On this week’s show, Justin and Bree saddle up for discussion on Wild West Online’s alpha, Star Citizen’s back-backlash on schedules, the miserable state of Phantasy Star Online 2, and more!
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At what point is Sega officially just taunting Phantasy Star Online 2 fans in North America? It’s hard to be sure, but the announcement that PSO2 is coming to the Nintendo Switch probably crosses that line. Because it’s true, the title will be playable on the Switch… in Japan. No American release, just in Japan.
The port announcement came as part of the most recent Nintendo Direct announcement, and it may very well put a lie to the speculation that Sega’s refusal to release the game was due to their PC-heavy strategy and business deals preventing a proper release on Steam. So why is it only in Japan? Who knows. The important thing is that Japanese players can use the Switch and you cannot. (Unless, of course, you’re reading this from Japan. If that’s the case, well, hi!)
In the pantheon of SOE’s (now Daybreak) flagship EverQuest franchise, there used to be a whole family of MMOs gathered around the table every evening. There was Papa EverQuest, looking a little wrinkled and worn but also radiating fame and authority. Next to him was Mama EverQuest II, a powerful matron of entertainment. And EverQuest Next used to be a twinkle in their eyes before it was extinguished.
Then, in the next room over was a cabinet. The cabinet was locked. Inside that cabinet used to be a weird abnormality that certainly looks like a member of the family, but one that hadn’t seen the light of day in quite some time. This member subsisted on the scraps of an aging console and the fading loyalty of fans, hoping against odds that one day he’d be allowed out for a stroll or something. His name was EverQuest Online Adventures, the EverQuest MMO nobody mentions.
EQOA was a strange abnormality in SOE’s lineup. While it was one of the very first console MMOs and heir to the EverQuest name, it was quickly eclipsed in both areas by other games and left alone. Yet, against all odds, it continued to operate on the PlayStation 2 for the better part of a decade before its lights were turned off. Today, let’s look at this interesting experiment and the small cult following it created.
Usually when it comes to discussing world hemispheres of MMO game design, comments and observations are made about what western studios can learn from their eastern counterparts. MMO Bro, however, flipped that discussion recently to share four things that eastern MMOs can (and perhaps should) learn from western games.
“The problem, though, is that in most eastern games I’ve played, the story still feels like kind of a background element,” he writes. “There isn’t a lot of effort put into developing it or helping the player experience it in a dynamic way. It’s usually bland quest text. In the west, we’ve seen MMO games make great strides toward better storytelling in recent years.”
As we continue with our visits to MMO blogs, we’ll hear musings on Guild Wars 2’s direction, Standing Stone Games’ missteps, speed-leveling in World of Warcraft, and more!
Phantasy Star Online 2’s most advanced class to date is getting ready to break into the scene later this month. On July 26th, the Japanese servers will patch in the Hero class, which is reportedly the most challenging (and powerful) profession to date. The Hero can wield three weapons and swap between them at will, requiring a flexible mindset for combat encounters.
So why do we tell you this? Are we tormenting you with visions of a game that you can’t play? Well, actually you can. While PSO2 will most likely never get a western release, there is no IP block from outside countries (apart from SEA nations) to come in and play. To make matters better, there are fan-created English patches to help native speakers navigate and understand the game (you might want to read the FAQ if you’re doing this).
Check out the trailer and the new Hero class after the break.
The Dreamcast was a brief but shining aberration in the gaming world. Coming along years after Sega had fallen out of its position as a top-runner in the console market, it represented the company’s last-ditch attempt to reclaim its former glory. While it failed to succeed in that respect and ultimately closed up shop in 2001 (ending Sega’s interest in the console market), the Dreamcast became a gaming cult favorite responsible for some of the most innovative titles ever made. Games like Jet Grind Radio, Space Channel 5, and Shenmue have remained fan favorites long after the Dreamcast’s demise, which shows the legacy that these dev teams left behind.
But perhaps the Dreamcast’s greatest gift to the gaming world wasn’t crazy taxis or space dancing but a surprisingly forward-looking approach to online gaming. In 2000, the Dreamcast took the first steps to bringing an online console RPG to market, and while it wasn’t a true MMO, it certainly paved the way for titles like EverQuest Online Adventures and Final Fantasy XI.
It was bold, it was addictive, and it was gosh-darned gorgeous. Ladies and gentlemen: Phantasy Star Online.
