Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis is preparing for a massive new update with the upcoming 2.0 release, slated for June 7th. The new version promises a number of additional features aimed at enhancing the user experience, mainly where user generated content is concerned. The team at SEGA is also rolling out a new story chapter, a new visual upgrade, and some key class balancing changes to and new skills for all classes as well. With SEGA putting content creation directly into the hands of the players, will this revolutionize the game?
Launching 22 years after the version 2 update to the Phantasy Star Online version 2 update on the Dreamcast, the Creative Space update transitions the series in yet another completely novel direction. I was taken on a guided tour of the Creative Space with our NGS Global community team friends Alyssa and Pam last month. In our tour we took a deep dive into all of the features of version 2, which included a new visual style. After the new version releases, the first thing that players will likely notice is the new visual upgrade option which introduces a cell-shaded style for the game, offering a stylistic departure that provides a comic-like aesthetic.
The ability for this visual transition is likely due to how popular cell-shaded anime-style games have become. Characters and objects are rendered with thick outlines that lend a very contrasting tone to the character models themselves. What is interesting is that it’s not a visual enhancement, so much as it is a different stylistic choice, but it’s a style that makes sense for the series, and seems to lend a more modern aesthetic from what NGS originally released with. They have also streamlined their photo mode, providing an more user-friendly option for new players that just want to take a great screenshot of their newly customized character.
However, the defining feature of this update is the addition of the Creative Space world-building instances. The Creative Space is an innovative tool designed to allow players more control over their in-game environment. It provides the capacity to construct individual miniature worlds, complete with customized activities. While this brings a new level of personalization, the overall appeal and functionality of this feature will largely depend on whether players really take to creating their content, and how much of that content appeals to the community.
To access the Creative Space, players will have to first speak to the ARKs architectural researcher in Central City, which is located right next to the Ryuker device and complete an introductory tutorial quest. Players will actually need to access their Creative Space through the Ryuker device as well. This will set the stage for players to start creating within the game on their very own tiny island. The developers offered a preview of this feature by incorporating elements from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise in their temporary Creative Spaces, such as spring boards. These elements, along with additional collaborations that SEGA has in store, will certainly capitalize on popular and nostalgic novelty for some, but the real staying power will be built within the capabilities of the creative space.
There’s an aspect of the new update that encourages player interaction. It enables users to visit not only their own creations but also those made by friends, other public players, and occasionally, the developers. In these spaces, you’ll be able to place your own NPC characters and provide them dialog to greet those that join. More importantly, is that players will be able to choose the functionality of their creative space. Whether you want to create a maze, or a wild platformer, there is a long list of potential actions for your building pieces with the Connect System. The Connect System is almost like its own programming language for your Creative Space, and while it’s quite robust, it will be interesting to see how players leverage that, as there are times where it can also be confusing if you’re not keeping track of all of those moving parts.
There’s even an option to copy any designs you fancy, though the original creators' permission is required, and any special build shop pieces not owned by the player need to be purchased or they’ll be missing from the build, but the potential to utilize creations from other players will spur plenty of reasons to visit other creative spaces. Equally, if you find that you’re particularly proud of something that you’ve build, you can always publish your own designs and share them with your visitors, so that they can utilize your design in their very own world. In order to get new build pieces, you’ll need to buy them from the build parts shop. These purchases will have to be made with Genesis points (GP), a newly introduced currency, though you should expect a lot of unique custom pieces to be made available in the cash shop where players can earn them via scratch tickets.
You can earn Genesis points by visiting other players creative spaces and interacting with their GP trees. It’s highly likely that we’ll see some really interesting mini-games where a GP tree is positioned at the end as some kind of completion reward. GP is essentially the only true reward available in the Creative Space apart from the ability to find and copy new designs other players have made. If someone does happen to utilize your design, you’ll be able to see the user identification (UID) of the piece in question, and even choose to search for that player and visit their Creative Space.
Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis, and the series as a whole, has always been user generated content (UGC) forward. Symbol chat has been an overwhelming blessing, even if at times it can seem like a curse. The community team acknowledged that, when you give players the power to create, there will always be a chance that what they create may not be appropriate or on brand with the type of fun gamers are looking for. They have options to block and report spaces that fall out of the terms of service. However, if you do decide that you want to create something just for you and your circle of friends, you can set your creative space to private, or friends only, so that the only people that can access it are people you’re comfortable showing off your new world.
To that end, another exciting feature of Creative Space is the ability to build together. Creative Spaces can house up to 100 people at a time, and you can grant up to 12 of your friends the capability to build alongside you. There is also no limit to the number of items you can build, and few restrictions to where you can build. Creative Space isn’t restricted by paying and non-paying players either. Free players will be able to access the same build volume and the same maximum number of players in your Creative Space. The only limit for free players are the number of Creative Spaces that you’re allowed, as paying PSO2 players will have the option to have multiple Creative Spaces, and of course, by paying real money, you will also have access to special build pieces that are not available to buy with GP.
The 2.0 update of Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis certainly seems to offer some interesting new elements, aiming to increase personalization and player engagement. The addition of a new visual style and the Creative Space feature represent significant shifts for the game. While personal housing has been a feature for the series for over a decade, the amount at which Creative Space customizes that is beyond anything I would have imagined for the series.
However, it is worth noting that the success of this update will hinge on its execution and how these new features are received by the gaming community. UGC content lives and dies by the content created, and I can’t wait to see what the community comes up with. Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis’ 2.0 version releases on June 7th on all platforms. If you haven’t had the chance to try the game, but you love building, then this is definitely the update you don’t want to miss.