PREVIEW: Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis Beta

The MMORPG genre doesn’t show up often in my gaming repertoire, and the Phantasy Star games have absolutely eluded my reach. That being said, after coming off of three days with the Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis beta, it’s plain to see that this one will offer up a quality experience.

I have essentially no complaints as far as what I saw in the beta; the game is mechanically sound. The only hiccups I noticed during playing were a few assets that took a while to load in. I personally blame the specs on my PC for that; I was honestly surprised it could handle the game at all. I was playing on some of the lowest graphical settings possible, but I still left feeling like New Genesis was the best-looking MMORPG I’ve ever touched, basically on par with FFXIV in terms of visual appeal.

The aesthetics follow with that visual quality. Designs and effects are consistent with the sci-fi anime/fantasy tone. Running across the overworld will bring you into contact with all manner of fantastical beasts and robotic colossi, and doing battle with them is spectacular. Combat is definitely the focal point of New Genesis. It’s not necessarily fleshed out on a strategic level (at least not to the small degree I was able to play in the beta), but it’s definitely flashy. This is the first MMORPG I’ve seen that really makes good on the idea of looking as “anime” as it sounds. There’s obviously a lot of work that went into perfecting the visual stylings of combat, and the results speak for themselves.

I played as three different classes in New Genesis – fighter, gunner, and force – one for each day that the beta was open. The gunner and fighter classes were my standout favorites because of their aggressive playstyles and flashy moves. Despite its name, the former is a lethal mid-to-close range combatant that fights by releasing short powerful blasts or long curving beams. The fighter class finds its strength in bombarding enemies with a maelstrom of blows that have high stun and knockback capabilities. It has a remarkably short range and lends quite a bit of risk to the player in exchange for some insanely high damage output. None of these classes really called for any specific strategy, at least not in the scope with which I was able to use them in. Most of the battles really just came down to how well I could dodge my opponents’ attacks while dishing out as much damage as I could in the time between.

Within each of the saves I was allotted, I also got to design my own character via a remarkably fleshed-out character creator. Every single detail I could imagine on my characters was modifiable, and the character creator’s UI was incredibly approachable. I was impressed with how New Genesis put so much control in the hands of the player without making it feel overwhelming. As far as criticisms go, there’s not much to report. The music (aside from the opening track) comes off as pretty forgettable, along with the plot. I won’t say much about how I feel about the story, since I haven’t touched any other titles in the Phantasy Star series. In short, the New Genesis beta hardly touched on any real story aspects. It didn’t even develop any of the characters, so there’s not much I can say in that regard. Missions played out in a pretty typical manner for MMORPGs: I’d meet up with an NPC in the first city hub – a dense high-tech metropolis in the middle of a grassy field – and they’d say where to go and what objectives to pursue. The missions in the beta only had two variants, either to slay a certain number of foes or to forage a certain number of goods.

PREVIEW: Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis Beta

Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis looks to be a seamless open-world MMORPG experience with perfectly choreographed action. From what I’ve experienced, it’s a simplistic game that provides its players with many options and tools without ever ebbing into overwhelming territory. If you’re a fan of MMORPGs, keep your eyes on this one, and if you’re a fan of Phantasy Star, you’re sure to be impressed with what New Genesis has to offer.

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