As part of condensing most of the gameplay lore, the rushed introduction of the one mag we get (essentially "everyone has one, yours is better somehow, don't question it") glazes over them as a communication macguffin and later gives them an extremely temporary sonar ability to find cocoons and towers. Beyond that all they really do is float near you and show an amusing visual when you open the menu.
There's more that can be done here. Mags have been decoupled from combat in classic PSO2 which makes a lot of sense since raising them was essentially a non-choice to get 200 of whichever attack stat your class used and from Braver onwards there were invariably skills to either combine attack stats or use DEX as the attack stat anyway.
So, why not go all in on making them exploration aids? Presently mags are used to find cocoons and towers with a subsequently obsolete sonar, and have no mechanical relation to region mags. There's mileage to build on these aspects, and create an element of progression that would provide an easy-to-develop gameplay loop to earn non-essential enhancements of convenience to exploration and gathering.
For example, instead of simply stuffing items into a mag for a few weeks until they hit level 200 why not have a hybrid levelling system that combines resource feeding (for the PSO & PSO2 mag experience) with tasks that need repeating? One example setup:
See PSO and classic PSO2; 3 items every ~45 minutes. Uses resources (adding an item sink to the game) and raises a singular EXP bar (eliminates a non-choice of which stats to raise). Rarer resources give more EXP than common ones, and the higher the Mag's Food Level the more EXP is needed per level. Mags have 50 Food Levels; each level adds 3 units to the range of sonar abilities (see below) and +0.1 to Mag Boost Level everywhere.
Maybe add a slow decline in Food Level over an extended time? There are positives (continued item sink) and negatives (it'd become a chore) to this. Perhaps it should be based on gameplay; provide a grace period of 7 days before Food Level starts decreasing, and completing tasks or killing enemies resets the grace period, so regular gameplay prevents decreases.
Clearing a cocoon (including the initial clear for SP) activates it for that player for 7 days. After the initial clear (with the designed layout, to make it fair to gain SP), cocoons start randomising their layout each attempt. After 7 days, a cocoon becomes deactivated and the player needs to clear it again. The rating (up to 5 stars) is also reset each deactivation.
The highest rating level for a cocoon after its most recent activation contributes toward a Cocoon Level for that region. Aelio has 8 cocoons with 40 stars total; every stars gives +0.125 Mag Boost Level in Aelio. So for example if a player has 5 stars in five Aelio cocoons and 3 stars in the other three, they would have 32 stars in total which is +4.25 Mag Boost Level in Aelio.
Mag Boost Level
Add together the boosts provided by Food Level (everywhere) and from active cocoons to get a total Mag Boost Level. Since each boost provides up to +5, the highest Mag Boost Level is +10. Mag Boost Level always rounds down, so a player must have 50 Food Levels and all cocoons in in a region activated at 5 stars to get Mag Boost Level 10.
Each Mag Boost Level provides a unique ability that makes exploration and resource gathering more convenient. There's a lot of scope for how this could work, so the below is strictly a serving suggestion that has a ton of potential to be adjusted:
- Level 1: Auto-loot nearby fruit, vegetables and seafood.
- Level 2: Sonar can find minerals (Monotite-Trinite, Photon Quartz and Chunk) up to 150 units away (Can be disabled in Mag menu).
- Level 3: Ability to teleport directly to Region Mags.
- Level 4: Auto-loot nearby Item Container: Green and Item Container: Gold.
- Level 5: Sonar can find Alpha Reactors up to 150 units away (in exchange for making their location different per player).
- Level 6: Extend Region Mag Personal Boost to 3 hours.
- Level 7: Mag laser auto-attacks nearby minerals and TAMES.
- Level 8: Doubles sonar range (including Food Level boosts). When entering an exploration sector, get a display like "0/2 Alpha Reactors collected".
- Level 9: Ability to remotely feed Region Mags.
- Level 10: Auto-loot nearby minerals.