In case you missed the latest announcement, SEGA’s Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis is on the verge of receiving a brand-new installment—an update that will see in Chapter 6, Part 4, along with a vast selection of new build parts and limited-time quests. To celebrate this upcoming milestone, I thought I’d reach out to New Genesis producer Yuya Kimura, if only to touch base on the newest developments in the free-to-play ARPG.
Tell us, how did it all start for you as a developer, producer, and all-round creative visionary?
Kimura-san: I began my career at Sonic Team Inc. as a part-time game designer, primarily creating quests for Phantasy Star Online Episodes I & II, which were in operation at the time. During this time, SEGA was still split into separate development studios.
When the Sonic team joined SEGA headquarters, I transitioned to a full-time position and became involved in the development and operation of the Phantasy Star universe.
Around six years after joining as a part-time employee, I had the honor of becoming the first title director for the North American version of Phantasy Star Portable. Subsequently, I also served as the director for Phantasy Star Portable 2. At about the same time, I was also the director of Phantasy Star Online 2 (PSO2). I actually worked on both titles concurrently until the launch of Portable 2.
Following the launch of PSO2 in Japan, I assumed the role of series director, overseeing the overall direction of each episode's release, platform additions, and service region expansions. Since the launch of PSO2 NEW GENESIS (NGS), I have been serving as the series producer.
From my understanding, you’ve shared a healthy relationship with SEGA for a little over two decades now. How did this connection come to formulate all those years ago?
Kimura-san: One aspect that greatly contributes to my long service at SEGA is my deep attachment to the Phantasy Star series. I consider it akin to my own child, and this has been a driving force throughout my career.
Additionally, I can confidently say that SEGA has provided an environment where my hard work and results are fairly evaluated. As mentioned earlier, the fact that I started as a part-time employee and now hold the position of producer is a testament to this.
To be honest, in my youth, I tended to take risks and engage in reckless behavior. Looking back, I realize that I owe my current position to the understanding and support of my superiors, seniors, and colleagues who tolerated and guided me during those times. For this reason, I hold a deep sense of gratitude towards SEGA and the individuals who have contributed to my growth. I aspire to repay their kindness in some small way in the future.
I also understand that you’ve been aboard the Phantasy Star vessel since Episodes I & II, which launched on GameCube back in 2002. How does it feel, being equally as active in the series twenty years later?
Kimura-san: I feel immense joy being a part of a series that has garnered such long-lasting love from countless users.
Although I joined the Phantasy Star series amid its remarkable 35+ year history, I now proudly consider myself one of its original contributors.
In Japan, it is not uncommon for successful manga artists to continue serializing their work for decades, earning the esteemed status of a veteran artist. However, I believe only a select few artists have the privilege to be able to accomplish this feat. Similarly, in the entertainment industry, games possess the same nature. Therefore, I am truly honored to still be involved with the very first title I had the opportunity to contribute to as a newcomer. I hold deep gratitude towards all the fans who have faithfully supported the series throughout the years.
Moving on to Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis — could you please tell us about it? What’s the story here, and how does it differ from the previous entries in the series?
Kimura-san: The global release of PSO2 took place in 2020, initially following the content released in the already-launched Japanese version. However, since the June 2021 NGS update, both the Japanese and global versions have been operating and updating simultaneously.
NGS takes place 1,000 years after PSO2 and introduces open fields alongside closed ones, allowing up to 32 players to engage in simultaneous battles. The action gameplay has been further enhanced to match the open-field environments. Additionally, significant advancements have been made in graphics, and we are proud to provide the highest level of freedom and character creation options in online gaming, which is our biggest strength.
New Genesis is gearing up to release Chapter 6, Part 4 this December. What can fans of the game expect to see in the next update?
Kimura-san: In June 2023, NGS received the ver. 2 update, introducing Chapter 6 of the story, with the fourth part set to release in December. Since Chapter 6, the relationships and environments of the protagonist and heroines, Aina, and Manon have undergone changes, leading to evolving dynamics and leaving fans curious about what will unfold next, and Part 4 marks a bit of a major turning point.
In addition, we are also releasing new Build Parts for the Creative Space feature, also introduced in NGS ver. 2. These new additions will showcase European architecture, hopefully generating excitement among many of our players. Furthermore, the popular Leciel Exploration quest will be expanded, offering new elements and rewards, creating anticipation among many players.
There’s also other content on the horizon. For those who enjoy character progression, a new enhancement system called Tech Arts Customization will be implemented. Additionally, for those passionate about character creation, Christmas-themed as well as Black Lagoon collaboration avatar items will also be released.
New Genesis has received a great deal of updates over the course of 2023. If you’re willing to share, are there any important dates that we should be jotting down in our calendars for 2024 and beyond?
Kimura-san: In the upcoming December 2023 update, we will be renewing the existing Bouncer class. Furthermore, starting in 2024, we will be renewing other existing classes as necessary. Additionally, we are currently developing a highly anticipated new field that has been eagerly awaited by our community. More details on that will be released as soon as they are finalized.
For those who’ve yet to delve into the realm of New Genesis, how would you describe it? Will new players be able to dive directly into Planet Halpha with no prior knowledge or experience?
Kimura-san: NGS has been in operation for over two years, and we remain committed to providing a beginner-friendly service. We continuously implement mitigations and support features to help newcomers catch up with top players as new content is released.
One unique aspect of NGS is that despite it being an online action RPG, you can play alone as much as you like and still reach the highest levels, like an offline action RPG. Even if you choose not to spend any money, you will not face content restrictions or extreme slowdowns in gameplay progress.
Additionally, you can enjoy a natural and spontaneous co-op experience without needing to form a party. Until you reach the highest level of available content, you won’t be bothered by other users lacking knowledge or experience. The game is also designed so that by the time you reach our most challenging content, you will have already naturally acquired the necessary knowledge and experience.
For those who aren’t into battles, NGS offers other forms of enjoyment such as avatar customization in Character Creation, creating your dream space in Creative Space, and engaging with other users using features unique to the series like speech bubble chat and emotions.
Any final words for our readers?
Kimura-san: To all the cherished fans of the Phantasy Star series and dedicated ARKS who embark on adventures in NGS, thank you for enjoying this series.
Last year marked the 35th anniversary of the series, and we are thrilled to soon commemorate the 2.5-year anniversary of our latest game, NGS. In celebration of this occasion and as a token of appreciation to all NGS players, we are excited to share about the currently running Super Genesis Festival, a phantastic campaign set to take place during the holiday season.
This campaign offers a multitude of benefits not only to our loyal existing players but also to new and returning players who may have taken a break from the game. We invite you to seize this opportunity to immerse yourselves in the captivating world of NGS.
Thanks for your time, Kimura-san!
Ready to take the plunge into Planet Halpha ahead of its upcoming Chapter? You can pick up your copy of Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, and PC. For more updates on New Genesis, you can check in with the team over on their official social handle here.