OBT Date Announced

And so another test has come to an end. With this ending however, there is a new beginning. A genuine new one. Don’t worry I’m not about to post some classic Phantasy Star screenshots while going all cryptic on you. I’m not that cruel.

During the 2nd pre-OBT session a GM message scrolled across the top of the screen, announcing the date and time that the Open Beta would begin.

The Open Beta is scheduled to start on the 21st of June, at 16:00 JST.

In other time-zones:

  • 3:00 EST, 21st June
  • 2:00 CST, 21st June
  • 0:00 PST, 21st June
  • 8:00 BST, 21st June (United Kingdom)
  • 21:00 HADT, 20th June

There has been no stated duration of the test just yet.

It was also confirmed that although the data from the pre-OBT will be wiped, the data from the OBT itself will carry through to release.

This time, the importer community decided to end the test with an impromptu jumping party.

So turned out that leaked date was accurate after all. It was still likely a date they scheduled under the assumption that things would go smoothly, which then accidentally got posted. As it happened, things did indeed go smoothly according to Sega. The maximum number of simultaneous connections peaked at 41,500, which is by far the highest number yet. I personally experienced no connection issues whatsoever (not even a random lag spike), so it really does seem like the servers are now officially ready to host for the player base, come release.

Do not uninstall your clients! The pre-OBT client will patch through to OBT. I’m pretty certain that it is in fact the release client, as well.


Closing Thoughts

It was nice to see that there were some minor improvements made since the closed beta. For one thing, you no longer need to do Matter Board quests to start doing Client Orders, removing what was an arbitrary barrier to progression. Obtaining your first Mag is now a lot less painful than it used to be, requiring items from a monster that seems pretty eager to drop them.

For better or worse, they altered a rather infamous cut scene in the first story mission. Your avatar no longer gives Alfin that look. It’s just not the same…

There are other small things as well, such as NPCs contacting you or you being informed some other way that they have Client Orders for you to do, if you want. Matter board quest completion no longer requires you to enter the lobby for them to be completed, it’ll happen as soon as you board the camp ship.

This is Theodore. You may have met him during the pre-OBT. You may have met him many, many times in fact. He would appear a lot if you hadn’t met the requirements to encounter other NPCs. Sega are aware of this issue.

There are a few things they need to fix still, for example some odd infinite spawn bugs as well as a problem where the Gilnas cores wouldn’t spawn in their interrupt events. Certain flaws with the new Desert map seem to indicate that it isn’t quite finished yet, which is a little concerning given that they’re planning on effectively releasing it in a week.

In any case, personally speaking,  I’m ready for it. From a purely selfish point of view, I just want to play this thing now, even though in the back of my mind I do worry about this sneaking feeling of incompleteness the game has about it…

Pre-Open Beta Test Report

Overall the test went fine. There was almost no lag at all (aside from 1 random lagspike) and not once did I get disconnected. A big improvement over the start of the CBT in this respect, mind the end of the CBT was just as stable. It did feel like the login servers were struggling somewhat, I’ve seen people reporting error 60X variants and I’ve seen error 242 a few times. This was only at the very beginning, however.

Sega even tweeted to report on the test itself. There were roughly 30,000 simultaneous connections, which is a fair amount higher than the max number of players during the CBT. There were no major connection issues detected, so all seems to have gone well. Perhaps the OBT will start at the leaked date of the 21st after all! But of course that was never actually confirmed.

Planet Lilipa

As part of this test, a special mission, set in the Lilipa Desert, was available from lv1. You needed to complete it in order to get the Bouquet Rifle.

As a desert area it’s got various things that you’d expect to see. Cactuses and sand, largely. The cactuses can’t actually hurt you, but there are pointy things in the desert that can! Straight out of a Sonic game, there are spikes that will periodically burst up through the ground. There are no other environmental hazards that I encountered.

Spikes, conveniantly in both states!

A new interactive mechanic was introduced in the form of what I can only describe as hacker terminals. You will need to hold down whichever button you use to interact with objects (the b button on my joypad in my case) to hack away to unlock gates. The hacking time is sped up considerably if other players also use the terminal. This same mechanic is used on the quest’s objective, a new variant of the Code: Collect event where you will need to sync your hacking time with a drill. If the drill bit is spinning, hack away. If it isn’t, back away.

