number is irrelevant if you want to consider Fighter as a subclass. It still isn’t known whether or not this skill will trigger Halfline Slayer and Deadline Slayer as far as I know, please correct me if I’m wrong.

Tech Arts Just Attack Bonus boosts damage to 115%. The conditions for this aren’t exactly known, though.

Ranger

Weak Hit Advances have had their damage bonus boosted from 125% to 135%. That’s kind of it with regard damage bonuses that this class offers.

Bullets and Traps

Weak Bullet has had its damage bonus reduced from 300% to 255%. Mirage Shot, Bind Bullet, Panic Shot and Jellen Shot have all been compressed to 5 point skills, with all of them having the same stats at lv5 that they used to at lv10. Jellen Shot is the exception, as its damage reduction effect has been boosted from 10% to 15%.

Trap skills no longer consume items, instead they have a cool-down attached to their use.

Stun Grenade now works 100% of the time from lv1 and has a 15 second cooldown. Upper Trap has a 20 second cool-down. Poison Trap has a 20 second cooldown. Upper T Custom and Poison T Custom are both now 1 point skills, but they still do their old lv10 cap damage boost. These cool-downs sound somewhat prohibitive if you were intending to spam traps, but it might not be too bad in practice.

Gunner

Chain Finish Bonus has 4 of… something. Agrajag’s guess is that it’s cooldown – chain count * 4 when you finish the chain, essentially working to reduce the time you’re waiting before you start your next chain depending on how high a chain you built. If this were the case, if Chain Trigger is at lv10 you would need to build a chain of 15 or more to reduce the cool-down to nothing. If this is the case, then this means almost endless chaining for Gunners from here on out. Seems a little too powerful to me, so this may not be the case. When combined with Twice Chain, this would mean that you could get infinite chains with just 2 normal attacks with Machineguns, which just seems to be far too low to me.

Showtime, like War Cry, has had its threat generated doubled across the board. It’s also had its duration extended from 30s to 45s, on a 60 second cool-down.

High-Time’s damage bonus at max has been raised from 15% to 20%. It’s a little better in combination with the extension that Showtime is getting.

Stylish Roll JA Bonus has been reduced to 150% from 200%. It’s still a meaty enough boost to ignore doing any attack other than those that synergize well with Stylish Roll, but hey maybe the strength of the attacks that aren’t so friendly to it will be raised enough that this won’t matter so much.

Force

Freeze Ignition’s cool-down has been reduced to 30 seconds from 60. I think this is still too long but its at least out of the realms of “utterly ridiculous”.

Photon Flare has has its duration raised to 45s while its cool-down has been reduced to 100 seconds from 120, granting it a 45% uptime. It has also had its HP penalty removed . Photon Flare Afterburst now caps at lv1 with its old lv10 bonus of 100 T-atk.

Techer

Deband Toughness grants 25% to your base maximum HP at lv5. Shifta Strike boosts damage to 110% at lv5. Along with the other changes to Techer such as Extend Assist as an innate skill, Territory Burst as a 1 point skill and Super Treatment as a 1 point skill this class is getting a lot of help towards its support abilities. It should definitely help make the role a bit less of a hassle to play as well as boost its demand due to Shifta Strike if nothing else.

Wand Lovers is now a stance and boosts wand striking damage to 140%, up from 135%. Wand bonkers rejoice, for your build now sounds considerably less cumbersome to me.

Braver

This first bit is mostly relevant to Bullet Bow users. Attack Advance boosts the power of normal attacks by 150%. Charge Advance boosts charged shooting-type normal attacks to 110%, while also boosting the speed of the bullets to 150%. Rapid Shoot Up 2 has had its power boosted to +150 R-Atk during Rapid Shoot (while using a Bullet Bow).

Average Stance boosted from 110% to 115%. Weak Stance was boosted from 130% to 135%. The totals are a little dependent on attack type, so going to lay them out in a list:

  • Average Stance with uncharged attacks: 126% up from 121%
  • Average Stance with charged attacks: 139% up from 133%
  • Weak Stance with uncharged attacks: 148% up from 143%
  • Weak Stance with charged attacks: 163% up from 157%.
Bouncer

The actual function of Bouncer skills is of course rather poorly understood, so the ramifications of this are pretty difficult to judge. With that said, lets see some numbers.

