Posted May 16th 2012 by Oliver Chen.
While I missed the boat on the original Phantasy Star Online for Dreamcast when it released over a decade ago, I played preposterous amounts of the later three Episodes on the GameCube and PC. The novelty of a "true" action MMORPG and an addicting rare loot system was fair incentive for me to spend hundreds of hours grinding across Ragol with friends both online and offline. Imagine my disappointment a few years later when I played Phantasy Star Universe, the next major Phantasy Star title, and discovered that most of that great PSO gameplay had been almost completely eviscerated. It could have totally passed as completely different series if not for a few trademark IPs present in the game.
Thankfully, Sonic Team realized they had blundered and began incorporating more and more of Phantasy Star Online's gameplay back into the subsequent spinoff titles on the DS and PSP. Some fans even joked that the next game might as well be "Phantasy Star Online 2" if the trend were to continue. Imagine their surprise when, at an event celebrating the tenth anniversary of the series, Sega announced a true sequel to PSO.
I recently had the opportunity to play in the Japanese closed beta for Phantasy Star Online 2 on the PC, and after about a week of playtime I can say that PSO2 more than lives up its predecessor's name. Not only does the game evoke ridiculous amounts of nostalgia for the original PSO, it also cherry-picks the best gameplay enhancements introduced in the Universe games while adding a plethora of features new to the franchise. Could this game end up being the best action MMORPG gaming has to offer when it releases later this year? More than likely, I would say.