PSO2NGS launched almost two weeks ago. A game only gets one launch and this one was a disaster mired mostly by absurd levels of lag. That coupled with the lack of content made most of the players leave already and the majority of those will never come back. In its current state NGS can barely even be considered early access in both content, features and bugs.
I got into this game with very little prior knowledge and experience with PSO. I will be heavily comparing it to Guild wars 2, simply because GW2 is the best MMO on the market in pretty much all aspects. Ever since release it set standards that few other MMOs can match and it treats the players and their time with respect unlike so many other MMOs. NGS unfortunately falls short if not outright opposite of that.
But not everything is bad in NGS. Graphics, movement, combat, artstlye, environment design and character creation. These are the good parts that kept me interested and playing. Just the fact that this is not an MMO in a typical medieval-ish fantasy setting makes it special but sadly that is about it. Everything else has either small or large issues, fundamental problems or design decisions that are not present or even welcome in western games. Here is a list of some but definitely not all of them:
- Before we even start the game there is a barrier that will make many new players (or returning ones in the future) think twice - the install size of 100GB for what right now is maybe 20 hours of game. Including PSO2 and old cosmetics is a nice thing for old players but should have been made optional with default replacers for PSO2 skins.
- It takes 7 clicks and quite some time to get to the character screen dealing with useless start screens, menus and videos. GW2 takes 0, the launcher auto starts and after a few seconds you can pick your character and play. Start us on our last server without any intros and let us go from there into other menus or straight into the game.
- The UI is horrendous with often slow response times. Playing with MKB half the keys are unbindable, hardcoded or only have limited bindings. I had to use AHK to properly bind my keys but even then some things dont work properly as some keys are just hard bound in other menus. GW2 not only allows you to bind anything, it also accepts modifier keys for any keybind.
- Understanding the menu options for a new player is problematic as the game uses different terms than what most western players are used to. Tooltips are often confusing ie: block transfer warns you all your quests are about to be abandoned but the quests in this game are actually called tasks.
- The chatbox wastes a lot of space with staggered names and text and cant be resized horizontally. It also does not show player names when posting art, which is already being abused by gold sellers. Again GW2 has an answer - just right click the offenders name and mute or report with a dropdown reason menu straight from chat. If enough reports are received in a time frame, the player can just be auto muted. Not only that but you can have different tabs in chat so you can separate system, alliance, party, etc. chat.
- The weapon/skill bar (palette) system is just bad. Pressing one button to have access to only 2 more skills (or even 3 in the future) is just pointless. Meanwhile half your bar is empty or if you actually put skills there they do not swap with your weapon so now you need to not only press another button but also keybind a chat command to it. GW2 simply assigns first 5 skills based on your weapon. Get rid of the weapon back swap key and let us assign skills to one bar that swaps with your weapon and one that does not.
- Instead of shooting where your view is pointing, shots only go horizontal. When swapping to OTS mode the camera is set to character facing instead of the actually useful view facing which is very annoying in combat. Lock on and targeting keys reset your view without a viable target for some reason. Change target button also does not cycle trough all of the enemies targetable points if they are out of your view which makes it really annoying when fighting large mobs.
- Double jumping is inconsistent - it seems to not work properly sometimes when jumping of a higher place.
- The battle power limits are a massive annoyance and should be reduced somewhat.
- Having different daily reset times for login rewards, daily mission and scratches is pointless and confusing.
- Central "city" is a joke. Its more of a compound, an outpost. The fact that the only other place with humans gets obliterated in the tutorial just makes the world feel even less alive, with only players running around and killing things. While nearly not perfect GW2s event system helps a lot in this regard.
- All skins should be usable by all characters on your account once unlocked and color switching should be free. This would also eliminate the need for armor color variants. If you already obtained an item you really should not be paying more to have it look the way you want.
- You cant use weapons as skins (camo). I like the look of 2 star weapons while many 3 and 4 star weapons look ridiculous. Let us convert or use weapons as skins.
- Free SG scratches - great, except the part where you get something, will never ever use it but can not even give it to someone else or worse, you get dupes of it. SG can really only be obtained by paying players in any sufficient capacity so getting a skin you like is out of the question for F2P.
- Forced AC scratch item NM prices - i understand why but if you wanted to prevent player hoarding/scalping you might as well have them bind on buying from the personal shop.
- The personal shop in NGS allows for direct sales and can be abused by gold sellers. GW2s trading post prevents this as only the lowest cost item of a kind can be sold first. Players can also put up bids so sellers can just sell to them directly and there is a 5% listing fee to prevent abuse.
- The fact that you are not buying a character slot but loose it if you delete the character is yet another unique and terrible practice.
The biggest issue however is the fact that NGS in its current state does not want to be played. After you are done with the short story, reached 1184 CR and done all the quests you are done with the game. The only worthwhile thing is doing dailies and weeklies to afford upgrades or cosmetics listed by other players. Anything beyond that is a waste of time. This is even more of a problem for F2P players as without any way to sell their items for more than a pittance of 65NM the reason to grind for drops just does not exist. It would take F2P days if not weeks to grind out 500k which is the minimum price for some of the rarer cosmetics and that price will only go up.
The 3 currency system furthers these differences between the haves and the have nots. GW2 has a 2 currency system and allows direct trading between the two with a varied exchange rate based on how much of one was traded for another. This allows any player to obtain any item by actually playing the game. Not everyone has disposable income but at least their time in the game is worth something and they can trade that. This keeps them playing instead of the game turning into a wasteland. Of course GW2 also has many gold sinks so players with disposable income will gladly trade for it.
Overall NGS puts a major emphasis on gambling for skins and if you want a specific look it ll cost you, a lot. To purchase items directly requires far too much money for most people. It is a niche game designed almost exclusively for whales and as such will turn away most other players who are more aware of their spending or those simply unable to afford the prices. With all that said i realize the west has never really been the primary market for PSO, but rather just extra income for SEGA. I still hope some of these issues and shortcomings get relayed to them and addressed.