Phantasy Star Online 2 NGS

PSO2: NGS CBT First Impressions

With the semi-recent conclusion of PSO2: NGS CBT, Ciki and I had extensive discussions on what we liked and disliked about the game. As the changes in content was quite big, it felt like we were almost talking about a whole different game with absolutely no relations to the base PSO2. In this post, we breakdown almost every aspect of the CBT and give our two cents about them.

Also, I apologize for the lack of images in this post. Because we were so absorbed into the game, we often forgot to take screenshots. However, I would like to thank Anda from our alliance for providing us with some of screenshots used in this post.

We will not be talking about any information that was just released in the recent PSO2: NGS Prologue 4 stream.

Character Creation

In order to talk about character customization, we must first discuss the most important aspect most PSO2 players care about: can I make a cute face? Following in line with Sega’s promise to make all of the old PSO2 faces compatible, all of the old face types were available during the character creation (in addition to all genders/casts). However, we decided to try making our characters with the new NGS faces. Out of the two female NGS faces that were available, we were only able to make something we liked with the T2 Base Face (Snipt Face was a big no bueno).

Face: All of the sliders and adjusters feel familiar and easy to use. We struggled quite extensively on trying to make a good looking character. I’ve realized this came down to mostly not having enough customization with the eyes, nose, forehead, and just general weird overall lighting. Because of this weird lighting, I felt like my character only looked good from a few specific angles. I did like the new inclusion of additional sliders such as the adjustable iris size and position as well as more size customizations for the lips.

Body: In terms of body customization, all of the old sliders were present with some additional adjustments such as the shoulder size, individual thigh and calf adjustments, as well as hand and feet size adjustments. There’s also an option to add body gloss which I thought is quite nice. However, it seems the height restriction is still in place even in NGS and I was unable to make my character shorter than 153 cm. This wasn’t exactly a surprise as I imagine going forward, any of the “censors” will still be in place compared to JP.

I hope Sega will release some new face types for us to play around with because I am not a big fan of the NGS face types currently available.

Urgent Quests

We got our first taste of a NGS UQ which gave us a single DOLLS boss: Pettas Vera. The announcement was made 15 minutes prior to the start of the UQ and we had to go to the indicated location to queue for it. After queuing, we were teleported to an 8-man MPA instanced zone.

New features: We finally got an HP bar on the boss which I’ve never seen in any PSO2 boss fights before. Additionally, the inclusion of jump pads gave melee classes an easier time to gap close to the boss when it floated up into the sky. In terms of the bosses mechanics, it was just right and not too difficult. We were able to complete it in around 10 or so minutes.

Different UQs: I am curious how UQs outside of boss fights would work. Would they just teleport us to a whole other instanced zone like PSO2? Or would they corral out a path in the world and make it instanced? I’m looking forward to see how different types of UQs will be implemented into NGS. Overall, we both think the new UQ experience is good.

Leveling

NGS CBT1’s level cap was set to 15 with mobs restricted to either level 1, 3, 5, or 10. Since there will be no restrictions on launch, the leveling process may be different.

NGS feels more like a standard MMO: do your main tasks to get a big boost in EXP, do side tasks and dailies, and then you grind mobs. By doing all of the available tasks to me in NGS, I was able to get my main class pretty close to level 10 or so. I was able to grind to 15 by just killing mobs and trials for maybe around 4-5 hours.

This process may be a lot quicker at launch since we’ll probably get access to higher level mobs in other zones. I never really associated PSO2 as a level grindy game like Maplestory or BDO and it doesn’t look like Sega is going in that direction either.

I really enjoyed the fact that bosses, whether standalone or in Trials, gave a hefty chunk of EXP. This essentially gives players the option to grind bosses or small fries and still be rewarded relatively close in EXP progression.

Trials

Phantasy Star Online 2 NGS

The NGS Emergency Trials is essentially identical to PSO2’s Emergency Codes and mostly retains the same formula as before. A “T” icon will appear on your screen and lead you over to complete them.

So far in CBT, we’ve only come across 4 different Trials: eliminating mobs, eliminating boss, truck escort, and stella pack drop. The mob and boss elimination trials are no different from their PSO2 counterparts. The truck escort is very similar to the aircraft protection in PSO2 except you’ll be fighting 3 distinct waves of mobs with a boss always appearing in the last wave. The Stella Pack has you eliminating a bunch of mobs and then opening a chest (which only seems to give 1-2 monotite in CBT). The Trials are good for leveling and making N-meseta.

