PSO2 Vita Opening Movie + Trailer

crossplatformThe PSVita version of the game has moved further along it seems. This post will share my thoughts on the released videos as well as briefly discuss future content.


Videos!

Opening Movie

This is the same movie that was revealed earlier on during one of the recent live broadcasts on NicoNico, but of course this one is higher quality.

Promotional Trailer

Yeah, it looks like they’ve made a pretty competent port of the PC version. All of the features you’ve become familiar with on the PC version are available on the PS Vita version, including the ability to participate in 12-man multi parties.

psv_00Cross-play between the PC and Vita versions is still a thing, so you’ll be able to use the same account and character on both versions as well as play with players in cross-platform parties. As stated before though, cross-platform partying can only happen in certain blocks.

chrome_dragon_The video also briefly shows off the new boss, Chrome Dragon. As a reminder, the data mining suggests that it is to appear in a side-story quest (as a named variant of Chrome Dragon called “Hadred”). Despite its SEED-like appearance, it is a dragonkin enemy not a Darker.

The sign-up period for the beta test of PSO2 Vita is set to end on the 7th of January, with the tests themselves starting at an as of yet un-announced time. Official site of the closed-beta test can be found here.

psv_01
The character creator on the PSVita version of the game will take advantage of the touch-screen input. This has slightly perverted implications for the breast slider…
psv_symbol
I wonder if symbol arts will be easier or harder to make with the touchscreen…

Towards the Future

The final THIRD part of Where Darkness Gathers is a bit limp in comparison to other updates. It is pretty much a scratch rotation and nothing more. Some new costumes are coming such as little miss underboob’s outfit, “Mikoto Cluster” (Matoi’s outfit) as well as Sara’s outfit. I know a number of people have been eagerly waiting to get their hands on the latter outfit, so the prices could be fun. The rest of the outfits can be seen on the update page here.

In terms of content beyond that, it’s a bit of a mystery currently. But a mystery that’s set to be solved soon after tonight’s maintenance, apparently. All we know at the moment is Code: Clone is set to arrive some time in January and that a Falz Hunar emergency quest is to be added at some point. Finally of course there’s the new boss “Chrome Dragon” and its side-story quest, which we know won’t be arriving until after the Vita version has been released. The Vita version was last slated for a release date of th 28th of February. It at least looks like updates for the next two months won’t be as dense as in previous months, but that assumption could easily be shattered by the arrival of the new long-term schedule which is supposed to be due sometime soon.

2nd Fan Briefing Videos and Information

This post is gonna be mostly sharing videos captured from the 2nd Fan Briefing just earlier, as well as sharing a little of the information that was revealed.

Thanks to YouTube user XtremeStarfox, aka Vashyron, for uploading these videos.

New Weapons, Mags and Snowy Mountain

This video reveals a number of new weapons, many of which are creature themed. The tradition of monster parts being turned into weapons continues, then. It also shows off various new Mag forms.

The new snowy area of Naberius looks rather suspiciously like they just coloured the forest area white, at least in some areas. It’s not too nonsensical seeing as it’s the same planet but still on first impression comes across as quite lazy. Other areas of the snowy mountain seem different enough.

Two new bosses in the video as well, Mammoth (Malmus? De Malmus? Malmoth?) and Snow Panther. Both of whom, as you’d expect, reside in the new snowy area. Datamining suggests a non-snowy version of the panther exists, so perhaps the forest area will be getting a new miniboss as well. We shall see, I guess.

New Planet: Lilipa

The newest planet to be revealed is the desert world Lilipa. It’s crawling with mad machinery, being invaded by darkers (like everywhere else so far..) and is also inhabited by little rabbity Ewok type things.

Aside the robots that are clearly reskins of Dagans. I’m not really all that opposed to re-skinning as long as the behaviours of the reskins are different enough, which from what we’ve been shown appears to be the case.
We’ve also got the return of what look like Gilchics/Dubchics from PSO but re-imagined.
Also showcased is a new mini-boss, namely Gwanada. Gwanada actually first appeared in the benchmark, where it got shot in the face by a RAcast. It appears to be based on an antlion larva, going in particular by its large mandibles and its penchant for burying itself in the sand.

New Story Content Teasing

This video teases us with upcoming story content. Main thing I can really take away from it, given my lack of Japanese language skill, is that the native lizardmen (aka Dinians) of the volanic planet Amduscia can talk. Well we knew they could talk kind of, or at least they screamed when we killed them in the CBT!