Stances

Elemental Stance: 120% damage bonus to elemental weaknesses, Elemental Stance Up 1 boosts boosts damage to another 110%. This makes the total bonus Elemental Stance offers a rather paltry 132%. It seems to be a shit version of Weak Stance.

Break Stance meanwhile grants a 135% damage bonus to breakable parts, with Break Stance Up 1 boosting this by a further 110% for a total of 148.5%.

Gears

Dual Blade Gear: Lasts 10 seconds upon activation, boosts PP regeneration to 110%, possibly Gear regeneration to 110% and can stack up to 6 times. No idea how said stacking works!

On-Use Skills

Elemental PP Restorate Field: +3 PP per hit on an enemy for 60 seconds on a 90 second cool-down, so 66% uptime.

Rapid Boost increases the speed of attacks to 115% and lowers the charge-time of all charged attacks to 85%. This skill is up for 45 seconds on a 120 second cool-down, giving it a 37.5% uptime. Rapid Boost JA Bonus boosts the power of Just Attacks to 115%.

Passives

Deband PP Restorate: +3 PP per hit on an enemy while under the effect of Deband.

Shifta Air Attack Boost: 105%. The name suggests to me that it’s only applicable while your character is airborn.

Just Reversal PP Recover; Regenerate 20% of your max PP upon successful Just Reversal.

Heal Share is 20% of something. Not known.

Heal Bonus boosts healing to 115%. I wonder if this just means Resta or if it applies to all sources of healing?

Weapon Skills

Photon Blade Fever has a 130% damage multiplier, lasts 45 seconds and has a 120 second cool-down giving it an uptime of 37.5%. What the multiplier is applied to or how it works isn’t known. Same goes for its supplementary skill, Photon Blade Fever Up 1 which has a further 130% boost.

Photon Blade Escape: Whatever it does it does it for 0.35 seconds.

Craft Mastery just increases.. craftmasteryrate by a maximum of 0.1 or 10%. I have no idea.

Thoughts:

If these numbers are final something feels amiss. For one thing, the stances last 30 minutes, which runs counter to every other stance in the game being changed to an infinite duration. Elemental Stance is much weaker than Weak Stance, which mechanically speaking does the precise same task for teching types. Other abilities also seem markedly weak given how.. specific they are. That said, it’s pretty hard to really gauge the utility of the class without trying it out, so its a bit difficult to judge the overall effectiveness of the class at the moment. If these cold hard numbers are both indicative and final, then I feel like Bouncer might need a boost down the line…

Of course if it is accurate then it means my worries about the class in this post are for naught, which is a good thing I guess.

Critical Skills

I decided to separate these from their parent classes, as Criticals aren’t really relevant to most current builds. They may or may not make entirely new builds possible, however.

  • Hunter’s Fury Stance Critical: 25% up from 20%
  • Fighter’s Brave Critical: 25% up from 20%
  • Fighter’s Wise Critical: 25% up from 20%
  • Gunner’s Zero Range Critical is still 50%
  • Techer’s Shifta Critical is 20% up from 15%
  • Braver’s Average Stance Critical is 25% up from 20%
  • Braver’s Weak Stance Critical is still 25%.
  • Bouncer’s Elemental Stance Critical is 25%
  • Bouncer’s Break Stance Critical is 25%
  • Bouncer’s Critical Field is 30%

So Hunter, Fighter, Braver and Bouncer all have the option of adding 25% to their crit-rate for any of their stances. Shifta can then boost it by a further 20% and Bouncer’s Critical Field by a further 30%, with Gunner having the unique property of granting a 50% bonus to critical damage for ranged attacks in close range.

So it’s 25% + 20% for single classes under the effect of Shifta Critical, or 25% + 25% + 20% for certain hybrids (any combination of Hunter, Fighter, Bouncer or Braver). Fighter’s Critical Strike skill also grants an additional 15%, but this is only available to Fighters. This would grant a critical hit rate of 45% for a single class or 70% for certain hybrids, not including whatever the base critical rate is. Naturally if you then add Bouncer’s Critical Field you then have a critical hit rate of 100%. Gunner can achieve a critical hit rate of 75% on its own, or 95% with Shifta Critical.

