Closed Beta Briefing and Recap

The closed beta testing period is set to begin in less than 24 hours now. This post is to serve as a reminder of the features to expect as well as other information regarding the tests.

Tester website: http://pso2.jp/cbt/

Unofficial Importer Ship: Ship 02
This is the currently settled upon ship in a poll on PSO-World, which contains the largest portion of the importer community. This may not reflect which ship most of the importers will be present on in the release version. There is no unofficial block picked at the moment. Your character is not bound to a block, however. They are bound to a ship, so that as much is important if you want to meet other players.

There is a non-disclosure agreement, You can find it at http://pso2.jp/cbt/rule/copyright/
It is essentially the same NDA that was present in the Alpha tests, which means that yes you can share screenshots and videos.

  • Posting Images
    • You will need to place a (C) SEGA somewhere on your screenshots
    • On the page you post them you will also need to include the following notice:

      「画像は『PHANTASY STAR ONLINE 2』クローズドβテストにおいて撮影された実機画像です。
      開発中のため、正式版とは異なる内容であり、今後改良される可能性があります。」

      『PHANTASY STAR ONLINE 2』公式サイト
      http://pso2.jp/

  • Videos
    • For 2 seconds you will need to place a (C) SEGA notice at the start of the video.
    • In your video description you will need to put the following notice:

      「『PHANTASY STAR ONLINE 2』クローズドβテストにおいて撮影された実機動画です。
      開発中のため、正式版とは異なる内容であり、今後改良される可能性があります。」

      『PHANTASY STAR ONLINE 2』公式サイト
      http://pso2.jp/

    • Aside the editing the NDA requires you to do, you are not allowed to do any editing.


Schedule

Unlike the previous alpha test, there are no planned maintenance sessions. Ideally this means the test should be one continuous session, but realistically speaking I would expect random issues to occur, issues that may require a maintenance to sort out.

This is when the tests are due to start:

  • 8:00AM, 19th April, GMT
  • 3:00AM, 19th April, EST
  • 2:00AM, 19th April, CST
  • 1:00AM, 19th April, MST
  • 12:00AM 19th April, PST
  • 9:00PM 19th April, HAST
  • 4:00PM 19th April, JST

Changes to Features Since They Were Announced

As the subtitle suggests, not all things have remained the same since they were announced.

  • Character class level cap is now lv20, instead of lv30
  • Despite the client displaying 10 ships, there will only be 5 available during the tests.
  • The prices of Arks Cash items has been adjusted, so players will be given 1,000 AC to spend as they like instead of the previously announced 10,000.
  • All Arks Cash items are currently set to 10AC.

To me, it sounds like they’re using the tests to see what items would be in most demand so they can set the release prices appropriately..


Feature Recap + New Features

Here’s a general list of things that will be in the Beta

  • Planet Naberius and Amduscia, with their Forest and Volcano Caves areas.
  • The new Urban area,which will be available during Emergency Quests
  • Emergency Quests
  • New Interrupt Events
  • Client Orders
  • Story content
  • Tutorial missions
  • Matter Board functionality (required to unlock some quests for some of the above categories)
  • New Photon-Sensitive-Effect variants have been added. PSEs have also been rebalanced.
  • Inviteable NPCs, both story NPCs and NPCs of your friend’s characters (Partner Friends).
  • Boost enemies can now spawn
  • Lower level enemies have been nerfed
  • Bosses will now spawn boxes on death
  • New ranking system, including Interrupt Rankings and Weekly Rankings
    • Interrupt Rankings will be announced randomly, setting some aim that players will be ranked with. This could be “Kill as many of X monster as you can” withi an hour.
    • Weekly rankings concern themselves with many other actions, such as the number of times players entered another room or the number of rare containers destroyed.
    • The top 3 players of either ranking types will be awarded with FUN points for their efforts.

