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Planetside 2 Impressions

Planetside 2 has been out on Steam for about two weeks now and I've poured a bit of time into it.  I've previously mentioned how multi-faceted warfare brings me back to games like Battlefield 3 and Planetside 2 is no different.  In this article I will give my impressions of the game so far and also try to describe what it is about.  If at the end you know if it's something for you or not, then I've accomplished what I set out to do.

What is Planetside 2?
Planetside 2 is the sequel to 2003's Planetside, developed by Sony Online Entertainment.  It can most readily be described as an amalgam of a traditional MMORPG such as EverQuest or World of Warcraft and a modern shooter such as Battlefield 3.  It is set on the planet Auraxis in the distant future in the midst of a war between the Terran Republic, an authoritarian government that has ruled humanity for the past millennium, the New Conglomerate, a collection of the most powerful corporations, and the Vanu Sovereignty, a collection of scientists and other intellectuals who believe that the future of the human race lies in exploiting alien technologies found on Auraxis prior to the war. 

Okay, but how does it work?

When you first create your soldier you must select which faction you belong to and this has a large impact on how you play the game.  For instance, the Terran Republics weapons and vehicles are built to have a little less punch than the others but instead have larger ammunition capacities and higher fire rates along with having the fastest vehicles in the game.  The New Conglomerate is essentially the opposite.  Their vehicles are built to last but can't move as fast as their Terran or Vanu counterparts.  They also have very low fire rates but intead deal more damage per round.  The Vanu Sovereignty is somewhere in between these two.  As for the gameplay itself, it plays very similar to any other modern shooter so it shouldn't be too much of a shock.  Vehicle handling is good and the controls are easy to get used to.  The only exception is the flight controls.  Aircraft in Planetside 2 are VTOL jets, meaning that they can hover, land and take off vertically like a helicopter but otherwise handles like a normal airplane.  The controls take a little to get used to if you have like me been flying in Battlefield 3 for the last year as they are quite different.  There are also a wide selection of other vehicles to choose from aside from fighter jets such as main battle tanks, light tanks called Lightnings, ATVs, a big freakin' bus called the Sunderer but usually referred to as a Sundie or Bangbus, and something akin to an AC-130 called a Liberator.  There are also six different infatry classes to choose from.  The Infiltrator which is the sniper class and much more, the jetpack and carbine-tooting Light Assault, the ever present and beloved Combat Medic, the vehicle repairing and turret deploying Engineer, the rocket-spamming Heavy Assault and the MAX which is basically a walking mass of armor and guns.

What's the point?

If you've played Battlefield 3, understanding what the game is about should be easy.  It is essentially a giant game of Conquest.  You can play on one of three continents that are currently availible, each one having unique geography, terrain and looks.  This continent is divided into territories.  It is your job to capture and hold these territories for your faction, wether you are Elmo, Smurf or Barney.  The appeal here would be the giant combined arms battles that are constantly taking place across the continents, often involving hundreds on players on both sides.  Completing objectives, killing enemies or helping your team earns you experience and certification points.  Experience is used to gain ranks, that have no meaning at all except that you get a title that can be displayed on your character in game.  Certification points, hereafter referred to as certs, on the other hand are the most valuable commodity on Auraxis.  Certs are used to purchase new equipment, unlock attachments for your weapons or to buy those rocket pods you want for your fighter jet.  On the other hand, if you don't feel like waiting and have a little bit too much cash you can choose to purchase "Station Cash", an in-game currency that can be used to purchase new equipment and weapons instead of using cert points.  This is how SOE plans to finance the upkeep of the game since it is completely free to play it otherwise.  Note however that Planetside 2 is not pay-to-win.  The only thing you can buy with station cash that you can't buy with certs are different camouflage patterns which frankly are rather useless seeing as how your character is either half red, blue or purple regardless of camouflage pattern.

I'm going to wrap this up, but I leave you with a short list of the pros and cons of Planetside 2

Pros:

  • Gorgeous graphics, particularly the lighting effects.
  • Huge maps with large terrain variety.
  • Fosters very strong faction loyalty.
  • Fast paced and exciting combat, how much downtime is entirely up to you.
  • Day/night cycle makes things interesting, night fighting is beatiful and confusing.
  • Well thought out and balanced infantry classes, each with a role to play on the battlefield.
  • It's bloody FREE!

Cons

  • Should still be in beta, since a lot of technical issues remain unsolved.
  • Questionable server stability during peak hours.
  • Tricky hit detection comes and goes.
  • All the shiny graphics and huge player counts come with rather lofty system requirements.

GTM Datalayer