Remember that critical hits cancel all variance, so if you could maintain 100% this would utterly remove the biggest downside to using crafted weaponry. Of course, Critical Field has an up-time of 37.5%, so for the rest of the time you’re going to be at around 70%. When combined with Fighter’s ability to boost the damage of critical hits to 115% (Fighter main only) as well as boosting their critical chance by a further 15%, it feels like critical builds may be more viable than they are now. Fighter/Hunter, Fighter/Braver and Fighter/Bouncer could get a critical hit rate of 65% before Shifta Critical, which is pretty nice. If you were the slightly more unusual Fighter/Gunner, should you have Fighter-usable Twin Machineguns you can get a critical hit rate of 90% while attacking things in close range. I’m actually pretty interested in looking into this a bit further…

Anyway that’s all. It’s been a long enough post as is without considering the implications for various class combinations. I was originally going to do this in another post, but as the numbers here are pre-release and thus unpredictably volatile it seems like a wasted effort, especially when all this is going to be out in a week anyway.

Balance Thoughts: The Issues With Hunter Part Three: Fixing Hunter

no_pete_stop_it

This is the final part of this series of articles. This last one will be having a quick look at Hunter gear mechanics but the majority will be sharing my own ideas of what may help fix Hunter and maybe improve the game in general.

Weapon Gears

Hunter’s weapon gears are a mixture of “nice to have” to “absolutely essential for the weapon to even function”. From dealing a bit of extra damage to entirely changing the mechanics of a weapon’s attacks.

Hunter has a new skill coming its way in the form of Fury Gear Up. For 5 skill points, you can increase the speed at which weapon gear is acquired (Hunter main only). This is at the rate of a 20% additional boost as far as I am aware. Is that significant? My gut says no, but I’ll withhold opinion on that until it’s finally out. It does directly address one of Hunter’s issues, but it also perpetuates the issue of Fury Stance taking up too many skill-points.

But yeah, from a practical standpoint Hunter could definitely use help with the way its weapon gears work, particularly for Partisan and Sword.

Wired Lance I really don’t have any personal issues with in its current state, acquisition is fast and can be chosen to be spent on grappling moves. Some Wired Lance Photon Arts will benefit from having gear charges, as it will boost their power by 20%.

ungeared_partisan
Un-geared Slide End
geared_partisan
Geared Slide End

Partisan’s acquisition rate is fast but awkward, requiring the player to remain in place while the animation finishes or until it’s been charged through standing there twirling the weapon (doing it this way freezes PP regeneration however). Once filled, it does increase the area of effect of most attacks by a considerable margin, which is OK but in the current environment I feel they could go further with it. They could either increase the damage geared Partisan does or increase the area of effect further still.

sword_gear

Sword has the most issues. It takes too long to charge it (unless you are soloing) and then, for practical purposes, it depletes too quickly. Attacking a high level Kartagot as a test, I found that it took 12 hits with a sword to charge the gear fully, or 9 hits to get it to level 3. Sword is not a weapon that swings particularly fast, so building it with normal attacks on a single target is sluggish. I measured the time it takes for a fully charged gear gauge to deplete to 0 at around 30 seconds. That seems like a very long time, but remember that between spawns this can easily be hit. Not only that, but you will be downgraded to 2nd gear during that, which will impair your ability enough but not nearly as badly as no gear. Remember that you also have to keep hitting things in order to keep your gauge filled, which when enemies are either being mown down by Katana area of effect, ranged attacks, or they’re being blown around by various control effects is a very difficult task indeed. Sword is a weapon that’s dependent on building enough gear to stay on top of things and now it simply can’t do it. I think the real painful thing about it right now is that even after warming the weapon up it’s still inferior to other options right now…

Sword and Partisan also recover PP too slowly per attack. This is to offset their ability to hit plenty of targets at once, presumably, but having enemies bunched up to hit when other attacks can just fill the area with damage seems somewhat pointless. Sword’s normal attacks do at least hit plenty hard, unlike Partisan.

