Phantasy Star Online 2 (Japanese: ) is a free-to-play online multiplayer game for PC, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One. It was originally released to the Japanese market on July 4, 2012. During the same year at PAX 2012, Sega of America announced that they would bring the game to the west, however, they would not reveal any further information about the project until Microsoft's 2019 E3 conference, wherein the game is released in English on April 14, 2020 on Xbox One and on May 27, 2020 for PC.
A mobile "sister game" called Phantasy Star Online 2 es is available for iOS and Android. Playing the Japanese version of PSO2 and es using the same account will net player bonuses and perks, such as the "es Storage" feature.
A major graphical revamp of the game is planned to coincide with the release of its successor Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis in 2021.
Phantasy Star Online 2 was originally due to be released in late 2011 but was postponed for updates until 2012. Servers for use with the Japanese PC version opened July 4, 2012. A SEGA ID must be registered and activated to be able to access the game servers.
English-language versions for the South-East Asia (SEA) and Thailand (TH) regions were released in May 29 2014. These versions were closed down in May 27, 2017.
According to SEGA, over one million SEGA IDs have been activated for the game as per October 1, 2012, about three months after the game's launch. In 2018, over five million SEGA IDs have been activated, which was celebrated through a special campaign.
In 2018, a Switch version of the game was launched. However, it's not a full-fledged port; instead, it's a cloud-based service where the player is able to stream-play PSO2 through the Nintendo Switch, and thus requires absolutely stable internet connection to play properly. A Title campaign was instated with the released, which gives players a chance to earn The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild-themed costume by playing the Switch Cloud version.
During Microsoft's conference in E3 2019, it was announced that a proper Western release of the game would happen in 2020 for Xbox One and Windows, with other platforms planned. Additionally, the game would release contents at a highly-accelerated pace, with the official roadmap planning for the first half of EPISODE 6 to be reached by the end of 2020.
The Closed Beta testing period started for the official western Phantasy Star Online 2 Xbox One servers on Friday, February 7, 2020 at 5 PM PST, and was scheduled to last until the end of the day of Saturday, February 8. Within the first hour, Ship 1 was filled to max capacity and the servers were hit with higher demand than anticipated. In order to combat some of the demand, Ship 2 was opened for character creation. An emergency maintenance was eventually issued to address the problems in the data processing program. Since the conclusion of the maintenance, servers have been stable and operational. As a result of the extended emergency maintenance period during the beta test, SEGA extended the beta test until the end of the day Sunday, February 9, 2020 following a routine scheduled maintenance.
The Open Beta testing period is scheduled to start on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at 6 PM PST for Xbox One and ended on Tuesday, April 14, 2020 after the maintenance. As of that date, the game has been officially released for Xbox One while it's expected to be released for PC in May 2020. It is later confirmed that it's expected to be released for PC on Wednesday, March 27, 2020.
The Western PC version was released on May 27, 2020 through the official Microsoft Store. In later July, it was announced that a Steam client would be released on August 5 that same year.
The Steam version was finally released on August 5, 2020. Accounts from the MS Store version can be transferred over to Steam, however both games are needed to be present on PC for the transfer process (the MS Store version can be uninstalled after the transfer is done). This release also came with a special Title campaign that lets the players to obtain costumes, accessories and Lobby Actions themed after certain Valve-produced games.
The following system specifications are recommended by Sega to play Phantasy Star Online 2:
- OS: Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (32 or 64 bit)
- API: DirectX 9.0c or better
- CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 or better
- RAM: 2GB
- HDD: 67GB or more free
- Monitor: 1280x720 or higher resolution
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 7800GT, AMD RADEON HD2900XT or equivalent or better
- SPU: DirectX 9.0c compatible or better
- Network: Broadband Internet access
No purchase or recurring subscription fee is required to play the game. Subscriptions (in the form of "Premium Service") include access to additional game features, such as trading items with other players. Both subscribers and non-subscribers can make microtransaction purchases through ARKS Cash (AC). Another purchasable currency, the Star Gem, was added with the Episode 4 update. Unlike ARKS Cash however, Star Gems can also be earned normally in-game.
