It has been barely four months since New Genesis, the renewed expansion to the popular Phantasy Star Online 2, hit PC and Xbox. Unfortunately, while the developers promised to give the title a fresh coat of paint, with the Japanese and Western versions getting content simultaneously, I feel that the player base is dwindling at an alarming rate.
Optimization was already rough during release week with constant emergency maintenance and omnipresent server lag. Additionally, the game’s Anti-Cheat engine would crash the application quite often, leading to a generally negative experience for every type of player. And now, I feel this will soon be the end for New Genesis. At least, westward.
Let’s start this off by addressing the elephant in the room here: Content. If you’ve been playing since release, you probably qualify with 1 of the 2 following points: You are LV 20 in at least one class, or you have completed the Main Story scenario. The reason being is that LV 20 is the current level cap, and the story can be finished after a week or two of constant grinding to increase your Battle Points.
The real kicker is that we won’t be seeing an update to the main story until much later this year. And therefore, it’s shockingly easy for someone to get to a point where all there is to do is either farm Urgent Quests over and over or slay some Gigantix enemies. And no, the new Battle Pass does not help. In fact, I’d say it just makes it worse because there’s no real benefit in getting to the end of the road for mediocre rewards.
The game’s servers are split into Blocks. When the game was initially released, we had over 90 of those Blocks. But nowadays, we’re down to less than half of those (42, at the time of writing). According to my veteran friend, this is a common practice of SEGA to condense players together to reduce the amount of server space according to how many people log into the game during non-rush hours and peak hours. When Bouncer, the brand new class, was released, it took but three days before the servers went back to barely a few players per block, with maybe one or two blocks with high amounts of traffic.
Even after four months of release, the game continues to suffer from one puzzling bug after another. If you ever heard of the expression “Fix one part, break another,” that’s practically how playing the game feels. To give an example, the game’s Graphics will permanently turn on motion blur if you use the TAA supersampling option. As a temporary fix, you must set this setting to FXAA, or you’d be stuck with a nasty motion blur. Furthermore, controllers don’t correctly register inputs in certain parts of the game. None of these issues were present in earlier patches.
The next sign that a shutdown might be on the horizon is due to a silent update in the game’s Terms of Service back in August. The new clause, titled “Shutdown of Online Services,” states the following:
“SEGA reserves the right to stop offering or supporting online services (if any) related to the Product at any time. If this happens, any account or data you have may be terminated. […] SEGA shall not be required to provide refunds, benefits or other compensation in connection with discontinuing such online services.”
In simpler terms: If this game shuts down, SEGA says that they would not issue a refund if you, perchance, spent money. I remember going “Yikes” when I read this, and the fact that this was a silent update amplifies my concerns even further.
All in all, the frustration and overall lack of interest in Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis has taken a heavy toll on players, with some veterans going back to the original Phantasy Star Online 2 or just quitting the game altogether. Even though SEGA promised a higher volume of content in the next big update, I sincerely doubt that they will be able to gain back the trust of the player base unless they consistently update the game with content to slew through. As much as I enjoyed New Genesis, the complete lack of tasks to do urges me to follow suit and uninstall it completely.
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