I propose then, that Swords and Partisans gain gear more quickly. That Sword’s gear depletes much more slowly. That Partisans in particular gain more PP per attack. That Sword’s charged attacks don’t take a whopping 5 seconds to charge up without gear (seriously who thought that was a good idea?).

Improving The Class

The rest of this post is just going to be my ideas on how to improve the class and maybe help the general game out by proxy. This is just my opinions, there’ doubtlessly things i haven’t considered and I am no master of game balance so I can’t with confidence say that if my ideas were implemented they wouldn’t go on to cause their own issues.

Actual things on the horizon

Hunter so far only has two fixes incoming for it. Level 16 Over End and Slide End are getting buffed. That’s it.

How much of an impact this will have depends entirely on the nature of the buffs themselves, but I don’t expect the overall standing of Hunter to change at all, because this doesn’t help fix their biggest issues. Nor does it do anything about the toxic Fury Stance.

Skill Tree

As I’ve said previously, Hunter’s skill tree really makes the class its own worst enemy. Requiring too many points in order to fill out Fury Stance and providing too much of a bonus to other classes that Hunter can’t enjoy as much as a main class.

As such, I propose that Fury Stance be nerfed. Now you may be thinking I’m crazy at this point, because Hunter is already out-performed as it is but hear me out. Firstly, make it cost only a total of 30 skill points to max it out. Secondly, reduce the damage bonus it grants, Now, naturally, Hunter’s damage would take a huge hit from this too. As such, all of Hunter’s attacks would need to be buffed. Fighter’s attacks would also need to be buffed, as it’s currently balanced around it. Yes, this would also mean some Katana Photon Arts would need help. Let’s not forget that before Shunka Shunran and Hatou Rindou that Katanas were a complete joke (aside the impressive coverage of Kanran Kikyou and decent focused damage of Sakura Endo). Let’s also not forget that our melee classes are having to compete with the ranged classes. The actual amounts, I’m not confident enough with my number crunching to say.

The game as a whole would potentially benefit hugely if Fury Stance were brought down. Imagine a PSO2 in which Braver/Fighter was a viable option? Or even Fighter/Braver. Perhaps even Gunner/Fighter, or Gunner/Braver? Ranger/Fighter or Ranger/Braver? Instead of locked to Fighter/Hunter, Gunner/Hunter and Braver/Hunter (which would still be viable options, just not the only ones). I’m not naive of course, I’m well aware that if one combination did say 5% more damage overall than another the player-base would flock to it as the new flavor of the month. Doubtless it’d be a delicate re-balancing act on Sega’s part but one that needs to happen.

I’ll take this opportunity to wish for Techer to become a viable sub at that, because it is absurdly fun for some reason.

From Hunter’s point of view, having Fury only cost 30 points has the benefit of allowing it to spend 40 (45 after the next patch) points in any other skills it desires. There are certain issues with the way the tree is laid out (the defense side of the tree does also need an absurd number of points for certain skills) but it’d least allow Hunters to actually have the opportunity to choose from some of its more interesting skills. Not only that, but freeing up those points would allow Hunter as a sub-class to also present more interesting options to its main class, in the form of powerful survival skills. Imagine a PSO2 where the choice between say Ranger/Hunter and Ranger/Fighter is “I may do slightly more damage as one, but I am more guaranteed to survive if I go with the other”. Naturally, in that situation for competitive time-attack everyone would just switch to Fighter sub…

Seriously. Nerf Fury Stance.

It can’t be said enough. Nerf Fury Stance!

Re-Establish the role.

If Sega wants Hunter to be the area-of-effect melee specialist there is nothing inherently wrong with that. It’s just to achieve this end, you actually have to give the class the tools to fulfill that role, because right now it just doesn’t seem to have them. If this means significantly altering how Hunter weapon Photon Arts work then so be it. Do it. Because right now the difference in coverage between Hunter weapons and a Katana is just absurd.

Just Guard

Just Guard + Just Counter should be inherent to Hunter weapons. Sega made equivalents inherent to other weapons, so why not? Why is Hunter the only class that has to pay for it?

