Surprisingly, one of Japan’s popular massive-multiplayer online role-playing games made its way to the entire world. Phantasy Star Online 2 is a free-to-play online action RPG developed by Sega. The game is a massive hit in Japan garnering over 4.5 million players in 2016.
Despite being an old game, countless players queued up in downloading PSO2 on its first global release date. One can’t help but wonder what is it about this futuristic MMORPG that attracts so many players — especially at an age where there are probably better contenders.
The Harmonic Balance In the ARKS Fleet
Free-to-play MMORPGs are quite popular in the gaming community — especially in certain parts of Southeast Asia. But rarely in the massive and equally competitive game industry does one find the right balance between “free-to-play” and “pay-to-win”. More oftentimes than not, developers tend to tip the scales on one end. This creates a rift between the community often sparking debates and unnecessary hates.
However, Phantasy Star Online 2 manages to strike a balance that keeps F2P players happy while still acquiring the funds they need to keep it alive from paying customers. Most of the major content of the game is accessible as free-to-play like race selections, job classes, story quests, and dungeon explorations. On the other hand, product selling, custom player rooms, and guild storages are locked behind the paywall.
You might think it’s unfair but do take note that you still have access to its core content. Players are still able to buy equipment through the product shop. You also have access to a wide selection of gameplay content. All SEGA locked behind the pay-wall are the additional quality of life improvements — it’s nothing game-breaking, to say the least.
PSO2 Tests Your Skills More Than Builds
Most classic MMO titles from the early to mid-2000s are character-build centric games. This means players are focused on improving the right stats for every character in order to make it virtually unbeatable. This can range from allocating the proper attribute and skill points to finding the right equipment that compliments the prior.
As an ARKS operative in PSO2, you will heavily rely on your gaming skills as it incorporates real-time action combat gameplay. You will have to manually dodge enemy attacks and locate their weak points to maximize your damage outputs. You also get access to combo-based skills which could make or break any tight situation.
So, it doesn’t matter how well your character build is because if an enemy hits you hard enough, you’ll still meet your demise. How well you play a race or class you choose in Phantasy Star Online 2 ultimately depends upon your desired play style and how well you fit the role you chose.
Diversity at the Center of the Universe
You start the game inside a room in the ARKS Fleet as its newfound operative. In order to finalize your recruitment, the Oracle will ask you to identify your race and your combat class. Sega’s classic hit doesn’t shy away from diversifying the races in the Oracle. You have the option to choose one of four races — each with its own unique look and characteristics:
- Humans – Probably the most versatile race in the Oracle as they are a balanced mix between physical strength and Photon aptitude. Their ability to effectively wield any weapon and cast almost any Photon Art makes them an invaluable member of ARKS.
- Newmans – They are a genetically manipulated race who are masters of Photon Manipulation. They better suited to jobs that utilize Photon Techniques such as Techter and Force.
- CASTS – They are mechanical beings who are formerly either Human or Newman. CASTS are the direct result of genetic transplant to ensure the survival of a doomed being. Their artificial frames make them great close combat fighters or long-ranged gun users.
- Deumans – These artificially created hybrids have a greater affinity with Photon Arts than Newmans. They have dichromatic eyes and horns on their head.
Now, your next step is to determine your combat role. You can choose from eight classes that fall into three distinct categories. The Melee category includes the Hunter and Fighter. Ranger and Gunner make up the Ranged category. Lastly, the Photon Technique category consists of Force and Techter. Each class fulfills one of three roles namely Tank, DPS, and Support.
There are hybrid classes as well which is for players who are looking for a more versatile and challenging play style. The Braver class for one, allows you to specialize in both close-quarter and ranged combat. The Bouncer class gives you the ability to be a dominant melee fighter, while casting Photon Arts and the Summoner class grants you access to unique pets to fight on your behalf.
Whichever way you want to start your journey as an ARKS operative, just know that you can also switch classes along the way. So, even if you want to try out all the classes, you can only do so with almost minimal penalty. The universe is vast after all so there’s nothing preventing you from taking more than one path.
Continuously Challenging The Test of Time
The above-mentioned features are just the tip of the iceberg even if Phantasy Star Online 2 is already eight years old. As of this date, the game continuously receives otherworldly collaborations with other anime and game titles such as ‘KonoSuba’ and the Persona series. Such engaging events are the reason why veterans and newbies still hang around the ARKS fleet.
Phantasy Star Online 2 is more than just a classic MMORPG game. It’s a unique world on its own in a different universe ‘light-years’ away from ours. It has built a community that continuously challenges the test of time so it comes with no surprises that gamers worldwide are signing up for the fun.