The game is updated through an episodic model. Each episode brings new things to the game, ranging from quests to Classes, as well as continuing the ongoing storyline. Code: EPISODE 2 was released in 2013; Mission: EPISODE 3 was released in 2014; Reincarnation: EPISODE 4 was released in 2016; Heroes: EPISODE 5 was released in 2017; Stars: EPISODE 6 was released in 2019. SEGA has stated that EPISODE 6 would become the game's last episodic update, although the game would still be supported in the foreseeable future.
This section contains plot or ending details which could spoil the game for those who have not completed it.
SKIP SPOILERS SECTION
Phantasy Star Online 2 takes a departure from its predecessor by having its own continuity. Additionally, the story doesn't take place in a single planet or solar system; new planets to explore are added during the updates.
The plot of PSO2 concerns an intergalactic colony fleet called Oracle that travels through deep-space in search of habitable planets. The odyssey is primarily handled by a large explorer organization called ARKS (not to be confused with Arkz from the previous game). The player is a new recruit in the organization, who becomes tangled in a situation that will later decide the fate of Oracle and the universe itself.
- Episode 1: During their qualification exam on the planet Naverius, the player and fellow ARKS trainee Afin are attacked by vile organisms known as Falspawn. This is followed by the two discovering a mysterious girl who lost most of her memories, and the truth regarding Naverius and the recent spike of Falspawn activities.
- Episode 2: After the events at the end of Episode 1, the timeline was altered with the creation of a new race called the Deuman. The plot follows the player and Matoi as they try to unravel a dark conspiracy regarding the origin and true purpose of ARKS.
- Episode 3: The discovery of the planet Harukotan brought a new quest into the fray, as the peace between the Daybreakers and Nightfallers that dwell in the planet is disturbed by the Nightfallers' sudden attack. The newly-reformed ARKS is tasked to investigate the reason behind it all, and it seems like the truth is more complicated and horrifying than expected...
- Episode 4: Two years after the end of the previous episode, the player character finally wakes up from their cold sleep. ARKS has undergone an administrative overhaul, with the player and Matoi sitting on a special position called the Guardian. Additionally, ARKS has discovered a planet that resides in another dimension, which is none other than Earth. However, this discovery brought new cases onto the table, such as the sharp influx of new ARKS members and the sudden appearance of enigmatic creatures known as Phantoms on the planet.
- Episode 5: This episode takes place several months after the end of Episode 4. The player character, Matoi, Xiao and the others have an idea on how to rescue Persona: by imbuing the player character's weapon with Ether to gain the Photon-cutting trait of Hitsugi's Avatar Arm. However, their rescue attempt goes awry, and the player character finds themselves in another world...
- Episode 6: This episode immediately follows the epilogue of Episode 5. After the ARKS suffer a crippling defeat in the hands of Shiva, the heroes head for Amduskia in order to save the fatally-wounded Xiao. After a hard struggle, Xiao was successfully revived and gained ascended calculation power. And thus, ARKS' counterattack plan begins...
New features in PSO2 that were not in PSO include the ability to jump over short obstacles and attack in mid-air, to take evasive maneuvers such as dashing and teleporting, and to hold buttons to charge up stronger versions of attacks and techniques (although this game mechanic was introduced in Phantasy Star Zero). Players are able to create their own combo attacks by chaining different Photon Arts and Techniques.
Quests and Instances
Gameplay is online and quest-based, with quests taking place in instances on a planet and in an area determined by the quest. Most instances are single-party and accommodate 4 players, but a few are multi-party and accommodate up to 12. The party matchup system allows players to search for and join parties running the same quest.
Each quest has its own objective, but some quest instances also contain "Emergency Code" events; short tasks with special clearance conditions and bonus rewards upon success. Unless stated otherwise, Emergency Codes are optional.
