Something I feel that I would love to see in Phantasy Star Online 2 is to introduce another form of using the over-the-shoulder camera in order to more smoothly handle combat especially for classes that are capable of ranged/precision combat. As I play on a controller a lot of this feels very highly unintuitive or restricting because of the limited amount of buttons on the controller and also due to how a lot of what I am intending to do requires "clawing" my hands in a fashion that makes it easier to simply make sacrifices and play specific classes suboptimally.

What I wish to propose is something I feel would hopefully be optional for the players who would like it and would hopefully tweak and smooth out the flow of gameplay for many classes who can utilize this particular change to the aiming.

Adjustments to the Aiming Mechanics

  • Add the ability to hold a dedicated button to aim and upon release the camera reverts to the default third-person camera. Currently in-game you can use the "Switch VIews" option to swap between these two but it is a toggle and I personally have the preference of a "hold to aim" rather than a "toggle" aim option. Examples of games that do this are essentially any modern third-person shooter but I will point to Warframe and Dragon's Dogma Online as the key examples of this as using the right-analog stick for camera movement is relatively straightforward and Phantasy Star Online 2 already largely has this done.

  • Add an extra input command used for contextual attacks. For simplicity I will refer to it as the "Shoot" button. This will result in the over-the-shoulder camera mode having an extra attack button that can be used to attack using the particular photon art or technique that was selected. This means as a Bow-Braver a player can pick Penetrating Arrow and each time the shoot button (which can be R2) is pressed the player will fire or charge Penetrating Arrow depending on what the player chooses to do. The player can then choose to pick Master Shot and the "shoot" button would then change to fire Master Shot instead of Penetrating Arrow. As a result, tapping any photon art means that it can be primed for a player to use and to freely aim with compared to the current method where a player may have to claw their hands and fingers around the controller to pull off some of these combinations. Another example of this would be for a Technique user who can select a technique to use and the "Shoot" button will holding that technique so players can charge and shoot the technique when needed with free-aiming and no need for clawing (in this case for techniques like Ilzan which fire where you are aiming). The only problem I can see with this is the loss of a button due to the nature of the controller not having enough buttons as my controls would unfortunately mean I would either lose my back-palette or Action 3 button but because this is a button that only shows up when the over-the-shoulder camera is used and with the suggestion from the previous point implemented this should be very fast to swap through though may require another change I will address.

  • On a keyboard and mouse, these changes could mean that players who play the Ranger can have the typical setup of the left click being the shoot button and the right click being the "aim" button as is typical for most shooters nowadays. This would unfortunately mean that the action buttons may need to be placed elsewhere and that a player who uses the Ranger will have different controls than if they were a Braver. My ideal hope is that this gets put into a menu of some sort where players can customize their controls per class (and per weapon for hybrids like the Braver) to have a more tailored control scheme that allows for more flexible control schemes. Games like Dragon's Dogma Online handle this where players can set their controls to be different per class on their personal preferences.

  • Remove the cooldown on changing equipment/camera modes. For those of us who have already used autowords or the shortcut commands to swap equipment there is a noticeable visual delay on equipment swapping that is skipped by jumping such as for players who have used the "eight step" dodging for mobility. With my modified Steam Input controls I was able to create an "ADS-like" sort of aiming where pulling the trigger activates the over-the-shoulder camera and releasing it returns to the normal third-person camera but this tends to fail during any photon art or technique that locks the player in place and if you press the trigger too quickly the game will not register these inputs due to an inherent "cooldown" on these commands. With this suggestion implemented aiming should hopefully become a much smoother experience as players will not have to fiddle with the camera being stuck in one way or the other after finishing an attack.

Adjustments to Charging Mechanics

  • Something I would like to see for classes like the Force and the Ranger is to have the ability to tap a photon art or technique to automatically charge them. This should be an optional setting that players can toggle via the game settings menu. In the case of the Bow Braver there should be an option to automatically charge Master Shot or Penetrating Arrow when primed (and as a result expend photon points on firing rather than on the act of charging). I would love to see this used on the Force as well. Without considering the "Save" skill the Force and the Hero's Talis have, I find it frustrating on controller to have to claw my way around or sacrifice my ability to jump unless my techniques are mapped to an easily-accessible arrangement of buttons (such as R2) so that I can move, look, and jump when needed. My controller scheme makes it very difficult to dodge due to my mapping (R1 + X is my "Dodge Action") so this is largely something of my fault. In this case, this would mean that classes like a Ranger can use Positron Blast in the normal camera without moving to the over-the-shoulder camera and can still aim or cancel their inputs if needed as the shot will not fire unless they tap the button again. Again, the main inspiration for this particular change is from games like Dragon's Dogma Online where this is how spellcasting and special attacks/ammo for ranged classes are handled so players can have a smoother third-person shooter experience and still play the game as a normal action game as well. Monster Hunter World also plays a role in this suggestion.

