Yesterday, Sega revealed a new entry in the Phantasy Star Online series during Microsoft's Xbox Games Showcase event. The trailer showed off what looked to be a step above Phantasy Star Online 2, leading many to believe it was going to be "Phantasy Star Online 3." Instead, the game is called Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis, which led to a number of questions. Was this an overhaul, like Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn? A sequel with an odd name? A new episode?
Today, Sega has finally given us further details. Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis is a "massive overhaul" of console MMO. While Western players just received the game and the Episode 3 update, PSO2 has been out in Japan since July 2012 and is currently on Episode 6. New Genesis is intended to bring PSO2 up to modern standards, just in time for Phantasy Star Online's 20th anniversary in 2021.
"Because the game system and graphics engine were created eight years ago, they may seem unrefined to modern players, especially to those of you whose adventures just began with the North American version," said Sega in a blog post. "This is why the development team is preparing a massive update instead of a new episode—to give PSO2 the renewal it deserves. We are proud to present this dramatic evolution to you as Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis."
New Genesis will be a standalone, free-to-play release, separate from the existing PSO2 client. The graphics are vastly improved and environments will now change with time of day and the weather. Players have new movement options like the Photon Dash sprint and the Photon Glide, which lets you slowly descend for higher areas. The combat system has also been revamped for the new, more open battlefields players will find themselves in. There's a more robust character creator with more equipment customization options, and the player characters's fingers finally move! (This is a big thing for existing PSO2 players.)
So how will it connect to PSO2? Well, characters and emotes will be shared between both clients and players can jump back and forth between them as they choose. ARKS Cash and Star Gems, the premium currency in PSO2 used to buy cosmetic items, will also be shared between both games. Weapons, units, and mags will carry over, but with altered functions or level gates that will prevent players from equipping them immediately. The official post also talks about "weapons pertaining to classes that have not yet been added to PSO2: NGS," meaning not every class will make it over to the new game at launch. Character levels, experience, and Photon Arts won't be making the transition, nor will the in-game currency you earn simply by playing.
Sega is also committing to keep the classic PSO2 still open. In fact, the studio will update the graphics engine on PSO2 in order to bring it closer to New Genesis, without changing how it plays. It's an interesting move for Sega, essentially giving them two games to support. There's no word on whether further Episodes will come to both games.
Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis is a planned release on Xbox One, Windows 10, and Xbox Series X on Western shores. There were rumors of a Steam release for classic PSO2, so hopefully that will happen for New Genesis as well. In Japan, it'll be coming to PC, PlayStation, and Switch (the latter via the cloud).