Gotta Go Fast(er)

Hunters were designed in an era where monsters and bosses were much slower. There are situations now where Hunters may find it tricky to get any attacks in without having to mitigate damage somehow. This will only get worse if enemies get faster in newer difficulties to come. It can lead to situations where the choices are Just-Guarding, Step-cancelling your slow attacks or dying. Nothing wrong with that on its own as long as attacking becomes an option often enough to take bosses down in a reasonable time-span (skill permitting). As the slowest of the three melee-types right now, Hunter may need some adjustments to help it cope with faster and faster enemies going forward.

What about Guard Stance?

I gotta throw my hands up here. I have no idea how Guard Stance could be fixed with the game the way it is now. It needs it, because right now it’s kind of completely useless, but the exact how I’m not sure of. At the very least I think fusing both Flash Guards and Tech Guard into Guard Stance would be a good start. For me, that would seem like a reasonable thing to gain in exchange for giving up almost all of your damage, related to which I think it’d be good to remove the outgoing damage penalty as it’s redundant. By switching from Fury Stance you’re already giving up damage.

Closing Thoughts

And that’s all my thoughts on the problems that Hunter faces in the current game. As always, these are just thoughts and there may be numerous issues I’m not considering or things I did consider that aren’t really problems at all. This is of course also not to say that Hunter is the only class with problems or the class with the most problems. Balance in this game is more than just a mess, it’s an embarrassment that Sega let it get out of control as they did (and non-communication between departments really is no excuse).

Sega has said that they will be putting work in addressing balance issues and that it will take time to do it right. It certainly is something worthy of careful thought, but right now PSO2’s classes aren’t just imbalanced, they show no plausible sign of ever becoming reasonably so. So far, I also worry that they may not ever fix some of the more glaring issues with the classes. Will we see drastic changes to Hunter’s tree? To Ranger’s godawful tree? What about Techer? Fighter’s is also kind of a mess too. For Hunter, will we finally be able to perform the role of area-of-effect melee or will we always be shit Bravers?

I guess in the coming months we’ll see.

Balance Thoughts: The Issues With Hunter Part 2: Fury Stance

drew_a_happy_face_on_kuna

The second part of this series of articles sharing my thoughts on the problems that Hunter currently faces, in light of upcoming balance changes. This part will be focusing on Fury Stance.

the_magic_fistpump
Do the fist pump!

Fury stance is a curse to the game in general, but I argue no class feels it more than Hunter. It’s the main reason for almost anyone to have Hunter as a subclass. Fury Stance is a tremendous damage buff to both melee and ranged classes (it offers no benefit to Teching classes at all). The actual damage bonus is multiplicative, which means that all of the bonuses are multiplied together to derive the actual percentage that’s applied to your damage. If you’re unaware of the numbers involved, here they are:

  • Fury Stance: 125%/110% (striking/ranged)
  • Just Attack Bonus 1: 110%
  • Just Attack Bonus 2: 110%
  • Just Attack Combo: 120%
  • Fury Stance Up 1: 110%
  • Fury Stance Up 2: 110%

Multiply them together!
Melee bonus: 1.25 * 1.1 * 1.1 * 1.2 * 1.1 * 1.1 = 219.6%
Ranged bonus: 1.1 * 1.1 * 1.1 * 1.2 * 1.1 * 1.1 = 193.2%

As a subclass, Hunter nearly doubles ranged damage output and more than doubles melee damage output. What’s more is this comes with almost no penalty whatsoever. Compare to Fighter Stances which offer bonuses to damage with positional restrictions, but don’t offer nearly as much damage as this.

But surely Hunter has access to this as well, so what’s the problem?

Actually, it doesn’t. See, as a subclass, you can afford to throw every single skillpoint into Fury Stance and its related skills with no problem. As I explained in the last post, Hunter has a number of skills that greatly enhance its overall survivability. All of these skills however will have a hugely negative impact on your outgoing damage, which is a significant problem not only from a competitive point of view but it also effectively reduces your survivability. A dead enemy is less of a threat than a live enemy. It is much easier to survive a boss when it dies in 1 minute as opposed to 10.

