SEGA is finally bringing Phantasy Star Online 2 to the western audiences, eight years after the original release in Asia. While it’s a bit bizarre to see a follow-up launch for an MMO coming to the western hemisphere this far along in the life of the title, that actually seems to be the least surprising facet of the title. While previous trailers have reported the title as coming to Steam, SEGA has changed that; it’s now going to be a Microsoft Store exclusive.
Frankly, it does make sense; Microsoft is the company responsible for bringing the title over to the west, funding the costs of translation and deployment; this isn’t to be viewed as an unscrupulous store-owner purchasing an exclusivity contract at the last possible moment.
Note that the Microsoft Store will likely only carry the game launcher, and it will likely be played outside of the Microsoft Store if the deployment package is similar in the upcoming release as it is currently on Asian servers.
— Phantasy Star Online 2 (NA) (@play_pso2) April 15, 2020
This explains why, precisely, it’s coming to Xbox before it lands anywhere else. In spite of Microsoft footing the localization bill, many aren’t entirely pleased that Xbox One owners will be receiving a couple of months of a headstart in the high-tech fantasy MMO. It’s worth noting that there isn’t much PvP to be found in the title, however; it’s almost entirely PvE, minus a relatively iffy battle arena that has teams competing against each other with pick-ups found scattered around the level.
There have been ways to dive into the game without SEGA working with Microsoft to9 bring localization, although it’s admittedly tedious to set up.
Connecting to SEGA’s Japanese portal and creating a user name, downloading the game launcher, and then applying a localization patch can bring a playable experience without needing to speak Japanese. It doesn’t translate the voices, however, and a large number of voice-lines can make English users at a disadvantage.
While the aesthetics of the game are firmly rooted in roughly 2010, and it shows, the combat that Phantasy Star Online 2 offers is arguably leaps and bounds above other classic MMO’s that users already have experiences with, such as World of Warcraft or Elder Scrolls Online. More dynamic combat is brought about by instanced worlds for engagements, along the lines of Guild Wars and Warframe, with large areas acting as hubs for everyone to get their social fix. Regardless of where the title is actually coming, and who gets it first, it may be worth exploring the free to play title just to see what the buzz has been about for the past decade.