In recent years the anticipation of the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is an event that often excites the dormant hardcore gamer in me. However, many times the reality is that the conference is filled with the same old, same old with endless sequels to game franchises that I could care less about or uninspiring new IPs that are simply retreads of well-worn game tropes.
This year I was thankful to not see another presentation of Call of Duty, Battlefield, or some other nameless AAA first person shooter. To my shock and surprise, this year one announcement, and one announcement alone, made me squeal in delight like an overgrown child. The announcement in question is the reveal that after almost a decade Phantasy Star Online 2 is finally coming to the west on Xbox One and PC.
Originally slated for a western release in 2012, Phantasy Star Online 2 (PSO2) is the sequel to Phantasy Star Online (PSO) which originated on the Dreamcast in 2000 but later found its way to the OG Xbox and the GameCube. Since its PC debut in 2012, PSO2 has been ported to the PS Vita, PlayStation 4, and the Nintendo Switch but only in Japan leaving western PSO fans on the outside looking in. While Phantasy Star Universe was released for consoles in the late 2000s, many do not see it as the true sequel that the original deserved.
Why am I excited about a seven year old game that is the sequel to a game that is almost 20 years old? Because Phantasy Star Online is still an awesome game that was revolutionary for how it was able to connect players from across the world in an easy to play online RPG. I personally spent many nights playing the game on my Dreamcast and Xbox and have been wishing for PSO2 since 2012. Thus the announcement of a free to play version of PSO2 with all established content totally exceeded any and all of my wildest dreams for the return of the franchise to western shores.
Phantasy Star Online 2 is a game that has been coveted by many for years. It represents a continuation of a series that holds a special place for many gamers and is a tangible reminder of how innovative the Dreamcast was. Thanks to Sega and Microsoft, the spring of 2020 looks to be one where I will be found with a controller in my hand a exponentially more than usual.