  • Ideally for me the option to toggle an automatic charge should be handled on a per-class basis or if further applicable a "per-technique/per-photon art" basis (though it would definitely be quite a bloated menu). There are attacks where this mechanic is applicable and not applicable at all as I can imagine that for classes like the Hero you don't always want to be charging Brightness End or that you aren't always going to be charging a Hunter's photon arts when you can use something quickly. For these classes I don't see a need to have automatic charging so it should be something you can turn on or off without having to dive back into the menus every single time you want to switch characters/classes. To this end, I would love to see a "class gameplay" menu that allows you to adjust these sorts of parameters for gameplay much like how we have a Chat Menu that is customizable with autowords, chat shortcuts, and even victory pose settings. To extend this to functional gameplay mechanics as well would be amazing for me.

Smaller Suggestions in Addition

  • I would love to have options for digging through weapons/subpalettes on the controller without the use of shortcuts. Phantasy Star Nova has a very fast subpalette swap where pressing left/right on the D-Pad swaps to the previous/next subpalette in that respective order which involves absolutely no menu diving at all whereas the weapon swapping menu is the same as it is in Phantasy Star Online 2. I would absolutely love to see a fast-swap where pressing the "next weapon" or "next subpalette" buttons would instantly swap to what is next in line rather than to open up a menu players have to dig through during combat. This would also have to involve mapping a "Next Subpalette" and "Previous Subpalette" button which would definitely require more buttons unless the game allows us to overload commands (as in using the same button for multiple commands) or allows players to use button combinations for an in-game mapping.

  • Easy-access to the subpalette for controller users is something I would absolutely love to see native support for in regards to our fellow Xbox players (and by extension the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch players). Due to my preferences in Dragon's Dogma's controls, my L1 button is intentionally unmapped so that Steam Input allows me to utilize button combinations with L1 and the face buttons (and other buttons) for me to easily access all aspects of my subpalette almost as if it was another Back Palette of some sort. I would absolutely love to see this implemented naturally in-game without the need of a third-party solution. Alternatively for those who would prefer it, I would love to see something like Warframe's gear/emote wheel where players can press a command to open up a wheel that they can spin the analog stick in to scroll through to pick what they want in the case they wanted to utilize an emote, to use a chat shortcut (that they can hopefully customize/name with something like symbol arts as a personal visual icon of sorts), or to utilize an in-game mechanic like a Photon Blast, Dark Blast, or even class-related mechanics like the Ranger's traps or something like the Techer's active skills. By moving these off of the subpalette and into a dedicated ring menu of some sort that players can customize this should easily make stances/toggles accessible for controller users without the current "press left/right to scroll through a long bar and press a separate button to activate it." The Dark Blast menu already exists and is functional - and I would absolutely love to see its functionality extended for even further conveniences.

  • A toggle for reversed-lock on settings. By default the game does not lock-on until players press the lock-on button (in the context of my Steam Input controls, a half-pull on Left Trigger locks on and a full-pull cancels the lock-on to enter the over-the-shoulder camera). I would be interested in having an option of some sort in the same vein as the other suggestions I have had (class/weapon-basis preferences) that would automatically lock-on to an enemy but allow for the player to opt-out or to have a state of "auto-lock on" enabled (something as simple as double-tapping the lock-on button) so that when a locked-on target is defeated or no longer able to be attacked that the cursor will automatically move to the next available target.

While I imagine a lot of these changes would be potentially too radical for what Phantasy Star Online 2 is a lot of what I have issues with in this game involve how classes like the Ranger and Braver utilize its more precise over-the-shoulder aiming (which can definitely use a lot of polish to match more modern games and aiming controls) but is very unintuitive for me because of my decision to play on a controller. As a result I find myself struggling with a lot of ranged attacks because I cannot kite enemies and aim at the same time with classes like the Bow-Braver due to my controller mapping unless I change where my inputs are which then conflicts with other actions that I would also be aiming with. Theoretically, it would mean I only have two attacks I can "aim and move" with at the same time due to my control layout with R1 being the Back Palette and R2 being Action 3. Similarly for the Ranger, I would love to be able to position Satellite Cannon, Positron Blast, and Parallel Slider Type-0/Slideburst Zero with much more control over where I am moving and shooting when applicable and as a result I find myself struggling when these involve awkward hand positions to utilize unless I was playing on keyboard-and-mouse. I would hope that if the base game does not get these changes that these are considered for New Genesis if they were not already.