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Phantasy Star Online 2

Phantasy Star Online 2 is a lobby based action RPG where players undertake missions to fight monsters called Darkers. Team up with other players or explore alone, engaging in fast-paced combat and hunting for rare loot.

Publisher: Sega
Playerbase: Medium
Type: MMORPG
Release Date: July 04, 2012 (JP)
Pros: +Switch weapons in the midst of combat. +Freedom to change classes on one character. +Excellent combat animations.
Cons: -No English Release. -Instanced maps. -Heavy grind.

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Overview

Phantasy Star Online 2 Overview

Phantasy Star Online 2 is an action-oriented MMORPG and part of the Phantasy Star series franchise. Choose between one of four races and five classes before embarking for the Planet Naberius as part of the spacefaring organization ARKS. Engage enemies known as Darkers in fast-paced combat, timing strikes for optimal damage to devastate foes. Return to the ARK campship, a huge lobby where players can interact, shop, and accept new missions. Change your class from the lobby at any time and discover which one you enjoy best, or play all of them—each class earns experience and levels separately. Classes have three weapon slots to choose from, and players can switch between them freely, opening up new possibilities for vanquishing enemies. Embark on missions alone or with friends, defeating formidable monsters and ridding the galaxy of the Darker threat.

Phantasy Star Online 2 Key Features:

  • Central Lobby - accept missions, shop, and interact with other players from the central deck of the ARK campship.
  • Switch Classes - change your class from the lobby, earning experience and leveling with each class seperately.
  • Active Combat - engage in fast-paced combat you control, executing awesome combinations by timing your abilities.
  • Voice Acting - Nearly every NPC is voice-acted, adding a deep level of immersion.
  • Extensive Character Creation - Customize your character completely, creating a distinct avatar that stands out from other players.

Phantasy Star Online 2 Screenshots

Phantasy Star Online 2 Featured Video

Full Review

Phantasy Star Online 2 Review

By Sean Sullivan

Besides The Elder Scrolls Online it’s rare that an entire day is devoted to installing a game. But Phantasy Star Online 2 demands persistence before the first enemy allocates experience. Despite a temporary IP lift for North America, Sega has no immediate intention of a Western release. So to enter the action-oriented science fiction world, and understand the interface, Western players must circumnavigate the typical installation by installing English patches to play on the Japanese or SEA servers (violating the Terms of Service). Even though I never played the first Phantasy Star, lacking a Dreamcast, I am a sucker for science fiction games. After defeating the Japanese captcha boss for a second time I entered the Phantasy Star Online 2 universe.

Sculpting Animesque Warriors

The future is a cooperative between four races rushing into the haphazard environments of new worlds; choose from Human, Newman (Elf), Cast (Machines), and Dewman (genetically engineered humans). You can pick between male or female for each race, and five classes: Hunter, Ranger, Force, Braver, or Bouncer. Settling for the scantily clad Newman Ranger I headed to character creation. It’s an in-depth system that allows nearly full control over your characteristics, distinguishing your animesque avatar from other players. From pre-rendered hairstyles to skimpy clothes and altering musculature, you’re free to sculpt the most kawaii or hideous being imaginable. It’s an in-depth system that outclasses many other MMORPGs.

Don’t worry if you choose a class and ultimately don’t like the play style. You can freely switch your class at any time in the ARK lobby, by talking to the NPC at the class counter. Each class separately acquires experience and levels, so you will be repeating the same missions—not that repetition is outside the norm for Phantasy Star Online 2’s gameplay.

Lumbering Weapons

As an action-oriented game Phantasy Star Online 2 does a fantastic job at creating a visually splendid combat system while also being engaging. It uses the right and left mouse buttons to dish out basic attacks. Rangers start with a lumbering sword even Cloud would struggle to carry. Left-click swings the blade in a wide arc, and at the end of the molecule-cutting movement, a circular ring compresses on your character and glows red. Initiating the next attack at the exact moment the circle changes hues empowers your next ability. A satisfying coruscant firework signals that you’ve attacked at the right moment. So, combat is not just a matter of clicking, but a timing game like One Piece Treasure Cruise or Legend of Dragoon.

The basic attacks do become monotonous, as left-clicking is the same swing over and over again, while right-click saw my character do a double front flip while the blade spun wildly. But you can switch between three weapon sets at any time, changing up your moves and play style. As a Ranger I had access to two Katars, with chains attached, and a Gunblade. Switching between the three kept combat refreshing, and I refused to settle on one weapon, just as I refuse to settle on one class in Skyforge.