Other Tidbits

  • The closed beta’s lag issues were apparently caused by a faulty network adapter. Fun stuff, but I guess it may mean they don’t have as much to fix as was thought, potentially.
  • The closed beta client was downloaded 147,000 times
  • The test had a total of 131,000 participants, a fair amount more than the 100,000 they were going for. Not bad!
  • There was an average of 61,000 logins per day during the tests. Again pretty darn good.
  • The most amount of simultaneous players at once was 23,500. For reference, the peak during the 2nd Alpha was 23,000. This is pretty good too, given that the CBT had relatively unlimited playing hours.
  • There’s a chance that there might be another test period before the OBT begins. In any case the Open Beta is apparently delayed due to player feedback, but they still want to aim for an early summer release. Good luck to them, I guess.
  • “Time Attack Quests” – Details are nonexistent as of now.
  • The Open Beta will be capped at lv30, as well as granting access to hard mode (lv20 requirement).

You can watch a complete recording of the 2nd Fan Briefing here, uploaded by YouTube user RemiusTheAwesome

Finally, you can find a selection of high-quality screenshots of the new content on 4gamer here and a bunch more on Gpara here.

[Sources: #egs IRC, Vashyron for videos, Bumped]

Thoughts on the 2nd Alpha Test

The first 7 hour session of the 2nd alpha tests are over. I have to say I was actually really satisfied with what I got to try. I don’t really want to say more than that with regard my overall reaction as I don’t personally want to be responsible for over-hyping the game, so I’ll just go into the meat of this post and start telling you about the various aspects of the game that I liked.

A fair warning, this post is lengthy. As part of the non-disclosure agreement and to be fair to the developers, remember that this is a game that is still heavily in development. So the things you see and the things I talk about in this post don’t necessarily reflect what will be in the game by release. Also all images are (c) SEGA Phantasy Star Online 2 Alpha 2 Test Version. With that said, let’s begin!


Combat

A slightly important feature of the game, seeing as you’re going to be spending most of your time killing things. It definitely feels a lot more fluid than Phantasy Star Universe and there is much more visceral feedback from your attacks than before.

Melee

In PSU, the only attacks worth using were photon arts, which meant ignoring the normal attacks entirely. Normal attacks are now a major part of your damage and can even be weaved between various parts of your photon arts now, allowing you string together long combos. That extra feeling of control over your attacks was pretty neat, however I did find it a bit difficult sometimes to know what attack would be coming next. I’d find myself having to count the current combo in my head to predict the next attack in the chain.

You also now get a visual indicator on your character to pull of Just-Attacks with. When you press an attack button while this red circle is around your character, you will perform a Just Attack. Successfully doing so will make your attack hit harder as a result, which means pacing yourself properly can maximise your damage.

One old aspect of Phantasy Star’s combat that’s persisted since PSO was the 3-hit combo, with a delay before you could attack again. That limit is essentially gone now, as long as you keep hitting that button you’ll keep on attacking.

Incidentally, using the Wired-Lance grapple photon art to leap into the air and kick birds in the face is the greatest thing.

Ranged and Tech

Now, I only played melee. So, sorry ranged and force lovers, I wont be able to give as complete a picture as I can give for melee. However I can share some things you might like to know.

First off, the Just-Attack mechanic that melee users have had since Phantasy Star Universe is now available to both ranged and tech users, with all the same benefits.

Specific to ranged, you no longer need to continuously tap the attack button to fire your weapon. You can now just hold the button down, however doing so will deny you the damage bonus from properly timed attacks.

Nurses, not Forces! Actually I've heard that attack techs are a lot more fun to use this time around. I didn't try them, myself

Block, Stupid!

On a final note regarding the combat, when you get hit it actually feels like it was your fault. May not sound like much but this means that if you die, you were the one who fucked up. You weren’t screwed over by an unfair or rediculously hard mechanic. You can block, you can dash out of the way, heck you could just simply run out of the way. Point is you have plenty of opportunity to prevent damage from enemies and while some attacks might be harder to avoid than others, so far it’s mostly a case of know your enemy. Now, to be fair, this is accurate only to the low level content. We won’t get to see the difficulty curve likely until the game has been released, so a full representative opinion can’t be formed on this for now. So far so good, still.


Latency

Now, yes, it was a stress test, so I know I can’t fairly grade the performance of the servers with regard latency (especially as the server coding isn’t even complete). How the game performs under lag is however an important thing to know. One very good thing is the combat itself is largely client-sided, or at least the more interactive parts are. This includes enemy state-altering attacks such as launches, knockbacks, knockdowns, interrupts etc. The damage calculation is still carried out server-side, so you’ll certainly notice the lag there (as well as with jittery movements of fellow party members). One of the biggest downsides to PSU’s combat was being unable to interrupt attacks if your latency got high so this is a sorely welcome sight.


