Phantasy Star Universe

Once you've got a posse, you can invite them to check out your private residence, complete with whatever decorations you've put up. Besides admiring your interior decorating skills, guests will be able to purchase items you put up for sale in your personal shop. Can't wield that sabre you just crafted? Throw it in the store. Players, even strangers, can search all publicly-listed shops for specific items, so a solid, player-run economy should pop up in no time.

Unlike PSO, Universe's multiplayer focuses exclusively on completing missions. You can get them in a variety of places but they all boil down to beaming into hostile dungeons and smacking the hell out of hordes of mutated monsters. Your party leader's responsible for choosing the mission and setting loot rules, which will ensure that everyone gets a piece of the profits. Once everything's set, it's into the fray.

Above: PC and PS2 players will play on the same servers, segregated by continent, while Xbox 360 players will play on global servers

If you've got an open member slot, the party leader will have the option of bringing their partner machine along to fill in. Depending on how they raised it, it'll have various offensive or defensive behaviours. The most important missions will push the game's online story along, chronicling the events that occur after the conclusion of Ethan's single-player adventure.

So, that's the lay of the land so far. And, with the game heading to PC, Xbox 360 and PS2 next month, PSO fans - your long wait is almost over.