With the conclusion of Phantasy Star Online 2’s closed Beta event on Xbox One this past weekend, I can say without a doubt in my mind that I will be playing it on Day 1 when it launches this Spring. Although I was initially upset with the inability to play Friday night due to the servers being overloaded, when I hopped in on Saturday morning, I remained glued to my TV the whole day. During my playtime, I had a few realizations in PSO2 that I couldn’t help but compare it to the best MMORPG of all time: Final Fantasy XIV. Here are just a few of the comparisons I made during my brief time in Phantasy Star Online 2 and why I think it’s the free-to-play version of one of the best MMOs ever.
Multiple Classes to Level on a Single Character
Like FFXIV, and FFXI before it, you can choose to switch your character’s class in PSO2. Whenever I start a new MMO (or even just a new character) I always spend the most time at the class selection screen. Do I want to play as a Tank, and be the foundation of a party? Or maybe a Healer, who are always in demand? Or a DPS character like a Thief, to try and solo? I always go back and forth in deciding which role I want to play as – and then which subclass within those three archetypes!
Which is why I loved FFXIV so much; when I felt like changing my role, it was as simple as equipping a new weapon. And in PSO2, it’s nearly as simple – you just go talk to someone in the middle of the main hub, which you’re always returning to. Even within the many different classes to choose from, each class has a cadre of various weapons to choose from. Just because I’m a Gunner class doesn’t mean I can’t quickly switch to a Gunblade and get in close with some melee attacks. Final Fantasy XIV also has a Gunblade class, so there’s just one more similarity.
Subclasses (a la FFXI)
This one admittedly may not be a feature in FFXIV, but it was in its predecessor Final Fantasy XI and as such deserves an honorable mention. I really loved the subclass system in FFXI which gave me the option to make a Red Mage more tanky and solo-able by subbing Warrior or have better healing in parties by subbing White Mage. The possible combinations available allowed players to experiment with min-maxing as well as to discover and cater to a specific playstyle. This same kind of system is implemented in Phantasy Star Online 2 as well, and it’s a feature I wish more MMOs would incorporate into their class systems – including FFXIV.
I admittedly didn’t spend too much time messing with subclasses outside of using them as a secondary in order to level them up. That’s one of the reasons that I think Phantasy Star Online 2 excels in this regard, since your subclass gains experience as well during missions and killing mobs. I have several classes (or jobs) in FFXIV that I haven’t bothered leveling because I don’t feel like running low-level dungeons or grinding FATEs in order to get them to the end-game content. With a system like PSO2’s, you can level another job while still attempting the challenging Urgent missions.
The Casino (AKA The Golden Saucer)
When I first visited the Casino in Phantasy Star Online 2 it felt like I had fallen into the Golden Saucer from Final Fantasy XIV. Everything from the garish decor to the blaring lights and even the girls in bunny outfits seemed like it was copied right out of FFXIV. I think I actually enjoyed the Casino more than FFXIV’s Golden Saucer as well, because the minigames were familiar to me as casino-style games rather than random minigames dreamt up by the developers.
There’s Blackjack (Black Nyak), Slots, Roulette, and even a Pachinko-esque shooting game that I spent way too much time playing than I probably should have. And the possible rewards out of the casino include cosmetic outfits to dress your character up to look like a giant cat, which remind me a lot of the limited-time events in FFXIV where you can obtain ostentatious outfits to look like a jester or a moogle.
So, Play Phantasy Star Online 2!
If you’ve ever shown an inkling of interest into Final Fantasy XIV (or Final Fantasy XI) but just didn’t want to shell out for the monthly subscription, then I would highly recommend you check out Phantasy Star Online 2 on Xbox One when it launches as a Free-to-Play title later this Spring. For those without an Xbox One, fret not! There will be cross-play support between Xbox One and PC when it launches on PC later this year. In the meanwhile, I think I’ll be logging back in to FFXIV and attempt to level up my White Mage.