Client Orders provide additional rewards for undertaking various challenges on quests, such as defeating enemies with a certain weapon type, completing a quest within a time limit, or procuring enemy drops in a "fetch quest" style task.
Open-world instances are also available. These allow many parties to travel the same map and can potentially have a much higher player population than other quest instances. Enemies and Emergency Codes respawn in these open world instances, which is helpful for Client Orders.
Race and gender affect a character's appearance, voice, and stat growth, although unlike the original Phantasy Star Online and Phantasy Star Universe, the differences are not drastic. All race and gender combinations can access all of the available Classes. Former racial abilities, such as setting traps or casting Techniques, are now Class abilities.
In PSO2, Classes determine the weapons a player can equip, as well as their overall playstyle. A player can freely change their Class at the ARKS Lobby's Class Counter. Experience, stats, and skills for each Class are tallied separately. It is possible for a single character to reach the maximum Level in every Class, but only the stats and abilities of the currently selected Class will apply at a time.
Nine classes are available to choose from: Hunter, Ranger, Force, Braver, Bouncer, Summoner, Fighter, Gunner, and Techter; the first six are immediately available from the Character Creation phase, while the last three are formerly unlockables, but later update makes them available immediately from the Class Counter after finishing the prologue.
Starting from the Episode 5 update, Scion Classes (JP: Successor Classes; formerly "Advanced Classes") are introduced. Scion Classes require reaching Lv. 75 in at least 2 out of the 9 standard Classes to be unlocked. There are currently 4 Scion Classes to choose from: Hero, Phantom, Etoile and Luster.
The player may also complete a Client Order for a Subclass license, which allows their character to set a Subclass and change it at will, as with the main Class. Setting a Subclass adds a portion of the Subclass' base stats, all the Subclass' skills, and the ability to use Techniques, if the subclass is Tech-based. Scion Classes cannot use the Subclass perk.
The PlayStation Vita version of Phantasy Star Online 2 was released with winnable bronze trophies. Most of the achievements revolve around killing a certain boss in a single party area, leveling up different Classes, and weapon grinding.
Paid Scratch Lotteries
- Main article: AC Scratch Directory: PSO2 NA
There are many different types of costumes in Phantasy Star Online 2, some of which can be obtained by spending ARKS Cash or Star Gems.
The western version of PSO2 is rated M for Mature by the ESRB due to blood, partial nudity, strong language and violence with in-game purchases (which includes random items).
- The Phantasy Star wiki has an extensive image & video gallery for this video game.
- Phantasy Star Online 2. Phantasy Star Online 2. Sega Retro. Accessed 25 October 2018.
- Phantasy Star Online 2 - North America - Facebook
- "登録ID数、100万ID突破を記録". Phantasy Star Online 2 Players Site. Sega. 09 October 2012. Accessed 25 November 2012.
- "". Hi, Arks. Just an update on what happened: (1) More users tried to log in than we could have anticipated, which resulted in players not being able to access the server. (2) We identified problems in our data processing program, those have been addressed as well.. Sega. 08 February 2020. Accessed 08 February 2020.
- "". Attention, Arks! Due to the unexpected server issues you have experienced on Friday, February 7th, we will be extending the Closed Beta Test. Servers will be open for additional hours on Sunday, February 9th. For the full schedule, please visit https://pso2.com/news/announcements/cbtextended. Sega. 08 February 2020. Accessed 09 February 2020.
- "ゲームをはじめるまで". Phantasy Star Online 2 Players Site. Sega. Accessed 25 November 2012.
- 「Code：EPISODE2」紹介ムービー Official trailer for Code Episode 2 (Japanese)
- Phantasy Star Online 2 entry at CERO (Japanese)
- "What is the 'Age-appropriateness Ratings System'?" at CERO
-  ESRB entry as seen on the official English PSO2 website.
- Official English site
- Official Japanese site
- Taiwan regional site
- South East Asia regional site
- PSUBlog - Unofficial English news site
- PSO-World - Unofficial English community site