Phantasy Star Online 2 and the very bad, no good launch day

Phantasy Star Online 2 may have just had one of the strangest launch days of any MMORPG in a very long time. For starters, we’re not talking about a brand-new game here, but an 8-year-old MMO that just now made its way to the west, so its status of “new but not new” already puts it in a different category.

But the talk of the town yesterday wasn’t the game itself, but rather the extreme difficulty that many — including myself — had with installing it. For reasons that are probably not very good, SEGA made PSO2 only available through the much-loathed Windows Store rather than offering it through the PSO2 site or even Steam. People struggled to get the file, to jump through the many hoops of registering and logging in, and to get it working at all.

For me, I spent several hours downloading it, only to find errors every time I tried to load the game. I had to uninstall it, update to the very latest version of Windows 10, reinstall it, and run it as an administrator before I could get to the launcher. Another issue was the fact that PSO2 starts in a much-reduced window mode, which a friend on Twitter told me could be resolved by changing the resolution, not in the game itself, but on the launcher. Sure. That’s intuitive.

In any case, it was a hot mess that put a huge damper on what should have been a very exciting day for the MMORPG community, and I’m pointing all kinds of fingers at SEGA for poor communication and decision-making during this.

So I did get in for an hour last night and at least was able to make a character and get her through the tutorial. My general thought is that if an MMO allows you to make a zombie or a robot, you make that zombie or robot and don’t think twice about it. Here, it’s more of a robot girl, but still, I’ll work with that.

I did find the above screen weirdly funny, because I can’t think of any other game that has a “chubby” slider. Chubby and shapely, that’s me.

The thing is, after all of the stress and frustration of getting the game to work, once it did, PSO2 worked perfectly for me. At least the tutorial was smooth and felt very natural, and I was quickly blasting away without any reservations. I went with the Ranger class over the Summoner because the summons looked dorky and I liked the visuals of the Ranger more. Pew pew!

When this boss appeared and my NPC companion (a very, very whiny elf, because of course PSO2 has elves) shouted at me, “Attack the rock monster’s vulnerable spots!” I had a flashback to Galaxy Quest and wanted to shout back, “It’s a rock! It doesn’t have any vulnerable spots!”

By the time I got to the game lobby, where other players actually were, it was late and there was some nasty lag going on, so I logged out. I definitely need to give PSO2 a good chunk of time to get a feel for it and to see if this is a game I want to pursue in earnest or not, but at least the gameplay felt solid and engaging, and that’s something.