Massively OP reader Francois recently pointed us to IGN’s Top 100 RPGs of All Time, which we thought was worth a nod since unlike many such lists, it includes several early MMORPGs: including EverQuest (100), EVE Online (81), Phantasy Star Online (63), and of course, World of Warcraft (5), plus other multiplayer games we’ve covered in the past, like Diablo II, Titan Quest, Torchlight II, Stardew Valley, Neverwinter Nights, and more Ultima, Elder Scrolls, and Final Fantasy franchise games than you can shake an ancient console cartridge at.
But I can’t help but feel as if the MMOs that were included were added more for their saturation and fame and ubiquitousness during a certain time period than for their actual quality as RPGs, especially once you apply IGN’s rubic, which mentions requirements like story, combat, and presentation. I bet gamers with more experience in the breadth of MMOs could come up with a few more examples — maybe even a few made sometime after 2004 too, yeah?
Which MMOs would you include among the greatest RPGs of all time?
Have you ever noticed that while there’s an entire world out there, most all of the MMORPGs we discuss and play tend to either be ones crafted in the USA or imports from China or Korea? We even have a shorthand for this: “western” and “eastern” MMOs. We’re usually not talking about entire hemispheres with these references, but rather about categorizing three countries that are big into the MMORPG business.
But what about the rest of the world? Are all of these other countries so uncaring about this genre that they’ve never tried their hand at making an MMO? Of course not; as I’m about to show you, there are plenty of online RPGs that have been made in countries other than China, the USA, and South Korea. It’s just that for various reasons, those three countries ended up fostering concentrations of video game developers who knew how to create these types of games.
So let’s take a tour around the world and see if we can’t give some credit to other countries for their contributions to the MMORPG genre past, present, and future. Before you click the link, see how many you can name off the top of your head!
After over a month of voting and counting down, we’ve arrived at the final six picks for your favorite MMORPG theme songs of all time. It’s been absolutely illuminating seeing the formation of this list and the placement of certain tracks, and I’m glad that everyone who wanted to got to participate.
Before I reveal the top six themes, here are a few honorable mentions:
Are you ready? I know I am! Here we go!
Phantasy Star Online 2 is five years old, but anyone who wants to play the game in North America without downloading an unofficial English patch is still out of luck. The introduction of the Southeast Asia localized version was a bit of a hope spot for those still hoping for a localized release, but that was a couple of years ago now. Also, that version of the game is being shuttered as of May 26th, so that’s not exactly a good sign for people hoping for an eventual export.
No reasons are cited for the shutdown, just that the service contract with Sega is coming to an end and players will be unable to spend any more actual money on the game as of April 21st. Free premium time is being granted to all accounts in light of the shutdown. Our sympathy goes out to all players affected by the shutdown of this version of the game; it’s worth noting that the original Japanese servers are still running with no sign of stopping.
First things first: No, there is no announcement about any sort of release for Phantasy Star Online 2 in the west. For now, the sci-fi MMO continues to be exclusive to the east, although there is an English patch to help players who jump regions in an attempt to play the game.
YouTuber TheLazyPeon recently took a look at Phantasy Star Online 2 to answer the question, “Is it worth playing?” After putting in a few hours, he at least deduced that it was not a game for him. He was impressed with the character customization but said that game felt clunky and sluggish while coming across as a little dated.
If you can’t play it, you can at least watch it, so see what you see after the jump!
One of the great things about MMORPGs is that you can live out fantasies that are otherwise unobtainable for you in real life. Financial success? Sure. A perfect, sculpted body? Why not. Incredible musical talent? Toss it in there, my friend!
ToyFuzion is living the dream in Black Desert: “I squealed with delight when I saw that player instruments (a guitar!) had been added recently. Before, you could rent them from NPCs and do mini-games with them, but their use was very limited. These can be played anywhere — even walk around with them! Had to get a screenie of my character and her clownie homies.”
Apologies if this adds to the “clown hysteria” sweeping the world right now.
Any time I see someone post an MMO screenshot from older games, I feel like it benefits the historical record by adding another visible memory from classic games to the archive. So thank you to everyone who dug through their folders to find pictures from our “then and now” challenge.
Ralph the Wonder Llama takes the cake with his entry: “Back in the summer of 2005, I decided to give a new game called Guild Wars a try. My first character was a Warrior/Ranger named Sonja. I had envisioned her as a tall, nature themed, Nordic warrior who had traveled south from her homeland in search of adventure. Now it’s 2016, and I’m playing a Guardian in Guild Wars 2. She’s a tall Norn warrior named Sonja who has traveled south from her homeland in search of adventure. Funny how that worked out. Here are a couple screenshots from the city of Rata Sum, then and now. My, how the neighborhood has grown!”