Environment

On the minimap, the brightness represents the height of the terrain.

It’s actually pretty strange how much interactivity the simple act of being able to jump adds to an environment. Not only that but it seems to have allowed the level designers to get a bit more creative with the layouts of the stages in general. Hills, slopes, ledges, cliffs and even the more decorative geometry make the stages feel leaps and bounds more interactive than the environments we saw in Phantasy Star Universe. The presense of these things also helps to make the stages feel less linear, however they could definitely do with putting fewer dead-ends into their stages.

Beyond jumping, you can also cut down tall grass, fell trees and get caught in the current of a river.

The weather on Naberius can change on the fly.

The environmental hazards were also a nice touch. On Naberius, if the weather changes to stormy you will now need to watch out for lightning strikes (which give you plenty of warning ). On Amduscia, you have lava pools, fiery vents and falling stalactites to worry about. Something that goes beyond the visuals of the planet to differentiate it, as well as the local fauna, is appreciated. Of course, cross-planet you also have explosive traps and poison wave traps.


Interrupt Events

STOP RIGHT THERE, CRIMINAL SCUM

The party I ran with ended up with numerous interrupt events. Attack, Duel (although we have yet to see a boss enemy), Arrest, Protect and Destruction. They seem to vary in difficulty and in a 4 man group, protection events can get really hectic. They can get even more intense if you end up with a protection event combined with an attack event spawning some larger enemies!

A "Protection" and "Attack" interrupt event happening at once

Un-named random events were quite nice too , with passing gunships lending some air support by either firing an assault cannon or a barrage of rockets at the enemies you’re fighting. They can also drop support such as healing devices.


Enemies

The enemies seem to be pretty well designed from what I’ve seen. What I appreciate more is they’ve attempted to mix things up with their mechanics this time around. Some enemies will actively (sometimes passively) block your attacks with a shield, which will interrupt your current combo. Others have weak spots which must be exposed in various ways or are constantly accessible either behind the enemy, or having to jump onto the enemy to access it. Basically I just like that you will need to physically interact with your enemies beyond just hitting them with big glowing weapons.

You have to jump onto this enemy's abdomen to deal any significant damage to it

The little details in some of the enemy behaviours were quite fun too, I thought. From the monkeys who would pick up a rock to hurl at you, only to melee you with it instead if you got too close, to the lizardman hunter-types who would block your attacks with their shields and follow up with a shield bash (though I must say, the other two lizardman types have so far been pretty ineffective). Heck the monkeys in the forest area will just be swinging about in the trees, then they hurl themselves down at you when you approach.

You will need to attack around this enemy's large shield, or else it will deflect all your attacks

Final Note

So I said I wouldnt over-hype the game at the start of this long post and I’m not beyond realising the possibility that I’ve done just that. I hope I didn’t imply that this game is flawless or anything silly like that.

Remember as well that with these kinds of games it can take a little while longer to really get to know its faults. It is however, so far, a very enjoyable game for me. If they continue this level of care throughout the rest of the game’s development then we may well be looking at something special here.

2011, PSO2 and You

Well not really about you. No one cares about you, sorry. This lengthy entry will be recapping the entire year’s worth of PSO2 news and announcements.

We’ve come a long way this year, all starting with the initial announcement of PSO2 in September 2010 where all we got was a picture of the PSO2 logo and a trailer which told us, well, that it exists.


Yes! PSO2 exists! Sonic Team were indeed working on something beyond PSU,
somewhat confirming our suspicions that a lot of the features added towards the end of PSU’s lifetime were in fact experiments for features they planned to use in some kind of sequel.

Well while the video didn’t go into much detail, it did drop quite a few buzzwords out there, among the more interesting ones being:

  • Global support

Oh exciting! Remember when PSO had global support? You do? I don’t cause I didn’t join PSO until Blue Burst, but I can imagine the excitement PSO veterans had when seeing this. So what do they mean by “Global Support” this time? Well as of yet, we still don’t know.
To get this out of the way early on, there is still no word on exactly what they mean by global support but here’s some things to consider: First, there has still been no word from Sega of America about the game. Second, there has been no word on a release of the game outside of Japan (despite Sakai’s trip to Korea). Hope is not lost, but unless we hear otherwise this game could well be a Japan exclusive.

