Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis – Potential Not Yet Realized

New genesis cover art.

Released on: June 9 2021

Available Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Price: Free (Has microtransactions)

Developed by: Sega Published by: Sega

Ever since I reviewed the closed beta for Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis, I’ve been waiting for the full release with bated breath. I felt like the closed beta set up a solid foundation for what could be a fantastic MMO Action-RPG. Of course, I thought it could improve a few things, but I did enjoy my experience with the closed beta overall.

The full version is out now, and I had the chance to play it for a couple of weeks. Ever since the release of the full version of New Genesis, I’ve been following its launch on social media platforms (namely Twitter and Reddit). There were numerous reports of issues on day one. Luckily, unlike Phantasy Star Online 2’s global release, I didn’t have to reinstall my game three times to keep playing. Even so, multiple people couldn’t even get into the game when it first launched due to server load issues. I was still able to play within that time frame regardless. Is New Genesis a bright future for Phantasy Star Online 2?

New Genesis Title screen

Our story begins with the player crash landing on planet Halpha via a meteor. Soon after impact, they meet Aina and her father Garoa, whose duty is to defend the planet from the onslaught of hostile aliens known as DOLLS. He recommends the player, Aina, and another Meteorn, Manon, join ARKS, a group of defenders formed one thousand years ago to help fight off the DOLLS.

First, a bit of a correction from my closed beta review: the people of Halpha are not the Meteorn; instead, the player is considered a Meteorn by the Halphans since they came from a meteor, hence the name. As for the story itself, it starts off promising with its introduction, but like many other MMOs, I keep forgetting the plot exists. To have the story of your MMO stand out, it needs to involve the player a lot more than New Genesis does (the Elder Scrolls Online is a prime example of this.) As it stands, the story leaves me unimpressed.

I mentioned in the closed beta that I liked New Genesis’ scenery. This still holds true for the full release of New Genesis. Only now, there are new areas for the player to run around in, and there are also giant mountains for the player to climb. Once they reach the top of the mountain, they get a bird’s eye view of the whole region. It might sound arbitrary, especially if one is familiar with open-world games, but for Phantasy Star Online 2, being able to see more than a room’s worth of an area is a big deal.

New Genesis Top of Mountain
Scenery like this is where New Genesis shines.

One thing I learned since the closed beta is that New Genesis introduces a Battle Power. This number gives the player a rough idea of how strong their character is. The Battle Power is essential, as each area has a recommended Battle Power. If the player’s Battle Power is lower than the area’s recommended Battle Power, they will find themselves struggling to deal much damage to the enemy, but they will hit the player like a truck.

To increase Battle Power, the player can upgrade their weapons, level up their character, learn class skills and augment their weapons. Conversely, if the player is much too strong for an area, they will defeat enemies with one hit but get minimal experience points. The Battle Power system is excellent for letting the player know they are either not strong enough for an area or too powerful for it. It’s also not difficult to influence the Battle Power if the player has the necessary items to upgrade their weapons and armor.

One positive thing I can say about the full release of New Genesis is that people who’ve played Phantasy Star Online 2 have their stuff accessible in New Genesis. They can use the same character they used in PSO2 in New Genesis. Sure, a lot of PS02 items don’t work in New Genesis, but some of them still do, including some rare weapons the player found in PS02.

While it seems like I have very few positive points to list, many of them would echo what I said in my closed beta review. There are some minor improvements since then, but there are still some things it can improve on.

Firstly, while I do like the aesthetic of the environments, I still feel that the characters look outdated. On the plus side, the characters look like they are from 2015 instead of Phantasy Star Online 2’s 2012 character models. New Genesis added some more customization options for character creation, which is nice. That said, the character models still look like action figures.

I touched on the myriad of issues plaguing the launch of New Genesis. From my experience playing on week one, the game had severe server lag issues. It was so bad at one point; I kept slashing away at an enemy with no damage numbers popping up to let me know how much damage I dealt. Ten seconds later, I see a bunch of numbers pop up, and then the enemy died. Many people experienced this issue to the point that the developers had to perform some emergency maintenance to fix the server load. It is worth noting that the lag issues seem more or less solved.

The biggest gripe I have about New Genesis is how little it improved from the closed beta in gameplay and content. Sure, there are more enemies, and the player now has access to the items they had in PSO2, but it still feels like the game is lacking. I am aware that the developers will add content in the near future, but what is on offer at the time of writing seems underwhelming. The maximum level one class can reach is twenty, which will take a while for the player to achieve that, and the player has six classes to get to level twenty. Whether or not the player will have the patience to reach that, however, that is a different story.

New Genesis uses the same microtransaction currency that PS02 did (AC and SG). I saved up what I got in PS02 in hopes of using them in New Genesis, but at the time of this writing, there is nothing in the store that strikes my fancy. It is worth noting that each player’s mileage may vary when it comes to the items available in the premium shops.

It pains me to say this since Phantasy Star Online and Phantasy Star Online 2 were both important games to me, but I don’t feel the same way about New Genesis. While the environment looks pretty, and there is a solid foundation to build on, New Genesis failed to keep my interest. I tried to stick with it as much as I could, but sadly, I have trouble recommending New Genesis at this time since the game is dull.

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