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Small Details You Missed In Phantasy Star Online 2's New Opening Video

At E3 in 2019, Microsoft announced that Western audiences would finally get to play Phantasy Star Online 2 in their native language for the first time since its release in Japan seven years prior. Phantasy Star Online 2 was then released stateside in July of 2020. Now, just months later, publisher Sega has begun detailing the newest entry in the Phantasy Star series, which is a sort of sequel/companion game titled Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis, which will come out worldwide in 2021. The latest look at the upcoming release comes courtesy of a livestream, dramatically titled PSO New Genesis Prologue 1, that included the opening cinematic for New Genesis.

If the graphics in its opening look impressive, that's a credit to New Genesis, which will implement a graphical upgrade over the base Phantasy Star Online 2. This new cinematic was created not with pre-rendered graphics, but by using the same engine that will run while playing the game. This means that the video isn't quite an accurate representation of gameplay, but it reflects more or less how the game will look moment to moment.

Comparing the new cinematic to the prior Phantasy Star Online 2's opening reveals another major graphical change unrelated to its engine. The face of the protagonist has been overhauled from an exaggerated anime look to something more proportional to a human face, while still retaining the game's signature look.

Another graphical upgrade eagle-eyed viewers will notice is movement of its characters' fingers. This is a change to be introduced in New Genesis that will allow for both new combat animations and emotes that incorporate finger movement, as detailed in a Q&A posted by Sega answering questions sent in by members of the game's community.

Entirely unrelated to its looks, the new opening also showcases a significant audio upgrade from its predecessor. While the main theme that plays underneath the cinematic may sound somewhat familiar compared to those of past game openings, it features a brand new vocal track with English-language lyrics. 

Phantasy Star Online has largely remained a Japanese phenomenon, hence the long road its second entry took to a U.S. release. This has meant that innovations like a GameCube keyboard controller created for Phantasy Star Online in Japan never landed in the West. New Genesis, the first PSO with a simultaneous worldwide release, may be acknowledging its new English-speaking audience with this change, or simply bolstering its theme with vocals.

Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis is planned to be released for Xbox One and Windows 10 sometime in 2021.