The Revamp of Phantasy Star Online We Didn’t Even Know We Wanted: Planet Explorers

Please note: As this title is still in Alpha, I will be providing feedback in this piece. This is by no means critical. It looks and feels phenomenal for its early stages.

Humble Beginnings

Like a lot of video games that are coming out now, the main character of this game is one that can do pretty much anything. He or she is aesthetically customizable and maintains his or her job title as an apprentice on a spaceship, adventuring through the unknown.

Now, this is important: all of the hairstyles are pretty. I actually found myself deciding between two types, not the normal “which one of these looks least horrible?” This may seem like a little thing but this is a surprisingly annoying problem in a lot of games. Looking at you, Skyrim and Dragon Age.

The graphics overall are quite beautiful, especially for a game of its nature. This is the answer to people who love the idea of minecraft but hate the low-key environment, as well as the answer to people who love the idea of second life but who hate the fact that you have to program everything. Ever wanted to build things while playing PSO? This is the game for you.

The main story draws the player through the motions of the game (logging, mining, hunting, collecting). This serves as a great tutorial for the game, as long as one is paying attention. While playing, I accidentally skipped some dialogue and couldn’t find a recap of what it was I had to do.

There is a multiplayer option as well, for those with the desire to play with more than just yourself. Wink.

Turn for the--Run!

It could just be me. It probably is. Perhaps I misunderstood the original assignment. But the learning/skill curve is steep in this game.

On a main quest, in which you are tasked with fighting off a hoard of aggressive mobs, I was killed probably four times. Thankfully I had some revival syringes handy, but I was nevertheless overrun by strong beasts that were attempting to kill the survivors on the starter planet. Considering this was basically the fourth quest in the game, it was a little bit discouraging that I had to fend off 4 waves of 20 mobs each (that do not go down in one to two hits). The turrets that are given at the beginning of the quest run out of ammunition and the main character must make more bullets to supply the turrets with more firepower, adding extra difficulty to the challenge.

While this is a pleasant aspect that I would have enjoyed in some other situation, it is frustrating to deal with so early in the game.

All of that being said, the attack and defense capabilities are realistic. In a situation where some random humans crash landed on a planet, it is likely that they would be overrun with creatures that they could not feasibly defend against after one night.

EDIT: Went back and upgraded everything to the fullest and it was fairly easy to do. I still died once, but that may have been my own fault that time. The issue with this quest is that it plunges you into a battle that you are not prepared for, at first. Perhaps an introductory "Let's upgrade all of your stuff. It's mandatory. Also save." would be a good way to prevent people with low clicking skills from having an unnecessarily difficult time with this first major fight.

A Tweak Here and a Tweak There

The number one thing that must change for me to keep playing is the sound levels of the game. The only reason I even knew voice acting was in this game was because I was too lazy to turn my volume down to a reasonable level. The voice acting isn’t bad, and should be flaunted, not hidden behind music that wouldn’t be there for the main character.

As I mentioned earlier, the quest log is an issue. If there was some section in it reminding you where to go or what to collect (more precisely, the quest-giver’s description), that would be immensely helpful. As it stands, it makes it almost impossible to stop in the middle of a quest and come back to the game a day or two later when you’ve left the game out of your mind completely.

Possibly the last thing that I would ask the developers to fix is a tiny thing mentioned in the tutorial. In the tutorial you are tasked with collecting herbs. The instructions say to wait for a hand to appear over the plant you are attempting to harvest, but there is no hand. I know that is easily remedied and is probably going to have been fixed by the time this article is published, but I figured I would bring it to the attention of whoever may read this.

The Greater Picture

Complaints aside, this game is promising. If a few things are tweaked here and there, this game could easily become the next big thing in co-operative play.