The reason this occurs is because of the amount of skill points the Fury tree eats up. To max it, you will need to spend 70 skill points total. Right now, at cap players have 75 points available to them. That only leaves 5 points for Hunter to invest in skills that aren’t “do more damage”. FIVE. Let’s ignore all of the cool survival skills and consider just the more vital portions of the class, such as Just-Guard. Step-Attack is a more essential skill for combat, but that can be covered by a subclass.

just_guarding

Just-Guard modifies the guard effect of all Hunter’s weapons, changing it to consume no PP and nullify all damage. A very powerful survival skill for instances where stepping to avoid damage may be dangerous or impractical. It costs 4 skill points to obtain it. If you take this, there will only be 1 skill point to spend elsewhere. What makes matters worse is that 3 non-Hunter melee weapons effectively get this skill for free. Fighter’s Knuckles and Daggers both have something that works like Just-Guard without requiring any skill points, with one dodging and another parrying all incoming attacks (if the time between them is short enough). Note that neither of these effective variants of Just-Guard are direction dependent as they will nullify damage from all directions, not just the front. However, the catch is that the timing on them is much more precise. Katana of course gets Just-Guard and even Just-Counter for free.

all_the_gears

Speaking of which, remember those gear skills I mentioned earlier which boost the effectiveness of Hunter’s weapons? What if you wanted all gears, as you use all the weapons where they perform the best. Well Partisan and Wired Lance are both on the Fury side of the tree anyway, so those are just 1 point each. Sword however is buried under two skills, requiring all 5 of your spare skill points to take. In other words, if you want all weapon gears you’re going to have to give up some damage.

The point I’m illustrating here is that Hunter has to give up 10% of its damage, or that last 1.1, reducing its outgoing damage to 199.6%. This would free up an additional 15 skill points (an absurd amount for that remaining 10% I’d say), allowing Hunter to grab all its gears, Just Guard and even Step Attack if it wanted. Let’s not forget that 30 s-atk for one point skill, otherwise known as Rare Mastery. It could take all that and still have a couple of points left over!

Regardless of how much you may personally value some of the skills I’ve mentioned, the fact Fury Stance eats up 70/75 skill points is the absurd part from Hunter main’s point of view and it effectively makes Hunter its own worst enemy. The reason Braver and Gunner are so strong is mostly thanks to Fury Stance. None of their native skills come even close to the strength that Fury Stance imbues onto them, perhaps not even the mighty Shunka Shunran. I am not saying that Shunka Shunran or S-Roll JA Bonus aren’t in need of re-thinking, because they are, but I argue those skills are much less impactful than this one.

In the third and final part, I will be looking at ways I feel the class could be improved, as well as the issues with gear gauges.

Episode 2: Dewmans and Bullet Bows.

dewmans The 9th NicoNico broadcast took place today. They promised information on upcoming content and in particular with Episode 2 information and they’re delivering. In fact they’re still releasing information currently so this post is likely to change before the day’s out.


Videos

I’ll embed what videos I find here, though I’ll may talk about them in more detail in a separate post.

Episode 2 Content Trailer

Dewman Character Creation

Also contains footage of the new weapon types.

Planet Vopar Footage


Dewmans

We’ve known these guys were coming since the closed beta tests and finally we see them. So what is their race’s defining feature? Eye-patches? Ear-shape? That’s right, you guessed it! Horns.

Dewmans
Uhuhuhuh, they’re horny

Eyes with alternating colours as well it seems, otherwise they’re still albinos by default. The character creation screen there shows that they can customize their horns, though not sure if all male Dewmans have one horn and all female Dewmans have two or if that can be chosen. It also shows that Dewmans get a bit of a bigger choice of skin colour than they did before in PSP2:Infinity (which was white and REALLY white). In PSO2 Dewmans can be pale white, brown, red or blue in various shades. Regarding eyes, I’m guessing that given there are two windows open with eyes that player can customize them individually. Rumour has it that players will be receiving a free character slot when Dewmans are released. I’ve not yet confirmed this, however.


