I was a huge fan of Phantasy Star Online growing up. I played the original on Dreamcast, the PSP games, and was one of the five people apparently who really liked Phantasy Star Universe during its short, painful existence. I, like many other fans, waited years for Phantasy Star Online 2 to come to the U.S. and was thrilled when I learned it was finally happening.
I jumped in right away as soon as it came out, and… I just could not stick with it. It’s not that I disliked PSO2, but jumping into a game filled with eight years of content and surrounded by more experienced players that were moving at the speed of light compared to me was a rough experience.
The sheer number of things I had to look up to understand what was going on just became exhausting.
Everything from how to give kudos, remember which NPC does what (there are so many vendors), leveling up my mag properly, and how to sell items to other players was just not intuitive to someone that is brand new and is just trying to get their feet underneath them.
That last one, selling items… I still haven’t quite figured that out. It involves a password for some reason and I think I accidentally locked myself out.
All of that was piled on top of trying to figure out what class to play, how to play and build it correctly, and the clearing all the story episodes; you know, actually playing and enjoying the game which in of itself is a lot too.
In groups, players would sometimes just hang around and never actually go to the boss, which confused me for a while, or other times players would just zoom ahead and carry me while I still trying to just figure out what was going on. It was hard to find a group of similarly skilled people in a similar situation to myself.
I did have fun playing PSO2, but I don’t consider myself a casual MMO player. When I play something I want to go all out, min/max, and really dive nose-first into the endgame.
With all the other games I’m already entrenched in, trying to make sense of eight year’s worth of PSO2 and all it had going on was just too daunting and I eventually put it aside.
While this story is mine, I’d wager that I’m not the only one that felt this way. It’s awesome that we got PSO2 and I’m sure there are plenty enjoying it right now, but it’s not the easiest game to jump right into blind, that’s for sure.
The best comparison I could make is Final Fantasy XI, a game I have played from the start, and still play today. I love it, and I think there’s so much to do and enjoy, but even I would have a hard time recommending it to someone who is brand new to it.
It’s just so different from any other MMORPG out there, and there is so much to learn as all 18 years of its content is still relevant. It’s a massive time investment and you really have to want to get into it otherwise you’re going to fall off as I did with PSO2.
I was saddened that I felt like I gave up on PSO2, but the surprise announcement of Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis reinvigorated me.
New Genesis is going to be a revamped version of PSO2 that will in a lot of ways feel like a brand new experience. Everyone is going to be starting over when it comes to character levels, and the graphical engine is getting rehauled as well.
It’s going to wipe the slate clean for potential newcomers and also for veterans that want a fresh experience that doesn’t feel as dated.
The genius and innovative part of all this though is that PSO2 “classic” isn’t going to be left behind. In fact, it’s also going to benefit from a graphical upgrade and will coexist with New Genesis.
Players can use the same character to move back and forth between both the original and New Genesis versions of PSO2, with some stuff like character appearance and paid currency crossing over.
It’s a lucky break I didn’t even think was possible. I thought I was going to have to wait for Phantasy Star Online 3. Instead, I get to jump into something new at the same time as everyone else, just roughly a year later after PSO2 was launched, while also getting a (hopefully) improved and similar experience over the original PSO2.
While some I’m sure will stick with the original PSO2, I’m not going to miss the overwhelming menu and information overload. I can’t wait to jump into New Genesis, start on the ground floor, and grow my character alongside the game.
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