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PSO2 NGS Story Guide
The story of PSO2 NGS will likely be complex and long.
This isn't meant to be a substitute for the game, or as a transcript of the entire script/plot, but rather a way to understand, read-up-on, speculate, analyze & get a really good idea of what's going on in the game.
Color key
Green Text: Speculation or opinions
What You Do/The official "Party Line" appears in RED TEXT
Bold Text: Important information
Choice Options: Blue Text
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NGS Story Guide Page 2

If you can defeat the Metius & various minion dolls, a Fortos Launcher and 2 deser guys will appear.
The Fortos Launcher is really an abstract dolls. It's big, with a somewhat fan-shaped upper part that has 4 arms on the top. These can spawn missiles. They can also be broken off with enough attacks. At the sides of the upper part are more 'regular' arms. It has no legs, but a small round core underneath, then a 'flower shape' type of....blades? at the bottom. Of course, it floats along on this. The core part/base is often protected by a high DEF (or impenetrable) sheild. Breaking off arms can disable this. Once it turns red (lower on hp) it can beam blast out the base and do a missile storm.

If you can beat it, now, Hadi will explain.
He drops the big info first. Nadereh lacks the power of song. When she became the leader and sang before a big crowd right here on this altar spot, her power didn’t manifest. When the new Retem person takes lead, they give a huge concert in front of all the population which gathers on the platforms around the speakers in this big area. Everyone expects to feel the boosting effects / proof of the Power of Song.
No one knows what went wrong, everyone was shaken. But Nadereh was the worst shaken…(She's a real leader-type, it obviously really devastated her to have the effect not happen) but anyway she endured physical training that no others could, in order to make the physical side of her fighting make up for her lack of the song power. The people of Nadereh’s line/family always had great physical power and song power too.

After hearing the explanation of what happened, Manon wants to look at recordings on terminals, or if there’s video of other people in the family doing the power of song so she can analyze it for clues. The scene ends.

Aina asks if she really lost the power of Song?
Manon confirms she’ll investigate. The thing is, nobody ever said she actually HAD the power at all. It’s implied that she gets it when she becomes the leader or she always had it, and in her case she never had it. So Aina's wording 'loss' is wrong to use.

Well well, a character is actually thinking and taking initiative to look into an issue?
Uncommon for it seems both NGS and PSO2, so it’s nice to see it here with Manon. It does raise questions though such as:
Why didn’t Nadereh herself or her aids look at video footage of the relatives?
It's obvious that this is a big deal, why not investigate?
SHE herself had to have been alive along-side a singing relative?
Why would there be not-much documentation…remember, it’s not like this place is low-tech or they magically didn’t have cameras or tape recorders or whatever 20 years ago or something. There’s no reason that footage of ‘literal miracle singing’ should be scarce with this kind of tech (unless some macguffin was ‘erasing it’ because ‘reasons’—but even then, the story would have to say what/how)
What is the actual power of Song? Arks didn’t have it, is this something new like the gliding thing because this planet is so photon rich?

The Dome Rwh Maqead

Getting back to the city at all/for any reason starts a cutscene automatically. (no matter what you were doing) It shows your guy and the others getting back to a city that looks more empty than usual. Everyone rushes to the medical tent. There,  Nadereh, Moshen and Jalil have all been injured in a fight with Renus Retem. It went on the attack again, and was backed up by lots of dolls this time. They ask if she’s ok, and though she pants about it, insists ‘its just a scratch’.

 Nadereh frets that if it decides to attack again, or hit the city, this time, it’ll finally win because everyone who can fight still, their numbers are dwindling. She wants to reverse the course though, and actually form up a party to go and attack it in its home instead. This is different than previous strategies.

It’s stronghold is “The Dome”. The Retem region name for this is Rwh Maqead. (Nice choice there for having to use Japanese letters to try and spell this, I have no idea what they are trying)This is a mushroom shaped (eroded probably) absolutely huge, like bigger than buildings natural formation of reddish brown stone in the desert. It’s made of the same red rock as the surrounding area, appears to have a few ‘layers’ in the domed upper part and often sheds thin waterfalls of sand. It’s a very interesting vista.
She states that the goal is to make it through the desert and enter the dome, then attack it. She knows numbers and time are not on their side, but it’s all there is left to do.
 Jalil feels the dome can’t be attacked head on to force through. Some people have to split off from the main force. An Elite squad including her, will get to the center of the Dome where she believes the giant worm hides. She assigns the 3 CASTS to work out the details, then asks the Aina group to prepare for battle, as you’ll be part of Nadereh’s Elite Attack Team. Manon brings up the research materials again.

