Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis is off to a good start


New Genesis is out of beta and into 1.0

During my time with the Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis beta, I was floored to see how much the kinda-sorta-sequel had innovated; to make it stand out as something new, something worth putting time into. I’m glad that sentiment still rings true for the final version.

Much to my delight, this is an entirely new story set far beyond the scope of the original, with a global day-and-date launch. Now, it’s still going to have some weird voice acting choices (at least it’s fully voiced!) and some paper-thin characters. If that’s really bothersome, you still have the option to fully skip basically every cutscene in the game with a quick button press.

Things kick off pretty quickly though. I imported my character from PSO 2 in seconds, and I was chilling on a Kingdom Hearts Destiny Island tutorial paradise with some cool anime people, learning how to jump and dash — then BAM — a giant ship appears, the DOLL threat makes its presence known, and they destroy the idyllic town. Yadda yadda yadda, you’re recruited to fight off this invasion.

During all the chaos of the aforementioned tutorial, you’ll get to dodge some orbital blasts and get a good look at the new movement system. A stark shift to more fluid movement should really sell folks on New Genesis if you were reticent about how much it strays from the typical PSO formula. Prior games felt more rigid in nature, but this one has a much more concerted focus on action.

Add in dash attacks, perfect dodges, and perfect guards, and it all means there’s more actual nuance for engaging and defending. You start off with a wide array of photo abilities, too, and in my experience with the Hunter (melee DPS) class, launchers, aerial combos, and area-of-effect slicing and dicing are all on the table. The real test is whether or not this combat system can remain interesting long term by giving us actual formidable enemies to tangle with. Right now it’s a ton of fun, leaving town and roughing up random DOLLs with random players (especially the higher-level ones that remind me of BAMS from Tera Online); but if foes don’t actually require you to use any of that nuance, it’s all moot.

I think my favorite part about New Genesis though is just how distinctive and flashy it looks. When gazing upon Central City for the first time (pictured) it was legitimately shocking, amid the typical drab brown-smears of most modern grimdark aesthetic design. That same level of admiration goes for the music: which brings back that techno-dreamy feel of the original series. This is Sega world-crafting at its best. It’s also a game where a player-character named “Asuna” can hyper-dash past you in a pink dress and blow holes in demons with dual pistols. It’s great.

Once the tutorial veil is lifted and you’re thrown into the “real” multiplayer game/lobbies, the “daily login” bonuses and other fluff appear on-screen; but like PSO 2, nothing seems too intrusive yet. Will it all hold up? Stay tuned and find out! I’ll be working through New Genesis in the coming days to see if its legacy will be as enduring as PSO 2.