Phantasy Star Online brought the special multiplayer magic of the emerging MMO genre to console gamers around the world. Sega celebrated the game's 10-year anniversary with the announcement of a sequel due to hit the shelves in Japan this year. No word has been given on whether there will be a US or EU release, but that hasn't stopped international fans of the game from getting excited. PSO2 officially launched its second alpha phase yesterday, and foreign game review website Steparu managed to get itself an invite.
Fans of the original game's online play will be pleased to know that party gameplay has been given some much-needed improvements. There's no more need to make sure everyone is on the same quest; instead, the party leader picks a mission and the whole party gets it automatically. Mini-quests can pop up randomly during a dungeon, and completing them grants bonus experience. Boss fights are just as deadly and hectic as in the original, with fast-paced action and team members dying repeatedly throughout the fight. Steparu has published a comprehensive review of the early alpha, with videos of everything from dungeons and boss kills to furniture arranging. We've embedded a few of those videos after the cut.