Interestingly, he actually helps out at this time before going to prepare with the other 2 casts. He shows them computer screens at a series of ‘desks’, (The set up is similar to the Ailio one, where obviously high tech stuff is set up in like…stone counter tops and such) he doesn’t think she’ll find anything of use in battle but…she sits down and starts in on it anyway. Jalil then leaves. You and Aina watch Manon type for a bit, and flap around a little while waiting. Aina falls asleep so your character leaves, then comes back later. Manon has since gone from the terminal, and Aina doesn’t know where she went. It shows that she’s at the grave yard singing to the tombs. Your char and Aina soon find her out there.

Manon says that she needed fresh air. There are dead Sand Fuwans in the background, Manon likely had to kill them to get them out of the grave area. It’s difficult to tell if this is unusual or not because dolls self-destruct/energy away as like red…energy…stuff when they are defeated. Sometimes spectacularly so, in a big bright ball with rays or with a shrieking sound sometimes. This is clearly part of ‘the plot’ BUT it is also NEEDED because enemy sprites have to have ‘an excuse’ to be dismissed once they’re defeated to make the game actually able to run. Turning monsters into 2D ‘stains’ on the floor of PSO1 Dreamcast was also this phenomenon. It's also why all 'mech type' enemies 'explode' when defeated--gotta get rid of the polygons.

Manon, who is upset, laments when you arrive that Halpha is a cruel place, brutal and merciless, feels Manon as she looks at the names on the glowing glass grave stones. To simply live here, so many ARKS fight the dolls and die. She then sings the unsubtitled song that Nadereh sang earlier/you can’t understand it, but it is a slow melody. She is good enough at singing. Nadereh knows it too, recognizing it as the song of mourning, as she enters the scene. Manon was looking at her battle records, and then came here. The conflict has gone on so long, there are so many casualties. If there’s another battle more will die so if she thinks about it… Manon is clearly getting upset about the prospect.

Manon asks what made her come here. She comes to sing the song of mourning to the graves and vow again that there won’t be more victims this time…but even though she’s strong, she can’t protect everyone. (It’s clear that she knows her vows are lies because people die no matter what, she’s coming here to pre-mourn the people, and to lament the already-dead—it’s no wonder everyone encounters her now, this is a ritual for her and it is the designated preparation time) Nadereh gets upset,  saying “ If only she had the Song power we never would have lost so many.”

Manon counters her pretty strongly, says it’s not your fault…the ones who are truly to blame…are and she backs off saying sorry she yelled, forget about it. Manon knows something she’s not saying. She holds her own arm and frets. It’s easy to see that she’s holding back info, but nobody says anything about it. *Keep This In Mind Nadereh sings the song anyway. This time there are recognizable words but it’s still fairly hard to understand.

The dead enemies in the background flicker and get blue light on them. Glowy dots of photon begin to rise around from the ground. Everyone looks around at the sparkles and is amazed. This isn’t the mourning song, it’s a different one. Nadereh notices the lights, and Manon figures it out. Her power is a separate power from the other leaders, Manon gets super excited at having figured something out. Nadereh is very curious about what it could be, and appears to become hopeful. The scene ends and dumps you back in the city but

Aina raidos asking about it, but Manon thinks we have to see for ourselves in the big battle that’s coming up.

Well well well if this isn’t looking like a shoe horn cliff hanger. There better be a dam good reason that Manon withholds the most important battle strategy information until a point that it is likely too late. Does she think the dead dolls can somehow still hear? Have comprehension and intelligence enough to warn the worm? (Doubtful)

Answers:
So Nadereh power doesn’t work the same as all the ancestors so the same ‘trigger’ that she was doing/taught wasn’t going to get it going.
Questions
Who or what is blocking it? Why does Manon not tell her?
Why does your guy and Aina not help Manon do research? They’re not dumb.

Jalil – An interestingly designed person, he doesn’t look human at all. With one levitating polygonal shoulder guard and a faceless head. He has the apparently well-liked Retem color scheme which involves white with purple-fade-to-magenta ish employing this on his thigh tops and shoulder guard. He’s painted with a geometric pattern and also camo for the shins. His head has a blue square where the ‘face would be, but it is long and rectangular. (Slightly reminiscent of the “aliens xenomorph” but much boxy-er.

