Planetside 2 In the Eyes of a Planetside Vet
Posted on Friday, January 18 2013 @ 14:36:24 PST
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Planetside was my first MMO. I liked Battlefield 1942, MOHAA, and UT2000, and Planetside offered me the same intensity in a firefight as well as the grand strategy similar to RTS games. I had started playing games with my family and friends, and we all banded together in an outfit. Playing for about a year, I had the privilege of becoming an officer in the outfit and enjoyed Core Combat and the BFR update before moving to Star Wars Galaxies. This game is still remembered fondly, and to date still houses some of my favorite gaming stories.
So it is with a smidgen of child-like glee that I approached the news that Planetside 2 was being made. I was lucky enough to get a beta key towards the end and have been playing the release builds. Though I’m sure there are more experienced and knowledgeable voices, allow me to share my thoughts as I reminisce about old times and analyze the new ideas offered through the eyes of someone who’s played both.
The biggest change to the game, in my opinion, is being able to kit into any of the five classes and seven vehicles. In Planetside 1 (PS1), you started out with some default equipment, and as you played the game you leveled up your Battle Rank. This allowed you points to spend much like a talent tree, granting you more access to technologies and abilities you wanted. At any time you could change these. This meant that the more you played, the more you could change out, and gave you a base understanding of what you had played before. People would gravitate towards the build and skills they liked and were good at, and would thus generate a sense of pride and ownership towards that ability.
In Planetside 2 (PS2), all kits and options are available right from the get-go, and certification points earned are spent towards customizing and upgrading those specs. While this leaves great options and everyone can kit according to the situation at any time, I think it leads to the sense of being overwhelmed that is very easy for new players, even hailing from another FPS or PS1, often feel. Leveling Rank before was a way of slowing down information so the player could grow and learn. As it stands, with so many options and learning the game, it is hard to determine the right tool for the job.
In PS1 maps featured interconnected bases in the Lattice Network, with towers as individual locals in between that often offered a terrain advantage. In order to capture a base, you had to have control of a base connected, steal the LLU (Lattice Logic Unit), and bring it to your connected base. These connections provided the flow to the battle, with the option of exploiting other connections as well.
The map in PS2 is much more rich in targets and runs on a resource economy. There are bases that provide great bonuses, such as extra health or access to the heavy armor, and then bases that just provide resources and territory. By controlling more territory around a base, the base becomes easier to capture. Overall, I think the new approach brings more importances to smaller operations, but takes away from the impact of that capture. The resources captured are oft overlooked as well, since having less than one eighth of the areas on a map typically gives all the resources needed in a play session.
On the strategy of the game, the general consensus and my own is that it has been watered down. I think this is due to having three continents (at launch) and adjacent territory as the means of capture. Three continents for three empires, as well as the emphasis on XP gain, has led to a path of less resistance zeitgeist. If your empire has been pushed off a land mass, then it is very hard to grab that foodhold again. Since adjacent territory is the only way to establish capture ability, limiting adjacent territory means limiting possible insertion points. Therefore, the demoralized troops will flee to a continent they are pushing. Since the number of continents equals the number of empires, most maps are heavily weighted towards one side and stay that way.
With the lattice network and 8 continents, it was possible to approach a continent from another angle. Focusing all the efforts on defending just one area would open your empire to‘back hacking’, the process of taking bases behind the lines. This meant that good commanders had to balance offense, defense, and shoring up behind the lines of skirmish to wage an effective war. With the static warpgates in PS2, land behind you that has no enemy connections is very safe. Overall, this leads to less creative and interesting maneuvers to perform and a sense that the meta-strategy is lacking. Luckily, I think there is a good system in place that just needs a slight push to restore and even improve the machinations and possibilities.
A game this graphically advanced with a new engine as free-to-play is a bold and, I think, good move. In the times of PS1, the server and bandwidth needed to support a game with as many connections cost much more money. It was common for a clan to rent a Battlefield 1942 or UT2000 server to be able to host the largest maps or steady connections, so a subscription fee was not that far off course. With Call of Duty, Battlefield, and many other shooting titles having staked out most of the shooter market in the intermedium, a subscription would have killed PS2 on the spot. It also lowers the barrier to get more people into the game, and it needs those people to have the big battles that is the selling point.
I’ve finally bought some Station Cash on a sale and can offer the view of a starter in the process. At first glance, the cost of new guns and equipment is very high. The in-game currency, cert points, is the only method to upgrade equipment, and the thought of using this same currency to buy equipment at a large premium is absurd. In Station Cash, the bought currency, a gun typically runs the equivalent of $7, which is pretty steep. However, most of the items on the market rotate on sales for $3.50 typically, and unless you have to catch ‘em all, you can get quite a bit of time out of new equipment and continuing to upgrade it. The one downside to this is that there are a few ‘standard loadouts’ that elitist will toute as the only way to equip a vehicle, and verbal harassment will ensue if they enter your vehicle with a ‘sub-par’ weapon. Luckily, you can kick out someone that is a bother, hopefully to their demise.
Planetside 2 has done many things well, but still stands for improvement. Many cry the standard ‘it should still be in beta’ line, but in my opinion most of the major bugs have been worked out, and the game is very playable. While a little overwhelming for new players, it offers intense, large scale combat in a solid shooter engine. The map and strategy may leave some tacticians wanting, but there is still a lot here that promotes teamwork and quick thinking. The nature of MMOs is to change over time, and I believe this is a solid base for Sony Online to improve upon.
If interested in the game, grouping up, or other GRer’s thoughts on this, visit the forum post here http://www.gamerevolution.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=26247.
The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article has been lightly edited for grammar (MasterRabbi included the images himself). It has been submitted for our monthly Vox Pop competition. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick
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