Phantom Dust Online Play Guide

by Quadrasonic

Let it first be said that this entire guide is simply to help you get the most out of what is one of the most fiendishly addictive Xbox Live games to date. What follows is a set of guidelines, not rules, and like most things in life is to be taken with a grain of salt. Much of it is just common sense anyway. Take what you will and leave the rest. After all, variety of play styles is what keeps this game so interesting.

IN GENERAL…

As you like it
Make sure that at some point during scenario mode, you have checked out all the different display, controls, and camera speed and distance options. You can find these in the memory box terminal in Visions HQ. The differences between the various details options are not severe, but those for the controller can make or break your game depending on what you are used to. Also, you may not want to enable partner lock unless playing a Tag Team game in which you have skills that you would like to hit your partner with. At the beginning of your first game for the evening, press the white button on your controller to see player’s names listed next to their characters even when you are not targeting them. This makes it a whole lot easier to keep track of the insanity spiraling about you while keeping it difficult for other players to get the jump on you.

Do unto yourself before you do unto others.
Beat the single player game, then get back in and talk to every last character again and beat whatever missions they ask you to. This will unlock all 300 of the basic skills from the shop. Then go to the shop and purchase each and every last skill that you don’t already have. Shopping at the online store is a lot easier then in the single-player, for if the skills you are looking for are not listed, with a quick click of the B and A buttons you just back out and re-enter, and the shop’s inventory will have changed.

Under construction
Get to work, and put together just as many different arsenals as you can afford. This will help keep your opponents guessing. You can hold up to sixteen, but you may be able to get on alright with as few as four. Try to give these arsenals strong themes while still making them able to handle anything your enemy may try to trap you with. Remember that there are no unbeatable arsenals. For every arsenal, there is a counter, and many players can spot an arsenal’s weaknesses and quickly exploit them. Thus balance is often the key. A balanced arsenal always includes a couple short and medium ranged attack skills, some low cost defense skills, and an environmental erase skill. Also, keep in mind that some stages and game types can render some skills completely useless while putting others at a great advantage. Test out and tune your arsenals off-line. Get so you know exactly what you have and how best to use it. Figure out the ideal “hand” and order for capsule spawning so that you can recognize it and cash in when it happens. During matches try to keep track of what you have used and what is yet to spawn.

I’m better than you are…Right?
Players are assigned a rating based on how often they win matches and on the rating of the players who they beat or lose to. Everyone starts with a rating of 1000, but as they finish games their ratings will rise or fall. If you beat a player with a much lower rating than your own, your rating may only rise a couple of points while his drops by the same amount. However the opposite is also true. If you beat someone with a much higher rating than your own, your rating will skyrocket and his will plummet. Theoretically this system should indicate just how skilled a player is, but it only partially succeeds here. Some of the best players of this game have deceptively low ratings, well below 1000, because they are willing to play with anyone and everyone regardless of their ratings, and more than 90 percent of the players are below 1000. Though they may only rarely lose games, when they do their rating falls drastically. But these players have amassed a staggering number of wins and thus have themselves a large collection of ultra-rare skills.

Ties are for the weak.
The goal in your online matches should be to win them, not to keep from loosing. If you are ever squarely and unquestionably beaten and yet still alive (such as having no more usable attack skills in your arsenal, or facing a crippling environmental effect that you have no way of getting to or erasing) and there is still more than a minute left on the clock, don’t try just running away and hiding in an attempt to make it a draw. This stall tactic wastes everyone’s time and benefits nobody. So your rating may fall a couple points. Don’t worry about it. Many of the gamertags you spot at the top of the list are not actually those of players but instead are those of users who attained their rating by rather dubious means. Most people I have played with play for the sport of it, the social banter, and of course the ultra-rare skills. If you aim for a draw, not only might you be upsetting the other players, but you are allowing no one to get closer to acquiring another ultra-rare which makes for fewer potential trades.

Uh, I get a do-over.
If you get into a match with a flat out lousy “hand,” you can mulligan. Simply hit the Options button while the countdown is still proceeding to dump the four skills you currently hold for a new set. You can only do it once per game, so use it cautiously as you may end up even worse off.