After a long wait, Sega has finally released the first batch of screens and gameplay footage from its upcoming PC-only sequel to Phantasy Star Online. The game was originally revealed last year at the Tokyo Game Show, but little else has been revealed since save for news of an alpha test launching sometime during the next few months.
According to Phantasy Star Online 2 (PSO2) producer Satoshi Sakai, participants for the test will be chosen at an unspecified time over the summer. To quality in the drawing, interested gamers must (1) grab a code by playing Phantasy Star Universe and/or Phantasy Star Online Blue Burst, or (2) purchase one of the first copies of Phantasy Star Portable 2 Infinity for the PSP handheld and grab a code from that. More details about the alpha test drawing are expected soon.
However, just recently over in Japan, Sega showcased gameplay footage from PSO2 to the press. According to Andriasang, the story was translated as follows:
"The ship fleet Oracle (written in Japanese, "オラクル") which travels the endless stars. A new adventure that awaits on the countless planets. Invasion of the malice that covers the universe. The name of the people who face off against them is Arcs (in Japanese, "アークス"). Will the universe be saved, or will it be swallowed up? It's in the hands of the hero (you)."
Also during the PSO2 press event, Sakai took the stage and told the audience that Sega is aiming to bring "endless adventure" back into the RPG genre. He said the sequel is a "brand new title" and hopes long-time fans, online gamers and even new players to the series will enjoy the new installment. The baseline structure will reportedly feature randomized fields to keep the gameplay consistently fresh. The original third-person perspective and combo moves from prior PSO games will return, and players will actually have the ability to jump.
Looking ahead, Sega may want to ditch the subscription-based model and go with the highly-popular play-for-free scheme with PSO2, allowing gamers to download and install the client for free (or for a small price), and then pay for items like special armor, weapons, MAGs, access to specific planets and so on. Then again, this is Sega-- F2P is probably out of the question.
As seen below, we have gameplay footage taken from the recent press event held in Japan. The screenshots (15 in all) can be accessed from the PSO2 official website here.