MobiusX wrote:What's with all the different versions? v1, v2, Episode 1&2 on other platforms, Blue whatever on PC... Plus the different homebrew servers. Can someon give me a newbie breakdown? How does this game work, exactly?
PSO has tons of versions, because Sega didn't have enough time to develop it. Version 1 is basically a beta released as a retail game, presumably because Sega didn't want to break its promise of releasing PSO in 2000. Version 2 is a more complete edition of the original game. It doesn't really change any gameplay mechanics but adds a new difficulty, two new modes, and tons of new items... most of which are unobtainable, due to stupidly high drop rates.
Episode I & II is a refinement of the original game that adds three new classes, four new areas (two of which are rehashes), four new bosses (two of which are rehashes), and a bunch of new items. It also significantly rebalances the gameplay and adds many new mechanics meant to correct the imbalances in version 2... and creates many new imbalances in the process. It also has dramatically improved drop rates, so you have a wide variety of items to use and to hunt.
Blue Burst is a small expansion most likely created so that Sega could a) reclaim a little more cash from its investment into PSO's development, and b) allow Sega to test a server-sided game model before releasing PSU. It has two new areas and one new boss, as well as a bunch of fanservice items that largely break the balance reforms made in Episode I & II.
MobiusX wrote:And what is the best way to experience it today?
That's a hugely subjective matter. The only thing pretty much everybody agrees on is that V1 is the worst way to play, because V2 has everything it has and much more. If community size is your biggest concern, then there's no doubt that BB is the best way to go, because most PSO players use BB now and have for over a decade. Whether the style of that community fits your tastes is another matter, though. Many of us prefer the nicer, if smaller, communities that cling to the earlier releases.
Generally speaking, most of the remaining V2 players are DC enthusiasts who just like playing DC games online and have no particular affinity for V2 itself beyond the fact that it's a DC game. As such, none of them play competitively or are particularly concerned with mastering the game's mechanics. GC players are much more results-oriented, partially because Episode II demands it, and partially because the wider variety of equipment choices gives you many options for dealing with any situation.