PlanetSide 2 is arguably one of the most anticipated MMOFPS shooters of the last decade. Published and developed by Sony Online Entertainment, it’s the highly sought after sequel to the original PlanetSide title that wowed fans the world over back in 2003. Almost ten years on, SOE are preparing to launch their biggest MMOFPS title to date, and we were lucky enough to get the chance to preview the title alongside Raquel Marcelo and Associate Game Designer, Margaret Krohn. Similar to the original, PlanetSide 2 takes place on the stunning world of Auraxis where 3 factions fight for control. Choose to align with either the Vanu Sovereignty, New Conglomerate or Terran Republic and launch into wide-scale combat unlike anything you’ve ever seen. We did get the opportunity to test all 3 factions but some of the references to vehicles, weapons and locations may vary, although the fundamentals remain the same.
ClassesPlayers of the original PlanetSide game will be happy to see the return of a number of popular features reworked into a new, highly customizable class system. There are currently six classes that players are able to choose from, which are Infiltrator, Light Assault, Combat Medic, Engineer, Heavy Assault and MAX. As has become industry standard in today’s FPS games, each class is built specifically to excel in certain areas. The Infiltrator is the sniping class of PlanetSide 2 and has access to a devastatingly powerful sniper rifle, as well as the ability to turn invisible for a short period of time. The Light Assault class is the core of any infantry force using a close to medium range weapon, the AF-19, and the highly tactile jetpack as their main ability. The Combat Medic is a vital class for any squad based activities as they’re the only class that are able to heal and resurrect team mates.
The Engineer is also another vital class for any cooperative play as they’re able to repair vehicles and replenish teammates ammo. The Heavy Assault is the hard-hitting class of PlanetSide 2 featuring a SAW and Nanite Mesh Generator that acts as an extra shield. And saving the best until last, the Max suit. Pictured above, the Max is one of the most deadly classes available in the game. They have access to duel cannons which are the most powerful weapons held by an infantry class, but they do have the downsides of not being able to drive or pilot vehicles.
VehiclesFeaturing one of the biggest in-game maps ever conceived in a MMOFPS title, it would be quite a pain getting around without the use of vehicles, and PlanetSide 2 has plenty. Unlike systems used in other games such as Battlefield 3, players are not forced to compete for vehicle spawns, removing the aimless team kills that we’ve all seen so often. Instead players can purchase vehicles using a variety of different currencies, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Every vehicle in PlanetSide 2 is totally unique in terms of maneuverability, carrying capacity, and weapons.
Firstly there’s the agile Flash, a jazzy looking quad bike that’s a great little vehicle for getting players from A to B in a hurry, without attracting the attention of the enemies aerial support. Then there’s the Sunder, a beastly land vehicle that supports 2 huge turrets and can carry a large squad of players, followed by the Lightning and Vanguard, tank like vehicles that represent the majority of the heavy hitting artillery. As you’re probably aware, combat isn’t limited to the ground in PlanetSide 2, as such SOE have thrown in a number of aerial vehicles. Players can use the Reaver and Liberator for air support and dog fights, while the Galaxy is the only vehicle in the game that can carry a full squad of 12 and allow character respawns at the landing location.
Adapt, Customize, Destroy
PlanetSide 2 features one of the most advanced character, vehicle and class customization systems that I’ve ever seen in the FPS genre. There are three main areas of customization: Certifications, Weaponry and Implants. Certifications allow players to improve practically every aspect of their game play, from adding new abilities and skills to a specific class, to allowing zoom features on their Galaxy turrets. One of the greatest aspects to this system is the fact that you don’t have to play a certain class or use a certain vehicle in order to update it, Certification points are global and not class restricted.
Certification points are earned through capturing and defending different locations, but we’ll get more into that in a minute. The weapon customization feature is similar to the Call of Duty games, but with far more depth and choice. You can equip up to four different modifications on your weapons, allowing you to choose between additional features such as adding a silencer, scope or extra ammunition clips. Implants are passive buffs that can be available to either the individual that purchases them, or the entire squad. The benefits vary, from increased experience points to faster reload speeds.
Cooperate, Communicate, Dominate
The most unique and exciting aspect to PlanetSide 2 is the persistent game world. Displayed in the picture above is the full size of the currently available continent, with another planned for implementation near launch. The map is filled with dozens of outposts, strongholds and huge structures that can be captured to help your team advance. Capturing zones requires teams to head to specific locations and either hack terminals or remain in close proximity for a short period of time. This usually guarantees enemy support is going to arrive, creating intense firefights in multiple regions at the same time. Capturing new territories rewards your faction with additional resources over a period of time, these are the resources that are spent on using vehicles, purchasing upgrades or buying new weapons.
As you can see on the image above, each factions territory is represented by their faction color, and each territory has a very distinct black line surrounding the front lines. This is where the capture mechanics get a little more advanced. Capturing territories that directly connect to your factions front lines will allow you to hack terminals quicker, respawn closer and request reinforcements faster. However, other than each factions main base, every area can be capture at any time. So an elite squad of members could potentially sneak far behind enemy lines and begin taking territories for their faction.
Captain Camper’s Experience
I’ve managed to squeeze in about 10 hours worth of game play over the last few days, and I couldn’t have asked for a more enjoyable experience. Having already been on a tour with Raquel Marcelo and Margaret Krohn, I was comfortable with the majority of game features and mechanics, so I wanted to leap straight into battle. I used the “Join Squad” function that immediately placed me into a squad of 8 members, all of which were vocal throughout my game time. There was quite obviously a designated squad leader as our Medic was calling the shots, placing down Squad Waypoints on the map for vehicles to follow, and staying back to ensure he could come in a revive his squad members should things turn sour.
Within 5 minutes of logging into the server I was in a 9-man strong squad, with 6 of us using a Galaxy and the other 3 mixing between aerial and ground support vehicles. We traveled across our back lines securing several outposts that the enemy had managed to sneak in and steal. Meeting minimal resistance we were all very eager for a fire fight, so the squad leader decided to head closer to the front lines.
We traveled towards the Impact Site, a huge crater in the ground that housed a number of small buildings and a difficult to defend territory. What I saw was something that will remain with me for the duration of my gaming life. All 3 factions were present and I counted at least 30 different vehicles in the area. Several Galaxy ships would drop soldiers off before retreating to land, providing a nearby spawn point for infantry, while tanks from all 3 sides surrounded the ridge of the giant crater exchanging fire. Each side had Engineers repairing the tanks as support, while Heavy Infantry, Light Infantry, and MAX suits all battled down below to maintain control of the territory, only to be halted by carpet bomb runs from opposing air support. As if it wasn’t atmospheric enough, the in-game VOIP system allows players to speak only with squad members, your guild (Outfits) or nearby faction friendlies.
As me and my newly found squad descended into the depths of hell, we passed our line of tanks and joined dozens of infantry charging down the side of the hill. During this time I heard calls for ammo, soldiers screaming for medics and Snipers calling out enemy targets, all the while dozens of pods fell from the sky as players from all sides used the “Instant Action” feature to teleport them to the battlefield. I have played every major FPS game released since the early 90s, and I’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing such a thriving atmosphere.
PlanetSide 2 makes other MMOFPS titles feel like child’s play and it easily has the potential to be the best MMOFPS game released since the genre was conceived. It’s going to be a free to play title so you will have no excuse not to get involved in what could be one of the most exciting MMOFPS launches in our lifetime.