HAX

Monsters will try to interrupt you while you’re doing so, speaking of which..

The planet is largely infested with Darkers, but we’ve encountered most of them before. The one new Darker was the Gwanada.. It spends a lot of time buried in the sand, trying to bite people with its large pincers. It’ll occasionally try to draw players towards it, grabbing any players that it successfully pulls far enough.There may be a way for other players to cancel the grab before it does damage.

It spawns a number of tentacles near itself and destroying them seems to cause the Gwanada.to keel over, exposing its squishy belly. It’s safe to just attack in this phase, so hit it as hard as you can!

The robots of Lilipa are a new batch of enemies. Most of their attacks are ranged and can be surprisingly dangerous, especially if you are undergeared. That’s not even mentioning the Gilnas, an enemy that is largely like a Dubchic from PSO. It has a number of attacks, many of them dealing a considerable amount of damage, especially its laser beam which can be lethal. Downing it is not the end of the fight, as it will split into 3 pieces upon death: torso, legs and core. As you can guess, the core is what you want to destroy to properly kill the Gilnas, but this is easier said than done as it will be zipping about at times. Meanwhile the torso will attempt to hug you while the legs kick away.

Overall, not a bad zone. Certainly not a pretty one, that’s for sure.

It’s a hole! No, you can’t jump into it.

Finishing off this post with things I noticed in my playtime.

Bugs

  • Noticed that there were a number of broken Gilnas core Code:Attack events, where no Gilnas would actually spawn
  • Related to the above, a broken Gilnas spawn could cause enemies to infinitely spawn
  • Parts of the Lilipa Desert map appeared to be broken

Changes

  • The Urban emergency quest area has been changed
    • The monsters in Area 1 are now lv11
    • The monsters in Area 2 are now lv15
    • Dark Ragne is now lv15
    • The timer has been lowered to 20min
  • NPCs appear to have icons above their heads now. Perhaps to prevent confusion as to whether it’s the actual player or not with Friend-Partners.
  • Visiting mission areas for the first time will play a short cutscene.

Leadup to Pre-Open Beta

With four days left before the pre-OBT kicks off, things are starting to happen! Lots of minor, not particularly interesting things but a couple of major things as well. This post will try to address the things you need to do to participate in the pre-OBT.


Clients

The pre-OBT patch is up!

If you still have the client installed from the CBT, you can now patch it up. Start your client and it’ll begin patching the launcher. Once it’s done, click on the window and it should restart.

On the launcher, click the third one of the buttons in the top-right corner. This is the file check button, it’ll start the patch on its way. The patch may take a long time to complete, regardless of your connection speed, so be aware of that.

Client Downloader

If you weren’t in the CBT, or you were and you were a numpty who went and uninstalled it, you can grab the downloader here. Click the big blue button, pictured below, to grab the downloader.

Not Signed Up Yet?

There is a guide to do so here, by yours truly. You have until the 20th to sign up if you wish to qualify for the Rappy mini-doll room decoration, but the actual pre-OBT test will begin on the 15th.


New Player Site

The player site is up. Unlike previous tests, the URL isn’t named after the test, which indicates that this is the one that will be carrying through into release. It ‘s a gateway to all sorts of places but I imagine the only place most players will concern themselves with is the news feed.


Ship Names

In all previous tests, ships were simply labelled with numbers. As the title of this subjection may have hinted, this is no longer the case. The ship names are as follows:

  • Ship 1: Feo
  • Ship 2: Ur
  • Ship 3: Thohn
  • Ship 4: Ansul
  • Ship 5: Lags (An unfortunate choice..)
  • Ship 6: Ken
  • Ship 7: Gyof
  • Ship 8: Wyn
  • Ship 9: Hagal
  • Ship 10: Nausis

Note that ships 6-10 will not be available during the pre-OBT. The official ship of the general importer community is still Ship 2, with the official blocks still Block 20 and Block 21.

Some english speaking communities have chosen different ships. To each their own, but make your choice carefully, because your characters are bound to a ship. You won’t be able to play with anyone on other ships unless you pay to create a new character on a different one, or create a new account. Your characters are not bound to a block, you can freely change between them as you please.


