At today’s E3 press conference, Microsoft and Sega collaborated to drop a massive bomb on gamers in North America with the surprise announcement of a localization of Phantasy Star Online 2, a Japanese space-themed massively multiplayer online RPG famous for its action-based combat. While Phantasy Star Online 2 is not a brand new game- with its original Japanese release having been all the way back in July of 2012– the game has been seeing constant updates and patches to keep its content fresh, in the form of multiple storyline ‘episodes’. A western release was speculated in 2013, but never officially surfaced until the announcement today.
Phantasy Star Online 2 coming to the Xbox is an even bigger surprise. The game never appeared on Xbox in Japan, instead coming to the PC, PS4, Playstation Vita, and Nintendo Switch platforms. The North American release only lists Xbox and Windows PC as platforms right now. It remains to be seen whether or not the game will come to other platforms in the West. The game appears to be using Microsoft’s Azure server backend to power the game, which brings into question if the servers will be linked between the two regions.
One thing noticed from the trailer is that it appears that the game will be up-to-date with the Japanese release, as one of the creatures showcased is in fact a boss monster found in the game’s latest content update, which released on April 24th. Players in the West have been playing the game for quite a while now on Japanese servers using a fan translation, and if the western version of the game had released without those six years of content updates, it would have been very upsetting.
Phantasy Star Online 2 releases in North America as a free-to-play, cross-platform title in Spring of 2020. A release date for European regions has yet to be announced. Sega has stated on Twitter that more information will be released as soon as they have something to announce on that front. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t take another 7 years for a release in European regions.