Our hopes and fears for New Genesis, a new content update coming in 2021, promising to bring game system renewals to PSO2.
Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis is the new update coming to PSO2 in 2021, bringing with it a graphics update and a renewal of the game’s systems. The update celebrates the 20th anniversary of Phantasy Star Online.
Sega first revealed New Genesis during Microsoft’s Xbox Series X games showcase on July 23. Seeing it’s an update, not a brand-new game, PSO3, or anything like that, it’ll obviously be coming to the same platforms PSO2 is on, meaning Windows 10 and Xbox One, with an Xbox Series X version coming. This also means that in Japan though, New Genesis will be on PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch via Cloud gaming. Note that the Japanese version of PSO2 on PC is very easily accessible in English thanks to fans.
I always wondered why Sega finally decided to officially release PSO2 outside Japan in 2020; nine years after the game’s first Closed Alpha Test in Japan. Now we all know why. PSO2 New Genesis definitely makes the game more beautiful, all while keeping certain visual elements for which PSO2 wouldn’t be PSO2, like the uncanny valley character faces. Players who unlike me, care about graphics, will definitely be appealed. However, I’m worried as to whether they will stick with the game once the initial sense of discovery and hype dies down, and I’m skeptical as to what this update will bring to PSO2 besides better visuals.
PSO2 New Genesis Reveal Trailer
If you already play PSO2, the Japanese version at least, you know the game is currently in Episode 6. Well, New Genesis seems pretty much to be Episode 7 except with a fancy name rather than the usual numbering. The Japanese press release also sells it as a “new game”, but it’s ultimately an update. An update which seems voluminous and promising.
Besides the graphical update, new content and game systems changes will be coming. The video hints that new classes will be added. Though rather than brand new classes, it looks like at least the three original classes of PSO2, Hunter, Ranger, and Force, are all getting newer versions with fancier movements. Most notably the jet-boots like things all characters seem to possess now, which allows for quick bursts of movement. Most enemies seems more imposing than before too, with a focus on fighting a single monster instead of a swarm. The original Phantasy Star Online on Dreamcast was one of the inspirations for Capcom’s Monster Hunter, which itself became an inspiration for many others. It seems like Sega is again throwing the ball back. Thorough the trailer, the combat actually doesn’t feel that much different from current PSO2 though.
Phantasy Star Online, Phantasy Star Universe, Phantasy Star Online 2, Phantasy Star Nova, and now PSO2 New Genesis.
I’ve entered the Phantasy Star Online series with its first entry in 2000, played every version barring Universe, and ultimately kept playing PSO Blue Burst on PC private servers till 2011. As such, I was pretty eager to get into PSO2 when it was announced, and started the game with the first Closed Alpha Test in August 2011. While I quickly noticed how different it is from PSO1, I still greatly enjoyed it. Overall, PSO2 greatly improved over the years. You wouldn’t believe how slow the characters’ running speed initially was. The game is a much better and pleasant experience now compared to its beginnings. And yet my excitement and enjoyment died down over the years, only playing to hangout with online friends, but ultimately taking an indefinite hiatus from the game since late 2018.
In my opinion, PSO2 has multiple problems, and they’re quite hard to explain as they only hit you once you’ve spent a considerable amount of time with the game. But one way to sum it up well is how it ultimately feels like the game controls your play schedule. Mainly because of the scheduled Emergency Quests every week, which are the most interesting and the most rewarding content. PSO2 ultimately decides for you when do you play, what do you play, and when do you stop playing. Overall, in my last months of playing PSO2, it often felt like a chore rather than a game, even without min-maxing or when trying to enjoy the game as a “casual” player.
Min-maxing in PSO2 is also not worth it as it’s incredibly costly, in time, money, and most possibly real money. The act of “Affixing” equipment in PSO2 feels like a gacha game inside the game, and can easily screw you over. PSO2 definitely changed as I’m talking from experiences from 2011 to 2018, but at the very least back then, I couldn’t think of any content that was worth min-maxing. As long as you and all the players you play with don’t get hit much and have good, up-to-date equipment, which isn’t too hard to get, you could clear any endgame content. Which in turn made the grind of repeating the same Emergency Quests and endgame content over and over all the more pointless. It’s ultimately not worth it unless you wish to brag by uploading videos on YouTube where you solo bosses planned for 12 players. (Technically you could do that even without min-maxing, but those are always timed battles, so even if you’re skilled enough to never get hit, you won’t beat the bosses without enough DPS.)
Another issue is how PSO2 often fails to keep older content relevant, and always keep adding more and more on top instead of improving preexisting elements. This also makes it hard for beginner players lacking knowledge, who could spend hours and hours running certain quests for rewards that aren’t actually “worth” anything. With better equipment available through easier means. I’m worried New Genesis might turn out to this same pattern all over again.
It’s worth noting PSO2 also has a pretty good story mode. With the addition of New Genesis, what will happen to all the previous PSO2 main story content? Will it be rendered unplayable, only reduced to a compilation of cutscenes? This already happened in the past, and I fear it might happen again.
If there’s one thing PSO2 excels at however, and what New Genesis will be improving, it’s being one of the best cosplay games there is.
One particular aspect PSO2 is very good for is being a cosplay and fashion customization game, and that’s definitely one of the points New Genesis will focus on. PSO2 already has very extensive character customization options, especially when it comes to female characters and mecha, seeing we’re talking about a Japanese otaku game here. Most hardcore players on PSO2 I knew weren’t spending hours and hours for the rare drops and weps, but to get enough money to buy the newest clothes for their 765 years old youkai loli character.
PSO2 also had numerous collabs in eight years, adding costumes and customization options from Sega franchises like Sakura Taisen but also dozens of iconic Japanese popculture elements from Eva to costumes designed by Suzuhito Yasuda. Again though, most of these are only obtainable through real-money gacha with abyssal drop rates, or by spending gigantic amounts of in-game money, buying from other players.
In any case, I strongly hope PSO2 New Genesis will try and bring some new solutions, instead of simply painting over mold. I have high hopes for the “system redesigning” it will bring. In Japan, PSO2 regularly has live streams detailing upcoming content, so we’ll learn more soon. While we’re moving to next-gen in the middle of a pandemic, with the world being in the weirdest place we’ve ever experienced, PSO2 will stay relevant in the world of free-to-play online JRPGs with gacha-like elements. It’ll definitely be a serious competitor to Genshin Impact and Blue Protocol.