Combat is exhilarating fun and where Phantasy Star shines, especially once you start picking up inordinately huge weapons to strike enemies with. I found a beaming yellow axe twice the size of my body, and it dished out a parallel level of damage. With it I felt unstoppable. Watching gUMBLE swing her axe with vicious intent was a pleasure, and timing each swing to optimize my attack was intrinsically rewarding thanks to striking sound effects that act like a drug to keep you playing. It’s a great system, and one of the more fun ones I’ve played. Why don’t more games incorporate timing systems into their combat? Where is Legend of Dragoon 2?

Labyrinthine World

Even in the tutorial it’s immediately apparent that Phantasy Star Online 2 is far from an open world game. The environments are linear, often repeating, and small. Each mission is a labyrinthian trough, occasionally occupied by creatures ranging from cute to monstrous. Foliage in the beginning forests tends to repeat, and it can feel like you're running through a hedge maze, aassulted by the same verdant wallpaper at every turn. It’s not terrible, as combat more than makes up for the repetition, and plenty of objects exist within a level to distract players.

Scattered throughout each level are floating azul thumb drives, that signify an interaction with one of the game’s NPC’s—typically other agents traversing the world. Accessing the drive cuts to an in-game cnematic dialogue, where the NPC takes time to elucidate aspects of the game, or warn you of creatures ahead. While I enjoy the immersive quality of the interactions, some of them contained pointless dialogue, but it did further characterize the NPC; although, whether or not they ever return to the story is questionable. Starting off, your gameplay is interspersed with more interactions than combat, and it can be off-putting. Fighting through it I made it to the routine aspect of the game, grinding through missions.

I’ll Take Two Missions Please

From the centralized lobby—spaceship—players choose quests to complete. It’s a giant hub where shops and other amenities exist, where players gather to form groups and compare who's looking the coolest or dance the night away. Lore-wise the ship-based hub system works quite well; it makes sense for a legion of futuristic super soldiers to meet in a centralized location and discover what areas of the planet need monster-purging. Talking to an NPC at the mission counter reveals a list of available quests. After selecting one, and choosing a difficulty level, you proceed to the dropship before jumping into a shimmering liquid—signifying your departure to the planet’s surface.

At the tail-end of every quest is three loading screens, as you navigate from one instanced room to the next. Some areas feel unnecessary, like the individualized dropship room. Why not enter the world directly from the game’s lobby? The intermittent loading screens separated by dialogues and character interactions serve to expand the world, but it can be a drudgery to view the loading screen every time you want to hand in a quest.

Phantasy Love

Phantasy Star is a franchise with a lot of love, and Sega didn’t covet their bank account when developing the game. All of the major characters have full dialogue sequences that help push the story along. I can’t accurately judge how well the actors do because the dialogue is in Japanese. but I’m going to infer it’s well done with the legacy Phantasy Star Online 2 holds.

The music is fantastic, relying on orchestral pieces mixed in with foreboding tracks to elevate the environment's visceral context. I enjoyed the soundtrack quite a bit and I highly recommend giving it a listen even if you don’t plan on playing the game. Try listening to the first track under the music tab—I thought it was a Debussy orchestra piece until the bass kicked in.

Google Translate, Please Help Me

My biggest issue with Phantasy Star Online 2 is that it’s not in English, and it’s unfortunate considering the diehard fandom surrounding the series. The recent IP block lift was a fluke, that quickly severed the hopes of Western audiences. And it doesn’t seem that a future release is coming anytime soon, if at all. Too much text is lost in translation, even with fan based translations trying to bridge the gap. Enough is done so that the passionate player can infer gameplay from what’s presented. But I felt like a stranger in a world that didn't want me. Nonetheless, you will be violating the Terms of Service if caught playing on a JP server or SEA server from the West, likely leading to a ban of your account.

Final Verdict - Good

Phantasy Star Online 2 is a game for people invested in the Phantasy Star series, for those who know what they’re getting themselves into. The combat is engaging with awesome animations and an immersive system that, in hindsight, is innovative for 2012. Linear worlds will undoubtedly put off innumerable players, but I didn’t mind so much as the game is structured around completing task-specific missions over and over again. If you’re a fan of the Phantasy Star series it’s worth the time installing the game. Otherwise you’re better off sticking with something more accessible.