Other Information

There’s really not a lot of interesting information outside of that. You can do such exciting things as check out some twitter icons, look at some blog images (wherein Sega makes their target audience pretty blatant), or check out the rules (don’t hack, don’t RMT, be excellent to each other, usual MMO rules).

Changes From Closed Beta

This final bit is really only relevant if you took part in the closed beta test, of course.This is not all the changes, the rest include some adjustments to various features of the game but none I consider particularly major.

  • You no longer need to do Matter Board quests to do Client Orders.
  • You can now acquire a Mag from lv5, instead of lv10
  • Mags will reach their 2nd stage of evolution at lv30 instead of lv50.
  • Hard mode will be available for characters over lv20, upon the completion of an unspecified Client Order.
  • Player level cap is now 30, for both pre-OBT and OBT. The cap on release will be raised to 40.
  • Enemies will now display EXP FULL on death, if your character is capped.
  • There is no free Arks Cash, nor can you buy any in the pre-OBT. As a result, during the test you will be able to access My Room and My Shop for free.
  • Client optimizations may happen after release if necessary – What.
  • You can now select “Virtual Full-Screen” as a display mode.
  • The planned video capture feature has been dropped.

Copyright Stuff

Going beyond taking the piss, Sega still wants you to attach copyright notices to your screenshots and videos. Even for an Open Beta.

For images, put a (c) Sega somewhere on the picture itself, as well as the following notice:

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

You will need to do this even if you are posting images onto things like Twitter, although you can just edit the full notice into the image if you can’t fit it into a tweet. You may crop and re-size images, but you are forbidden from editing the picture significantly.

For videos, you’ll need to edit a (c) Sega at the start, as well as including the following text somewhere on the page..

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

Yeah it’s the same notice as it is for images. As before, you may not edit your footage in any way beyond adding the (c) Sega notice to it, it must be otherwise unedited continuous footage (of whatever it is you’re demonstrating).

For live streaming of the game, you will need to put the following notice into your feed’s description:

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

This is stupid and un-necessary, but Sega may take action against you if you fail to comply to these rules. While it’s not the more stringent copyright notice we had before, it still feels like Sega just wants its users to do their advertising for them.

[Sources: Official site, Bumped, PSO-World]

OBT Release Date Leaked

Spotted by Manta Oyamada of PSO2UP who found it originally on Shougai, which was then posted on Bumped. Mouthful, but credit’s due where it’s due.

The advert that was included in the leak. It was taken down on Dengeki, but it still on display on this website.

So a potential date of the 21st of June for the Open Beta. I do mean potential, as nothing is confirmed (and the pre-OBT could delay it even  if it were accurate) but it’s at least something to go on. This would put it comfortably in the time period of “soon after pre-OBT” as orignally said, of course.

So where does this leave us with regard the overall release? Remember that it was said that the game would be officially released soon after OBT ends. We don’t really know how long OBT is going to last, but let us suppose that it lasts a week like the CBT did. Let’s also suppose that “soon” means a week. Sega also seems to like doing things on Thursdays for some reason, so this leads me to a ballpark guess of the 5th of July for a release. Could be earlier, could of course be later, but at the very least it seems certain that it will be in the month of July. Doubt it’ll be earlier than the 28th of June. I guess that sort of qualifies as “early summer”..

I am quite ready to have this game be released. I hope they’re ready to release it soon.

Pre-OBT Information released.

Sakai updated the official PSO2 blog today with information about the pre-OBT. Without dithering too much let’s to the important details.


Pre OBT Dates and Times

  • 15/6/2012: 19:00 – 24:00 JST
  • 16/6/2012: 19:00 – 24:00 JST

In other timezones:

  • EST: 5:00 – 10:00
  • CST: 4:00 – 9:00
  • PST: 3:00 – 8:00
  • BST: 11:00 – 16:00
  • CEST: 12:00 – 17:00
  • HADT: 1:00 – 6:00

Next Friday for everybody. If the tests go well the OBT will be starting a week after.

So yes, it will only be for 2 days as I was hoping. It’s also very time limited, which is perfectly reasonable for a stress test.

Reminder that character data will be wiped, but I doubt you’re gonna achieve anything in that time limit anyway.

Another reminder that you do you do not need to uninstall the closed beta client if you still have it.

