Phantasy Star Online 2 Hands-On: Trying Out Three Different Loadouts

By Kris . September 7, 2012 . 4:30pm

While Phantasy Star Online 2 is a PC game, I played it on a 360 controller. Having played Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II on consoles, I felt right at home.


This demo provided locked my experience point gain so I couldn’t level up and didn’t allow me a MAG, essentially stripping the RPG elements from the game. That said, it did allow me to focus solely on combat, letting me play a female Newman (think space-elf) Force (think space-wizard).


First of all, the most basic attacks feel like a more accessible version of the original PSO. After each tap of the X button your character attacks and a ring closes in on them. When that ring turns red, you can press the button again to make your next attack more powerful. While this rhythm feels very similar to the way combos were strung together in PSO, the rhythmic inputs can be ignored if you simply mash or hold the attack button.


I was given three loadouts, which I could swap between by pressing up and down on the D-pad and select with B. The first (and the one I used the most) was a wand. X was a standard attack and B was a fireball. While spells couldn’t be comboed into anything, holding B would make the spell more powerful. Holding RB would shift my available abilities from physical attacks and fire to enemy-penetrating ice and a heal spell that would spread out to my teammates the longer I held it. Perhaps because I was playing a Newman, I never had to worry about running out of Photon Points (think space-MP), since it constantly regenerated.


The second was a strange, throwable card that I didn’t do a whole lot of damage. It gave me access to a fire spell that circled around my body, but frankly I didn’t find it that useful. More interesting to me were the attack and defense buffs that I had access to by holding RB, but even with a fully charged spell, my teammates rarely stood still close to me long enough to be buffed.


The third and final weapon loadout I had access to was a “Gunslash.” Once again, X was a regular attack that used the weapon as if it was a sword, but Y was a special attack that varied depending on what hit in a chain you were on. For instance, Y after one X attack would be a launcher, but after two it might be a two slashes in a cross shape. RB didn’t even work in the same way, instead a tap turned the blade into a gun mode.


On top of the sheer amount of options open to you at any time, the game is fast.


Your characters already moves at a much faster clip than anyone in Phantasy Star Online, but added to the mix is a new dodge move. My character had a very sparkly dash, and while it didn’t have too many (if any) invincibility frames on it, it was very effective for fighting against the giant, ape-like “rockbears” that I had to fight partway through the demo. These creatures started out by attacking my party with slow strikes that were pretty easy to avoid, but then they got angry. They would pursue one member of the party with a series of belly flops in a desperate attempt to crush them.


When my fragile Force was being pursued, I quickly learned the value of the dash, watching for when the enemy would leap into the air, waiting a split-second, then dashing out of the way and dishing out an attack or two before the process repeated.


After taking out two rockbears and a few circling wolf-like enemies, we headed off towards the demo’s boss: the “Vol Dragon.”


This fight was particularly reminiscent of the boss of the forest area of Phantasy Star Online Episode 1, a fight I’d gone through multiple times. Because I had a vague memory that ice was useful against the original dragon, I started bombarding the Vol Dragon’s feet with ice as it wandered around and smacked my teammates out of its way. Aside from doing solid damage as hit both of the dragon’s feet, at one point I’d actually frozen the dragon to the ground. I took this as my chance to switch to the Gunslash and start air-comboing the particularly fragile looking orb-like part of the creature’s tail. As it turned out, the same rhythm/ring-based combat reward system was in place in the air, too!


While my team and I were never able to remove the Vol Dragon’s tail, we eventually killed the beast, and our demo ended.


Food for Thought:


1. While the healing spell I had made it a nonissue, I liked that you could scroll through your items with left and right on the D-pad and use them simply by tapping LT. I never had to fuss with menus, which was nice given the pace of the game.


2. Every player sees their own loot drops. Unfortunately, the demo I played only had the enemies dropping Meseta (the Phantasy Star series’ currency), it was nice that none of my teammates could pick up what was rightfully mine (and vice versa).

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  • Matthew C

    This is a well-written piece. Descriptive and honest. =)

    Just some notes from a current player~
    1) All classes regenerate PP steadily in this game! Striking enemies with normal attacks also recovers PP.
    2) Spells can actually combo into melee attacks or other spells. After you cast a spell there should be the standard blue=>red circle indicating the timing for a “just attack”. Spells cast even with incorrect timing, but just attacks inflict more damage.
    3) The “throwing card” weapon you used is called a Talis. It’s actually an incredibly unique Force weapon that allows you to cast your spells from a detached location rather than your character. You do this by throwing a card with a normal attack, then casting a spell while the card is in mid-air. AoE spells such as Gi Foie (that spinning fire attack) will then come out from the card rather than your character, allowing you to place AoE spells anywhere the card can reach (you can even have spells float in mid-air if you aim at a flying enemy or manually launch a card upward by going into third-person shooter mode [default key is Z]). There are many ways to use this, such as healing an ally from afar or throwing a card through an enemy and launching a spell backwards to hit the weak point on its back.
    4) Force dash actually has a reasonably long invulnerability frame. Pair this with the fact that you can change directions mid-dash and you have yourself a pretty darn good escape.

    • Kyle D. Johnson

      I… might make a Force instead of a Hunter as my first class for once. I really like the idea of the Talis.

    • natchu96

      IIRC the force dash was literally called “mirage escape”?

      Seems interesting. Did not know this. Though I’m still more use to the spammability of guns and blades.

    • Istillduno

       Yeah I’ll second the force dash being invincible all day long.

    • Kris

      Thanks for the heads up! I can’t wait to get the game myself so I can play around with this stuff more :D

  •  I cant wait for this game to be released on Vita. It’s definitely a day 1 buy.

    • ViewtifulBo

      I’m with you on the vita version!

    • Kefkiroth

      Isn’t PSO2 free for both PC and Vita? Or am I mistaken?

      • Not sure if is coming for free for Vita as well, but for PC besides the free version there is a retail version too.

        • Kefkiroth

          Okay, I looked it up and saw that the PC retail version had additional goodies.
          I’d imagine though that since the game is free itself, it wouldn’t be priced very high.
          I also would assume the Vita and smartphone versions are free simply to not piss off the fans. They probably would’ve announced a price tag for these versions beforehand when the PC version was announced to be free to prevent misleading people.

        • PoweredByHentai

          Vita version will also be free to play and free to download.  It is supposed to be the same as the PC version and interface with the PC servers.

  • PoweredByHentai

    Ranger class is the way to go!

    I grabbed some ranger-class NPCs to fill in for my party and I pretty much breezed through a lot of the quests without any problem.  Nothing like having yandere HANAZAWA Kana (aka Risa in PSO2, Mayushii in Steins;Gate, Nadeko in Bakemonogatari, and Charlotte Dunois in Infinite Stratos) mow down bosses like nothing.

    • Morricane

       Yeah…I’m maining Hunter right now but I feel I might switch to ranger. Or maybe one of the new classes due next week…hmm. Not high enough level though haha, playing too casually.

  • And what happened to the mags :( ? No word of them ?

  • Jezzy

    I like going bare fisted, so I can punch and fall the trees. :V

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    Ranger  time

  • Sorry, Kris, but I never made it to this demo at PAX! Thanks for the writeup. :)

  • Solomon_Kano

    I really, really can’t wait to play this. My PC is pretty crappy, so I’ll be waiting on the Vita version, but it gets harder with each thing I hear about the game.

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