The Power of Song:

The goal, as stated by Jalil is to route the dolls from the path to Renus Retem, and test the power of Nadereh’s song. In the desert, Nadereh and her troops face off against however many Dolls that appear teleporting in from the area of the dome. Everyone is fighting the Deser guys like Deser Sword/Launcher, etc. There are a few Sand Fuwan around as well. Jalil asks what’s she doing without her weapon as she starts to sing. She actually lets the various Deser crew jump at her. Moshen and everyone are confused as the dolls slow down and turn blue. The leaping Deser Sword fails its jump at her as it gets waves of blue light upon it instead. A ‘2 prong speaker thing’ stuck in the sand near by starts to resonate out blue sparkles as she sings. You are able to defeat a few as she sings in the cut scene.

Manon now steps in, telling everyone what she’s figured out:
She figured out it’s a photon factor that only Retem leaders had. Manon’s worked out that her song WEAKENS dolls, not strengthens allies—as everyone elses’ song before her did. After singing the first song that apparently didn’t do anything she never sang again out of whatever shame and disappointment she had. (You can absolutely tell that Nadereh is the type of person that would do this. It’s completely in-character for her to have the big concert show where she was going to power everyone with the song and then when it didn’t do what everyone thought it would…she’d get turbo upset and never do it again.)

Aina comments that the dolls are slowing down more and more as Nadereh sings. Everyone takes advantage of the now Jellen/Zalure type effect that is upon them to battle the dolls. If you can battle through all of the Deser Crew and some Sand Goron/Gororox, a mini-boss will come out. It is the Kelkundo, a tall and spindly type of dolls with a circular…crown? Arch? On the upper back. It has very long legs with prickly ankles and kicks for all of the attacks. It can do leg slams, fly up and shoot projectiles down , spin/tornado kicks and various slashes. It does have small arms which it sometimes uncurls. It’s a pretty powerful foe for the size and is very quick. Rangers should shoot it from a distance, while melee people need something that can block. However, it can wear itself out with tons of attacks, and when this happens it kind of tilts down and you can attack it. Hadi, Aina, Manon, Jailil and Moshen will all be with you attacking it as well.

As soon as it is defeated…

Dozer then shows up with a crew of other Arks from Aelio. Hadi recognizes him. It seems like they were battle partners or some kind of old allies / maybe friends. Aina asks if it’s ok to leave his post in Aelieo, but Crawford can manage, he says. Moshen is heartened by the addition of so much more fresh forces. Nadereh wants to set out right away.

Now, once you sell items/prepare again, you can go into the desert to talk to Nadereh about the Battle of Rwh Maqead. She sounds tired but asks if you’re prepared. Remember, Rwh Maqead is the name of the mushroom shaped ‘dome’ area where the Renus Retem lurks.

A cutscene shows other defenders from both areas, and Dozer nods at the crew. Assult prep is complete. She says we’ve lived in fear for too long, but today we’ll defeat it once and for all. Dolls interrupt her speech, so everyone charges the dolls who have arrived.

Infiltrating the Fortress of Sand

Jalil goes to support the others, and a Sand Nogleth appears. Moshen will now step in for him and help fight it. The Sand Nogleth is different than the Aelio one somewhat. It jumps around more, and once it turns red it gains the power of rocket propelled fists instead of the big-back-crystal. It's similar enough though, that you can fight it in much the same way. Having everyone else around to help out is also good, as the NPCs here are actually pretty decent. Once you defeat it, he’ll go to render aid to the wounded.
Jalil goes to support the others, and a Sand Nogleth appears. Moshen will now step in for him and help fight it. Once you defeat it, he’ll go to render aid to the wounded. Now there are sand roron and rorox. Annoy the roron to lure them away from the bigger bad guys without Manon or Aina snippng at them. Then, a Metius will come to heal/back up the dolls so get rid of it first. While doing this Dozer will appear. Once they’re defeated, he’ll go to help his squad.

Next higher up will be Deser Gunblades and a Brankle. Hadi will show up for this one. Get rid of the Deser Gunblades first or they’ll make it too annoying to kill the Brankle, which has even more HP than they do. The Gunblade is about like the ones in PSO2, but remember: it’s not a category of weapon in NGS at the time of release. They also ‘cheat’ with it because of their bungee-arm ability. Just kite them around while Aina annoys the Brankle until it’s all that’s left so you can focus on it without getting stabbed from across the plateau.