DO I WIN A PRIZE!?

Yes, you do! If you complete a desert mission with any character, specifically “【プレOBT限定】砂漠任務”, you will unlock the Bouquet Rifle. You won’t need to do anything special to access the quest, as it’s a special quest just for the pre-OBT that will be available from lv1. No need to level up this time, which is a relief given the brevity of the tests.

It sort of sucks that the prize is class specific, especially if you don’t want to play a Ranger. You can however change your class for free, much like you could in PSU, so every character can potentially use the weapon. Update: Turns out all classes may equip the rifle, but only Rangers will be able to use photon arts with it.  Much more agreeable!.


Arks Cash Details

As well as unveiling a schedule for the pre-OBT the first details of the pricing for the Cash Shop have been released.

To summarise it, it’s the exact same as Guardians Cash. 1 AC = 1 Yen. That particular rumour turned out to be true.

Prices:

  • 200 AC will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch
  • 500 AC will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch GOLD
  • 1300 AC will buy you a month’s worth of Premium
  • 500 AC will buy you an additional character, or a go at remodelling them
  • 300 AC is the rough price for system type items
  • 150 AC is the rough price for consumption items

How much is this in other currencies? I’ll list a few of them below. These conversions are accurate on 8th June 2012 and do not take into account any bank charges for foreign transactions.

In GBP

  • £1.63 will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch
  • £4.10 will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch GOLD
  • £10.65 will buy you a month’s worth of Premium
  • £4.10 will buy you an additional character, or a go at remodelling them
  • £2.46 is the rough price for system type items
  • £1.23 is the rough price for consumption items

In Euros

  • €2.02 will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch
  • €5.06 will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch GOLD
  • €13.17 will buy you a month’s worth of Premium
  • €5.06 will buy you an additional character, or a go at remodelling them
  • €3.04 is the rough price for system type items
  • €1.51 is the rough price for consumption items

In USD

  • $2.52 will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch
  • $6.31 will buy you one go at the Arks Scratch GOLD
  • $16.41 will buy you a month’s worth of Premium
  • $6.31 will buy you an additional character, or a go at remodelling them
  • $3.78 is the rough price for system type items
  • $1.89 is the rough price for consumption items

This isn’t necessarily all the prices, but it should give you an idea of how expensive things are. They are quite expensive, indeed.

Reminder that the regular Arks Scratch has a number of items including clothing, whereas Arks Scratch Gold only has clothing in it.

These payments are of course completely optional. You can download and play the game without ever having to spend a penny.


Premium Set

So what does the premium set include? Going by Bumped:

  • My Room
  • My Shop
  • Exclusive Features Listed Below
  • Premium Storage Box
  • Item Trader
  • Premium Block
  • FUN Points Boost
  • 30 Days = 1300 AC
  • 60 Days = 2500AC
  • 90 Days = 3600AC

You can buy premium time in bulk to save a little money. A 60-day ticket will cost 2500AC, saving you a whopping 100AC. A 90-day ticket will cost 3600AC, which saves you 300 AC. This puts the cheapest subscription rate at £9.78GBP, €12.07 and $15.10USD, at current exchange rates. This is still more expensive than a World of Warcraft subscription, even without taking into account bank charges…

Access to My Room and My Shop can also be obtained through the FUN Gacha. Extended storage is not the same as the premium storage and are themselves a separate fee of 700AC per month. Storage is hideously expensive in this game, really, however should you be desperate enough for item space to shell out for it you will be able to retrieve items from your extra storage even after the ticket expires. You can also buy access to My Room and My Shop separately, again for 700 AC per month each (so if you want both you may as well go for the premium set).

There’s a bit of a lack of information about the permanent upgrades to your account, if there even are any. Things like communication and access to trading, hopefully more information will come out as time goes on.

Personally speaking, access to being able to sell things on shops is probably the most vital thing in the premium set. Remember that you don’t need AC to buy things from player shops. As such, that’s really the only item on that list I’d consider getting and even that costs nearly £6 a month. Of all the things here, I think the thing that pisses me off the most is that item trading is a premium exclusive.


Concept Art

Sakai also posted some concept art of the uniform worn by Alfin.
That is being modelled by a male newman, believe it or not. Not sure what’s up with the ear covers.