  • Selectable races are Human, Newman and Cast. This is also the same selection that will be available on release. (Datamining suggests that there is at least one more race to come…)
  • Character data from the Character Creation Demo/Benchmark is compatible with the closed beta client. So make your final adjustments while you have time!
  • Like the demo, created characters can be saved and loaded.
  • Limited to one character only, unless you buy additional slots with Arks Cash.
  • Players who reach level 10 will receive a Weapon Hologram decoration in the Open Beta.
  • Mags are in.
    • Can be raised through feeding them items
    • Their stats are the same as the player’s
    • Their stats can influence player stats
    • At lv50 they can start using Photon Blasts
    • Photon Blasts can be chained.
  • New weapon types are available
    • Partisans for Hunters
    • Launchers for Rangers
    • Talis/Cards for Forces
  • New Photon Arts are available for all weapon types, old and new.
  • New Techs are available
  • Items are now bind on equip.
  • Players can now change their class in game
  • Skill trees have been completely revamped
  • Use of Scape Dolls is optional on death.
  • New character outfits
  • Outfits can be equipped through the equipment menu, like your Units.
  • New lobby animations
  • Character Data from these tests will be wiped

  • New Arks Lobby. The old one is gone!
  • New shops and facilities
    • Medical Counter – Where you can buy temporary buff items of various flavours
    • Title Counter – Collect and track your titles/achievements
    • Team Counter – Create and manage your guilds
    • Costume Shop – Buy new clothes and parts
    • Makeover Shop – Alter your character in various ways. Some features cost Arks Cash
    • Tekkers – Identify SPECIAL WEAPONS.
  • Various Gachas will be placed around the lobbies
  • New items to manipulate your equipment through the Item Lab have been added.
The shopping basket icon displayed here is how you access the Arks Cash shop.
  • Arks Cash system
  • You can not purchase Arks Cash during the test, you can only use the free AC you’re given!
  • The ability to sell items in player shops is confirmed as being a rental feature.
  • AC shop and Gacha items are limited, the release versions won’t be the same
  • Purchaseable “Premium Pack”, which unlocks player rooms, trading, selling through player shops and expanded storage. It also grants access to a special lobby block just for premium users. The Premium Pack lasts 30 days.
  • FUN points system
  • The UI has been slightly reworked
  • Virtual Full Screen mode has been removed (LIES).
  • An option has been added to disable auto-words in chat logs
  • Increased the maximum number of displayed player characters to 160
  • Added many formats for screenshots
  • You can now whisper other players
  • Symbol Art is implemented

This list doesn’t cover all of the changes and features coming up in the tests, but does list what I think is significant or interesting. As anything else surfaces, I’ll add it here.

[Sources: PSBlog, PSO-World Mike, Bumped]

Closed Beta Features

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


Makeover Shop

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

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


The Costume Shop

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

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


Partner Cards are now Arks Cards

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


Partner Friend

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

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

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


Symbol Art

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

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


Teams

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

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

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

Team functionality will be included in the upcoming test.


Title Counter

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


The Medical Counter

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

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

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

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


Rooms

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

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


Towards The Future

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

[Sources: PSBlog and PSO-World]

Bonkohara Tweet and maybe Guilds

BONK
Regarding tomorrow’s test, Bonkohara seems to be recommending people stay on Ship 1, but to create new characters on Ship 2. Who knows. They were having lag issues with Ship 2 during one of the tests if I recall correctly. Hopefully we’ll get some videos of the new area and boss!

Guilds?
Another thing to share, some data-mining has unearthed the following strings in the game’s memory:

guild_icon
ShowGuildCreateWindow, ShowGuildDestroyWindow, ShowGuildReplyScoutWindow, ShowGuildLeaveWindow, ShowGuildKickWindow,  PromoteToManager, PromoteToCommon

I know guilds, or “Teams” as they were known in PSO:BB was something people were wondering would return. Now, the presence of these strings is certainly not a confirmation that there will be guilds in PSO2 (There hasn’t been any mention of them in promotional material so far), but it IS a confirmation that they’re at least considering it.
As far as I’m concerned, this won’t take away anything from the game, really. If there is no official guild function in-game, people will make guilds anyway (as seen rather extensively in PSU).