Boss Enemies

Alas, it is not a PSO2 game if there isn’t the good ‘ole Rockbear, or as they call it in NGS: Crag Bear. While most of the bosses featured in the CBT are indeed new, we felt like they recycled a lot of their older assets as well.

Familiar Bosses: The Crag Bear and Ard Banser/Banshee are just high-textured versions of their PSO2 counterparts. The bosses that look different are ones like Waulon, which looks oddly familiar to a Flame Deimos, and the Chiacurio, which feels like another Biol Meduna. Then we have the Bujin, which dashes about just like Varuna.

New Bosses: The DOLLS bosses did feel fun and exciting to fight. In NGS, they are very reminiscent of the Falspawn/Darkers from PSO2. The big Nogleth and towering Daiytal Sword made me feel like I was actually fighting the boss in an epic sci-fi fantasy compared to just an overgrown bear. I also did enjoy that the DOLLS bosses will slightly alter their mechanic when they are low on HP and go into an enraged mode. Additions like this brought a welcoming surprise.

NGS also added Hopeless bosses which only spawns in thunderstorms and will de-spawn once the weather effect is over. These challenging bosses in the CBT were at a towering level 19. Anyone who was not level 15 received a damage penalty against these bosses and they seemed to be a real challenge (requiring close to a full MPA of 32 to take them down). While we did not get the chance to take one down ourselves in the CBT, we look forward to challenging them during launch.


Gearing

Gear is probably the second most important aspect of PSO2. With all the changes NGS has done to the augment system, obtaining and upgrading gear somehow feels vastly different yet oddly familiar.

During the CBT, we only had 6 weapon types (one for each class except Gunner) and sub armors (no more units). There were 1*, 2*, and 3* versions of each weapon type and the sub armors. While this wasn’t exactly a good variety, it did help me understand once again the gear power disparity between different stars as a 3* was significantly stronger than a 2*. Since this portion of the gear content will probably change with the official launch, I’ll be focusing more on the different ways we can upgrade our gear.

Grinding: Gear grinding is exactly as before, you sacrifice other gear to plus a single piece of gear, consuming one N-Grinder with each fodder. This works identically whether its weapons or armors. Both weapons and armors currently can attain a maximum grind of +30. Due to the lack of higher star fodder weapons, it felt like gear grinding took forever for my 3* weapon and armors. The N-meseta cost is the same no matter the fodder used, so it’s recommended to use higher tier fodders.

Augments: Augmenting was mostly revamped completely. While PSO2’s augmenting process was uniquely complicated, Sega ended up going for a system that is easily understood, while still maintaining some caveats of their old system. All of the gear now seem to drop with no augments and just empty slots depending on their rarity level and grind level. Capsules will drop from world mobs and bosses. Augments can then be added and replaced by expending these capsules. A maximum of 10 of a single capsule can be used for maximum chance of success. Depending on the augment, sometimes using 10 capsules would yield 100% success and other times only 80%. Once an augment is added to your equipment, it can be reaffixed onto itself at 100%, making it easy to add and remove augments without worrying about all of them succeeding at the same time. Since there is a drop down menu for assistance items, we can assume there will be success rate boosters.

This new system is great as it allows me to customize my gear the way I want without needing extended storages to hoard all the augment fodder I get. The capsules stack and can be placed in the Material Storage.

Phantasy Star Online 2 NGS
Upgrading 2* Wand Potential at +30

Potentials: Weapon potentials are still present and can be unlocked at +10, +20, and +30 grind respectively. However, in addition to N-meseta, you’ll need untradeable mats gathered from the open world to unlock each potential level. As materials have a long respawn timer, I realized I had to spend quite a long time searching the nooks and crannies of the map to try to find more materials. There were a few times I felt like the photon chunks I farmed a day before still had not respawned after 24 hours. This made obtaining the weapon potential of more than one weapon extremely hard and long, and with the length of CBT1, virtually impossible. Maybe Sega intentionally intended this to be a slow process and the short duration of the CBT just didn’t mesh well with this design.

Multi-weapon: Lastly, we have to talk about multi weapon combining feature newly added to NGS and can only be performed with NGS weapons. Weapons with the same name prefix can be fused together to use the PA of both weapons types as long as your class and subclass allow it. Presumably this is to alleviate the need to grind up and augment two or more weapons. I thought this was a neat and innovative feature but unfortunately did not get the opportunity to test it much during the CBT. Ciki thought it was too expensive for its utility, as counters require the normal attack of the respective weapon type to trigger, using up more weapon palette slots.

