12 tips to help you get started in Phantasy Star Online 2

pso2 guide
(Image credit: Sega)

After eight years of waiting, Phantasy Star Online 2 is finally available in North America—though not without some frustrating launch issues. It's a big, daunting MMO with a passionate fanbase, and knowing what to do and how best to spend your time may not be obvious at first. After a relatively quick story intro and a few basic tutorials, PSO2 stops holding your hand and you're left to figure everything out on your own. That wouldn't be so bad, but because PSO2 is free-to-play, so certain things like resetting your skill tree cost money.

Fortunately, this PSO2 guide is loaded with tips to help beginners find their feet (or their jetpack legs) and avoid costly mistakes. Once you've worked through the tutorial and are dropped in the Arks Lobby, where you're free to roam around and visit shops, check out the tips below for some helpful advice on what to do—and, more importantly, what not to do.

For more on where the genre stands in 2020, read up on our updated list of the best MMOs.

If you're having issues installing...

Like a lot of people, you might have some serious issues trying to install and play PSO2. While many players are getting in just fine, others are running into obscure and hard to diagnose problems because PSO2 uses the Windows Store, which is a messy, buggy app at the best of times.

If you're running into weird errors when installing the game, like error code 1813 or the PSO2 launcher repeatedly saying game files are corrupt and need to be reinstalled, check out this thread on the PSO2 subreddit. If that doesn't help, try this other thread which also has loads of useful fixes to different issues, including in-game stability and framerate. Players have quickly rounded up a significant list of fixes for a lot of the most common problems, and until Sega and Microsoft start fixing some of these bugs, this is your best bet. 

PSO2 is overwhelming, until you get quests from Afin 

After eight years of updates, PSO2 has become a sprawling, unruly MMO with dozens of complicated progression systems, items, and currencies. Starting out, you're going to feel overwhelmed by all the nuances and options available to you. But before you get lost googling every new proper noun you come across, ride out the story to the point where you're directed to speak with your bud Afin (introduced during the prologue) who can be found wandering right next to where you spawn in the Arks Lobby.

At this point, you'll unlock Client Orders, a type of sidequest offered by many of the NPCs found in the main player hub, including Afin. Fortunately, all of Afin's initial client orders walk you through different systems like equipment, skills and techniques, and more. These quests will answer most of your questions, providing a a much-needed moment of clarity into many of PSO2's obtuse systems.

Don't ignore Cofy's Client Orders, either. She can be found right next to the NPC who grants new missions, and her Client Orders are especially important because they unlock new features, like your Tamagotchi-esque Mag and subclasses. Any time Cofy or Afin have a Client Order, you should prioritize doing them because they'll often give you some useful information or unlock something new to play with. Client Orders from other NPCs are still worthwhile, but not mandatory. 

You can change your class for free, but other changes cost real money 

Like most MMOs, PSO2 forces you to choose a class during character creation, which might make you freeze up with decision paralysis. Do you play a Braver? A Ranger? A Force? Whatever you choose, don't sweat it too much because you can change classes for free in the Arks Lobby at the class counter, and each class is leveled independently (so you could level all of them if you really wanted to).

But PSO2 isn't as generous with a lot of other potential mistakes you might make, and do-overs will cost you real money to fix. Here's three big choices you should be aware of early on that cost money to reset:

  • You can't move characters to a new Ark Ship (the server you choose before starting a character) without paying extra.
  • Your skill tree (you'll learn about it from Afin's Client Orders) costs real money to reset and it doesn't change if you switch to a new class. It's best to not invest any points in the skill tree until you know what kind of build you really want.
  • Your Mag (the Tamagotchi-style robot you get from Afin) can be fed items to level it up and increase its stats. Again, this can't be changed without paying extra to reset it. Read a guide before feeding it items.

(Image credit: Sega)

Make good use of community resources and guides 

PSO2 is an MMO with more complexity than we could ever hope to cover in a single guide. SO it's a good thing PSO2 is eight years old then, because the community has spent those years crafting a wealth of guides and wikis that have the answer to any questions you might have.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Azelyra's Beginner's Guide: This resource is fantastic and very in-depth and, along with some of the things we mentioned above, will stop you from making any frustrating mistakes during the early game.
  • Anamana's Beginner Guide: A slightly different guide that's still worth watching as it covers all of the basic features that new players will run into early on. A great overview of PSO2's different progression systems.
  • This thread links to a ton of guides on various topics, like leveling Mags, class builds, and more.
  • The PSO2 wiki is a great reference if you need info on specific items, abilities, and more.

(Image credit: Sega)

Rapid-fire tips you shouldn't ignore

Collect your earned titles on a regular basis. Lots of activities earn you titles which can be displayed above your character, but titles aren't just cosmetic. Each one will typically come with a reward, so be sure to check the title counter (found in the Arks Lobby) every few levels so you don't miss out.

Do your Daily Orders each day. You'll unlock this special kind of daily quest early on that gives you some secondary objectives to knock out while on other missions. These are worth doing, though, because each one will give you a stacking 5 percent increase to things like experience gains and rare item drops. This bonus degrades over time, but if you do Daily Orders consistently you can reach a maximum of 50 percent, which is a huge bonus you don't want to ignore.

Try Practice Quests in order to test different classes. Quest Counter Clerk Rebecca offers Practice Quests that let you test drive some of the more complicated classes like Summoners.

Don't forget to equip healing items in your sub-palette. Before heading on an expedition, makes you've got plenty of Monmates and Moon Atomizers. You can place additional Photon Arts and Techniques in your sub-palette in case your weapon palette becomes full. Not bad if you're a magic class with a ton of abilities to choose from. 

(Image credit: Sega)

Watch your Mag's hunger. If you see a low-battery icon next to your Mag, it means it's feeding time. Only feed your Mag items to raise stats relevant to your class. Thankfully you can preview what stats decrease/increase in each feeding. As you level up your Mag it will evolve and change in appearance and even unlock their own support abilities.

You can enable auto-meseta (the basic currency) pickup in the basic settings menu. In the heat of battle, it's sometimes easy to miss out on much-needed cash. You can even set auto-pickup to automatically pick up higher-rarity weapons and quest items so you don't have to worry about junk clogging up your limited inventory space.

PSO2 supports cross-platform play with Xbox One users. In order to play with friends, all you need is their Xbox Gamertag and be on the same ship. All your in-game purchases are also cross-platform between Windows 10 and Xbox. 

Consider making three characters to min-max your rewards and storage space. You can make up to three characters for free and each one has a character-specific storage you can easily send items to alongside your shared storage. You can exploit this to farm money relatively easily with daily quests, too. If you have a quest that asks you to collect three of a specific item, collect nine instead and send the leftovers to your two alternate characters and have them each turn it in for extra cash.

Play with others to get a nice boost to item drop rates and experience. When taking on new missions or quests, always try and join a party so you can both benefit from more generous drops.

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.