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Sega shows off first in-depth look at PSO2: New Genesis's combat and open world

(Image credit: Sega)

Phantasy Star Online 2 only came to the US this year, but it's been out in Japan since 2012—long enough for it to begin to show its age, and to be primed for a big, dramatic shakeup. At E3 Sega announced a standalone expansion to do exactly that. PSO2: New Genesis adds an open world environment to the MMO and overhauls both the combat and graphics. (Confusingly, it's a separate game, but your character can move back-and-forth between PSO2 and New Genesis.)

Our resident Phantasy Star player Steven wrote about how New Genesis could fix the issues holding PSO2 back from being a "killer MMO," and on Friday Sega gave us our first real look at what to expect. 

As part of Tokyo Game Show on Friday, Sega ran an hour-long livestream showing off new Genesis, with an English translator speaking over the Japanese developers. It can be a bit difficult to hear what's being said, but I've pulled out some of the more interesting details, and the real appeal of the video is seeing more of New Genesis in action. Here are the highlights.

Showing off the "open field"

"In New Genesis you can explore a vast world. In the previous PSO2 each area was an independent closed space. However, in New Genesis, you can move between areas seamlessly. In addition, the upcoming updates will allow you to go to more and more places, and eventually you'll be able to go to all the locations in your site. When you login into the game, you'll start in the lobby where hundreds of people will gather."

"The adventure area is divided into sections that contain a certain size of terrain, but you can also seamlessly move between sections. The maximum number of users that can play within a section will be eight, but you'll automatically match up with other users as you move between sections seamlessly."

A few other highlights:

  • There's a day/night cycle, and weather
  • There are two new actions: A dash and a glide, for better mobility
  • There are healing items scattered around the field
  • The open world seems to be divided into "exploration" sections, where you can gather items, and fighting sections focused on enemies
  • Fruits you gather in the exploration section can be used to cook food to boost your character

Showing off the 3 launch classes: Hunter, Ranger, Force

The Hunter has a five-hit melee combo, and the last hit can also be used as a counter by blocking during the combo. "In New Genesis, up to five continuous strikes are available, with the fifth strike being as powerful as Photon Arts… Users who play PSO2 may notice there's no 'perfect attack' in New Genesis, so you can enjoy the action without being restrained by perfect attacks." You can also perform a powerful "step attack" after perfectly timed dodges.

The Ranger's assault rifle does different damage based on your distance. The Ranger can do a "sliding shot" to dodge attacks and keep firing. "You're also able to swap your view to the over-the-shoulder view to freely aim and attack," Sega says. This makes PSO2 feel a bit more like a shooter.

The Force's rod "can attack with multiple elements by utilizing Techniques." Charged Techniques deal more and different damage. Without a charge, the rod will shoot fire or ice objects flying towards the enemy, but a charge attack will deal damage directly, exploding on the enemy. "The rod's exclusive weapon action performs similarly to the sword's guard, preventing attacks on the spot."

Bringing it together with party combat

(Skip ahead to 57:41 if you want to see the party take on an especially large enemy)

Enemies spawn at random in the combat areas of the environment. An indicator will pop up on the screen to show you (and potentially the other 7 people in your instance) where to head for combat. "As you defeat enemies, Trials, which are interrupt events that occur in PSO2, will happen here as well," Sega says.

Enemies have elemental weaknesses, and exploiting those can send an enemy into a "down" state, or "elemental damage reactions" which create openings.

Sega didn't announce a release date for New Genesis, but it's set for sometime in 2021. 

When he's not 50 hours into a JRPG or an opaque ASCII roguelike, Wes is probably playing the hottest games of three years ago. He oversees features, seeking out personal stories from PC gaming's niche communities. 50% pizza by volume.