[Sources: PSBlog, PSO-World, Bumped, Google calc]

E3: Where is PSO2?

So E3’s live presentations came to a close yesterday. This blog isn’t for passing opinion on what was announced there, but I’m sure many of you reading this are wondering if PSO2 had any time at E3 at all.

The short answer: No

The long answer: Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

What about a surprise appearance on the show floor, before E3 ends?: Wouldn’t count on it.

Now Sega were definitely there, in fact one of their upcoming titles “The Cave” got some live footage shown of it. Sega announced their E3 lineup on their official blog here. You won’t need to dig into the comments very deeply to learn that readers were a little confused as to why some of the titles they were excited to see were missing. Among them are Phantasy Star Online 2, of course, as well as Anarchy Reigns and Yakuza 5.

As Sega don’t do live presentations like some other companies that attend E3, no one expected a big on-stage announcement or anything like that. If you did, you might be being a little bit unrealistic.

I can understand people’s frustration with Sega of America continuing to not even acknowledge the game exists, seemingly. The lack of any official response on the official blog there, not even so much as a “we can’t comment on these titles yet”, can’t be helping. A good part of this frustration is due to how close we are to the release of the Japanese version of the game, which could be anywhere between 4 – 8 weeks at a guess. This is dependant on the success of the upcoming Pre-OBT test (end of June), whether the OBT will start immediately after or not and how long the gap between OBT and release will be.

This suggests two things to people, I imagine. Firstly, it puts to death the idea that a simultaneous global release is ever going to happen (which was never explicitly said anyway).
Secondly, that if a localised version is going to be released that it won’t be until some time after the Japanese version of the game has been out already. I’ve seen concerns that this will hurt any localised release badly as those who are interested in playing PSO2 may just play on the Japanese servers. It can’t really be completely determined how long the wait could be, really, but you need only look at the gap between the releases of previous titles (such as Phantasy Star Portable 2) to see the basis of concern.

It’s easy to see that if there ever was a time for Sega to dispel such worries, E3 would have been a heck of a time to do it. A surprise announcement isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility, as there are still 2 more days of E3 floor time left, I just really wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were you. I’ll try to keep an eye out for any PSO2 sightings over the coming days. Things could be said outside of E3, certainly, but the window of opportunity to get the word out before the Japanese release is upon us is shrinking rapidly.

I’m sure that if a localised version of PSO2 were to happen that it would have a player base, don’t get me wrong. There are still plenty of datamined hints within the client that it could happen, remember! The question is how badly would it be hurt by being announced long after the Japanese release?

New Content: Mags and Weapons

Sakai updated the official blog today to post a large number of images of new weapons and Mags. That’s really all there is to say about it, there is no significant new information in the post. As such, this post will be largely just images, so enjoy!


New Mags

First a selection of new images of Mags. You will need to level your Mag beyond 100 in order to get to the stage of evolution these guys are at. Much like PSO, how you raise them will determine what form they take, however their colour simply matches your character’s outfit.


New Weapons

No new weapon types in this selection, alas. There is, however, a new outfit that’s been snuck into this selection: a rather snazzy looking suit. Quite nice looking, isn’t it? I wonder if male Casts will get access to it?

It should be noted that these weapons will not be present in the pre-OBT.


Snow Fields

Among this gallery of new Mags and weapons that Sakai unleashed to the world there are a couple of other things I feel are worth noting.

The above shot, as well as a couple of the weapon shots in the gallery in this post, are the first high-quality shots we’ve seen of the new snow field area.

The snow fields, otherwise known as “Frozen Soil”, are split into two different themes like the other fields released so far. One is an area that looks suspiciously like a re-textured forest and the other is a more of a frozen rocky wasteland.

Have a selection of other shots of the Frozen Soil area.

You can find more high quality screenshots of all of the content in this post from Andriasang here.


Towards the Future

The pre-OBT is scheduled to take place towards the end of this month. We have yet to hear exactly what content will be included in it, or how long it’s going to be or really much of any actual detail to the test itself. Hopefully we’ll be getting a post explaining at least some of this before the actual test.

To finish off the post, some concept artwork of two photon blast creatures.

[Sources: PSBlog, Bumped,  Andriasang, Mewn]