Finally, we have a Battle Power (BP) stat added into NGS. It more or less serves as a gear score in other MMOs. So far we’ve only seen this feature implemented as a hard requirement for the UQ (950 BP required).

Phantasy Star Online 2 NGS

Classes

Fi: Coming from Luster in PSO2, Fi was the first class I tried in NGS. Its agility and sheer output was pretty much unmatched against a single target in the CBT as long as I was able to counter most things with the WA. It honestly felt no different from playing knuckles Fi in PSO2. However, I did feel that Overload’s CD was unusually high at 3 minutes with only a 30 second uptime. This may have been a result of Overload no longer cutting max HP but increasing your damage taken by an extra 50%.

Hu: Hunter was the second class I tried and I was pleasantly surprised by how it performed in NGS. With the removal of Scion classes in NGS, sword Hu in NGS feels like a mashup of both Hu and Hero. From its flashy mobile sword spins to it’s step counters, it became a powerhouse in both mobbing and bossing content. Even though each individual hit is still slow, the damage is high and the hits definitely feel impactful. I am definitely considering starting out with Hu on launch.

Ra: Ah yes. Old Faithful. The class I initially mained in both PSOBB and PSO2 is truly dead and gone. While Sega did make considerable improvements to Ranger’s lack of mobility in PSO2, the class still feels like more of a support class than DPS. Perhaps my expectations were wrong and Ranger was always intended as a semi support class with its now more user friendly Blight Rounds. No longer needing to “load” the rounds, you can freely auto attack and tap the Blight Round skill directly off your subpalette.

Gu: Gunner seems pretty close to what the base game offered, with some quality of life improvements to Chain Trigger. The PAs take long to complete, but overall the class has very high damage output.

Fo: Ciki’s ideal main class for the longest time, but she is forever disappointed. Fo in NGS has many improvements compared to the base game, but the damage output is still subpar. Elemental status effects are also kind of rare on bosses unless there are multiple tech users. On the other hand, the movement of the class is much smoother, lower cast times, reworked techs, and has a parry for its WA.

Te: Techter was Ciki’s main disapointment. The class doesn’t seem to have an identity of whether its a Support, Tech user, or Melee combat focused. The design of the new techniques don’t seem to be friendly towards close ranged casting, and with the high PP consumption of both Wand PAs and techniques, the class is forced to choose one or the other for damage output.

Graphics

As a game made for 2021, there was nothing too surprising to me about the improvement in graphical features. However, as an OG PSO player, it’s refreshing to see how the game evolved with the era, making significant advancements each time a new game was released.

As my computer was unable to run everything smoothly on the max graphical settings, I unfortunately cannot comment on how well the game performs at its peak. However, there are definitely some aspects of the graphical engine that still need improvements. For example, every time I fought Buijin, his “shadow” that floats around him caused a huge FPS drop. This occurred regardless if there were 3 people around or 20+ people around. Aside from random FPS drops, I’ve really enjoyed the new volumetric lighting shining on my character’s face.

Just slightly crazy gaze

Cocoon/Tower

These skill point awarding instanced zones were a fun and interesting inclusion to NGS as they felt like mini dungeons. The recurring theme of needing to nimbly navigate the platformer-esque dungeon made me feel like Sega really wants us to practice and be apt in their new photon glide and wall hop mechanics.

Phantasy Star Online 2 NGS

While I was never too good at platformers, the time limit and difficulty still seemed very reasonable. All of the enemies inside also seem to have scaled accordingly as well. Because the entries to these instances are also scattered out in the world, it promoted a healthy amount of exploration which synergizes quite well with the open world theme of the game.

Overall, these are great additions to NGS and would definitely be intrigued to try more of them out during launch.

Conclusion

Even though the NGS Prologue 4 did not specify a release date, we did get the NGS Benchmark tool which allows us to create our character prior to NGS launch and test our gameplay quality. Regardless, with the ample amount of information shown in the Prologue, we’re both looking forward to trying out all of the content that was not in the CBT. Quick thanks to Anda as well for some extra CBT pictures! I hope you guys are excited as we are and we look forward to seeing you guys at launch!

Left: Ciki, Right: Aki


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