Screenshots

Phantasy Star Online 2 Screenshots

Videos

Phantasy Star Online 2 Videos

System Requirements

Phantasy Star Online 2 System Requirements

Minimum Requirements:

Operating System: Windows XP
CPU: Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86GHz or Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4800+
Video Card: GeForce 7800 GT or Radeon HD 3600 Series
RAM: 1.5 GB
Hard Disk Space: 8 GB

Recommended Requirements:

Operating System: Windows 7 64 bit
CPU: Core 2 Duo E7600 3.06GHz or Athlon II X2 270
Video Card: GeForce GTS 250 or Radeon HD 6670
RAM: 3 GB
Hard Disk Space: 8 GB

Music

Phantasy Star Online 2 Music & Soundtrack

Additional Info

Phantasy Star Online 2 Additional Information

Developer(s): Sega
Publisher(s): Sega (Japan), AsiaSoft (SEA)

Distributor(s): Asiasoft
Director(s): Yu Suganuma
Producer(s): Satoshi Sakai
Artist(s): Akikazu Mizuno

Composer(s): Hideaki Kobayashi, Kenichi Tokoi, Tadashi Kinukawa

Other Platform(s): Playstation Vita

Open Beta: June 21, 2012

Open Beta End Date: July 02, 2012

Playstation Vita Release Date: February 28, 2013 (JP)
Release Date: July 04 2012 (JP)

Episode Releases:

  1. Episode 2: July 21, 2013
  2. Episode 3: August 27, 2014
  3. Reborn:Episode 4: January 27, 2016

Southeast Asia Closed Beta Date: April 10, 2014

Southeast Asia Release Date: May 29, 2014

Southeast Asia Shutdown Date: May 26, 2017

Development History / Background:

Phantasy Star Online 2 was developed and published by Japanese multinational company Sega. COO Naoya Tsurumi stated that Phantasy Star Online 2 took 5 years to make, and originally announced a cross-platform strategy between all devices, including mobile, handheld, and PC. A PlayStation Vita release was announced on March 9, 2012, but not released until February 28, 2013. Open beta for the PC release began on July 21, 2013, and ended on July 2, 2012, with the full release of the game following two days later on July 04, 2012. On July 21, 2013 Episode 2 was released for free, introducing the Duman race and Braver class. One year later, on August 27, 2014, Episode 3 launched and introduced the Bouncer class and in-game Casino. A year and half later, on January 27, 2016, Reborn:Episode 4 was released. Reborn:Episode 4 introduced the Summoner class and a "new experience," new customization options, and the planet Earth.

On July 09, 2012 Sega announced a western release of Phantasy Star Online 2 sometime in 2013. No further information about an English release has emerged since 2012. On July 20, 2015 the IP block preventing western countries was temporarily lifted, but 48 hours later the block was reinstituted. An official announcement stated that the block was lifted to alleviate SEA players, and is in no way indicative of a western release.

A Southeast Asian version, published by AsiaSoft, entered Closed Beta on April 10, 2014. It later launched on May 29, 2014. This version of Phantasy Star Online 2 was notorious for having a bad translation, having renamed the iconic "Force" class "Wizard" and the familiar health restoring items, Monomate, Dimate, Trimate, etc, simply "Health Drinks." The SEA version did not fare as well as the Japanese release and, on April 5, 2017, AsiaSoft announced that it would be shutting its service down on May 26, 2017. As of April 5, 2017, it is the only official international version of the game to exist.

  • metalsnake27

    Actually, the grind in PSO2 is SO MUCH easier now than it used to be. You can easily get to level 50+ (maybe even higher) without having to do too much. When the game first came out, that's why I hated it so much was because of how grindy it was in the early levels just to cover up the fact the game had almost no content (Now look at it! It's insane!)

    It mostly comes down to WHEN you start playing, as there is always different types of events going on that can help you level up rather quickly. Plus Sega is ALWAYS giving out free exp boosters and what not for events and other promotions.

    I guess the grind would really come in when farming boss drops/upgrading weapons as this game's RNG is rather.... well, unforgiving XD

    • John Albert Di Pasquale

      is this the REAL engilish server?
      http://pso2.playpark.com/en/

      • That's the South East Asian server. It's in English, but it's IP blocked to U.S. users.

        • Matt

          And poorly translated, I hear, eg. Force are called Mages.

          Also, I hear the economy is awfully inflated.

          • metalsnake27

            Sounds about right.

            Also what I was saying was about the JPN server... which honestly is the one you should play. Doesn't take too long to setup, there are guides everywhere for it.

    • Seijiro Hatake

      thats nice but truthfully im in america and so far i've only seen the anime for it and i wanted to get the game after watching it but couldn't and im still waiting for it to release over here in america.

      • kyle anderson

        The game is over 6 years old, and tons of the content is from colabs that we would not get. We aren't getting the game. Anyone with even a few minutes to spare to read a guide could go play, with full English translation right now. Come join :p

        • Seijiro Hatake

          that'd be nice but most of my devices cant handle the processing time for it

  • Hinohara Ryuta

    i regret quitting PSO2

  • Tyler Allen

    I've waited so long for this game to have a western release date and still nothing.... simply disappointing and was so looking forward to this game ;(