  • Thorough racial balances

Yeah I’ll believe this when I see it. I’m not going to spend too much time talking about the complete joke that is the racial balance in PSU, but trust me there’s good reason to be cynical about them delivering on this. Well, to be fair there’s decent reasons to be cynical about a lot of the things Sega says.

  •   Arkz

Wait, Arkz? That’s those chaps from PSO:Episode 3! That crappy card game that no one played! Yeah it was later confirmed that there is no canonical link between the groups, they just happen to have exactly the same name. To remind you, the Arks in PSO2 are like the Hunter’s Guild of PSO and the Guardians of PSU. They’re the faction your character belongs to.

Curiously, shortly after announcing the game, they also posted a job advert listing 3 available positions. This raised some eyebrows given that they had been allegedly working on the game for some time as they seemed to be relatively important positions to be empty.

After this initial announcement, there was nothing. Quite a whole lot of nothing, in fact. Sakai even stated that we shouldn’t expect much and he delivered! Sega are quite professional at delivering nothing.


January 2011

So we come to the beginning of this year. Shougai PSO posted about the setting and development of the game. It was here we learned that PSO2 will not be taking place on Ragol although there may still be loose ties to previous planets. Also Sakai said to expect some kind of announcement in April, which brings us to…


February 2011

Wait, that’s not April! How observant of you. This was the month where the first alpha tests were announced to be beginning in the summer. Entries would be determined by a lottery. How do you enter this prestigious lottery? You need to either have been a player on the Japanese PSO:BB servers or have bought a copy of Phantasy Star Portable 2: Infinity. Or just be subscribed to PSU on certain dates. Oh yeah and you also must be a Japanese resident.


April 2011

Hey, this is April! Your observational skills astound me yet again. And Sakai made good on his promises, as on the 24th a new trailer and a bunch of screenshots had been unveiled.


This was the first time we’d seen anything. Concept art, in-game screenshots? You name it, we didn’t have it. Well ok we had the logo. It was also the first time we heard any of the in-game music. So we went from nothing, to suddenly being bombarded with imagery, not all of it particularly flattering, such as those nasty ground textures. But hey, we can jump!


July 2011 – August 2011

July was the month in which this blog was born! Hurray! It was in these months that we ___, as well as a selection of _______ featuring _____, but we wouldn’t really know what they meant until _____!

Yeah the PSO2 newsletters took on a unique style to try to tease the fans with information. They seem to have dropped this tactic recently.

This was also the time in which the PSO2 Media Briefing took place, which can be summarised by the image below.
It was the first time we got to see the character creation in action and honestly I was impressed by it. This is coming from a guy who used to play Aion, the character creator in PSO2 is honestly an impressive piece of work and I’m sure its flexibility will be demonstrated when Sakai shows off the characters created at Akihabara. Until then, enjoy some character creation.

Character creation wasn’t the only thing revealed, in fact a whole lot of stuff was revealed. We had “Photon Sensitive Effect”, a bunch of race/class concept art, equipped units affecting your appearance, large party areas (think raids but not raids), random interrupt events during runs, “Jump Action”. Actually speaking of that last point, a new trailer was revealed during this time.

Still for Windows PC, you’ll note.

So we now knew the three races of PSO2: Human, Newman and CAST. No Beasts!

This time period also gave birth to the PSO2 Facebook page, on which Bonkohara even posted in English to show appreciation for their foreign fans.

  • Datamining

Ah yes, it was about this time when dirty cheaters got their hands on the alpha client and laid waste to the community by looking at the data in the files. Much harm was done. A PSO2 developer even caught wind of it and shared their disapproval about it on their twitter, which Shougai noticed.

Nothing tremendously harmful was even found, really. Planet names, the existence of Dark Falz, Technic names, the same word censor list that was in PSU. Guild functionality was also unearthed in the game’s strings.


September 2011

  • Official Videos

To celebrate the end of the alpha tests, or perhaps just another excuse for Sakai to get in front of the camera, a series of three videos were released which talked about various aspects of the Alpha test. The “Special Internet Program”, which can be found here, showed us a number of things we otherwise weren’t allowed to show due to the NDA. As such it was the first official time in which we saw the volcano planet Amduscia, the Vol Dragon being fought and various other things.

  •  Tokyo Games Show 2011

We didn’t have to wait long for potentially new information to come out after those videos, for the Tokyo Game Show was around the corner. PSO2 was present and playable at the show and two presentations were given. Sadly, not a whole lot of new information was actually announced and it was more like a further demonstration of the things we’d already seen. One of the things that was new however was a trailer, which also showed off a new area set in a ruined city.