So what's happening here is the important characters are kind of "round robin"-ing in and out on your way up the dome. The 'lifters' that create the lifting force-field are mostly how you get better elevation each time. Because the mushroom-cap shape of the dome is flared outward it'd be unscalable at all even with jumping because you're under a 'rim' a lot. *If the dolls ever invented a guy who could eat the twirly thing that produces these fields, they'd stop all the Arks pretty easily!

Ruslan says more dolls are on the way.
(Ruslan is an NPC who appears sometimes in the mini-scuffles out in the field away from story mode like “defend a cargo” or “beat a boss” in areas like Mt Magnus or the Resol Forest. ) A cut scene lets you fight them, and Hadi wants Nadereh and everyone to go on ahead while he takes them on alone with his double saber weapon. You look back as he fights, worrying somewhat. The odds aren't really good for him, he's up against quite a few high HP monsters. You look back as he fights, worrying somewhat as everyone floats upward on the lifter-field. Once lifted, everyone apparently reaches the top of the dome which is much more ‘textured’ than one would suspect looking at it from the ground. There’s crags, peaks, and rock formations on the top. There’s also a hole right in the middle that goes down into darkness.

Dropping into the deep pit reveals its somewhat techno inside. There are building like structures, pipes, more of that ‘glowing girder’ stuff that’s all around the planet and some scaffold type paths. It’s dimly lit from the technological aspects. The floor is all sand…and the worm is obviously in it. It spirals up from underneath and reveals it is………significantly smaller than it was in the cut scene!

Why do they do this?
The cut scene where you saw it first (from the Oasis) had it being literal CITY BLOCKS long as well as totally massive, and now it’s perhaps 1 block at most? Maybe the length of a football field at most? There was also a huge discrepancy with “mountain rock gettem/elder” vs what you actually fought in space as the EQ boss battle. It’s super obvious that they’re changing the size of stuff—and it’s unrealistic vs the game’s own universe. If something is X size, then make X size BE scary—that’s the point of making things and controlling them.

Renus Retem is big, and it’s a boss that’s likely pretty good for rangers and maybe forces to fight because the only lower-def-enough part to hit is the head. It keeps this elevated really well almost the entire time. (That's double-jumps while running just to get up to it at all levels of 'well') It also has attacks a plenty to knock jumpers down/ stop combos. It does not particularly have a face per-se…the top seems almost hairy in texture and there are sharp points all around. The mouth interior is Saarlac-pit looking but with twirling saw blades. It can do energy blasting, targeted missile shooting, laser blasting, and dig in the sand to pop out/knock everyone down. It is also partially buried in the sand all the time. The tail tip and a middle ‘arch’ will usually be up. These both have very high DEF so don’t bother hitting at those.

After it loses enough hp…it does a big attack, this knocks down the team, and it turns red. Manon will notify everyone that there’s another hittable point on the ‘arch’ middle part of it. A glowing yellow area that helps shoot missiles is on one side, and on the other it has a claw-like thing over the yellow dot that can energy blast…but both of these can be attacked and broken. Every time one breaks, the head falls down so you can rush to that and hit it more. (Use the PB at this point if it has built) Breaking both sides of this and hitting the head in between will be enough to defeat it.  

Once it falls down, there’s a cut scene where everyone rushes it as it tries to do a mega blast. Manon swings and jumps out of the way, Aina shoots it in the face and Nadereh blasts off with her bouncer shoes to deliver a mega kick that turns the whole thing red and kills it. Everyone’s super tired but walks out alive to find the defenders still standing.

Finally, Nadereh can smile. Hadi congratulates the team, and high fives are had all around. Everyone gets to smile now that Retem is safe from the monster worm. Nadereh says thanks to the trio for helping defeat it, we couldn’t have done it without you. She wants to celebrate after a rest in the city.

The scene ends

This went well. The round-robin of helper characters kept the ascent of the dome fresh, as did an actual interesting variety of enemies. The Sand Dolls are not in short supply of different types and nothing feels stale. No plot holes were formed, and everyone was in character for such a mission. The only oddity is the size of the Renus Retem vs its cut-scene. The interior being ‘developed’ is likely another drop onto the top of ‘who the heck was building this planet’, just like everywhere else so it can be shrugged at for now. A good battle story piece.