Braver WeaponsBraver was identified in the client fairly recently, with it being internally known as “swordarcher”. Katanas and Compound Bows were revealed, oh sorry, “Bullet Bows”. I guess Compount Bow might be pushing it in terms of name length, but Bullet Bow just sounds off to me. It seems Bullet Bows will have some kind of a charged action, perhaps similar to how some Sword and Partisan Photon Arts do. Fitting given how a bow is used, really. This does confirm that Katana and “saya” are part of the same weapon as well. The feeling was strong that this would be the case but the way the data was it implied they were separate weapons. How the pair function in combat is a bit of an unknown just now.

braver
As Braver is available on the character creation screen it seems safe to assume that there will be no requirements to unlock the class.

Coast CoastThe next field set to be added to the game and the first field that Episode 2 will add is the Coast field. That sure is a coast. The fountain landmark seems interesting, not something I expected to see. I can’t tell at that resolution whether it’s something technical or not just now. The Coast field is also confirmed to be set on the planet Vopar. new_enemiesWith a new field comes new enemies! Most of which were known about but certain details weren’t. It has a boss, the expected “MarineOarFish” which now has the official name of “Bal Rodos / Val Rodos” (Ricardo at Bumped / Mewn) and a miniboss which we thought was going to be “BirdCentaur” but it is in fact something I don’t think we’ve encountered in the data yet, named “Orgublan”. The field also seems to be populated by angry flowers (the big ones being called “Blumegalla”), but not the PSO-like Lilys that were expected. These enemies are all part of a new enemy category internally known as “Chimera”. I can’t tell if that name is mentioned on that image there. “BirdCentaur” might not be a miniboss, but it is still quite significant. It’s pictured in the top-right there, above the actual miniboss. Looks sort of Egyptian themed. It is in fact one of the 3rd type of Darkers, which is significant as it means that all the BirdSoldiers and the infamous BirdBirdCrow are also Darkers. Bird Darkers was a possibility that was considered, but upon looking at their models they didn’t seem very darker-like to us. Didn’t help that they were texture-less as well. I’m aware that the bosses there have their names in Katakana but I’m not confident in my localization skills. I’ll add the names more experienced people grant them later.


Support Partners: The Return of the Partner Machine

A newly announced feature is a small girl you can keep in your room…. aaaaagh

pet_little_girl
A pet little girl you can raise, clearly inspired by the roguelike Elona.

I’m not being serious with that caption. They appear to be reminiscent of Partner Machines  from Phantasy Star Universe. They were a bit like Mags, in that you raised them by feeding them items and what they’d evolve into depended on how you raised them. I don’t know yet if that’s how you raise Support Partners or not.  Unlike Partner Machines, a Support Partner’s appearance is completely customizable, it’s pretty much making a 2nd tiny character.

The 4th item on that menu is “Customize Weapon”, so you can potentially set their gear up too I guess. Wonder if it’s physically giving them a weapon or something? (Thanks to Mewn for that).

aggggggh
Like Partner Machines of Phantasy Star Universe your pet… little person.. can follow you into the field. The Japanese text at the bottom indicates that Support Partners are active when you’re logged out, but it’s not clear really what’s meant by that.

It just seems… weird to me. I mean, you’re raising a tiny character. I mean before you had at least a little comfort in it being a little robot but, here it’s a little person. It can be a robot if you make it a Cast, but otherwise it really is effectively a pet person. There’s something unsettling about that.

Support Partners can only be raised in a room, but it seems you won’t need Premium Set to have the room to raise one in. All characters will be given mini-rooms, which presumably becomes your default room when your Premium runs out.


Long Term Schedule schedule Episode 2’s release date is confirmed as happening some time in July, arriving with other things. I’ll list what I can with their respective month below:

  • July
    • Support Partner
    • Arks Road
    • Planet Vopar with Coast field
    • New race: Dewmans
    • New class: Braver
    • New weapon categories: Katana and Bullet Bow
  • August
    • Nothing!
  • September
    • New Field
  • October
    • New Difficulty: Super Hard (Formally known as Super Very Hard? Or possibly a difficulty before it…)
    • Level cap raised to 65
  • November
    • New Field
  • December
    • 12-man Quest Category
    • Update to the Item Customization System

Nothing at all for August it seems. Anyway, there are two more fields coming up, which are presumably the as-yet un-named “Lilipa3” and the unannounced “Seabed”.