Alpha Test Results

Thanks to EspioKaos for the translations.

Yeah there were a bunch of graphs that were posted towards the end of September, showing off various statistics of the Alpha Test playerbase. The short version is everyone wants to be a girl.


October 2011

The 2nd Alpha test was announced! And that was pretty much it for October.
The only other thing that was mentioned, I really do mean just mentioned, were MAGs. A solitary picture and the briefest of information was given on sega’s newly created blog for most things PSO2.


November 2011

About as thin as October in terms of news. We learned more about PSO2’s setting, however!

To recap, your character is a member of the Arks, who live on the Arks ship! You’ll be exploring various planets because why not and the universe seems to be infested with critters known as “Darkers” which you’re also gonna have to do something about.

Towards the end of this month, new character outfits were also revealed which filled in the remaining race/class types, with perhaps the exception of RAnewm and RAnewearl.


December 2011

Contrary to the previous months, a fair amount was announced. To start off, CAST face morphing was revealed as well as CAST boob morphing. CAST morphing all around, in fact! So yes, as a CAST you won’t be denying yourself the creative flexibility that the meatier races are granted, which is nice to know.
Much of this month was dedicated to discussing things which would maybe appear in the 2nd alpha tests. The “My Room” feature was revealed, which is a customisable abode for your character. MAGs were talked about in slightly more detail, revealing that you could feed them which would cause things to happen. Revealing. And finally the item lab which revealed you can still punish yourself by trying to grind weapons, although it’s not as punishing as it used to be in Phantasy Star Universe.
Finishing off December, PSO2 was at the Akihabara Games Festa 2011. During which, I stayed up to ungodly hours on the 23rd to catch a pair of presentations. We did actually get to see some new things, however, including the PSO2 opening movie.


Aside that were some brief details about what would take place during the 2nd alpha, as well as showing off the item labs and newer features of the character creation (paying particular attention to the new CAST morphers).


So that’s the timeline of PSO2 happenings this year. A couple of noisy periods sandwiched by times where a whole lot of nothing happened.

Recap of the Major Features
To recap what the major features are (please feel free to message me if you think anything else needs to be included)

  • * PSO2 is Windows PC ONLY. There are no plans to release a console version.
  • The three races are: Human, Newman and CAST. There are no beasts
  • Clothing is NOT attached to class or race.
  • All races can use morphers to customise their appearance
  • Any race can be any class
  • The three classes are Hunter, Ranger and Force. There are no advanced classes.
  • Character levelling is done through class levels.
  • MAGs are in
  • Customisable rooms are in
  • Item grinding (more than weapons this time) and item fusion are in
  • Player shops are in (and are accessible outside of rooms this time)
  • Missions are accessed from a singular counter like in PSO, rather than multiple like in PSU
  • Missions can be interrupted by random events
  • Bosses can be fought both in and out of arenas

Alpha Test 2
The 2nd Alpha test is set to take place some time in early 2012, with the registration period ending on the 17th of January. The details can be found elsewhere, but I’d like to finish this post with information about what will and what will not be included in the tests.

What is in:

  • All features of the last alpha test
  • My Room
  • Player shops
  • Item Labs
  • New character models and CAST morphers

What is NOT in:

  • The city area shown in trailers
  • MAGs

Towards the Future
And so ends the longest post I’ve written for this blog. I hope it’s helped put this year of PSO2 information into perspective. Who knows what information will be revealed in the coming months, with the 2nd alpha client on the horizon as well as the closed beta tests having been announced. Never mind that the game it scheduled to release in 2012, so somewhere in there, I assume, is an open beta. Will foreigners be allowed into it? Probably not, but I still think that even if the game is only released in Japan that they won’t mind foreign players on it.

Finally, happy new year!

Sources: PSUpedia, Bumped, Shougai, PSO2 Official Blog. PSUmods
Thank you all for your continued effort!

PSO2 Concept Movie: JUMP ACTION!

This is a new gameplay trailer that was shown during the media briefing.

We get yet another brief look at “Large Party Areas”, which is where 12 players can do the same missions. Raids? Perhaps. Hopefully we’ll hear more of this feature soon. I also rather hope they fix whatever is going on with the glitchy animations present on his team-mates.

It’s nice to see that jumping actually has a use beyond, you know, just being able to jump. Looks like you’ll actually need it to navigate some of the terrain, which is good as this is more environmental interaction than we were privileged to have in PSU (which had less environmental interaction than PSO did).